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Schooled in dreams : counter-posing "the ontology of ascent" with "auras of the other" to re-enchant… Daley, Mark Philip 2010

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  SCHOOLED IN DREAMS: COUNTER-POSING “THE ONTOLOGY OF ASCENT” WITH “AURAS OF THE OTHER” TO RE-ENCHANT IN/VOCATION IN SITES OF LEARNING AND BEING   by  Mark Philip Daley       A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY   in   THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES  (Curriculum and Instruction)       THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA  (Vancouver)       October 2010   © Mark Philip Daley, 2010 ii  ABSTRACT  This work is a multi-disciplinary conceptual inquiry into some of the historical structures and strictures of the ascetic-ascendant moral ontology that invariably conditions, and makes disparate, voice and vocation in educational spaces. Whereas the western philosophical tradition has become complicit with empiricism and supposed to do away with transcendence, the sublime remains, but has albeit lapsed into new programs of ascent with conspicuous devotion to new ‗fashions‘ of asceticism (Weber‘s work-promise analytic inflected ascetic-ascendant). Against all secular sensibility, the salvation effect (Nietzsche) has intensified (Gauchet). Instead of drawing ‗moral sources‘ (Taylor) from the enchanted (Other), we imagine them in the immanent (Ontic); instead of destiny being subjective and relational, destinations are taken up instrumentally in what is more narrowly teleological. To the extent that moral sources shift immanent but are residually fantastic, I develop for reflective criticism the Dream Ontology: a work-promise matrix that circumscribes self-regard (identity) and world-engagement (morality) in alluring closures of meaning, whose tacit dislocating moral force initiates unsuspected agonistic effects. By profiling salient moral moments in the west, therefore, and attempting a genealogy of their cultural transmission, I explore how by means of the Dream Ontology the characteristic feature of modern life is fundamentally schismatic and self-buffering – cutting persons off from mythic sources, and affectivity more generally, in a barter to secure fanciful flourishing (promise) in the world. In remediation of this beguiling naturalization of disjoined voice and vocation, the Prophetic Mode will re/member being by sourcing transcendence (enchantment) in the Other, who ‗as‘ sub-verse and ‗by means of‘ solicitous counter-speech, affectively disrupts the dominion of dreams that reign thick in the text/ures of western schooling.  iii TABLE OF CONTENTS  ABSTRACT ....................................................................................................................................................... ii TABLE OF CONTENTS .................................................................................................................................. iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .............................................................................................................................. vi NOTE TO READER ........................................................................................................................................ vii CHAPTER 1 – DIMINISHED POSSIBIITIES FOR ‗BEING‘ UNDER THE SPELL OF ASCENT ............. 1 The Dominant Text of Modern Life .............................................................................................................. 8 Disenchanting the Dominant Texts of Schooling ........................................................................................ 14 Excursus: A Personal Dream Narrative ....................................................................................................... 16 A Summons for Prophetic Vocation in Education ...................................................................................... 17 Re-Enchanting the Ethical: Establishing Warrant for this Quest ................................................................ 21 Introducing the Research Quest/ion: Charting a Pro/phetic Dis/ruption ..................................................... 23 CHAPTER 2 – LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE ASCETIC-ASCENDANT FRAME .................. 27 Reference Points, Part One: Sourcing the Problem … of Ontology ........................................................... 27 Reference Points, Part Two: Sourcing the Person … in Phenomena .......................................................... 34 Ascendance as Authenticity ‗Achieved‘ – The ‗Proving Ground‘ for Highest Being?............................... 37 Introducing Weber and the Persisting Illogic of Rationalizing Promise ..................................................... 41 Introducing Weber‘s Analytic: Ascetic Instrumentality in the Quest for Ascent ........................................ 43 The Ascetic and the Social: Constructing the Illicit and a Solicitation for Recovery ................................. 47 Ascetics, Ascendance and the Agonies of a Progressive Ontology ............................................................ 52 The Modern Asceticism: Managing Our Dreams ....................................................................................... 57 Ontology, the Managed Life, and Complicit Vocations: Arriving at the Ethical Juncture ......................... 62 CHAPTER 3 – DREAM GENEALOGY IN MORAL CONTEXT: FROM VIRTUE TO VIRILITY .......... 66 The Distinctly Western Idea of Newfound Transcendence ......................................................................... 66 Tracing Foundations of Ascendance in the West ........................................................................................ 73 Man Made Horizontal: From Worship to Work .......................................................................................... 77 iv Variations on a Theme of Success/ion ........................................................................................................ 82 In Search of the Ultimate Ethic ................................................................................................................... 90 From the Virtuous to the Virile ................................................................................................................... 97 And Still We Dream … ............................................................................................................................. 101 CHAPTER 4 – THEORIZING THE DREAM ONTOLOGY ...................................................................... 103 Adventures in Sub-modernity: Transcendent Mythos in Modern Subjectivity ......................................... 103 The Self and its Changing Moral Relation ................................................................................................ 109 The Secular Age: A New Kind of Flourishing .......................................................................................... 113 Flourishing in Immanence: The Agonies of Promise in the Enclosures of Instrumental Agency ............. 118 A Humanist Critique of Transcendence .................................................................................................... 124 Summary Thoughts on this Persisting Transcendent Orientation ............................................................. 126 CHAPTER 5 – NEW TRANSCENDENCE AND ITS FAILING GRADE FOR SELF-KNOWING ......... 130 Knowing Ourselves in Fashions Grand ..................................................................................................... 130 Becker on Transcendence Today: The Manufacture of Evil ..................................................................... 131 The Necessity of Illusion in Self Advancement ........................................................................................ 135 Glory Promised: Freedom Failed .............................................................................................................. 138 The Double Life: Exchanging Life for Death by Killing Who we Are ..................................................... 145 Pedagogies of Pride and Shame ................................................................................................................ 150 Subjectivity in Substitution: The Self-Double Con/verted ........................................................................ 158 Substituting Realities: Dreaming Back to Re-stor(e)ied Relations ........................................................... 161 CHAPTER 6 – PROMISE REJOINS VOCALIS: A COUNTER-POSE TO BEING-IN-DREAMS ............ 166 Ruminations on the Enchanted: Justice as Voice, the ―Living‖ Counter-Story to Dreams ....................... 166 Disruptions and Discrepancies: Asking the Question from Behind .......................................................... 169 Teaching from Behind: Voice as the Initiate of Promise – Speaking as Vocation .................................... 173 Considering Vocality: Repressions, Reifications and the Re-enchanting of Speech ................................ 176 The Dream Ontology as Empire: Moral Under/ground and the Silencing of Speech ............................... 179 v Neighbourliness and Schooling: The Other ‗as‘ Promise and a Re-iteration for Trust ............................. 181 Fictive Ad/ventures: Into the Land of Promise … or the Promise of Land? ............................................. 185 Re/membering Justice: A Counter-Imaginary for Pedagogical Vocation ................................................. 187 Profiles of Prophetic Mode and Ministry: Anticipating the Face as Justice in Education ........................ 193 Contemporary Applications for Educators ................................................................................................ 199 Implications for Educators: Dis/posed to Wonder in Care, Call and Cry ................................................. 205 Emptying Pro/fessions of Self-fulfilment: Vocation and Voice Rejoined ................................................ 208 Conclusion: Into the Sub-versions of Vocalis Begotten in Dreams .......................................................... 211 CLOSING WORD AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR RESEARCH ....................................................... 214 BIBLIOGRAPHY ......................................................................................................................................... 215 APPENDIX 1 – ‗SENSES‘ OF THE DREAM IN EARLY POPULAR LITERATURE ............................. 227  vi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  This work owes its greatest debt to my advisor, Carl Leggo. From the immemorial of my own academic utterances to this worded and wordy expression of my sinuous humanity come forward, Carl has been a mentor, a counsellor, a healer, an encourager and a friend. He is more akin to a father, if my world was to consist wholly of academic corridors. And because he has guided me so kindly and relentlessly – through terrain often treacherous and unkind to humanity itself – I have been fathered to a destination beyond the term‘s signification, to the beginnings of my own fullest voice. Carl Leggo is to be extolled as a man who is at work, in love; who embodies Care, Call and Cry in its earnest, and in some of the hardest places it can be practiced. Poetry has never been so beautiful! I have been privileged to know and have as a committee member, Karen Meyer. She has been most kindred to my journey from beginnings: my first Director (at the Centre for Cross Faculty Inquiry), my first class as a doctoral student, and to first things she has, by virtue of her passion to most fully live with the enchanted, summoned me home. She, unmoved by fictions, lives forcefully evoked by the inter-human, and puts at risk her own self for the good of the Other – her own most honourable qualifications never put first. Academics‘ could only dream of achieving what Karen, in betrayal of dream conventions, brings forth beyond their reach. She is living irony! Her occupations testify in life to possibilities I seek on paper; that is how huge is her heart, how unmistakeable her commitment and care. Giving permission for inquiry that traces sources deep and whole, Karen is the beyond limits of human inter-witness. Such a model of courageous enterprise! I could not have been more blessed than to have known committee member Heesoon Bai, who embodies a graceful eloquence that yet summons scholarly rigor and human height at once to provoke the fullness of a ‗living‘ inquiry. If there was ever a gap between modesty and height itself, she bears its immensity, its utter unspeakability. So given, Heesoon too is a living force field of the project I undertake, whose life imbues in these pages carved out philosophic grooves I only wish I had the scholarly insight and gifts of language to fully lay hold of. If any height has been achieved in my work, it is on her account. She, in her dangerous modesty evokes and elicits relentless luminosity. I am particularly grateful to Heesoon, who being so overcommitted to the good of her field still found room to generously share her brilliant abundance. There are other debts to share and lives to witness. Lynn Fels has been a friend in the academy in her own hearty ways; an unsung gift in its spaces, filling shoes (and hearts) cross-domain so admirably. Sean Wiebe has been that kind of friend and collaborator who was always there for me, ever believing and assuring me that I could do this. It is to his credit that I took up this call and persevered. I am grateful to Ian Codling, who first mentored me to greatest things: to the goodness and vastness and unseen possibilities of spiritual pilgrimage. I have appreciated too the patience, wisdom and ongoing affirmations of colleagues Greg Bitgood and Janet Rainbow. To friends Chris McGrath, Tim Clayton, Eric Vanee: you will never know what your reach into my life-world has meant, personally and professionally. I will try over time to bear witness to its profound dimension. Most of the time, friend is too small a word.  vii NOTE TO READER  Whereas a dissertation typically identifies a problem and promises solutions, this project does not neatly close the gap between the problem and what I favour as a counter-pose than a ―solution.‖ For this reason, I invite you into the text with specific pre-understandings laid out to better facilitate reading clarity. Theory and Voice. Although this work takes up the recovery of voice, its beginnings are admittedly theory laden, with an appeal to intellectual traditions sometimes disparate, for the express purpose of arriving at a forceful enough critical schema I call the Dream Ontology. Rather than breaching theoretical realism, I suggest the variety of voices adds urgency for the totality I wish to counter. Neither could I have found the extent of my own voice had these directions not been pursued. As such, this work is to be read as ―a journey‖ from discovering the problem, by means of prophetic theorists, toward my own voice becoming the counter- pose, its remediation, but without re-entering the theoretic so as to iterate a political reaction. Politics and Posings. Such as this paper incriminates the Dream Ontology as a monological totality, it is tempting to observe the prophetic mode of speech as a counter-politic. It must be noted that the prophet is not a political figure, but is one whose mode of poetic speech re-im/poses infinity by pointing away from any objectified reality that takes sights from the primacy of personhood. Such an event is not a pole or a solution, but an e/vocative summons, to pro/pose for readers a renewing ethical musing that unites being and vocation. Searing Criticism. This work does not entertain a conversation about dreams but dares to charge the order of things with one panacea for knowing and being-in-the-world. Brueggemann and Reimer agree that ―fearless criticism‖ is the beginning of prophetic vocation, after which time ―creative renewal‖ must follow. My work, therefore, emulates the prophetic pattern by first deconstructing the dominant text in our midst. Limitations. As this project offers a counter-vocational musing for what it can mean to more ethically teach, it will not dispense more ethical strategies for teaching but will consider a posing anew for ―ways to be ... responsible‖ to voice in the classroom. The promise I make, therefore, is not a new politic as such, but a restatement on what is promise, so possibilities for learning and being can become more truly infinite. 1 CHAPTER 1 – DIMINISHED POSSIBIITIES FOR ‗BEING‘ UNDER THE SPELL OF ASCENT  This chapter lays out the broad strokes of an inquiry that counter-poses disembodied ontology (human fullness realized abstract of being) with the prophetic summons for originary voice and vocation, which is to value life intrinsically, in contrast to instrumental schemes for „achieving‟ the good. I first show how revaluing vocation in perfunctory (moral) forms thins difference (voice) to consolidate meaning in competing cultural currencies. In such a case, a dominant text emerges to determine what is real and how we must then be oriented to earn the privilege of exercising voice (proving our eligibility for promise). Against this unjust and often unseen state of affairs, I invoke the prophetic to re/mind and re-enchant what it means to be „fully‟ human (to widen what is real; to recover what is possible). Thereafter, I lay out how I will more discretely explore the narrow ascetic-ascendant ontology in the rest of this work.  We have changed both what is real and what is valuable.  -- Heesoon Bai (2009, p. 140)   Were one to take an unassuming drive across the average Canadian city today they‘d be hard pressed to ignore one of two dominant messages that gapes out at them from a bus shelter, a side panel on a transit vehicle or splashed across an imposing billboard decorating our cityscapes. Flipping on the radio and scanning one station to the next, they‘ll encounter the very same themes, and at their destination be accosted yet again – at the grocery store, the quick stop at the bank or when fetching their children from school or the local skating rink. Even upon arriving home – there too, a place where we shut out all the noise, so it would seem – are its thick residues in the deluge of daily mail, the flyers and newspapers, and of course, drenched in the images and jingles on TV. They are everywhere! But that they are rarely noticed presents us with a disturbing contemplation on what it means to be truly free – free from these dominant texts of modern culture, that we so unabashedly honour them; that they define, more or less, the circumference of our existence or what we assume is simply the way things are. While it may not be imminently clear after admitting them for reflection, if we stay awhile and linger in what a good body of contemporary theory tells us – that, on account of their profound and pervasive moral evocation we are among the least emancipated people in modern history – we may very well wish to take a second look at what it truly means to be … human; or, if truth is a difficult word, what is means to be human otherwise. 2 The two themes: Work Hard, Never Give Up! Go, Lay Claim to Your Dreams! That‘s right, work and dreams. If anything characterizes modern life, it is in the vast expanse of these two fine campaigns that declare, ostensibly, the sum of human endeavour. In fact, there is no more abundant language in schools and youth culture more generally, in the texts and textures of learning places and social exchange, and in the frames that drive the abundance of our motivations than work and dreams, vocation and destiny. And while some buy in knowingly, others suffer terrifying malaise or opt out of the game altogether – the ‗poor among us.‘ Of course popular protest asserts that the endless available options to work out for ourselves a lifestyle or identity dissolves the charge that we are so constrained. Others are quick to wage that freedom is the achievement of the work-dream relation – the proud among us, they certainly must be. But, whether or not either is true is not really the question. For consideration is whether there is any other way to know the world and live in it; any other order of things from which we may draw our sense of who we are, what we can do, and what it all means. It is an ethical question. For the way we know the real will ground the very possibilities from which we can draw upon the good: the basis from which we answer (response-ability), in our practice, to what is most worthwhile in life, shaping the very modus by which we relate to one another. At rare times, we stumble across or are led to an expression that seems to capture the whole essence of a struggle in one stirring evocative swoop. As regards the above, the first came to me from Max Weber (1958) in a curious assertion that the world has become disenchanted (p. 117). His insight waxes prophetic in two senses: first, the world has indeed become disenchanted in the larger ways he foresaw, as mounting evidence will later show; second, his invocation haunts us with a stirring of profound loss, that something important has been left behind – and by the admission of his very words, we feel somehow called back. Enter the prophetic! A speech act from below that has us bewildered in the familiar; confounded even that we have taken up a different way.  As it is, having been cut off from former ways, broadly speaking, I will attempt to demonstrate through the voice of Weber and his devotees that we have forged ramifying closures on meaning and moral pre-occupation to lock our life-world in an ―ontological monism‖ (Zimmerman, 2004, p. 191); one that Taylor (2008) insists has waged our own ―subtraction story‖ as late moderns. 3 Another ‗word event‘ contemporaneous with Weber‘s prophesy‘s the relative effects, and as well calls us back to an eerie wonderment. Here I have in mind Heidegger‘s (1962) ‗forgetting of being‘ and what he would later call ‗the darkening of the world‘ (1977). As will become clear, these two proffer more than a lament for dehumanization by virtue of the drive toward the rational-instrumental. They demarcate radical shifts in sensibility away from the human and affective, toward the calculated and prosaic: a slow progressive phenomenon that fundamentally erodes the foundations on which we would know the personal and the ethical (our subjectivity and highest good). Their speech act, taken together, in one sense or another, offers starting points for examining what Foucault (1984) called the ―limit-attitude‖ (p. 46) of modern self- making; that is, how limited meaning horizons hold captive our attentions and affections to compromise the ways we take to knowing, valuing and thus orienting ourselves in the world. What qualifies them to be taken as prophetic is itself much of my interest – that words can speak and linger so poignantly to transform how we think about and anticipate possibility is itself a methodology; one I will take up after exploring, in the early going, how these expressions distinctly speak to late-modern world relations. To linger on the prophetic for a moment, were it not for the ‗voices from below‘ – the sub-verse that disrupts dominant texts (Brueggemann, 2000b) – we may not even be able to know we are far from home (Heidegger‘s ‗house-of-being‘), or suspect anything amiss in the first place. Ability to ‗realize‘ difference (or break the spell of in/difference) is given by what Hanson (1996) calls the prophetic mode, the history of which goes back to the essence of the human cry (Hebrew za‟ak in the heart of captivity, prior to the Exodus). In The Cry for Myth, May (1991) gives stories pre-eminence for their ability to fathom the reaches of human yearning. In The Call of Stories, Cole (1989) says that only stories can rescue us (p. xii) because they emanate from places most primary. And so, when stories are cut off, Brueggemann insists that prophetic utterance is a responsibility ‗to‘ those who cry out, ‗for those‘ whose cry is mute and yet registers when they are themselves numbed (p. 3) by a moral mood (‗what‘ is valuable) that drifts away from what is human (Bai, 2009, p. 135). Against this travesty, the prophetic summoner inhabits a justice-centred (for-the- human) counter-story which entreats sight beyond the spectacle to call out and call down the dominant text‘s discernible failure of solitary persons or groups. Whereas cultural leaders in the Hebraic tradition are 4 implicated for failing the single being, prophets are taken to task for not registering a complaint against such failures: for ‗not saying‘ ―where is the justice‖ when ―people have forgotten‖ (Jer. 2:7-8, 32) and the order finds favour in/for the monological royal consciousness. Do note, the indictment has no relation to failed action (what we regard as doing in today‘s moral lexicon) but was explicitly registered against ―not speaking.‖ By so speaking, the prophet depicts ‗cry‘ as being itself (Levinas‘ insufficiency). As ―the condition of my speech … brings me into being‖ (Butler, 2005, p. 81), speakability (voice) is justice. And so, prophetic tradition exemplifies that a dynamic interplay between the dominant cultural story and the vital communal stories on the periphery (Angus, 2008) is critical for justice to be served. A healthy society would, thus, offer ‗speech-space‘ for would-be seers to confront imperial ambitions when single persons are excluded, when the centrism of state imperatives are one-eyed, effectively annihilating the voices in the margins. As such, the prophetic utterance constitutes ―advocacy for a certain rendering of reality and a polemic against other renderings of reality‖ (p. 3), to widen ontological space for person (and communal) renewal. What I intend to draw out is not only that we fail to speak from counter-story sub-texts but far more significant is that the modern frame has succeeded at eliminating counter-stories altogether (Lasch, 1991 p. 46; Angus, 2008, p. 4); ironically, through a derisive and deceptive moral play, by issuing transcendence in a new key. As late moderns, we have fully co-opted our own conscience with royal forms, thus completely eradicating any other speech – any ‗speech from the Other‘ – that would modulate Empire oration, the empirical story, the final word on what it means to be fully human. When only one story is left, the order of things becomes naturalized. And so it is that a singular text in our midst offers ‗the‘ account of reality from which we are to take our place in the world and engage its ‗given‘ relations. As this is the case, Angus (2008) – whose interest is in relations between justice and identity of Canadians locked between two dominant empires – says ―one must look both backward and forward to rescue the specificity of the socio-cultural formation from contemporary amnesia‖ (p. 3). What is for us a specificity of cultural formation that I position as the ‗dream‘ calls out for renewal. But how so when we have amnesia: when we have forgotten our storied humanness otherwise than in fanciful kinds; or, as Brueggemann would wage, when empire imperatives have already anaesthetized our pathos such that its injury no longer even registers unjust. 5 Taylor (2004) shows how the erosion of stories emerged from a slow ex/tradition of closely knit communities (late 18 th  century) when social exchanges (Locke) were slowly consolidated into burgeoning centres, the moral dynamics of which cannot be missed. Not only did this phenomenon dispose persons to more elusive centralized ambitions which insidiously eradicated difference, but as the communal vacuum was all too apparent and residual urges to belong galvanized into a more abstract shared ethos, it appears that the ‗spiritual (speaking) space‘ between persons and their mythic relation was severely diminished. Foucault is well known for demonstrating how the innovation of masked authority achieved for modern cultures ‗increasingly‘ centralized aims. With a perception that power is absent, and that moralizing ‗from without‘ is no more, human aspiration is sensed to be more or less uninfluenced, the effects of which, if not its outright irony, Bauman (2008) illustrates well. Within the ambit of showing how ethics is paralyzed by the emergent consolidation of cultural imaginaries (with a globalized consumptive ethos being its fruition), empires became extra-territorial, no longer given by boundaries, so neither would its texts be apparent to consciousness. His suggestion is that as we lose our sense that life is scripted in ―specific‖ ways, neither by implication will we anticipate the reciprocal: that we are being un-storied. How can we, Bauman adds, when we are dislocated by non-disclosing schemes, when the new ―imperial sovereignty is to be found in a ‗non- place‘‖ (Hardt & Negri, 2000, p. 4). The point is not just that a controlling story is hidden, or that one‘s own is annulled, but so long as every story comes with a moral – what is worth living for – our own highest expression of fullness will no longer be our own under these conditions. In this case, the placeless, faceless (unaccountable) dominions of late modernity make mobility the grand ethic, never minding for a moment that it is upwardly aimed. Significant is that movement and drift, in the invisible ways they proliferate, plunder memory and incapacitate renewal by killing originary speech. As such, solitary persons are rendered valueless and fragmented, left to value their humanity alter/natively, since the moral (valued), says Taylor, can never be effaced, just redirected, suggesting that in this mode of moral play, we abdicate who we are to become valuable later in a favoured scheme of culture. What then is the core value of those whose privilege is to capture imagination: preserve the perpetuity of homelessness; keep irrelevant our interest in the storied – procuring outright dis/interest in the inter-human – and in all ways, 6 with irreverence for life, to move us forward … faster (Bauman aptly coins it liquid modernity). If we can chase the forward, in fictive fashions peddled (what dreams may come), we can by working the game in which we are located (Bourdieu, 1977), graft its very order into our self-regard and unknowingly aspire to its orchestrated pride (our fullness on its terms). In this sense, values are of no use at all, and in fact, matter not. In the absence of antecedents for being – a belonging without story – worth confers by efficacy alone! Efficacy is worth: nothing more than the feeling that we are closer to promise. Action, and faster kinds of it, is the modern value. Just be busy, something will feel right. Providence will seem ever within reach. Create ―a sense of things happening, of propitious times ahead‖ (Terkel, 1980, p. xxii), and everyone will comply. Effectively, what we are left with in the betrayal of stories is an unseen moral order: Just work and dream. As we in ever more and faster ways engage the world abstract of native being, our advantage and advancement in the world must follow the itinerary of the dominant order, to yield Brueggemann‘s despair that under its spell we are numbed of our ability to know reality otherwise – the ontological question. Bai (2009) is just as disconsolate, suggesting that ―psychic numbing‖ (p. 135) has been produced by ―the spell of the discursive‖ (p. 142); that is, an abstract and instrumental reality ―gets thicker daily‖ and exerts ―an increasingly larger claim on our consciousness.‖ As we betray our stories (source being) for a mere visage of personhood (future being), affectivity succumbs to the effective, producing ―moral lethargy‖ (Houton, 2000, p. 1) that derives from ―a utilitarian concept of responsibility‖ (p. 3). No longer moved (evoked) by persons, from the heart, we now move toward destinations in the fanciful and abstract – e/vocation without ethics! Inasmuch as we travel in ‗swarms‘ instead of ‗groups‘ – laying down ‗anchors‘ from one node to another, irrespective of ‗roots‘ (Bauman‘s terms) – we are vulnerable to the call of time-forward alone. So disposed, the extra-territorial order naturalizes consumption by materializing (making ontic) the real. Under such an ―immanent frame‖ says Taylor (2007), we only know one way to be. Ontologically monological, we take up all meaning from what is essentially meaningless – dead things, ideas, dreams. Any advocacy for variable visions is a nuisance, an interruption to progress; and if any polemic is to be waged, it is just another single- item (anti-political) ‗solution‘ – too often characterizing today‘s post-modern offense-taking – to will no less a story of power, no greater a renewal than a competing state/ment on moral saming. 7 Negri (2008) says that a ―social ontology … underpins the definition of empire‖ (p. 1) with specific interest in ―the ontological constitution of a new world‖ (p. 2). I suggest that beyond this naturalized work- dream reality lays more dynamic possibility for ‗sourcing‘ self (Taylor) – to realize our fullness more richly than by the story of culture that promises abstract ascendency in exchange for hard work. But it will only be discernible if we tell our stories, if we speak from behind, from beneath, from the anterior, the arriere-pays, and by so doing interrogate the ‗totalizing‘ and ‗saming‘ center that so fervently commands our narrowing. Neither will any single-syllable polemic displace our rigid ontology, yet they too often herald educational correctives today. In stark contrast, the prophetic, theorized by the likes of Brueggemann, Hanson, and Purpel, in no way poses re-action on account of dashed expectation – the felt slight of one‘s own forward fiction (dream). Instead, the prophet calls from within the flesh – animated by ‗em/bodied‘ tradition, against which the story from above (the empirical, ‗taken‘ as true) exerts, for strategic reasons, our ex/tradition. And so, from the sub-vers(e)ive spaces of Weber and Heidegger – and many who in retrieval (Ricoeur, 1980) are similarly summoned – I endeavour to explore how ―texts that linger, words that explode‖ (Brueggemann‘s prophetic aphorism) may pose radical renewal and recovery for ‗ways of being‘ and ‗ways of learning to be‘ in school. As the lofty dream is contested by the humble prophet, we return to the re- enchantment ethics, to re-state the storied as the locus of summons which betrays, by implication, any forward fiction that would promise fullness later by cold moral command. In the mode of the prophetic, the ethical is to ask ‗what does it mean to be … response-able‘ and yet not anticipate worded dictums, but flesh come forth, in the incarnate word, as counter-speech itself – embodied – where first utterance lives, where voice and vocation are one. Therefore, to realize subjectivity in its fullest (the ethical) is not to dream after all, nor even to work at a project. It is not even to make decisions. It is to be affectively disposed to the cry of the Other, to await our fullest dis/closure in a radically other kind of transcendence.   8 The Dominant Text of Modern Life  Weber‘s critique of rationality as the accepted dominion of everyday life for ascendant practice (achievement, growth, progress) is a lament for lost humanness. In this spirit of loss we are left to ask, what is the nature and trajectory of modern and postmodern culture; and beyond this, how may we develop a response to the ongoing rationalization and disenchantment of the world. (Hennis, 1988, p. 23)  At this juncture, I would like to lay out the essential problematic of our modern time that unites my observation of contemporary life with Max Weber‘s disturbing incantation. I began with an illustration that life today is characterized, indeed naturalized, by a ‗hard work ethic‘ and its ‗achievement of dreams.‘ Between these poles, disparate as they are, we incur our greater sense of mission and meaning in the world, even to know who we are. Of course, there are in many moments, respites from work and remissions from dreams, but the greater trajectory of our lives happens in the frame of these dominant constructs. Where this arises, and what it signifies is, in my estimation, profoundly brought together in Max Weber‘s theorizing of the modern personality. In his sociology of religion and its particular application to work/s (calling), which I take up in the next chapter, Weber uncovers that what was once a communal-transcendent relation to the cosmos lapsed into a personal-ascendant relation in the social. Work has increasingly grounded relation to higher things, to what we value; and more recently, how we achieve moral status in the world. What he theorizes as ‗proving‘ (self-demonstration) vis-à-vis ‗providence‘ (the most valued or hoped for) – now, devoid of cosmic relation, and therefore disenchanted – Taylor (2007) calls ‗moral sourcing‘ in the immanent (we demonstrate our value and draw fullness from the strictly social). Both are saying that a self proves (by work) its worth, contingent on most valued perceptions of fullness. The matter at hand is to show that as fullness has shifted horizontal, lingering transcendent ambition has lapsed into a disenchanted ontology, isolating for human action single measure demonstration. Such moral ordering belongs less to our native orientation when no longer sourced by the intimate, the inter-human. Bai (2009) concludes the point well to say that this ―Cartesian ontology‖ (p. 136) has shifted ―intrinsic worth‖ to ―instrumental worth‖ (pp. 135, 9 138), necessitating for practical purposes a ―disembedded and disembodied self‖ (p. 137). We are to take leave of who we are to become most fully human. Work is now the most immediate relation to promise; that is, work becomes most meaningful only in the context of a particular aspiration toward ‗providence‘ or salvation; or the acquired feeling of being- enlargement, as others will later show. What I draw from Weber is an ontological formula that I suspect constitutes self-making in the present and I propose that if this monism has the moral force I suspect, then we are in desperate need of prophetic utterance against its violence – against its un-seen, un-spoken about limitation; that is, its ‗kind‘ of imposed limits on what it can mean to be human. Brueggemann (2001) is among the most emphatic spokespersons for this ethical failing – and for which he offers would-be seers a prophetic summons. Any dominant text throughout history is ―an empire imagination,‖ whose hegemony exerts a ‗royal consciousness‘ that consolidates vistas for personal possibility in the singular ambitions of the dominant power. To extend Brueggemann‘s application to life today, if our attentions, affections and dispositions are most constituted in and by the imperative of this ascetic-ascendant matrix, then we default to co-producing the dominant power‘s agonistic relation to the world; ironically, being against ourselves. If Weber‘s sociology of work makes anything clear, it is that the intensification of work, now so central in modern life, ‗makes religious‘ our being against nature, forging enmity between personhood and nature (disenchanting who we are). Abram (1996) brings this out in The Spell of the Sensuous to speak of dreams otherwise, and Levinas too recovers ‗sense‘ for in/vocative possibilities not by issue of the state (or moral state/ment), but by initiation of the human Other. Weber‘s thesis and Brueggemann‘s alike go hand in hand on his point: that the greatest legacy of empire is its separation of people from places, and where else has this been more exemplary than through work – in the practices of modern corporations, no less. Furthermore, inasmuch as the empire imagination vicariously attracts cultural members to take up their own expansive projects in empire themes, it will ‗completely story‘ who we wish to be. In this respect, I must demonstrate how the Dream Ontology is fundamentally unethical (against us). Bereft of any ability to counter-pose meaningfulness (our home) – being-in-the-world as Heidegger prophesied – we, in drift, 10 succumb to being-in-dreams. Our ‗personality,‘ as Weber calls it, or our morally sourced ‗identity‘ (Taylor, 1989) suffers a limit-horizon on what we can draw on for meaning, self-knowing and fullness. In yet another noteworthy expression from Weber (1958), being is locked behind the bars of an ―iron-cage.‖ What lies unseen in the present, and is particularly conspicuous if we‘re achieving our so-called freedom, is not only that work is the dominant feature of contemporary life, but that its dimension and nature has intensified. Once we worked long days, but today, we rarely stop working at something, making us ‗obsessively ascetic.‘ We work in a job, we work at our status and we work on our bodies, just to name a few. Meanwhile, billboards and by-lines invent ever new kinds of things to work at, on, with or in daily – defining the parameters of life and liberty. Why? Because, says Weber, ‗proving‘ and self-im/prove/ment is the causal connection to ‗promise.‘ Puritans may have ‗proved‘ their salvation by a turn to works, says Weber, but doing ‗a good job‘ has never had the moral force we accord it today. We simply don‘t expect that our destiny projects issue moral commands in the present to ‗prove us‘ for an ultimate providential dream later on. Soteriologically, religion remains: the salvation urge only intensifies (Ferry, 2005, p. 10-13; Gane, 2002, p. 28; Gauchet, 1997, p. 67ff). But vocationally, work increases, laden with proving schemes (the imperative by which we acquire value). Capitalism is not only imbued with religion, it is providence in a new order. Weber‘s proving and providence is a work-promise schema still at large, albeit in different clothes. Whereas ancestors cursed God but still showed up at church on Sunday morning, we no differently loathe a consumptive state of affairs, but are nonetheless spotted at malls in seasons of commercial worship. Works and work – ascetics and its ascendant presumption – dominate the pneuma of modern life! ―One must – whatever happens, whatever the cost – develop in order to develop, advance or perish, and no one can really tell whether development for its own sake ... procures more happiness and liberty than was true in the past‖ (Ferry, p. 10). Work today, in endless striving horizons is cultic. ―Quite comprehensively‖ says Ferry, this drive ―encourages (and even renders obligatory) a veritable cult of performance for its own sake.‖ And with every cult comes unassailable allegiance, irrepressible moral rectitude; total loss of voice. 11 To Lough (2006), Weber‘s ‗work‘ demonstrates ―the persistence of religion‖ (p. 1). ―We live in a spectacularly religious society‖ even though we ―are adrift on a sea of unbelief.‖ If so, then here is the rub: we are spectacularly moral, so we spectacularly moralize. To be shown and interrogated is that the ontology we‘ve fashioned for modern life unexpectedly narrows us and diminishes our fullness. We give up great abundances of freedoms – time, creative space, and energy; even incurring personal repression (Becker, 1973) and social alienation (Reisman, 1950) – to purchase the chance to play a card with fate. Never mind whether heaven is true or not, never mind that small percentages reach their destiny. We need to feel our worth, says Becker (1973, p. 26), and if we were aware of what we do to achieve it, we‘d be shocked. The question that nags his Pulitzer Prize winning text is ―how conscious is [man] of what he is doing to earn his feeling of heroism‖ (p. 5), or that the urge (to prove worth) is spiritually rooted? ―In this sense everything that man does is religious and heroic, and yet in danger of being fictitious and fallible.‖ ―Human heroics is a blind drivenness ... a screaming for glory as uncritical and reflexive as the howling of a dog‖ (p. 6). Furthering Lough‘s admission, ―Every society thus is a ‗religion‘ whether it thinks so or not‖ (p. 7). The dreams we wield and the orders we take up to realize them make modern life more religious than ever. But so long as this is kept symbolic and disguised, we can just keep believing, never mind what for. Meanwhile, the destiny that does get fulfilled stays masked, says Ellul (1965), with clever insight on why. The ortho-praxic has subsumed the ortho-doxic of the past, but what is to be seen is a moral sleight of hand that maintains the religious structure. What strangely unites the two opposing Western epochs, to retain one way of being, lies square in the fact that the ortho (correct, right) never disappeared. By making palpable transcendent cause ―as‖ solutions (contra relations), we‘ve created new locations for moral attentions, new kinds of action (ascetic disposition) for human preoccupation. Charles Taylor (2007), who takes up the identity-morality relation in an ‗immanent frame‘ notes Ferry‘s angst of salvation inverted, of transcendence shifted sideways. ―He argues a kind of transcendence of our ordinary experience, but one which is ‗horizontal‘, not ‗vertical‘‖ (p. 677). Ferry himself says, ―‗The deification of man‘ that followed the death of God in the nineteenth century retained the essential elements of 12 the structure of religion‖ (p. 57). The only difference, says Ferry, is that the former ―offers the promise that we will be saved,‖ whereas ―philosophy invites us to save ourselves‖ (p. 19). Now theoria makes doctrines so we can do a better … job. ―The more the world becomes disenchanted, the less it is inhabited by the gods, and the more legitimate it seems to have to save oneself by one‘s own efforts.‖ Promise and effort bear a more intimate relation! But how we work things out in the modern is to ironically work our way out of being. Such is the moral subterfuge of a confined ontological form/ula purchased in the late modern play. If disturbed by religion, or commissions not our own, there is cause to think again about what we are doing, what we do believe in or what we think will save us. Against such profuse religious limit, who else but a prophet can speak? And so, Oration meets the Oracle to summon disruptive vocation. In David Purpel‘s (1989) chapter ―Education and Prophecy,‖ from his cherished book The Moral and Spiritual Crisis in Education, he writes ―a basic theme of this book is the intimate interconnection between culture and education, and in this chapter we will focus more sharply on the implications of the proceeding moral and religious analysis for educational practice.‖ Like Purpel, this work bridges larger relations between the ―cultural, social and moral views [that] permeate the schools and classrooms in powerful ways‖ (p. 101). My interest, like his, is to bring together for prophetic scrutiny any shortcomings that, as educators, our best practices rely on to ‗prove‘ us having done ‗a good job.‘ ―We are, alas, a very weak profession, captured in part by our difficulty in admitting to our condition,‖ one that he says ―reflect the culture‘s basic ambivalence about the power and value of education.‖ While I do not suspect Purpel is calling teachers weak, the profession seems reluctant, for whatever reasons, to put up a more forceful front against the power structures that dominate its given charge. I uphold that teaching is a high calling, as high as the human we teach. Accordingly, ―both the culture and individual educators need a profession with a critical capacity and the courage and expertise to provide insights into cultural problems and suggest reasonable responses to them‖ (p. 104). Here, critical cultural inquiry links with hopefulness for vocation, wherein we might ask: what kind of reflection will have us speak differently, to renew ‗higher relations‘ between persons (voice) and work (vocation). 13 Purpel offers one take on what could be prophetic in this asking. ―Education would be working within the prophetic tradition‖ when it ―seeks to remind us of our highest aspirations, of our failures to meet them, and of the consequences of our responses to these situations‖ (p. 104). Though I will at the end of my work – following the wider scrutiny of culture and education – offer a ‗prophetic method‘ for re-imagining ontological fullness beyond the rigid confines I suspect, Purpel hints at what it will take: The educator as prophet does more than re-mind, re-answer, and re-invigorate – the Prophet- educator conducts research and joins students in continually developing skills and knowledge that enhance the possibility of justice, community, and joy. His concern is with the search for meaning through the process of criticism, imagination, and creativity. Such a role (as Socrates found out) is in fact seriously threatening to those fearful of displacing the status quo. Most importantly, the educator as prophet seeks to orient the educational process toward a vision of ultimate meaning. (p. 105) I suspect ultimate meaning has much more in mind than a limited self-realization scheme. ―The great prophets … performed their critical and creative functions within a broad but particular conception of the meaning and significance of human creation and destiny.‖ From this standpoint, ―Educators who accept the concept of their profession as having a prophetic function must affirm a set of sacred or moral principles – a mythos, a set of metaphysical or religious assumptions – or commit themselves to that which has ultimate meaning to them.‖ Implicit is value beforehand, in the storied, which makes primary our speech. As the work-promise orientation not only limits possibilities for meaningfulness, but omits the ‗human‘ from starting points concerning what is most valued, the question of what is ultimate (promise) arises if it does not include the human. It begins to sound absurd, never mind unjust. And if we are not clear on the matter of human value being originary, how can we be sure we‘re responsibly handling our moral charge – that is, resisting ‗narrowing preoccupations,‘ indwelling the world fully engaged, and avoiding conditioning by the dominant cultural text. As the prophet is for promise, and promise most truly resides in storied being (mythic, world-belonging), in the texts we are, nothing should be disenchanted about learning. In as much as we 14 embody value (Bai‘s intrinsic worth), to learn is ‗embodied wonder‘ in a natural condition of being beholden to one another in covenant (sacred) trust. Here education becomes inherently dignifying, inhering the human in what is good. In such a case of ―caring otherwise‖ the summons to act is transformed, and in turn, our vocations realize us full. To so speak is to occupy a vocation of care, of which we must note two kinds. One begins in care (affective, en/chant/ed, called forth sinuously); the other, learned from Kierkegaard (sorge), is what we care about (what possesses our affections), and is best noted as ultimate concern, here offered vocationally. The educator as prophet needs to be particularly concerned about the degree to which the culture and the profession are keeping their sacred commitments. Prophetic educators must facilitate the dialogue on what the sacred commitments are, how they are to be interpreted in the light of particular situations, and what constitutes appropriate responses to them. (p. 110) Unmistakeable is that we are to be in constant reflection on, and vigilant for, a meaningfulness sourced from below, from the sub-texts we are, from where we cry for return to home, to-be with one another. By association, we must ‗speak from below‘ against whatever kinds of meaningfulness impose an ascetic kind of ascendency, ‗achieving‘ our fullness – the transcendent – without embedded and embodied relation. If so cared about, suggests Purpel, ―schools can be transformed from warehouses and training sites into centers of inquiry and growth.‖  Disenchanting the Dominant Texts of Schooling  While I will more generally make broad sweeping charges against dominant culture, my interest as an educator is to explore these dominions in what contextualizes theories and practices in education; more specifically, to uproot and comprehend the underlying moral effects of the ascetic-ascendant equation in schooling. Of concern is the extent to which Canadian sites of learning are unknowingly complicit with Zimmerman‘s (2004) ‗ontological monism‘ (p. 191) in the particular fashion Weber‘s fuller analytic will 15 demonstrate in the next chapter. As Ellison (2009) says, ―An organic unity exists between a functioning society and its institutions in that each institution is a process operating under the logic of a larger social totality‖ (p. 335). And so we can pose ‗broad‘ questions, which may include several of the following. Are we who theorize and teach, in professions of care, teaching our children to care about dreams, to take up a Dream Ontology as the fundamental educational project, their fundamental vocation for realizing what it means to be fully human … outside of who they are? If so, are we aware that the work-dream relation ‗institutes‘ a requisite agonism toward our self, our world and the human Other? Or else, what are we teaching students to care for? To what ends do we direct their affections and attentions: the disenchanted (formulaic, calculated, rational-instrumental ambition that renders them and their consumptions of knowledge ‗inert‘ until useable; proven valuable) or the enchanted (the mystery of the other, in humble stance toward the greater cosmos, embedded in storied excitations with one another)? Do we know the ‗moral force‘ behind what we teach? What would be a profession of care, or prophetically, what are we called to confess in the material we profess. In these textures – this project which David Smith (1999) calls our ―provocare (what I call for)‖ (p. 139) – I take up the voice of a provocateur (Daignault, 2009) to ‗explode‘ how we fortify pride and shame in the narrow moral constructs that underlie the liturgy of dreams. Nowhere, it seems, is the ascetic-ascendant (agonistic) relation better exemplified for exerting such a fierce moral force than in education. For one, education finds its historical voice and thrives in the hues of rational-instrumental progress (125 years of being relatively unchanged, reminds Ellison, 2009, p. 331); second, it conceives and delivers its product in what Donmoyer (2004) says is an ineradicable ―achievement ethic,‖ not to mention being replete with a moral shaming apparatus along the way; and third, it has the distinct charge of reproducing culture (Bourdieu) in currencies of the empire‘s most pressing needs, doing so in ways that intensify competition, in closed (strictly measurable) systems so schools can ‗give account‘ to the dominion. From its provincial charge to its grandiose mission statements, from classroom protocols to their physical design, and from rigid learning outcomes to endless assessment, schooling‘s moral force 16 remains long after the learning years. As work is modern life, and school‘s ascetic order trains for it from first days, what occurs in school is our I/destiny (forgive the neologism): the promise of being realized – who we are, made complete, after all that work. As it is, education and ontology share an intimate relation. In fact, we know little outside the way we are educated ‗to be,‘ and we are offered no real alternative for imagining life outside the bounds of these educationally habituated dreamscapes.  Excursus: A Personal Dream Narrative  Throughout my youth, I sought the self triumphant, in furious strides ascending the imagined pinnacles that promised my fullness. It was the proper way after all, to both think about and orchestrate my life, that is, if I was to be a certified somebody. Beneath the glossy childscapes, I hear the insidious dictum: Thou Shalt Substantiate! But after living out its charge, in the employ of every conceivable style, I must now lament ―the dream‖ as the very mockery of who ―I am.‖ As the fundamental training ground that engulfed all ambition, it is a trap, a noose, a daunting enclosure, one that not only kills the soul, but claims the heart‘s very affect/ions in every beat along the way. In the order of schooling was a moral matrix, and under its spell, an inescapable and consuming per/version of what it means to be human. Here, the sum of existence is an incipient self, realized in a destiny scheme. Spun in tales of vastness, it is the program that imperceptibly makes small. Charged to be known, masked is that we diminish. In its deceit, I must take control, lest I fall back and losing the dream, lose myself. The dream is, arguably, the most uncontested social convention in modern time, with little thought given to why we are so uncritically endeared. Having eased its way into prominent discourses spanning childhood, school, work, church, family, national consciousness and mass marketing par excellence, and transgressing boundaries which by any other measure are incommensurable, the dream inexorably absorbs and defines the modern person. As ubiquitous as any cultural artefact, its dominion is guaranteed by its cunning to transcend and transgress virtually every cultural boundary to render it exclusive (hegemonic). In religion, science, business and academia, the people dream. Adherents, no matter how contentious by any 17 other means, are effectively ONE by virtue of dreaming. It is the currency in every corner of society: the ivory tower, Sunday school, and the trenches of common labour. It is a gentleman in its ―appeal to our betterment‖ and it is good in its ―promise of unification.‖ In short, ―the process of making up goals and then chasing ever harder after them‖ makes ―the dreams of every person have some sort of equal value‖ (Kerr, p. 4-5). To dream is to be! They are the picture of heaven without the religious baggage to get there, without preaching or penitence, so we suspect. If there is anything taken for granted, mocked if assailed, and whose denouncement we would in every other respect prove false, it is to dream. So I must ask, is that all there is?  A Summons for Prophetic Vocation in Education  Just as we may not draw immediate connection between dreams and Weber‘s modern asceticism, his application may not seem so germane to education either; that is, until we look at the specific elements of disenchantment – primarily, his lament for how the rational-instrumental is the controlling doctrine for institutional responsibility, but as well, how it would consume our own educative sensibility. And while we have to wait to grasp the fuller sense of the ascetic-ascendant (agonistic) frame that constitutes the Dream Ontology as I apply it to education, we can at this point note that his disenchantment, the prophetic term he is most known for uttering, originated in the very context of educational vocation. In his essay, Science as Vocation, Weber (1946) distinguishes between a teacher and a leader, rationality and art, a professor and a prophet. His most referenced quote frames my concern, as it platforms the shift to an all out narrowing of world relation and requisite self-regard, or else, how the Dream became a rational-transcendent moral tool. The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization, and, above all, by the ‗disenchantment of the world.‘  Precisely the ultimate and most sublime values have retreated from public life … into the transcendental realm of mystic life. (p. 133) What is curiously left out of Weber‘s most quoted passage is what immediately precedes it: ―The Prophet for whom so many of our younger generation yearn simply does not exist.‖ I am fascinated by the 18 background in mind here, since he does not elaborate on the point in the text. We are left to wonder what for him is the meaning space between ‗need for a prophet‘ and ‗professions in a rational age;‘ or else, what ‗is‘ possible for vocation, prophetically, given dominions of rational practice? It is a terrifically generative muse- ical space to be sure, with the question at heart calling up the counter-storied: ―which of the warring gods should we serve? Or should we serve perhaps an entirely different God, and who is he? Then one can say that only a prophet or a savior can give the answers‖ (p. 131). With respect to artistic vocation, ―our greatest art is intimate‖ (p. 134), and it is the prophet, he inter-poses, who may direct it: ―only within the smallest and intimate circles, in personal human situations, in pianissimo, that something is pulsating that corresponds to the prophetic pneuma, which in former times swept through the great communities like a firebrand.‖ We may ponder if in Weber‘s estimation there is a prophetic vocation in the spaces of teaching especially after theorizing a new tyranny of asceticism in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. In his abundant references to disenchantment in the spaces of educational vocation, Weber (1946) draws upon Tolstoy: ―what shall we do, and, how shall we arrange our lives‖ (p. 131). Or, we might ask: what shall we teach, and, how shall we arrange persons? Posing vocation in this way impinges on the kind of ‗leadership‘ the prophet and artist will take up, to meet head on what is more than just a seasonal drought in education. It concerns where we source fullness of meaning, yet again. ―We happen to come to lectures in order to experience something more than mere analysis and statements of fact‖ (p. 127). Students ―crave a leader and not a teacher.‖ Mischievously taking the matter to (he)art, ―the primary task of a useful teacher is to teach his students to recognize inconvenient facts‖ (p. 125), or as Felman (1987) says, ―teaching … has to deal not so much with lack of knowledge as with resistances to knowledge‖ (p. 79). Therefore, prophetic vocation could very well be to sink our tongue into the inconvenience of dreams, so long as they get ‗in the way‘ of our fullness! Ofelia Ortega (2006) certainly makes the case. ―To have ‗vocation as empire‘ means that we are not in front of a simple economic fact, but rather of an ideology that reaches all the levels of social relations‖ (p. 41). In other words, if we are not made full in our storied world relation, doctrine (anything abstracting who we are) will take its place! Fullness occurs in its fictions. Here then is vocation to interrogate a summative ontological frame, to wonder at vocational possibility in the midst of wonder itself, 19 to ask what is it to be enchanted again, but in syn/aes/thetic relation with students, where ‗speaking space‘ anticipates what it means to most fully be. ―For teaching to be realized, for knowledge to be learned, the position of alterity is therefore indispensable: knowledge is what is already there‖ (Felman, 1987, p. 169). I am personally blessed to have as doctoral advisors leader educators who as prophets, artists and poets pose tensile word play between the storied and the empirical – that is, who each interrogate the royal consciousness from the hinterland to re-enchant over again. Bai (2003) speaks against the detriments of the ―ethics of instrumentalism‖ (p. 41) as a ―hegemonic ethics we have been collectively enacting for the past two to three hundred years [in] instrumentalism,‖ derogating how our disenchantment and its underlying agonism forges ―power relationship between beings.‖ As an artist-educator, Bai‘s invocation is to explode the dualism we find in an ascetic-ascendant schema and to re-realize unitary expression with our being-in- the-world. By means of Zen Arts, ―putting the discursive mind to rest and opening up the consciousness‖ (p. 49), resides a ―freeing [of] oneself from the tyranny of the languaged consciousness,‖ from the dominant texted ontologies of empire, as it were, for a renewal of relations that Brueggemann issues as the chief charge of the prophet. Embodied vocation, suggests Bai, is being-with what we do, and an ‗experiencing‘ of world- embedded relation devoid of instrumental agency. In my estimation, Bai takes up Weber‘s call in the aesthetic prophetic voice. Meyer (2005) has done landmark work in the area of Living Inquiry, which as a parallel to Bai‘s aesthetic (nature-elicited) educational philosophy specifically contemplates place, language, time, and self/other to provoke ‗pedagogies of presence.‘ In Karen‘s work is the imaginal force and spiritual risk taking that reinvigorates being-world relations devoid of duality, with the intent of re-centralizing our oneness with the natural that Weber‘s ‗instrumental disenchantment‘ altogether agonizes. As a benefactor of Karen‘s first course on Living Inquiry, I attest to how it transformed my own sense of being present, effectively disrupting the ‗ways of being‘ I had ‗bought into‘ prior to encountering her initially disturbing invocations. Being sinuously human is not easy when we have spent years constructing who we are in the alter-frames. I can only wonder now why I thought it was morally right to be so constituted, so composed. I recall the 20 remarkable experience of a final project which animated, with a group, what had not yet been put into words in advance of the performance. Such a daring approach to education – and the permission she gave to play in it – lingers not only for the risks we can take as educators, but for what it ‗taught me‘ about being alive in my lessons, being transcendent in my living relations. She is a supreme pioneer of the prophetic in educational vocation in the distinct offering of enchantment at its most direct level: nature, wonder, spontaneity, relationality. If Bai is the artist, Meyer is the canvass. She, seemingly, is the sky, the mountains, the birds and the air itself that painter Bai might bring together in magical reverie. And among the most celebrated for the effects he has had on my educational life is Carl Leggo. I have great admiration for the recent projects Carl has taken up – Life Writing, métissage, and variants aplenty of autobiographical exploration and narrative voice to break down and break out of the centers of self-saming that occur in the dominions of text. While Roth (2008) offers métissage as a way of identity- writing that allows us to ―escape the hegemonies that arise from the ontology of the same—which, as I show, undergirds much of educational thought‖ (p. 891), Carl and his stunning orations of poetry and prose may be its most incisive provocateur. If not known for being entirely scandalous in sub-versions of textual play – and they are very naughty – then surely his stubborn refusal to concede a text to static and still standing will cause any who‘ve crossed Carl‘s path to quickly remember his excitations at the hardening of the word. They are to remain as fleshy as our stories themselves. Narration is the only way a text can stay alive, I can still hear Carl fomenting, and when theory runs after it with a pen, what was once flesh has lost its voice to definition. What is remarkable about my attraction to Carl is that while his corpus of work does not share a direct relation to the writers I take up, there seem correspondences unceasing between what we are both seeking to release. I am most grateful for the inspirations (using that word intentionally) under Carl‘s lead that exposed and exploded my own expectations of language‘s purposes – from definition to infinity – and how the way we take to language is the way we take to personhood itself. Living poetically will never be the same. To live and to write are one, and such as they are, words can be truly enchanted. I am grateful that Carl 21 summoned me to bring voice into ―vocation.‖ I can honestly say I have now found it. I can say, unabashedly, that I have found in living language enchanting possibility. Here then is a model call for what is prophetically possible in educational vocation: to artfully lead speech to the restor(i)ed, slippery, sinuous and scandalizing space that offends all ‗moral sensibility‘ of our culturally mastering texts.  Re-Enchanting the Ethical: Establishing Warrant for this Quest  I offer these three educators to hint at prophetic possibility in vocations of education, where from our very most natural hinterland we might be able to denude and denaturalize the ontological hold that otherwise conditions our praxis in spaces of schooling, and in kind, the products we make of students we teach. If the essential theme of disenchantment is that it narrows, and if disenchantment exerts the dominion on world relations that I suspect, then the deception that we think otherwise, or imagine ourselves free from, may now come more clearly into view. Where I go from here is to make the case. How is it, for example, that we imagine freedom, if ‗from within‘ disenchanted spaces and by its very tools we seek transcendent possibility after all? If we are so disenchanted but the enchanted is an abiding condition that motivates at least to some extent much of our striving, then important questions linger. The most pressing and central occur in ethical varieties since what we value most will be formative of moral selfhood (ontology), Taylor will later show. Here, Emmanuel Levinas meets our discourse. If the transcendent is already the human, and not something to be reached (which I am calling the ascendant imposter, if not a transcendent tautology), we have an occasion for reversal; to go ‗back‘ to first ethics, to who we are. There is for humans an ―a priori relation to … height‖ (Levinas, 1996, p. 11), where our ―commitment is a promotion‖ (p. 18), but one fully otherwise than dreams. In fact, when a ―principle of immortality striving‖ (Becker, 1973, p. 64) is exploited by culture to enable its glory, the prophet is the great re-minder, the ‗troubler of Israel,‘ as it were, to put all enclosed ontology under suspicion. As Brueggemann will show, the one who truly knows freedom is she who knows how to cry. She knows dealt blows to the spirit, to have ‗flesh barred from being.‘ Taking up the cry is the beginning of ethics, as condition and vocation. Such is to animate being in the lived question of the 22 enchanting Other to whom I am answerable for my ultimate dis/closure and good. In this way, the Other as promise, is the ethical: my fullest and most authentic self-demonstration – transcendence realized. The paradox that initiated this project is how we can be captive without tears. If we are captive and yet cry not, then this quest is prophetic ‗beyond words.‘ Here, persons more naturally dwell before being brought ‗down‘ to reality – pre-scribed, in the thick ontology of ascetic-ascendant ambition. And it is here where Levinas calls us to ‗vocations of speaking,‘ laying the ethical ground for saying against the said, as being-dis/posed to the living call of the Other to realize truest vocation. But lest we think in binary, ‗words‘ are not to be the enemy, and neither are dreams a villain. After all, voca/tion is ‗to speak‘ and to voca/lize is ‗to be human.‘ I am thus asking for a high/er ethics, where work and words can be unitary! Thus, the matter is whose language we emit, and in/for whose currencies are we working for/under. As with any tool, how we employ them is answerable. When the employ of words is morally normed, manipulated to a ‗higher‘ order (dreams), effectively laying low and readying human relations for ascriptions of shame (Kristeva‘s ab/ject), we invoke the failure of our very own genus, which is to de-incarnate ethics. Under the aims of the dominion, where work has ‗left behind‘ personhood and words inscribe us finite (contra the enchanting infinity we are), the ethical shifts moral (the static), to a shame-appropriating utilization. When what is by nature transcendent (beyond words) shifts to being-realized in the ascendant (self-measured destiny), care is inverted says Wineberg (2007). Whereas care was once concern for others, we are now careless if we tend to another outside the meagre allowances of policy. Charged to realize our cares in the abs/tract (―drawn away‖ from the real), we sub/tract what it is to be fully alive. Noteworthy too is how forces ‗defining‘ our late modern reality summon us to ‗cares of relative insignificance,‘ fully implicating references to ultimate things. As such, what we‘ve made ultimate comes into view – at least I hope to make this apparent – and what so distresses is that work and dreams occlude the very organism for which they were supposed to confer greater meaning. How this got inverted presses my concern at some level, but that it is invisible, even considered natural, more significantly sounds my grief. If under taxing command dreams only make us inert, confirming Becker‘s thesis that the most dominant aspect of modern 23 life is repressive (ascetic), and if modern life is for persons to be increasingly shut-up, as Kierkegaard had prophesied, then dreams are to be the finest ambassador of our demise. After leaving tucked-in from places of work with faces of steel that emit no more ‗fleshy‘ a word, I know many who cry in the dark over a humanity stolen through work. Meanwhile, the priests of culture are mandated to root out the affective and pathetic (the enchanted) to ‗keep their jobs‘ so we can all reach … their dream. It is the circle of life in lands disenchanted, all the way up the chains; we pass on the virus, and at the top, its end, we wonder what for? It‘s a brilliant game for a program called progress, but rare is the inquiry on regressions that follow. For this reason, I had need of leaving schooling‘s hardened managing spaces to inquire at the moral sources from which it feeds and draws ambition, from where I was finding and imparting vocational life. I offer for appraisal my findings, with an itinerary for how I will proceed.  Introducing the Research Quest/ion: Charting a Pro/phetic Dis/ruption  In offering the execution of this work, I start by expressing my debt to Charles Taylor. From his scholarship concerning sources of self – effectively, ‗where‘ being draws its highest values to most realize its flourishing – I reformulate and imagine the Dream Ontology. I produce this convenience of language for its resonance at probing late modernity‘s highest kind of self-knowing and world-engagement, which when applied to education deprives the fullest (and unified expression of) voice and vocation of its communicants. I arrive at my research question by deduction. First, Taylor‘s ‗moral ontology‘ asserts that ‗to be‟ and ‗to act‟ are synchronous with what is taken up as promise. As goes one‘s sense of promise, action orients toward it and the phenomenon founds self-regard. Identity (sense of self) follows morality (what has worth); we define who we are by what we value. From this theoretic platform, I offer by way of a second deduction that so long as modern promise doctrines through dreams evade the human, and so doing elude our fullness, they fail the ethical. How we can know and value who we are is counter-intuitively cut off from fuller possibility. Third, by virtue of identity‘s synchrony with promise, I will anticipate how we may re-imagine promise otherwise to prospect, reciprocally, a fuller world-relation. That is, if we can open vocational possibilities beyond the 24 closed ascetic-ascendant quest, I imagine we may be able to realize what we know in the phenomenological tradition as Ethical Subjectivity (Fryer, p. 5). This question will widely govern ruminations on what it can mean to be human, and to most humanely teach. Effectively, in tensile space between being-human and to- dream, where oracles in the ontic take precedence over the aura of the Other, I enlist a prophetic counter-pose to reconsider in/vocation most ethically in the spaces of teaching. Prior to exploring this enclosed ontology at length, it will be necessary to solicit plausibility for the concern and to derive a sense for where this kind of self-making originated. To do this, I will in Chapter 2 present some foundational terms of reference while citing key contributing scholars, and thereafter frame the ascetic-ascendant (agonistic) relationship that grounds the Dream Ontology. In effect, as the ascetic (both sacred and secular) has become the chief posture by which persons secure promise in the west, they are constituted to be against the good. Living itself is staged as an event for overcoming limits, with a virulent schism conditioning our world engagement. Becker (1971) says in the modern scheme ―people derive their sense of value‖ (p. 36) and ―work out their urge to superiority by plying their ... attractiveness‖ (p. 71), but as this occurs, we‘ve ―set a great distance between ourselves and the rest of nature‖ (p. 13). ―By placing the conceptual over the perceptual‖ (Bai, 2009, p. 136), ―we have lost the ability to hear nature‖ (p. 135), both internally and externally, to the effect that ―‗man‘ is a divided being, alienated from within‖ (p. 138). Not only though have we disenchanted the very natural urge that conditions transcendence in the first place, but by revising ―what counts as real‖ (p. 139), we have ironically handed over promise to idols, to what has no life to give back after our faithful subservience. As this heroic spirit has increasingly identified western persons, moral formation has moved from an embedded relation in the world and with one another, to one of proving worth in competitive social exchange borne of an economic model. That is, as such a model locates promise outside being, vocation shifts to laying hold of it in moral terms given; and as it drifts away from originary voice, from dwelling in one‘s most native and unitary expression, to world occupation that has split persons in roles (for advancing to occur), we do not merely default to being competitive with one another, but being against nature in every sense, enact violence 25 against our very own self. In short, we have disenchanted who we are and our relations with one another by taking on radical affirmation projects that dispossess the enchantment we ‗are‘ already, or else by locating promise (the enchanted) in the strictly ontic. By defining the problem of ontology as the drive to get out of being, the Dream Ontology becomes the ordering tool for realizing our own annihilation. Chapter 3 takes up a genealogy Weber began in the second chapter to demonstrate that as the work- promise relation shifted horizontal (transcendence moved ascendant) formerly ‗virtuous‘ referents for action are expressed in more ‗virile‘ possibilities (in frontier imaginaries). As the relationship between persons and world became increasingly rational, given to more fiercely consumptive attentions, the ethical suffers an all out decline, whereby relationality in the world is given to rationality over it. In this Geist, I note how 19 th  century ethical programs increasingly conformed ‗the good‘ to notions of production (work) and by so doing initiated in sites of schooling and society radically practical and progressive approaches to moral sourcing. As the moral drifts from neighbourliness to more objective (yet abstract) ideals, self-knowing is increasingly confined by the per/form/able. In the shifting of moral sources from the infinity of the affective to definitive effective ends, response-ability (to the good) is reified progressive; so too would go what it means ―to be.‖ Chapter 4 goes beneath these historical ontological developments to deliberate the ‗anterior aspect‘ of the moral in order to comprehend what really conditions moral sense; or, instrumental relations to aims. After admitting Taylor‘s ‗moral ontology‘ – that which grounds our sense of the transcendent in advance is the catalyst for self-realizing aims – I suggest late modern sources to be invariably conditioned by dreams. Effectively, I demonstrate how the values most commonly drawn upon to formulate identity‘s (our proving) highest condition (promise), if ‗cut off‘ from the human (enchanted), will produce a hollowing experience in general, to oppose the meaning all efforts at promise anticipated. By trading what is already enchanted (an a priori relation with the world and others) with what intrinsically is not, makes the whole quest toward height not only self-emptying, but absurd. In as much as the modern self takes up its causa sui by means of what is disenchanted (lifeless) at the outset – trading adventure in the world for advancement over it – it incurs a kind of being and action in the world that effectively undermines its sought fulfilment. Worse, it exacerbates 26 its separation from the world to fulfil Weber‘s prophecy that promise conditioned by rationality will lapse into irrationality: we ‗live out‘ our devaluation by what we sought as our salvation. In the hues of Taylor and Weber, I will demonstrate in Chapter 5 an abundance of ways whereby the Dream Ontology rather than securing favoured self-knowing and promise, in fact wages the demise of both. By imposing a schism in our more native vocalis (voice and vocation; Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 2004, p 1400) – which the instrumental Dream Ontology necessitates – we achieve and live out our own opposition. As work (vocation) will now consist of mundane subsistence labours and fantastical projects of affirmation, being (voice) not only falls behind but is antagonized by vocation (the urge toward right action), in which case originary meaningfulness is dismissed as disruptive and needs to be morally chastened proportional to the promise program at hand. It is by this very process that the self-double – a fitting exemplar for this schism – demonstrates the Dream Ontology carried to its logical ends. Finally, in Chapter 6, I reposition ‗the real‘ as speech that emerges embodied by summons of the enchanted human Other. To illustrate how the human is the initiate or in/vocation for realizing fullest voice (thus recovering our fuller humanity) I counter-pose the Dream Ontology with the Prophetic Mode. As the pro-phet (before + to speak) exists prior to and speaks from below (as sub-text) the dominant hardened texts of culture, it not only embodies the ethical by living as sub-verse to given reality, but by ad-vocating from truest flesh (care, call, cry) accuses ascent in any alter/native way. To counter-story reality as such is not to make new versions, but to live in our storied anterior, where being re/membered is dis/closed by in/vocation (enchanted summons) from the human Other. So dis/posed (in syn/aes/thetic relation) is to re-imagine the ethical in the enchanted, in a holism of relations that necessitates the Other as the anticipation of promise. As this invokes renewal possibility for education, I solicit an ‗ethical dis/position‘ for the classroom, calling out originary latencies of Care-Call-Cry, to re-enchant and re/member being‘s home. 27 CHAPTER 2 – LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE ASCETIC-ASCENDANT FRAME This chapter introduces the problem of sourcing human possibility in objective and immanent moral limits to expose the disenchanted ontology of modern personhood. I first appeal to the “problem of ontology” (Levinas) or the taking up of „ascendant‟ moral sources (Taylor) that narrowly constitute persons in a work-promise horizon (Weber) after which time I inflect Weber‟s analytic to conjecture its fullest rationality in the Dream. Effectively, by assimilating culture‟s „uplift instruments‟ we get caught up in ascetic registers that consign being (voice) to ambitions (vocation) of „proving,‟ to ironically betray promise (sought fullness) altogether.  We fashion unfreedom as a bribe for self-perpetuation  -- Becker (1973, p. 51)  … man thus confers a unique meaning to being, not by celebrating it, but by working it, for the sake of promise   -- Levinas (1996, p. 44)  Reference Points, Part One: Sourcing the Problem … of Ontology   It seems to me that those whose livelihood is to do the work of the state may have the hardest time accepting that viable disruptions to its kept order of things may exist. Pierre Bourdieu was one who saw the tight relation between educators and state aims, noting that happenings in the boundary of school are, at the most significant level, reproductions of the dominant cultural texts. Yet, educators often state that their aim is to liberate the child from cultural strictures. Going back in time, I recall a similar liberty being the great ambition of the modern project, before schooling was popularized in its ideas. Yet, this freedom seems not much more than ‗a variation‘ on a still dominative theme; and if this is not understood, then neither will be our endearment to its inheritance than an all out departure from a prior epoch disdained. Of course, I am leading us to Weber‘s suspicion that the modern order is the fulfilled ‗rationalization‘ of its precursor than its eradication, of which we boast – a historical reification nuanced in the same root idea. Most troubling then is how our inability to discern the Geist leaves us bereft of imagining reality outside the monism given – or is presumed natural – to know no other liberty than this kind; no way of being human otherwise. Would most educators for example recognize that predicates for personhood in our social location are derivations of just another kind of monotheism? If so, would they readily share agreement with its essential doctrines? 28  A few things converge on this point before I elaborate on the underlying problem in this chapter. For one, the dominant expectation in schooling is that life‘s purpose is to rise, to improve. Two, the assumption underlying its possibility insists ‗in advance‘ the constituting principles (moral order) to best be laid hold of. Third, we must by means of rationality master the principles to exploit their possibility if we are to advance. Fourth, we stand outside and distant from that which possesses our future liberty, which introduces the late modern novelty of ―work‖ – the project of ‗being‘ in adequation (Aquinas) with them (external forms or ideals) to prove our adequacy (value). Voila, this is the sum of what it means to be human: reduce ourselves to a thetic, in syn/thesis with the ontic (in the sense Heidegger expressed it) outside of us. Work our way to promise, to there-being. All else between, by default, is unnatural or else trivial. As meaningfulness is in no sense inherent, but is constituted by a task and a destination, vocation must leave home (being); voice is left behind, forgotten. What fails to be understood is that locating the human outside of ‗promise,‘ presenting it as a thing to get, means prior value is not already ‗inherent‘ in what it means to be. Liberalism therefore presents the ‗project of being‘ as one of leaving ourselves: ex-stasis – moving toward a ‗form‘ of there-being (two of Heidegger‘s referents) because not until there is some/thing to be can we qualify for promise. It must be by a work, converting all of being into vocation without voice. ―Only what becomes an object in this sense counts as being‖ (Carr, p. 20) and so the moral becomes the work of moving toward an idea(l). ―Knowledge is now a grasping and determining of the object.‖ As ―Being is now objectness‖ then the ―essence of reality‖ (p. 25) is it realized (the driving ontological assumption). In effect, the ―truth of being … becomes the certainty of representation‖ (p. 20), to ‗demonstrate ourselves‘ proven for the given promise (Weber‘s work-promise relation, p155ff). As Appelbaum (1996) puts it, ―The idealist tendency … focuses attention on becoming manifest‖ (p. 111), which is to say that in this ―proving thesis‖ preoccupation with life, World and Person are by means of work – working their way out of being – cast into opposition. Life becomes agon (Smith, 1999): the project of exploiting ‗things‘ (the ontic) outside us to bring ―into us‖ (Becker‘s expansion thesis) a better condition. Actually that‘s generous; it is rather, to make us ‗a better thing‘ (thetic) relative to given principles, amidst which is felt our adulation (pride) in the mere social moment we do it in. As such, voice is 29 inane and vocation a mere tool, urging Levinas to introduce ―the problem of ontology.‖ The way we‘ve imagined what is real and what it is to be human in this way turn persons into a mere cipher – totalizing us in the Same, in what is an increasingly virtual (Appiqnanesi, pp. 226ff) and fantastical order (Elliot, pp.1-3). After reflecting on his disturbance, I will through Taylor demonstrate how moral sourcing from this kind of person-hollowing construct for self-making is implicitly anti-human, in effect opposing possibilities for fulfilment right from the start. What to Levinas is the ―problem of ontology‖ is to Taylor the ―problem of naturalism,‖ or else naturalizing the moral order such that alternative ways of being construed are eliminated. Once it becomes clear how Levinas and Taylor dispute this narrowing – the central problem of this project being the narrowed possibilities for being human in the moral seduction of the Dream (our new providence) – I offer Weber‘s palpable expression of the matter in what is deduced as the disenchanting of life (reducing life‘s purpose and persons) through strict adherence to a work-promise relation. In short, as human fullness is conditioned by estimations of promise, being defaults to an ―ascetic personality‖ – a self constructed ―in terms of‖ a restrictive moral order – to parallel Taylor‘s ―moral identity‖ whereby a self is constituted by its strongest valuations (1989) derived from given social referents (2004). After it becomes clear how Levinas‘ transcendence – which ‗the providence of dreams‘ reduces – meets Taylor‘s now diminished moral sources through Weber‘s analytic inflected ascetic-ascendant, I offer a genealogy of salient moral moments in the West (Chapter 3) to demonstrate how the fullest rationalization of an immanent, disenchanted moral order is pejoratively expressed in what we can call a Dream Ontology (Chapter 4). As these three theorists have not, to my knowledge, been brought together in the way I attempt to link transcendence, moral sources and disenchantment (in what Taylor calls flourishing in immanence), I will first offer the finer background on each before bringing them together into the working framework, after which time the deleterious effects of such an order can be capably understood (Chapter 5) and then counter-posed for remediation (Chapter 6).  At the root of what is stated, and what remains for exploration in this project, is intention to rethink transcendence; that is, what is by nature the good, our fullness – or else the presumption at the heart of core motivation. If not already apparent, this opposes one philosophical tradition for another, putting the harder 30 realities of liberalism in contempt by appeal to the phenomenological. What so disturbs about modern life under its solitary dominion is the embraced premise that as a nation expands, its persons are better off; so we ‗embody a theory‘ of mutual self-interest that not only makes advancement the theme of modern life, but one that specifically imposes on all ‗a duty‘ to enlarge one way (what I am calling the ontology or story) – which in our case is to acquire all varieties of capital. Under this order, which we suspect is not one at all – and neither do we see its transcendent derivation – there can be no social cohesion unless each gives tacit consent to its primacy in advance (one decidedly against our own), locating the ethical (our fullness) in an ontology that sunders the human altogether, and in relation to abstract external commands alone. The matter first struck me while teaching Comparative Civilizations a few years back in which case I marvelled at how educational programming celebrate early cultures as ―great‖ and how packaged lessons invariably oriented students toward ―the great‖ without considering what constituted ―the good‖ of persons prior to the imposed order. Needless to say, the likes of Egypt and Rome wrought untold oppressions, so I took up the occasion to make this tension central in historical inquiry: to spot where ―the great‖ leads our affections, for the sake of promise, and by so orienting us is against ―the good‖ after all. What we fail to understand is that where we are located on this matter bears core assumptions about possibilities for human flourishing. Moreover, the moral order we allow ourselves to be coaxed by – the values we take up as the highest expressions for human meaningfulness – will govern not just what we do, but how we take regard of our very being. As it is, the best way to co-opt personal aspirations with empire promise is to kill pathos, says Brueggemann, and so it seems that ridding promise of people is a good start. Make people care for a kind of freedom non-contingent on the human Other and the march toward things can be unfettered by needless feelings that otherwise disrupt project (and person) realization. Never mind, too, that this already forsakes enchantment, even as the whole project of dreams is to insidiously will ―enchantment recovered.‖ What I intimate is a fabrication of freedom in a failed ontology if it does not already begin with the human. And more to that, if we do not admit in the first place to being transcendently disposed, we will by default take up a false version of promise, as immanent forms of promise carry no less a salvation mandate, 31 which Nietzsche, Ferry and Gauchet will later show. In short, the very program for being that we undertake in the modern frame, in dispossession of one‘s embedded (Taylor, 2007; Bai, 2009) from epochs of old, is to secure transcendence by means of a Dream Ontology (a morality of dreams), even while supposing all the while that everything we work for is our own authentic expression, never minding at any point that everyone else is doing it the very ―same‖ way. Whether to be ‗great‘ differently or be different/ly ‗human‘ suddenly opens up wider senses for who (or what) we are and what it means to most fully be alive. Although I will speak to the fuller expressions of Levinas‘ lament later, and further make his case for transcendent being (for summons to promise otherwise), I must first admit what he calls the problem of ontology, especially as he takes on transcendence made knowable in the thetic (the immanent or horizontal as Taylor will put it). In other words, our flourishing becomes a serious ontological issue – how we are to understand and take to what is real for optimal human experience. Transcendence and ontology are one: promise and its moral (fullness) presumption constitute who we are! In the beginning was knowing … the right thing to do. No! shrieks Levinas. In the beginning was speech and wonderment, and intrinsic to it all, the human Other. Or, says Butler (2005), ―In the beginning, I am my relation to you‖ (p. 81). Therefore, Levinas challenges a given ontology: moral schemes wherein we work being absorb life in pre-determined versions of destiny, which as such can never realize our own fullness. In posing disruption, Levinas (1996) says ―invocation is not preceded by comprehension‖ but rather ―speech delineates an original relation‖ (p. 7); that is, the right thing to do is not given by knowledge but summoned (called) by the Other, which will not be instrumental at all! It rather makes our meaning entirely intrinsic; and our action too. So, to be clear, the ―problem of ontology‖ is ―to establish a fundamental knowledge‖ (p. 2) for determinate roles (p. 3) and vocations, one‘s undoubtedly promise-oriented, to readily direct en masse to given ontic events/aims. In the language of Weber, Levinas protests proving (self-demonstration) other than by the human initiate. ―The ontological event … consists in suppressing or transmuting the alterity of all that is other in universalizing the immanence of the Same or of Freedom‖ (p. 11). If not apparent, there is suppression in immanence. Thus, what happens in renouncing one‘s light (Bergo, 2005, p. 6) by ―engaging in a political and 32 technical destiny‖ (Levinas, 1996, p. 15) ―is to identify the I with morality‖ (p. 17), to be given over in our ―commitment to a promotion‖ (p. 18) – that is, to draw our ‗moral sourcing‘ from what is not for or of the human, but an expansive order of things; to take up promise not one‘s own. So then, first for Levinas is that ―transcendence remains essential‖ (p. 27); ―the transcendent is a notion which seems to me primary.‖ But second, and here lies the problem, ―the state‖ is ―the fundamental contradiction to our situation,‖ set against what is our originary disposition to the sublime. As ―transcendence is a movement by, or toward something that is not me,‖ which supposes ―a movement of developing itself … surpassing itself‖ (Bergo, p. 1), Levinas therefore asks ―To go where? To go into what region? To stand on what ontological plane?‖ (p. 29). In short, how ―my own-most possibility‖ (Bergo, p. 26) is referenced is at stake, which Taylor will hereafter give dimension to when we look at moral sources for most authentic (fullest) being. It is here, where being turns synthetic, that the moral and ascetic come fully into view, and which I will counter-pose later with the syn/aes/thetic to release being of such measuring, to enable assignation of pride or shame. In ―the proposable, the thetic‖ (Levinas, p. 19), our being ―takes aim and moves toward a theme,‖ which is ―the Same‘s coincidence‖ with ordered reality. But as he makes clear ―consciousness of reality does not coincide with our habitation in the world‖ (p. 5), and so ―to subject relations between beings to structures‖ is to be given to and absorbed by ―knowledge of the universal,‖ to be a living category, programmable by a common plan in world affairs. Seen through Weber‘s work and promise lens, ―man thus confers a unique meaning to being, not by celebrating it, but by working it, for the sake of promise. In technical and scientific culture, the ambiguity of being, like the ambiguity of meaning, would be overcome‖ (p. 44); or so we think in the liberal tradition. In effect, if we work hard enough, we can overcome what we are (philosophy‘s salvation counter-part). Ontologically such a program ―reduces the Real to an ‗Object in general,‘ and its interpretation of being ... destined for the laboratory and the factory‖ (p. 45) makes the ‗project of being‘ strictly instrumental. With promise disposed only to ascetic cause, we are ―borne by a spirit of sacrifice.‖ We are known by our work. ―The person betrays his vocation of being … in getting absorbed in the law which situates and orients him‖ (p. 49). As Levinas concludes the matter, ―the original ontological plane‖ is the ―mark of our practical projects‖ (p. 40), ―being as an instrument, a tool, that is to say, a 33 maintenance. It is an end also‖ (p. 9) so in the end, ―ontology serves a political aim‖ (Appelbaum, 1996, p. ix). Being, unknown to us, becomes (is made into) a political and cultural servitude. Briefly, we can anticipate the syn/aes/thetic as a counter-pose of being in adequation to the ontic, which in cultural space serves to thematize and render inauthentic who we are. Essentially, the starting point of the syn/aes/thetic is to dwell enchanted (Abram), ‗related otherwise‘ than to salvation by work, or hope by way of an achievement. ―Salvation is still a nostalgia, a longing to go back‖ (Levinas, 1996, p. 51) but like Valery, Levinas regards originary transcendent disposition a ―faultless desire … an aspiration that is conditioned by no prior lack,‖ which David Loy (1996) will note, is the exploitive condition that makes consumer reality work as effectively as it does. Therefore, in this prior enchanted relation, what I will call syn/aes/thetic, ―The relationship with the Other puts me into question, empties me of myself‖ (Levinas, 1996, p. 52). More than this, it ―empties the I of its imperialism and egoism, even the egoism of salvation‖ (p. 55), so as ―to act without entering into the Promised land‖ (p. 50). Instead, ―The Other who provokes this ethical movement and consciousness … puts out of order good conscience,‖ (p. 56) and ―forbids in advance any transcendent aim in meaning.‖ In sum, ―transcendence refuses immanence‖ (p. 60); truest good cannot be known in advance for a fullness project to be realized. And so, ―in light of this, bearing witness as a spectacle, or as pro-phetism‖ (p. 30), Levinas commissions living in ―poetry,‖ in a ―spirituality of sensation,‖ where ―transcendence toward God is neither linear … nor teleological‖ (p. 36). In fact, Levinas adds, our fullness is no longer religious, but in dynamic, intrinsic, enchanted human engagement. ―The face-to-face can be read as an experience of affective and secular transcendence‖ (p. 28), or else a ―non-metaphysical transcendence‖ that is ―existential, not spiritual transcendence‖ (Bergo, p. 7). Here, the ethical is otherwise than salvation or dreams. ―Here, ‗ethics‘ amounts to a non-agonistic limitation of the ego‘s appetites and a summons to responsibility‖ (p. 22) to dispose the other as vocation (Levinas, p. 106). Such is prophetic since it ―devotes to the tension of the prophetic voice and an emergent monarchic … imperial politics‖ (p. 112). As such, ethics is ―a work without remuneration‖ the ―putting out of funds at a loss‖ (p. 50). Whereas transcendence in immanence is ―enchainment‖ (p. 26), not unlike Weber‘s ―iron 34 cage,‖ enchantment is its disruption, our release in syn/aes/thetic relation with the Other. Promise is thus a reversal, not to have ‗transcendent sense‘ close being in with a project, but dis/closed in human encounter.  Reference Points, Part Two: Sourcing the Person … in Phenomena   Levinas‘ insight, the case where ―height introduces a sense into being‖ that ―leads human societies to raise up altars‖ (p. 57), raises profound concerns, whose more grave effects are admitted through Becker in Chapter 5. For now, I further develop the problem, leaving Levinas‘ ―Meaning and Sense‖ for Taylor‘s (1992) ‗sense of the transcendent‘ in The Ethics of Authenticity. Linking them is Heidegger (1988, p. xviii) who posed the problem of being as the relation between transcendence and authenticity. Moving to Taylor, the ascendant contrivance of modern identity is rooted in the mistaken way it thinks the authentic. Whereas Levinas established the veracity of the transcendent pulse – that ―my own-most possibility‖ (Bergo, p. 26) is central in human affairs – Taylor helps us see how the referencing of transcendence (moral sourcing) will be determinative of how we take to being in general, stirring yet again the question of ontology in restrictive register. Taylor‘s chief concern is the cunning of modern poses for transcendence, where the ―problem of naturalism‖ (1989, p. 10) introduces referents for self-making in disenchanted moral frames. Therefore, like Levinas, he attributes failed transcendence to effectiveness in the work-promise horizon. Such an immanent (closed) way of imagining fullest possibility, he says, first denies transcendence as an intrinsic reality latent in human nature; and second, he offers how its per/version in the ascendant is declarative of ―this sense‖ (of transcendence) gone awry. Effectively, its ‗subjective sense‘ made ‗objective ambition‘ admits an ascendant pretension – or a ‗purely material‘ expression of the good. What Levinas and Taylor indicate as the problem of moral sourcing in the immanent, disenchanted, or else enclosed ontology – in an order of things that mandates progressive self-formulation uncontested – Brueggemann (2008) decries as all out illusion in an interview he entitled ―Schooled in Denial.‖ As I spin Brueggemann to contexts of education throughout this work and overlay Becker‘s Denial of Death later on, both parallel concerns so far raised that closed ontologies impose harsh conditions on educational life. But to 35 unite all thinkers and lead us squarely to Weber‘s foundational framework is Taylor‘s demonstration of how the denial of transcendence makes being … ―schooled in dreams‖ not just an illusion, but the outright failure of a truly authentic, full person (taken together, the ethical) that the liberal tradition portends in its clever quest ‗toward‘ the authentic. Therefore, an important addition to Levinas‘ problem of ontology is Taylor‘s unravelling of how this quest when given primacy as moral source is fundamentally illusive since authenticity cannot be a quest per se (as being favourably in adequation to something idealized outside), but is in advance already a ‗moral sense‘ (Taylor, 1992, p. 25) of belonging most originally. In short, he shows how the absolute materialist wants to realize the human in what it least is (an object) so it can be neatly arranged in idealized social forms. As it is, ―to exist is to be identifiable‖ (Dejnozka, p. 1) and so if ―human life is basically teleological‖ (Reckling, p. 156), what ensues in the social forms we‘ve arranged, by way of dreams, is a vocation of ontological reduction (Dejnozka, p. 2); to demonstrate us in a most plausible form.  ―The ontological questions concern what you recognize as the factors you will invoke to account for social life … they concern the terms you accept as ultimate‖ (Reckling, p. 159). So, ―the problem of naturalism is not that there is no intersubjective framework in practice; rather, the framework has become debased, distorted and suppressed‖ (Taylor, 1989, p. 10). Our reference points are impoverished. ―Where social phenomena are separated from their motivational moral sources‖ (Reckling, p. 167) action is not a ―result of human self-interpretations … but impersonal social constraints.‖ So, ―while naturalistic streams are inevitably based on certain moral motivations, they cannot renew or stimulate these sources‖ (Taylor, 1989, p. 516) because they are static and closed. Here, any quest for authenticity becomes a rather odd muse when at source the moral philosophy of modern liberalism must first deny fullness possibility. If we have no intrinsic meaning or value, authenticity is moot; echoing Hobbes‘ that we must be ‗changed‘ by a mono- arche. By presuming the good totally extrinsic to being, ―this moral philosophy has tended to focus on what is right to do rather than on what it is good to be, on defining the content of obligation rather than the nature of the good life‖ (p. 3). Moreover, the person left to himself is supposed incapable of having any sense of it. Cultural participants must therefore defer to the ―privileged order‖ to identify [with] the good and condition their moral responses accordingly – only then can ―we‖ enjoy its version of human fullness/promise. 36 Taylor‘s intent, and my own overall, is for ―enlarging our range of legitimate moral concerns,‖ so that our dignity is no longer bounded in rightly performing, but in being who we most originally are. ―One or another ontology is in fact the only adequate basis for our moral responses, whether we recognize this or not‖ (p. 10). I am suggesting that if we can begin to recognize them, we may develop wider sight for what it can mean to be, even what it can mean to teach; thus to reunify our voice and vocation. If ―our identities, as defined by whatever gives our fundamental orientation‖ (p. 32) acquiesce to any external order ―we are all framed by what we see as universally valid commitments,‖ and action is disposed to the non-dynamic, to what is other than intrinsically human. In this sense, ―a moral reaction is an assent to, an affirmation of, a given ontology of the human‖ (p. 5). But take note, such does not belie a ―transcendental condition.‖ Quite contrarily, a ―modern aspiration for meaning and substance in one‘s life has obvious affinities with longer standing aspirations to higher being, to immortality‖ (p. 43). Yet inasmuch as the way it is addressed fails the ―phenomenological account of identity,‖ then empire/ical kinds will inevitably cut off our backgrounds. ―Modernity has been intent on declaring in advance how things must be,‖ where ―the subject‘s normativity rests on the synthetic function‖ (Mensch, 1996, p. 1), meaning ―knowledge as a teleological function‖ (pp. 107, 173) makes ―the presence of a goal‖ (p. 173), our dreams, a being-reductive phenomenon (p. 180ff). We will connect ourselves with the great. But when the great goes no further than the state, or what it can ‗name‘ as the good, we are bereft of ways to know ‗who we are‘ or ‗what to do‘ beyond given limits. As we move closer to Weber‘s work and promise, Taylor shows how economics is the ―new understanding of Providence‖ (Taylor, 2002, p. 101) to take over the frame in which moral ordering (and thus identity) can occur. As ―a strong economy eventually came to be seen as the collective goal of society‖ (p. 102) ontology (p. 5) would be worked out in the materially ascendant, in the possibilities of dreams rather than from any moral source prior. ―Promotion of the economic to a central place‖ (p. 104) is self-promotion reciprocally, conferring meaningfulness in no ways beyond. To make the point, Taylor exposes the relative absurdity of today‘s self-making, of becoming authentic without ground, realizing what Levinas (1996) strained to point out as the problem of ontology, or being-reduction in what Taylor has charted in narrowed moral sources. ―Absurdity consists not in nonsense but in the isolation of innumerable meanings, in the absence of a sense 37 that orients them‖ (p. 47). Levinas‘ transcendence has failed in that ―the crisis of sense is thus experienced … as a crisis of monotheism.‖ Mensch (1996) says ―we have to reverse this premise‖ (p. 7) ―dissipating the notion of a normative ground‖ ―for what is to count as real‖ (intrinsically valuable) beforehand.  Ascendance as Authenticity „Achieved‟ – The „Proving Ground‟ for Highest Being?  Taylor (1992) shares the first assumption (stated earlier) of most liberals – that the nature of life is to rise or flourish – but once introducing moral sourcing, they differ on all contingent fronts. In the liberal tradition ―moral salvation‖ is simply ―self-determining freedom‖ ―without interference‖ (p. 27). But while ―this gives us a new importance to being true to myself,‖ what is not transparent is that since this ―powerful moral ideal … has come down to us‖ it newly burdens given its disinheritance of originality. What exactly is the moral ideal if ―being true to my own originality‖ or ―realizing a potentiality that is properly my own‖ has ―no allegiance higher than [my] own development‖ yet occurs only in promotion schemes of culture?!? Without suspecting transcendence at play, we reflect not on the matter; rather than the quest being moral at all, we imagine taking up original being as something to be worked at, unmediated. Taylor‘s concern as such is that the burden of ―trying to shape our lives in light of this ideal‖ (p. 32) puts us in conflict; one he believes makes inevitable a modern malaise since this quest to be original forfeits, unknowingly, our own references. As we are not dealing with mere preferences, but operative moral backgrounds, they will be dissonant with our inherency. Moral backgrounds will compete. Such as ―identity … is the background against which our tastes and desires and opinions and aspirations make sense‖ (p. 34), more specifically, our ―self-fulfilment‖ (p. 35), all authenticity is, in fact, at risk in this modern moral scheme. Taylor notes, on this basis, how denial of the phenomenological appreciation of identity presents an absurdity. The way we take up modern ontology in the name of authenticity, in fact betrays it. Freedom and authenticity are illusive if aspired to. Most agree that ―defining myself means finding what is significant in my difference from others‖ (p. 36), but Taylor is clear in noting that ―we get to this [significance] by linking it to the sacred,‖ and not the divine as such, but a highest valuation. ―Things take on importance against a 38 background of intelligibility,‖ contingent on or referenced by something valued in advance (an existential relation to meaningfulness). So what must be seen is that difference is most signified by relations prior to culture (heritage, communities, mythic associations) not currencies existing within cultural options, which Maalouf (2001) speaks to critically. Rather than identity being narrowed to an idea(l) realized, ―identity is made up of a number of allegiances‖ (p. 24ff) – a ―constellation of belongings‖ that makes one absolutely different, like no other in the world. Against this background – the dignity that we are, when solicited by speech – means we come forth like no other in the world possibly could. Clearly, whether one is already free and authentic (unique) or whether it is attained becomes a hugely ethical matter. Such a project is captivity at the outset. If freedom‘s possibility is to qualify in static conditions, persons effectively consent to being inert; as ―institutions and structures of industrial technological society severely restrict our choices‖ (Taylor, 1992, p. 8-9) authenticity and freedom are moot. They ―give a weight to instrumental reason that in serious moral deliberation we would never do, and which may even be highly destructive‖ (p. 8). Rather than giving us liberty, a ―society structured around instrumental reason can be seen as imposing a great loss of freedom‖ (p. 9), but as we remove from inquiry its doctrines and omit from public space any counter-story referencing options, we incur ―an extraordinary inarticulacy about one of the constitutive ideals of modern culture‖ (p. 18). To be on such high moral ground and yet be dismissive about being doctrinaire is perhaps the greatest propaganda of late modernity. In following his logic, one can see that the authentic has nothing to do with choice, but who one is in advance, and neither is it brought out in the social, but by the personal. Accordingly, if the authentic life is to be chosen, then one is not authentic until they can become; and even then, until validated in the ever transient consensus (Bauman) that constitutes value in the modern. Here again, the Dream Ontology comes into view as a grave miscue on fullness if it is to be attained by means of ‗proving‘ – if our authenticity is ‗a thing‘ to be realized in the glories of possibilities pre-arranged. If ―it is choice that confers our worth‖ then ―all options are equally worthy‖ (p. 37); such ―implicitly denies the existence of the pre-existing horizon of significance‖ (p. 38) to mean that ―choice … loses any special significance.‖ Deductively, if choice is the 39 supreme value and all exercise choice, then ‗to‘ choose is fullness. Accordingly, if it is true that ‗choices‘ authenticate us then to-be is most certainly to-dream. Effectively, to live in a fiction forward and be a good per-form/er abrogates innate uniqueness. ―Difference so asserted becomes insignificant.‖ Choice (to think) is pre-eminent over voice (to be), and vocation (to do) is to be conscientiously aligned to the order so I can be realized later on, in which case I will be free. Even so, any ―option for self-creation‖ still presupposes a value orientation in advance, so choice altogether fails as the good. Here lies the double blind of the matter. In completing the argument, Taylor shows how self-choice in immanence, already implicated by Levinas as unjust, is replete with tautologies and contradictions. First, ―the sense that the significance of my life comes from its being chosen … depends on the understanding that independent of my will there is something noble, courageous, and hence significant in giving shape to my own life‖ (p. 39). This means that ―unless some options are more significant than others, the very idea of self choice falls into triviality and hence incoherence. Self choice as an ideal makes sense only because some issues are more significant than others,‖ in which case the moral value is prior. ―Which issues are significant, I do not determine. If I did, no issue would be significant. But then the very ideal of self-choosing as a moral ideal would be impossible.‖ Clearly, ―the ideal of self choice supposes that there are other issues of significance beyond self choice.‖ If one does find fullness in such an ideal, however, then by virtue of the fact that choice has no inherent value and being is without prior value makes these forms for taking up personhood ―shallow and trivialized; they are flattened and narrowed‖ (p. 40). In sum, ―to shut out demands emanating beyond the self is precisely to suppress the conditions of significance, and hence to court trivialization,‖ as it ―destroys the [very] condition in which the ideal can be realized.‖ The fact is, to Taylor, that ―I can define my identity only against the background of things that matter‖ which means ―authenticity is not the enemy of demands that emanate from beyond the self; it supposes such demands‖ (p. 41). Fullness presupposes that ―some self-transcending issues are indispensable‖ so ―there is something self-defeating in a mode of fulfilment that denies our ties to others‖ or to contingency. Else, ―this purely personal understanding of fulfilment‖ means ―the person [is] purely instrumental in their significance,‖ and ―the panning of innumerable lives‖ (Levinas, 2003, p. 55) in today‘s authenticity moral orientation renders them more desperate than intrinsically free. 40  Hopefully, we now have a grasp of transcendence being irrepressible, how the constitution of a self is infused with moral sense, and how denial of this conditioning aspect defaults to a trivializing ascendant disposition to the social with an inevitable ascetic undercurrent. Levinas helped us see that a transcendent presumption inevitably disposes us to fullness seeking (promise) and Taylor made the case that its forward sourcing newly burdens us since disinheriting originality demands rigorous calculation for a new kind of self- demonstration (proving). The symbiotic nature of these two realities – an ascetic-ascendant relation – is what I suggest forms the underground of dreams, or more entirely, our Dream Ontology. Levinas‘ problem of ontology (ontic promise) and Taylor‘s problem with self-sourcing in immanance (the purely natural) now meet Weber‘s promise and work, whose insight on the ‗ascetic nature‘ of modern self-formulation Levinas (1979) prefaces well for moving to his fuller analytic: ―To be free is to sacrifice the … inner self and to fit into a rationally grounded system‖ (p. 17-18). Because in a Dream Ontology ―men are judged by what they do, their works that are visible and remain‖ all ‗fitting activity‘ (what becomes of our vocation) will relieve us of ourselves by means of extraordinary effort at all levels. The ethical implications are my concern. Trujillo (2007) says Weber‘s interest was in ―the dynamic relation between the commonly opposing but never separate dimensions of existence, the ontic and the ontological‖ (p. 345). As I take to Weber‘s insight, I suspect we will be closer to appreciating how the Dream Ontology as no less a rigid doctrine than ever, one kind of order, will correspondingly initiate profoundly ramifying limits on what it means to be human. But the ontic and the ontological relation Weber examines get worse than lost meaning. As ―the meaning of individuals is derived from the totality‖ (Levinas, 1979, p. 21), in the governs of the ―Said‖ and the ―Same,‖ toward its ―subjective and arbitrary divination of the future,‖ we are ―incessantly sacrificed to a future appealed to to bring forth its true meaning‖ (p. 22), thus making the dream not only unethical, but warring by nature; the modern agon. ―Like an oracle … about the future by revealing the finality of being … the ontology of totality issued from war‖ achieves in us a schism, one whose ―divide originates in the necessary way There-Being must embrace things to be‖ (Trujillo, p. 346). As it is now the case that our ―ontological significance‖ is achieved in ―an ontic causa sui‖ (a life project) what we do realize is not our own fullness, but our very schismatic end: being-against-itself. The agon incarnate!  In splitting voice and 41 vocation absolutely, which is where this inquiry will lead (Chapter 5), Becker prophecies ‗the double‘ – the construction of a perfectly syn/thetic self; ironically, in/authentic being immortalized. Weber now lays out what I believe is the most concrete foundations for how this arose, to conclude with perils no less stark.  Introducing Weber and the Persisting Illogic of Rationalizing Promise   Trujillo (2007) and Hall (1981) explicate Weber‘s ―phenomenological sociology‖ giving specific attention to relations he drew between ―objective understanding and subjectively meaningful action‖ (Hall, p. 133). His inquiry focused on ―explaining both individual action in its social context and the relatively more enduring ‗structural‘ social phenomena‖ conditioning it. But instead of working in given methods of social analysis, Weber‘s insights are unique for favouring ―benchmarks‖ such as the ―Protestant ethic‖ and ―situational analysis‖ and the ―interplay of various social phenomena‖ (p. 134). As ―Weber often wanted to elucidate broad complexes of social action‖ and ―treated these complexes as ‗averages‘ of individual courses of action,‖ he unlike any ―provides an analytic bridge between individual action and ‗society‘‖ (p. 135), specifically doing so with a dominant interest in how the sociology of religion and sociology of work found a nexus in ritual practice (Seeman, 2004). As he witnessed the growing closure between what we can call the transcendent and ordinary needs in everyday life, he noted the increasing rationalization of promise and thus its eventual disenchantment. Presupposed is that the ability to think promise is to disincarnate it, to locate it in an idea(l). Significant is that as highest valuations can become knowable, they can be harnessed instrumentally, to intensify work. Weber‘s sociological critique of idealism therefore offers a way to reflect on our peculiar salvation orientation in the West; namely how the proliferation of work in the presumption of discursive kinds (Bai, 2009) of promise initiates moral cause as being against the natural. ―As the spell of the discursive gets thicker daily‖ says Bai (p. 142), ultimate values increasingly dispossess the human, or ironically, ―the greater is our loss of … existential vivacity‖ when ontological sourcing is hardened (p. 144). As ―ritual practice and activity devoted to pragmatic concerns goes back to the linear progression Weber posits between‖ (Seeman, p. 57) ―magic‖ and a more salvific evolution in life, he found that ritual 42 predicates did not disappear but increasingly ―oriented to the fulfilment of pragmatic human interests.‖ Transcendence and moral sources from Weber‘s vantage, therefore, did not diminish but rather lapse; and so what we must note as a characteristic causal connection is how preoccupation with promise shifted to more banal (static, hardened) forms. ―To this meaning the conduct of mankind must be oriented if it is to bring salvation … the fulfilment of quotidian human needs.‖ By positing salvation‘s greater urgency over time, Weber demonstrates like no other the ―substituting [of] one type of foundation for another, moving from a transcendent, magical-theological foundation to a rational, immanent one‖ (Bachofen, 2008, p.2). That is to say, transcendence remains but for enchanted ritual practices drifting toward work itself as ritual (promise‘s guarantee): work as promise synchronously trailed the eclipse of heaven by what in immanence are dreams.  Weber began perplexed (Lough, 2006, p. 40-42) at why Protestants and Catholics from the same country were differently productive, concluding that a ―constellation of social forms‖ accounted for the uniquely historical attitude, one that may ―conceptually pull together these two historical configurations. The ‗spirit‘ of capitalism, in other words, fulfilled the conditions‖ in the specific way work came to relate to promise, particularly for Protestants. The embrace of ―hard work and parsimony as an ethically slanted maxim for the conduct of their lives‖ presupposed a ―duty in terms of their pursuit as a calling, and not simply any calling, but, more specifically, a calling to a secular or worldly occupation‖ (p. 42). But as it was difficult for Weber to reconcile divine grace with what was now a more prolific sacrifice, he arrived at an additional insight on the matter: that a new kind of illogic entered self-regard in valuing work as ―the ethical‖ which Gane (2002) captures well for us: ―Western rationalism always remains vulnerable to its enchanted, symbolic other … to the active possibility of reversibility and re-enchantment‖ (p. 140). Every salvation initiates its own subjugation by working itself into the very other it opposes (pp. 5-6), or away from what it most holds dear. It is a complicated logic that ―ultimate values succumb to a logic of self-disenchantment or devaluation‖ (p. 8), but what I will draw out is that as working toward the promise of heaven took sight disenchanted (took promise out of the equation), so too I am going to suspect that taking up dreams incurs the requisite demise of our ontology (taking the human out of promise). By externalizing the good and rationally apprehending aims, we illogically kill whatever good is already with us and for us. 43 Weber applied the method to arrive at salvation‘s lapse into bondage (the iron cage, or what he called ―the new serfdom‖), just as the Enlightenment project, one may say, required the Romantics to rescue liberty from excessively sterile living. Effectively, every salvation first supposes something to be fervently ‗worked‘ against (sin for Protestants or dis/traction for dreamers we may crudely say) before it champions a promise target, so in this pattern I offer ‗taking leave‘ of being (fervency against human subjectivity) as the primary pre-occupation (vocation or calling) that is salvation‘s predicate (what Levinas calls philosophy‘s project of a better being). My first appropriation of Weber, therefore, is to draw an analogue between the logic of Protestants and the logic of moderns in the way heaven then and dreams now condition a human-opposing moral order. As the antagonism against our ―detestable nature‖ (or limits), as Becker puts it, structurally enlists promise as the alleviation of such, then the real embodiment or experience of promise is the work we do against it. That is, the vocation against the disfavour achieves absorption of it, dislocating the aim rather than realizing it. But another logic rings true. With fierce resistance to enchantment, we initiated more intense ambition toward salvation (Ferry, 2005) in as fantastical a kind; whose reflex more fiercely encloses the achievement of our fullness in rationalizing schemes. Beyond this first utilization of Weber, my second is his findings, notably how this illogic produces a new asceticism beneath the dream, and counter-intuitively so; how our maturing promise programs produces an emergent ethics that remain salvation-laden throughout the modern epoch. From his analytic are significant inroads for how transcendence and moral sourcing not only condition and mobilize what we know as dreams, but do so more fervently when disguised as such.  Introducing Weber‟s Analytic: Ascetic Instrumentality in the Quest for Ascent  What Weber (1958) notes in his well known text, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, is the escalating relation between persons and work in the context of promise, which offers insight into the progression and eventual insidiousness of the ascetic. Though the ascetic experience has roots in the Middle Ages, he says, ―it was in the ethic of ascetic Protestantism that it first found a consistent ethical foundation‖ (p. 170). Here, ―the powerful tendency toward uniformity of life, which today so immensely aids the 44 capitalistic interest in the standardization of production, had its ideal foundations in the repudiation of all idolatry of the flesh‖ (p. 169). In the next chapter, I explore the dynamics of this ethical lineage, beginning with the yeoman ethic – which Weber calls the ascetic prototype (p. 55; p. 173) – to highlight the evolved relations between outer performance and inner sanctity, the full extent of which would require a ‗rooting out‘ of the mysteries of inner man to prove worth (salvation) in the social. In due time, ―Puritan worldly asceticism, only without the religious basis … by Franklin‘s time had died away‖ (p. 180). And so, ―when asceticism was carried out of monastic cells into everyday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, it did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order‖ (p. 181). So pervasively did the ascetic linger that it ―today determine[s] the lives of all the individuals … directly concerned with economic acquisition, with irresistible force.‖ This ―asceticism undertook to remodel the world and to work out its ideals in the world,‖ so, to ask if ―today, the spirit of religious asceticism – whether finally, who knows? – has escaped from the cage,‖ Weber says not! ―Duty in one‘s calling prowls about in our lives like the ghost of dead religious beliefs‖ (p. 182), to prophecy a dark tale: For of the last stage of this cultural development, it might well be truly said: ‗Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved. … The next task would be rather to show the significance of ascetic rationalism, which has only been touched in the foregoing sketch, for the content of practical social ethics. (p. 182) For Weber, inquiry into the effect of disenchantment on ethics as ―the next task‖ certainly has my interest, mostly because, Taylor (1992) demonstrates, we are doubtful of the moral inheritance Weber traces and that led to his dire prophecy. Failure to see lingering salvation predicates makes us vulnerable to illusions at best and the outright failure of human fullness at worst. Accordingly, Gauchet (1997) warns why Weber‘s counter-voice is crucial. If ―we have become unconscious of our ultimate assumptions; in the end confused about them‖ (p. ix), we have no basis for finding our way out of the cage. Have we any idea, for instance, that we enact at least to some extent daily ritual by means of work for the sake of promise, and by so doing 45 must be against something (the salvation assumption) intrinsic to who we are, to natural life? Likely not. As work en route to promise is the only story we know, in an order of things that is ubiquitous, implications will go wholly unseen, undisputed. For this reason, Bachofen (2008) registers grave concern that I certainly share: that ―liberal democracy has become our only horizon, the only conceivable way to govern our fate; however, the fact remains that it is largely opaque to itself‖ (p. 2). If, for whatever reason, Weber‘s insight does fail to compel, then a burden befalls any modern to account for why we are so earnestly driven by Weber‘s calling – by an antecedent demand that conditions us to ‗proving‘ for the sake of ‗promise,‘ or else why a great deal of our action is predicated by ascendant ambition. What cannot be ignored is that we now stand precariously between ―modern activism‖ and ―ancient godliness‖ paralyzed about what to do in between. My interest in Weber thus stands between two fundamental concerns with modern life, given to us by Lasch (1991): ―The idea of progress according to a widely accepted interpretation, represents a secularized version of the Christian belief in providence‖ (p. 40), the endemic work-promise relation profiled in Weber‘s ascetic personality whose urgency is to take up salvific cause; but second, against this position, there is no counter-story to contend with its basic assumptions, no other way to think about and be in the world (p. 31). There is no plausible trajectory in popular discourse other than ascent in this way. Deprived of alternatives, we are given to the intensification of ‗the one‘ as Gauchet (1997) so hauntingly posits. Here then lay the basis to revisit antecedents, these scandalized moral sources, to anticipate higher senses of the good. As we saw earlier, Weber not only asked of the relation between the ethical and the ambitious, but asked of the vocational: what to do about it. His prophetic in/vocation (for those who will see) is to speak against all pre-occupation that is not in the first voice-affirming, or that co-opts vocation outside native enchantment (of persons). In my counter-pose, promise is not to advance, but to have voice back. To offer its sense from another, Nietzsche (1998) describes, On the Genealogy of Morality, ―how such a paradoxical action as asceticism might serve the interests of life: through asceticism one can attain mastery over oneself.‖ One achieves freedom by denying it first. Asceticism is for the person the ―means to sustain itself and to fight for its existence‖ (p. 120). Said differently, an agonistic disposition to life secures 46 life – being against it makes us for it, brought out masterfully in Brown‘s (1966) Life Against Death. ―The ascetic ideal‖ saved man (p. 163), says Nietzsche. It became salvation, his freedom from his limitations, his subjectivity. He even calls ―transcendentalism … a triumph of the ascetic ideal.‖ In sum, ―the ascetic ideal is paradoxical: it is anti-life in the service of life‖ (p. 117). While it is not my intent to dwell on analytical methods, I am interested in how the salvation effect endures, specifically through work, and how the parallel between early forms of calling and its later form, proving in the social, remain seamless, but for the object of highest affection that conditions the drive (the divine or my dream). Weber arrives, in the end, at how the ethical is an instrumental rationality to a higher state, in or beyond life. In short, all variants of ethics (to be shown in some detail in Chapter 3), serve a specific function: they host a proving ground or qualifying space for person valuation, to suppose one‘s height (Levinas), sense of promise or cultural promotion (collectively, Becker‘s expansion thesis detailed later). Each, in kind, in historic succession, will impose no less an ascetic command; perhaps more intensely so, to have us ask anew, what of this liberty (this promise) that we will so strive for, that we will so accept being turned against the natural; or else, so for naturalizing dreams? Over time, it is argued, the nature of work changed as the social order oriented towards new kinds of promise. What did not change was the root idea that work would be the medium for achieving the gain. Effectively, this-worldly asceticism – askēsis (practice, training or exercise) – increased in proportion to new visions for here and now kinds of fulfilment. In fact, as the main ingredient for cultural coherence was evinced by work, it was only logical that this should be exploited for more effective promise targets – more cleverly intensive forms of social ordering. As Lough makes the case, ―the principle difference‖ was simply that ―social actors in traditional societies were liable to find a religious significance in everything they encountered‖ whereas ―the new attitude was precisely that the religious duty … had nothing to do with the substance of this calling‖ (p. 42). Gradually, Protestants divorced themselves from ―divine guidance‖ and so ―what was therefore peculiar about the new discipline of labour was that social actors performed their work ‗as though it were an absolute end in itself‖ – ―pursuit of a calling for its own sake.‖ Result: ―ascetic self- discipline displayed in too serious a devotion to one‘s vocation.‖ Too serious an intent on proving made it vocation. In short, ―emergence of this new understanding of vocation‖ (p. 43) though initially conceived as 47 ―divine election to salvation‖ took on purely qualifying habit to fully dislocate promise‘s source. Weber discovered a reversal from the original intent and for such reasons posed the question of ethics (p. 182) in the shadows of its disenchanted ontology. It is one thing that work became for the Protestants an ―obedience that brought glory to God‘s name,‖ (p. 44), and evolved into a ‗social‘ proving mechanism that conferred personal glory here and now (Karen Horney speaks to this in Chapter 5). But what is instructive as concerns vocation is how obedience re- centred whole relations to the cosmos by means of the ascetic, to effectively disjoin its antecedent. In other words, as ―those whom God had elected would display signs of God‘s grace in the ways that they conducted their lives,‖ ―faith must prove itself in its objective effects.‖ Work‘s centering and adaptation to glories social severely besieged existential relations. By becoming work (doing becomes our meaning) our intrinsic voice is sabotaged by the lure of extrinsic reward, by vocations earnestly conditioned through idea(l)s. Now concerned with qualifying for later privilege, the qualification ‗effort‘ ironically becomes our ‗sum.‘ The proving component is thus much more than the motivational (moral) centre; it is the sum of reality, one‘s very ontology. In this way, the ―state of grace‖ one reached for is analogous to any ‗cultural‘ order with a ‗moral design‘ to qualify being‘s height. As noted, keeping busy became promise. Efficacy is our meaning fulfilled but why it occurs in reference to later and favours keeping disenchanted about ‗who we are‟ leaves us with two mysteries left unasked about, neither of which is no small matter.  The Ascetic and the Social: Constructing the Illicit and a Solicitation for Recovery  Ellul‘s (1965) Propaganda demonstrates that deception occurs best when the means to the end actually is the end. I draw from his insight that moderns are as effective at working as is proportional to the promise propaganda that orients them but is lost sight of over time. Correspondingly, I surmise that more choices of potential glory added to modern life exponentially burden us, further opposing who we are most originally – or with more reason to want to take leave of who we are, as we are. For such reasons, Taylor urges that it is in our existential interest to remain grounded in our anterior and subjective moral sources – 48 our transcendent mythos – and inter-subjectively nourish their possibilities lest we fall victim to the self- annulling vocations in an objectified cause. He adds that religious communities betray their own mythos when they objectify a duty or ideal, and urges such transcendental communities to preserve living stories. Brueggemann (2008) exemplifies the matter with the Israelities wanting to go back to Egypt‘s tyranny because they did not know how to live without a project. As it is, prophetic vocation meets head on the allure of extrinsic promise that in fact betrays our voice: to keep the speech of the people (natural call or summons) as promise, as it alone remains the lexicon of renewal. In a word, sourcing hope in the inter-human will keep us from project/ing this loss of meaning. The lesson from Weber is that by objectifying the transcendent – anterior moral sources given to aspiration – we construct our very demise. In succumbing to a ―possession of this status … guaranteed by proving oneself,‖ ―the consequence for the individual was the drive to keep a methodical check on his state of grace,‖ and thus ―ensure that his life was imbued with asceticism‖ (Lough, p. 44). To complete thoughts on Weber‘s ascetic-ascendant frame, which I reference throughout my inquiry, Lough bridges ontological considerations between Weber‘s historical insight and today. Supporting the analogue for today‘s western person, ―this could only mean a rational shaping of one‘s whole existence‖ or ―rationalization of the conduct of life in the world with a view to the beyond.‖ As it ―entered the marketplace of life … permeating precisely this secular everyday life with methodical approach,‖ it would ―form a single whole‖ (p. 45). One ontology emerges! What Weber saw was how ―the spirit of capitalism had in fact come to completely dominate the totality of social life,‖ so that as all of life entailed qualification for promise and ―proving of oneself was ascetic,‖ our fundamental mode of existence would be disenchanted. Whereas man was given to more calculable activity, to exert ever more hold on his possibility, the ascetic effectively achieves its proof, or increasingly, the measure of his value. As promise becomes increasingly associated with ontic realities at play in our social location, a person that strives to so realize itself will thus ‗use ethics‘ (the socially given good) as its proving ground for achieving its stated aim. ―It only remained for Weber to draw this complex of configuration, the spirit of capitalism, forward to the present day,‖ whereby he projected, it was not that asceticism would end, but escalate. ―As asceticism 49 began to change the world and endeavoured to exercise its influence over it, the outward goods of this world gained increasingly and finally inescapable power over men, as never before in history.‖ I suspect Weber‘s anxiety is not so much asceticism‘s end, or the iron cage as a thing, but the nature and extent of ascetic coercion. Sharing Levinas‘ angst, he laments ―Today this mighty cosmos determines, with overwhelming coercion, the style of life not only of those directly involved in business but of every individual who is born into this mechanism‖ (Lough, p. 46). In the end, we remain distinctly religious, and therefore distinctly vulnerable to whatever can most effectively proliferate as promise in culture. As Lough recalls how ―‗duty in a calling‘ haunts our lives like the ghost of once-held religious beliefs,‖ he profiles Weber‘s angst at today‘s growing disparity between conduct in social space and in more natural habitats, between more fantastical kinds of promise and our leave taking. As schismatic being becomes palpable in this spirit, prophetic concern comes more urgently into view. Whereas asceticism‘s function constructs us in a tight moral matrix, it is the case that our very spirit is overcome. For although Weber did not specifically call attention to the spirit that fills the bourgeois interior … if we pause to consider the vantage point from which Weber composed his account, a vantage point which after all allowed him to appreciate the emptiness and meaninglessness of the ‗last men‘ … a vantage point that he would elsewhere describe as religious. (p. 46) In significant ways, Weber meets Levinas to enlist earlier insights that as being takes leave in new promise totalities to incur emptiness in objectified presumptions of fullness, we arrive at the problem of ontology. The cage that this rational order imposes on moderns is not only far from realized salvation, but it guts what it means to-be otherwise, and the ethical possibilities therein. ―The bourgeois interior‖ or ―spirit‖ that Weber says is endeared to this degradation is strikingly familiar to Levinas‘ (2003) work On Escape where he calls the bourgeois spiritless when given to an ontic project. The shared conviction is that being betrays itself with an added feature that being is imagined sufficient to ontological completion. Here again, if no account is taken of how promise predicates condition an ascetic reflex (burden) we will entirely miss the enclosure implication, the limits to which we consign ourselves by so ironically striving. 50 This conception of the ‗I‘ as self-sufficient is one of the essential marks of the bourgeois spirit and its philosophy. As sufficiency for the petit bourgeois, this conception of the ‗I‘ nonetheless nourishes the audacious dreams of a restless and enterprising capitalism. This conception presides over capitalism‘s work ethic … which aims less at reconciling man with himself than at securing for him the unknowns of time and things. (p. 50) Most concerning is that ―the bourgeois admits no inner division ... [while] concerned about reality and the future‖ when the very exercise forges his absolute disunification with the world. At once rooting out the uncertain within, actively inclined to salvation certainties from without, we calculate (Weber) the very certification (proof) of who we are. As Levinas would put it, ―He prefers the certainties of tomorrow to today‘s enjoyments. He demands guarantees in the present against the future … insurance against risks‖ – ―his future, thus tamed.‖ Certitudes and guarantees and the envisioning of life without risk would mean one thing: we must stop being human. The triumph over subjectivity is the annulment of our wonder. Ironically, ―western philosophy struggled for a better being‖ (p. 51) ―and yet modern sensibility wrestles with problems that indicate, perhaps for the first time, the abandonment of this concern with transcendence.‖ With ―the perfection of our own being‖ or ―the transcendence of these limits‖ becoming ―philosophy‘s sole preoccupation,‖ Levinas notes no significant alteration between epochs: still ―escape is the quest for the marvellous, which is liable to break up the somnolence of our bourgeois existence. However, it does not consist in freeing ourselves‖ (p. 53). ―On the contrary, the need for escape is found to be absolutely identical at every juncture.‖ All striving toward what is outside being, throughout time, we might assume from Levinas, is to suffer the ultimate irrationality of the salvation quest when it takes leave of its own enchantment to secure one imagined. Whereas for Weber we inhabit a cage of iron, for Levinas we live in ―enchainment.‖ The problem of ontology is at source contempt for being itself. ―The propensity toward the future and the ‗out-ahead-of-oneself‘ contained in the vital urge mark a being destined for a race course.‖ Under such a grave ontology ―the fulfilment of a destiny is the stigma of being‖ (p. 54). 51 What I intend in the following two chapters is to show the intimate relation to which work belongs us – seen or unseen, in dreams – to more fully grasp what underlies our compulsion to succumb to a rational- instrumental life-world. At source, Weber and Taylor come up with an identity locus in moral constitution. Weber theorizes ‗modern personality‘ through a proving orientation in the social. Similarly, Taylor‘s (1989) work on ‗identity,‘ mostly in Sources of Self, sees selfhood as an effect of promise orientation (the moral, expressed in terms of fullness), social or otherwise. Given that the moral constitutes, the extent to which its options are limited will implicate our experience of personhood. If sources are restricted, then identity will be narrowed; meaning enclosed. And truly, if our ―ascetic personality‖ (Weber) or ―moral identity‖ (Taylor) is a work-initiated construct (sourced in proving) – moreso when persons and morality are dichotomized (in the liberal tradition), and action is divorced from being‘s valuations in advance – we experience asceticism as natural; entirely unnoticed. In short, Weber‘s ascetic personality is expressed through Taylor‘s moral ontology in the specific way a narrowed moral orientation – the proving life – disenchants all transcendent presumption and perverts every sense of fullness. So long as moral sourcing is not our own, we succumb to this dark fate. When you are thirteen The world is a small room.  A bedroom. A locker at school.  A box. Gym socks. Combination locks.  Four walls and a roof. For every difficult problem: a proof.  (Harper, 2008, p. 13)  As we observe how work and personality become co-emergent (and what is beneath work as value sourcing to begin with), we get bearings on a new kind of personhood, a new way of relating to the world, wherein the particular nature of the moral construct introduces a stance of being-against-the-world. Thus, Weber‘s final expression: we inhabit ―an iron cage‖ – we make our own demise – as Heidegger‘s ‗there- 52 being‘ takes on a fight. From beginning insights (calling) to where we take up and direct our drive (cage), Weber raises suspicion concerning the abject spirit of modern life, where lies the counter-pose between rational call/ing and Levinas‘ enchanted human variant. In the case of the prior, being acquiesces to the ontic to become a knowable thing. In the later, the human Other summons action to dis/close being for the wonder it is, prior to measures, to honour all that belongs most originally. Undoubtedly, ―enchantment appears inherent to human consciousness‖ (Elkins, p. 12), but refusal to live with it has wide-ranging implications. Set against it for salvation, we will come to embody ―increasing devaluation of the world‖ (Weber, 1958, p. 68), to realize an ―ethically barren mode of being‖ (Chowers, 2004, p. 60).  Ascetics, Ascendance and the Agonies of a Progressive Ontology   Weber‘s oeuvre is so all-encompassing that there appear limitless connections to modern dynamics. While the above introduces historical associations discussed in the next chapter and preface developments taken up in Chapter 4, the intent in this section is to demonstrate how Weber‘s ascetic-ascendant analytic makes agonistic the modern order, which occupy Chapter 5. In this respect, Weber shares Ernest Becker‘s enlargement thesis – alternatively called the Empire Imagination by Walter Brueggemman (2001b). What Weber (p. 17) calls ―the impulse to acquisition,‖ Becker (1975) calls a ―principle of immortality striving‖ (p. 64) or a ―barter for more life‖ (p. 65). Weber offers in the frame of work its proliferation in capitalism while Becker recognizes it in rituals vis-à-vis heroic symbols in culture. Both effectively offer a ‗proving path‘ whereby moderns achieve their sense of proof; glory in the here and now. Though I will later profile Becker‘s scathing critique of how dominions divide persons from themselves – offering what I believe to be one of the most potent expressions of Weber‘s agonism – the intent here is to unite Becker and Weber on a very important principle that galvanizes the social and mobilizes it toward empire aims. The sequence goes as follows: culture is marked by ―promotion systems‖ says Becker (1975); they subsist by exploiting transcendence for perfunctory purposes, with the effect rendering life utterly agonistic. 53 For Weber ―duty in worldly affairs … whose object is to transcend the demands of mundane existence‖ (p. xii) is to Becker (1975) participation in symbolic cultural ritual ―to transcend the limitations of the human condition and achieve victory over impotence and finitude‖ (p. 31). Both view modern life in the register of transcendent disposition, observing that our highest valuations are conditioned by the most venerable forms of social, symbolic action. Whether it is work (Weber) or an identity project (Becker), our practice in either presumes ascendance, and the moral sources we appropriate are conceived from a static reality that confine response options to pride enhancing or shame avoidance instrumentation. As such, our habituation in modern life casts us into an ascetic contest – Becker‘s causa sui (life cause), or else Weber‘s calling (destiny) to be against, by means of salvation, our human and earthly mystery; our valuation in both is demonstrated (proven) by how well we act vis-à-vis static trajectories. For Weber and Becker alike, there is a repressive and agonistic insinuation for how we go about orienting in such a cultural order. To achieve promise, we repress some significant aspects of who we are. ―We fritter away our lives enslaved to the phantom of glory for reasons unknown to ourselves‖ (p. 30). In the proving orientation that consumes us in modern affairs, ―the individual wants to – or, rather, is driven to – express himself. And this now means he wants to express his idealized self, to prove it in action‖ (p. 24). Furious obsession to prove in action intensifies ―the fundamental problem of morality – that of man‘s desire, drive or religious obligation to attain perfection‖ (p. 14) which being so oriented, turns him against life. Such that it ―infiltrates his aspirations, his goals, his conduct of life, and his relations to others‖ (p. 24), he is unaware of what his ambition is really doing. At once he is both expiating and expanding says Becker (1975), first insulating from failure and misfortune (shame) by rooting out ―his detestable insides‖ and on the other hand, projecting his largesse to achieve the height modern ascendant pressures demand of him. In other words, all senses of transcendence congeal into a rigid ascendancy contest (agon). That such a limit-formation of persons is unethical, Weber only implies. But as I take to a fuller understanding of the inherent agonism in Weber‘s insight, separation becomes unmistakable as its theme. Agonism first emerges in being separated from our own nature – the Puritan urge to root out all mystery in 54 his world (seen in some detail in the next chapter). Agonism emerges as well in ―the separation of business from the household‖ (p. 21), taking persons by means of vocation into a new kind of centrism. In fact ―the birth-act of modern capitalism was the separation of business from the household‖ (Bauman, 2008, p. 74), indicating that late modern agonism occurs by the centrification of practice outside native habitats; that is, modern culture has produced in the interest of its own expansive scheme an ambition-centric ethics, to achieve for us ―a feeling of unprecedented inner loneliness‖ (p. 104). With ―Self-identity hounded by an absence of meaning constructs proofs and demonstrations of meaningfulness‖ (Appelbaum, 2001, p. 62), it is unmistakable that ―the doctrine of predestination‖ (p. xiii) never went away. What alarms when connecting Weber to such cultural axioms today is that over time all that has changed is the reification of religious transcendence into increasingly mundane kinds of ascendant cause. Thus concludes Weber (1958), are ―correlations between forms of religious belief and practical ethics‖ (p. 91), ―between the old Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism‖ (p. 89). All we need is a ‗productive‘ context for the potent form/ula, and ―it no longer needs the support of any religious forces‖ (p. 71). ―When the imagination of a whole people has once been turned toward purely quantitative bigness, as in the United States, this romanticism of numbers exercises an irresistible appeal to the poets among businessmen.‖ Yet, even when so seduced, ―he gets nothing out of his wealth for himself, except the irrational sense of having done his job well.‖ To be sure, ―whoever does not adapt his manner of life to the conditions of capitalistic success must go under, or at least cannot rise.‖ But if there is no other way to do so, no other reality by which to reference or engage the world, no counter-story as such, then rise we must. It appears only natural. Where Weber goes from here is dramatic in the least. ―The influence of those psychological sanctions … which gave a direction to practical conduct and held the individual to it‖ (p. 97) he calls ―an extreme inhumanity‖ (p. 104). With ―the elimination of magic from the world‖ and persons cut off from ―the sensuous and emotional elements in culture and religion because they are of no use toward salvation,‖ it is the case that the wonderment of persons is no more. We must there too shut-up abundant expressions of who we are – waging a rift between voice (being) and vocation (action) – censuring anything that interferes with 55 getting the job done well. When ―thinking only of his own salvation‖ (p. 107) through what are now the cold calculated promise possibilities in a competitive social arena, each is presented with only one way to be, with a lonely asceticism that meets up with a ―restless and systematic struggle with life‖ (p. 108). As this is the case, we are consigned, by means of work(s), to a ―deep spiritual isolation‖ while we chase our wholeness. It was clear that this ―powerful tendency toward uniformity of life‖ (p. 169) offered a fine tool for working out a secular version of providence to come. ―What the great religious epoch of the seventeenth century bequeathed to its utilitarian successor was, however, above all an amazingly good, we may even say a pharisaically good, conscience in the acquisition of money, so long as it took place legally‖ (p. 176). Such as the ―specifically bourgeois economic ethic had grown up‖ what had however occurred ―with the dying out of the religious root‖ is that a ―utilitarian interpretation crept in unnoticed‖ (p. 177) – an interpretation of transcendence, that is. Whereas ―rational conduct on the basis of an idea of calling, was born … from the spirit of Christian asceticism‖ (p. 180), as a fertile handmaiden to its secular counter-part, it ―did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order‖ (p. 181). With the escalation of favour that tracked the positive ―external‖ effects of this ascetic-ascendant drivenness (taken up in the next chapter), it is easy to see how a dream-based transcendent variant would in time come to claim and constitute all aspects of worldly action. As it goes, avers Becker, to be human is to expand, and to work at the matter is the essential component. ―The logic of sacrifice‖ (1975, p. 20) is to possess ―the power of eternity‖ (p. 21). But with eternity no more, sacrifice is our heroism, our proven reward.  Eyal Chowers (2004) closes the frame laid out by Weber by presenting valuable sub-texts for our transition to the ontological entrapment characteristic of today‘s work-promise themes. Fundamentally, ―the Western ideal is of an engaged self, a ‗busily active personality relating his activity to a center, be it other- worldly and religious or be it this worldly. In order to facilitate such conduct, it is necessary that the totality of a person‘s endeavours gain ethical significance‖ (p. 73). So stated, what we call a dream in almost any sense of the term, Chowers calls ―values and meanings which are forged into purposes and thereby translate into rational-teleological action‖ (p. 69). The essence of Weber‘s ascetic personality says Chowers, is when a 56 person ―creates a ‗center‘ of normative evaluations from which other beliefs and actions proceed,‖ where its dignity is given by the fact that ―there exist values about which it organizes its life‖ in action. Again, in referring a closed ontology, ―the field of the ethically relevant is extended to encompass a person‘s entire existence‖ (p. 71), as it ―strives constantly for cohesiveness reflected in all departments of life.‖ The ―impoverishment in the inner lives of modern selves‖ arising from these endeavours resides in the fact that ―individuals must adapt themselves to the impersonal demands of their given functions‖ (p. 76) which are ―determined by the goals of the mass-organizations, not by the needs of those embedded within.‖ So it is that the driving ethic and value acquisition of modern selves is not conferred by the self at all, just as Taylor suspects. The travesty of modern self-making lies in the fact that persons take up valuations from outside themselves and thereafter, by exercising the associated ascetic drive, incur their own repression. ―Only by devotion to a particular sphere of activity, and by accepting that sphere‘s binding norms and practices, may the individual forge a life of enduring significance, if not of true happiness‖ (p. 83). But ―what makes this predicament especially tragic is that the modern order is diametrically opposed to the deepest spiritual and existential needs of the self‖ (p. 92) when there is no affirmation of intrinsic hope. Overall, ―the ascetic personality,‖ is a ―cause-oriented and principle-motivated self‖ (p. 60), and so given, will tackle the problems and absorb the needs that appear natural in its value-location. ―The greatest danger for this personality, in Weber‘s view, is the advent of modern techniques of discipline and the disappearance of ethical import,‖ or one‘s irrelation to its own moral sources, in which case, a split self is ever being mobilized by recovery of its unity, but at risk of not being able to reference them on its own terms. Under such conditions ―the disciplined self serves in his writings as the ‗double‘ (or Doppelganger) of the personality‖ (p. 61), taken up in Chapter 5. As such, ―the objectified and impersonal intelligence of the officials creates the reality that curtails the space open for individuals to live as ‗personalities.‘‖ Reality so inscribed defines a limit frame from which being can take up its call. Ontology, so given, is the composite of what is offered below as the ‗manager‘s dream,‘ or the managing of our lives in another‘s project after all. That is why, Chowers says, to close Weber‘s part in framing the Dream Ontology, the ―imagination of this 57 self is essentially tragic‖ (p. 8). As it is ―capable of being fabricated‖ with ―no ontological ground‖ from which to otherwise orient itself in the world, its cultural imperative is to manage itself into extradition.  The Modern Asceticism: Managing Our Dreams  Richard Valantasis, perhaps the leading scholar on asceticism in the post-modern context, offers an unexpected thesis on modern asceticism to present an important intersection between Weber‘s insights and where the phenomenon persists today in popular dynamics. Valantasis (2008) says some variant of asceticism is likely if two conditions are met. As long as a person is actively involved in a self-creating project, and so long as they aspire to a highest valuation, they may very well be given to asceticism. A third element, which I add to make the enclosure argument is that so long as self-making draws upon cultural predicates, the ascetic project will occur in a morally closed meaning frame, presenting the subject‘s aspirations sacrificial to culture; ironically, one‘s sourcing of promise not being their own. Margaret Miles says ―in the context of [our] belligerently hedonistic Western society, Richard Valantasis‘ The Making of the Self has never been more relevant,‖ muddying how we think about ascetic relations in the modern mood. In other words, if we miss asceticism in today‘s ascendant register, or even that a hedonistic intent can itself incur moral preoccupation, we miss a great deal about modern identity by failing to see its conditioning. Where formerly, the ascetic was understood in a denunciative (negative) posture, it can in today‘s context be given in the positive, as a/spir(e)ational. In this milieu, asceticism is defined: ―to practice, exercise and train so as to make oneself fine or beautiful in a specific way‖ (Wimbush & Valantasis, 2002, p. 376). As a barter for more life ―asceticism occurs either in the search for or in response to a believed-in sacred reality – whether found ‗above‘ us or in the depths of our own being – in relation to which, or in unity with which, is thought to be our highest good‖ (p. ix). Elsewhere, perhaps more germane today, ―the definition of asceticism is given as ‗performances within a dominant social environment intended to inaugurate a new subjectivity, different social relations, and an alternative symbolic universe‘‖ (Valantasis, 2008, p.  38). No matter the way, it remains a proving ground. In transition from Weber‘s ascetic stance to one more modern, I 58 now turn to Bauman‘s insights to uncover how in liquid-modern time self-making finds as zealous an exercise of asceticism for achieving highest good as any time prior. Along the way, we come closer to the more recent accent of the ascetic-ascendant relation realized in dreams.  Bauman (2008) agrees with Miles‘ hedonistic asceticism, even as it does appear as an oxymoron. ―We want every moment to be pleasurable. Indeed: every moment. An unpleasurable moment is a moment wasted‖ (p. 125). This relates to asceticism? Isn‘t that counter-intuitive? It is one thing to aim, but another to make urgent, and when considered against what is already most truly hedonistic (the human), we may see where this is going – i.e. why would we take leave of ourselves? To consider the wasted incurs the same old problem of evading the enchanted we are. With a need to prove to ourselves and others by maximal uses of time that we are living the good life, fulfilling a highest symbolic good, gratification is turned into a work. Ultimacy, as a job to do, is a strange meditation, but shows again just how vulnerable is our need to manage life toward ultimate referents, even if now socially given. In this regard, ―the course of life and the meaning of its every successive episode, as well as life‘s ‗overall purpose‘ or ‗ultimate destination,‘ are nowadays presumed to be do-it-yourself jobs.‖ Along the way, ―each and any practitioner of life is expected … to bear full responsibility for the outcome of the job, and to be praised or blamed for its results.‖ People ―need to ‗assist fate‘ by ceding to the endless little tasks that fate decreed they will perform‖ en route to a panacea. ―So whatever else they believe, they all agree that … doing nothing, or doing something slowly or lackadaisically, is a grave mistake‖ (p. 126). We must not only work harder but faster, ever to realize the more glamorized and immediate kinds of self-glory formation that constantly shift. Effectively, ―the dream of escaping from one‘s own self, complemented by a conviction that making such a dream a reality is within reach‖ (p. 178), demands greater faith than ever, and greater too is its burden than ever before. ―If happiness is permanently within reach … then obviously a self that stopped short of reaching happiness can‘t be real‖ (p. 180). To incur such shame (a non-self, in this scheme) would be deafening, alluding to Taylor‘s earlier mockery that ―such a fraudulent self needs to be discarded on the grounds of its ‗inauthenticity,‘ while the search for the real one should go on.‖ The reason we fail to see the 59 ascetic connection, however, is because in a ―society of consumers‖ the pressure that befalls our effort to keep up with destiny ―has ceased to be associated with external (and thus offensive and annoying) coercion; the urge tends to be perceived, on the contrary, as another manifestation and proof of personal freedom‖ (p. 137). Whereas ―a command – ‗You must do it (or you mustn‘t do it), or else …‘ – prompts resentment and breeds rebellion. In comparison, a suggestion – ‗you want it, you can get it, so go for it‘ – panders to the amour de soi constantly hungry for complements, nourishes self-esteem, and encourages one to try – according to one‘s own will and for one‘s own pleasure‖ (p. 137).  This means pursuit of the ―happy life‖ is dreamed (p. 167) in an ―economics of deception‖ (p. 171). In as much as ―the promise of satisfaction remains seductive only so long as the desire stays ungratified” (p. 169), pursuit will be ceaseless and the actual reward ever in question. Not only does such a life presume fervent faith, but a ―life guided by trust invested in this kind of escape‖ is surely monotheistic. In seemingly abundant versions of self-making and limitless forms of glorious identity one can take up, there is but ―one story – about the ways in which one can remake one‘s personality, starting from diets, surroundings, homes, and … rebuilding of psychical structure, often code-named as a proposition to be yourself‖ (p. 179). Never mind ―that the real self will never be found.‖ In this allege of freedom is an underside unseen. ―In short, the life of the identity seekers / constructors / reformers is anything but short of troubles; their particular art of life demands much money, unremitting effort, and, on many occasions, nerves of steel‖ (p. 138). In effect, ―the frailty of all and any identities (even their insufficiently trustworthy solidity) burdens the identity seekers with the duty of attending to the job daily and intensely.‖ In its salvation, a new truth is revealed: What might have started as a conscious undertaking can turn, in the course of time, into a no- longer-reflected-upon routine, whereby the endless and ubiquitously repeated assertion that ‗you can make yourself into someone other than you are‘ is rephrased as ‗you must make yourself into someone other than you are. (p. 138) The new duty can be terrifyingly onerous given that boundaries are at once explicit and infinite; concrete, but innumerable. ―Choice is yours, but making choices is obligatory, and the limits on what you are 60 allowed to choose are non-negotiable‖ (p. 145). Sure, ―beginnings full of promise lie ahead, along with new risks full of threats‖ (p. 146). But promise in our day demands a most severe form of human toil. The secret of every durable – that is, successfully self-reproducing – social system is the recasting of ‗functional prerequisites‘ into behavioural motives for actors. To put it a different way: the secret of all successful ‗socialization‘ is making the individuals wish to do what the system needs them to do for it to reproduce itself. (p. 149) To understand Bauman‘s point, we have to look at the relation between culture and what is now an invisible management; in particular, to note how mobilizing persons was inverted from external control to one that now inculcates the new ascetic spirit within us – to manage our own disgust and derogation, to self- regulate in accord with the good life given. Formerly, ―the postulate or tacit (but axiomatic) presumption of management … had been from the beginning and throughout history endemic to the concept of culture‖ (p. 196). By definition, ―culture – no matter what form it takes – is to be measured by norms not inherent to it and which have nothing to do with the quality of the object, but rather with some type of abstract standards imposed from without,‖ each producing ―an unwarranted and uncalled for repression‖ (p. 197). Incidentally, ―the term ‗culture‘ was conceived within the semantic family of concepts that included terms like cultivation, husbandry, breeding, grooming – all denoting improvement, prevention of impairment, arresting deterioration‖ (p. 195). Today, the force remains, with the exception that managers of culture are needed no more; we now impose repression upon ourselves. As ―‗Culture‟ stands for the manager‟s dream come true: an affective resistance to change” (p. 202), it is now the case that ―the dream is to make every man its own bureaucrat.‖ We cut off our own possibility for renewal in advancement schemes pre-arranged. And with the ―managerial revolution … conducted surreptitiously under the banner of ‗neoliberalism (p. 203),‘‖ the dream of self-imposed asceticism is fully realized. The cultural managers switched from ‗normative regulation‘ to ‗seduction,‘ from day-to-day surveillance and policing to PR, and from the stolid overregulated, routine-based panoptical, all surveilling and all-monitoring model of power to domination through casting the 61 dominated into a state of diffuse uncertainty, précarité, and a continuous though haphazard disruption of routine. (p. 203) In yet another salvific lapse, former bureaucratic models may be no more, but still imperceptible are impositions sourced from dominating interests. ―In this new setting, there is little demand for bridling and taming the transgressive urge.‖ All cultural leaders need do is offer their members ―a space of appearances in which they can show in deed and word, for better and worse, who they are and what they can do‖ (p. 204). What ―the state managers‖ do best in this milieu is ―assume the role of ‗honest brokers‘ of the markets needs‖ (p. 205) with the execution as such made fully obscure. ―What are truly novel are the criteria that the present-day managers, in their new role as agents of market forces rather than of nation-building state powers, deploy to assess, audit, monitor, judge, censure, reward and punish their wards‖ (p. 206). The point I believe Bauman is making is that managers and dreamers have become one where work and promise are most effectively joined, meaning that the dream will in no sense be perceptible as a moral order under such conditions. ―At stake‖ is ―the very meaning of being-in-charge‖ … of our jobs and the infinite number of totalized ways we take up promise tasks, more daunting and restlessly than ever. The peculiarity in our time is that as each takes up a promise project (p. 213), managers, persons and dreams become insidiously coterminous. ―Perfection is forever „not-yet.‘ Only people who have a lot to improve may dream of a state of affairs in which no further improvement would be desirable.‖ Therefore, ―so long as the dream remains unfulfilled … there is a purpose and there is an unfinished job to do.‖ Ahead but ever out of reach, the ascetic-ascendant function thrives so long as there is a culturally defined promise to keep pace with. ―The condition of unfinished business has many charms,‖ but as toil no longer incurs ruthless repression as much as a restless self-monitoring, there is tyranny from beneath – too many gages to watch and ever new and shifting chores to be performed. The distinctly late modern ascetic drive is not unlike those given by managers of old, except that what lies unseen is not simply the ubiquity of self-discipline en route to providence, but that there is no other way to be charmed than to be in charge over what are, so they seem, our own fantastic projects. 62 Ontology, the Managed Life, and Complicit Vocations: Arriving at the Ethical Juncture   Between the historical and the immediate, in the frame of ontology, Canadian sociologist Ian Hacking (2002) offers an extended insight into how we constitute ourselves in modes given – how we take to self-knowing through the way we understand our basis for acting in the world. As I look to Hacking, I am anticipating the transition for how we as educators can rethink vocation, aided first by the need to reflect on ontological parameters (moral sources), then to do so especially in view of the genealogical (from whence they came). By taking as his starting point Foucault‘s (1984) essay What is Enlightenment, Hacking, similar to Weber, wants to discover ―a philosophical ethos consisting of a critique of what we are saying, thinking and doing through a historical ontology of ourselves,‖ to account for what ―may be characterized as a limit- attitude‖ (p. 46) we have assimilated and thereby impose on others. Clearly, he juxtaposes ontology with the ethical as it bears on personal vocation (self-management), and so from his juxtaposition, in contexts so far seen, we may begin at this juncture to anticipate questions for our own vocations as this project begins to unravel possibilities for self-sourcing that are otherwise than the limits of dreams. The critical ontology of ourselves has to be considered not, certainly, as a theory, a doctrine, nor even as a permanent body of knowledge that is accumulating; it has to be conceived as an attitude, an ethos, a philosophical life in which the critique of what we are is at one and the same time the historical analysis of the limits that are imposed on us and an experiment with the possibility of going beyond them. (p. 48) ―For Foucault, a critical and historical ontology of the present entails a genealogy of what constituted us and made us recognisable as subjects of what we say, do and think‖ (Bove, 2007, para 8). Bove also says, ―an ontology of the present cannot avoid questioning how not to be governed like this and at this price‖ (para 6). Thus the whole purpose of philosophy she says is to perform transcendental inquiry and critique, to get beneath the modes by which we realize our being, which we must do genealogically.  Hacking reminds that Christian Wolff put ontology into use in 1730. ―He thought of ontology as the study of being in general‖ (p. 1), with specific concern for relationships between personhood and ―ultimate 63 entities such as the soul, the world, and God.‖ Inasmuch as relations between world and God have shifted, and ultimate concerns with them, we can imagine that today‘s ontology, generally, is characterized by fundamentally different concepts of what is ultimately real, such that taking up being draws from culturally- defined promise space. Yet still it remains that between being and ultimacy is the unequivocally ethical. Where we take up flourishing, whether it be daily or a long term project, the duty for any age Hacking says is to ask: ―what makes it possible for [persons] to come into being.‖ What calls and in what way is worth conferred? In view of Sartre we may ask what are the limits of being‘s possibility and with Levinas in mind add that if possibilities dispensed are infinite, they meet the ethical criteria. The burden ontology faces is that ―we are concerned, in the end, with possible ways to be a person‖ (p. 2). As it is a question of ethical limit, and this larger inquiry into ontology is to wonder at sources for height, I am asking how we limit as cultural leaders in our vocations. To get at limit, says Foucault (1984), three ―interconnections have to be analyzed: the axis of knowledge, the axis of power, the axis of ethics‖ (p. 46). On these, ―the historical ontology of ourselves has to answer an open series of questions.‖ In other words, to inquire concerning how our moral sourcing is complicit in advance and where we can trace the location of such ambition.  Limits on how persons self-constitute was dear to Foucault but he implicated individuals as much as ‗powers that be‘ for having want of power when asking how ethics meets vocation in ontological space. In other words, as members of any society mutually constitute themselves in promise possibilities available, each must ask of their part in moral constitution, where lay our answerability. When Foucault wrote of power, he did not usually have in mind the power exerted upon us by a discernible agent or authority, or a system. It is rather we who participate in anonymous, unowned arrangements that he called power. It is as much our own power as that of anyone else that preoccupied him: ‗power through which we constitute ourselves as subjects acting on others,‘ not ourselves as passive victim. (Hacking, p. 3) Therefore, as well as complicity in power relations, at issue is our very desire to be a subject. Latent for a cultural being is to long for a category, a name (Oliver, 2001). In the aggregate of Levinas‘ work, this is 64 precisely being‘s failure: to know and have certitude of self (ultimate proof of being) is power, where lay the angst of Foucault. Parallel to Becker (1973) is desire to be a ‗kind of self‘ in heroic symbols of culture (a power assumption again); we serve power to get it, to feel our effect. This is why to Foucault freedom is under suspicion. What does freedom really want but to overpower – here lay our greatest limit. Possibilities of being are already limited when morally bent to the urgencies to proof, to what Derrida calls presence of the self. Such as we bear an impulse to expansive drivenness, we ‗subject ourselves‘ to morally constructed orders, and so embodied, act them out unknowingly upon others. On this basis, Foucault draws the relation between our ontology and our pro/fession – how our vocalis (speech and vocation) entertains power.  The keen question Foucault draws from Kant is ―how we constitute ourselves as moral agents.‖ He estimates that ―we constitute ourselves at a place and time, using materials that have a distinctive and historically formed organization‖ (Hacking, p. 3), confirming the sourcing of Weber and Taylor, which is to say what we draw from constitutes who we are – our limit. From such ‗materials‘ it was Foucault‘s project to explore ontology genealogically, especially to mitigate subtractions from history when asking vital questions about subjectivity as morally constituted. Therefore, ―the genealogy to be unraveled is how we, as people‘s in civilizations with histories, have become moral agents, through constituting ourselves as moral agents in quite specific, local, historical ways.‖ As I close this chapter and look to the next, I do so with Foucault‘s genealogy in mind. My hope is that by posing the ethical question for our vocations as educators, we might be compelled to see just how our emergent moral constitution has disposed us to such encoded and enclosing inhabitations. If so recognized, then posing the prophetic may be more than a call to open spaces for who we are, but by drawing attention to the ontology we embody may allow us to grapple more fully with how in the constituting spaces of school we inflect what it is to be most free and fully human. According to Hacking, ―‗Historical ontology‘ helps us think of these diverse inquiries‖ (pp. 4-5), where ―the comings, in comings into being, are historical. That beings become, in terms of being „that,‟ – things, classifications, ideas, kinds of people‖ (p. 5) – is the question of ontology. How we do so in the modern moment is the inquiry at hand, particularly as it impacts upon education. Curiously, Hacking says 65 that we put ―dreams in places, or places in dreams‖ (p. 227). That is, in between the spaces of the ‗what is‘ and ‗what could be‘ (questions of the real) sits a ‗who we are.‘ The challenge for those summoned to divest power and uphold fullest subjectivity is to re-imagine sites of being in places enchanted, in the essentially unlocatable space of being ―for the human other,‖ which will mysteriously lead us to that no-place called wonder. Overall, cautions Hacking (p. 9), ―those who do not understand the history of their own central organizing ideas … are condemned not to understand how they use them,‖ or else, how they are used by them. As concerns ontology more generally (as an enclosure of being), they may be ―trapped in the same frame as those who embrace the ideologies that they oppose.‖ I offer his summary on the matter: I have been giving examples of organizing concepts that come into being through quite specific historical processes. They lead us to historical ontology proper. We are directed to what it is possible to be or to do. There is, not surprisingly, a certain vestigial existentialism in this way of thinking. Existence comes before essence; we are constituted by what we do. But our free choices can only be from among the actions that are open to us, the possible actions. And our ways of being, chosen freely or not, are from possible ways of being. (p. 23) Important to see is that ―historical ontology is not so much about the formation of character as about the space of possibilities for character formation that surround a person and create the potentials for ‗individual experience.‘‖ As we move into the lineage of character ethics in the west, we must question in advance why the idea of character even matters at all, before even thinking about how it was acquired in the various dispensations. There we meet Hacking‘s care head on, to inquire ―how our philosophical problems became possible, because I hold that we need to understand that in order to grapple with the problems‖ (p. 24) traced above or at hand. Such is to inquire of the ―histories of the present,‖ because ―concepts have their being in historical sites‖ (p. 25), as do the ontologies they condition, and which in turn condition us. 66 CHAPTER 3 – DREAM GENEALOGY IN MORAL CONTEXT: FROM VIRTUE TO VIRILITY  With the problem of ontology now made concrete in the ascetic-ascendant frame, I will in this chapter explore their symbiotic genealogy, first observing their intensification in the modern era, and then offering the emergent ethics that sediment in late modern vocations. I hope to demonstrate how this radicalized transcendence in immanence – „disenchantment realized‟ – not only makes real a self in dreams, but so doing naturalizes ethics in terms of „achievement‟ to render our life-world fundamentally agonistic, fully opposing our fullness.  The Distinctly Western Idea of Newfound Transcendence  The American Dream is to be understood as an ethical doctrine that is symptomatic of a crisis in national identity during the thirties. The newly invented dream calls out for a supplement to the outmoded narrative of individual uplift, which had lost its moral capacity to guide the nation during the Depression. (Adams, 1931, p. 92) Adams makes it abundantly clear that the Dream is essentially a moral order with the capacity to orient persons to a higher state. It is an ethical doctrine and a valuation narrative – incorporating both the good as well as one‘s duty to realize it for their fullness – but denotes an all out drift for self-realizing in a specifically horizontal here and now enclosure. As such, sources of self (Taylor, 1989) have by the 1930‘s parted with the mystical, so rather than drawing meaning from elusive (enchanted) folk stories, validation now comes by command of strict socio-political horizons – objective measures observed to move us ever closer to philosophy‘s project of a ‗better‘ self. What we cannot miss is that as high/est valuations remain, cultures will be doctrinaire, which means metaphysics will be retained. But as ‗truth‘ is sourced socially, newer versions of the worthwhile become ontologically narrowed, imposing clear limit horizons on what is real and what it can mean ―to be.‖ As that is the case, action suffers associated limits and disposes us to life in a consciousness of contest (getting ahead). What I suggest in demonstrating this below is that when anticipations of promise shift immanent (ascendant) and conform response-ability to ―promoting systems‖ of culture alone, increasingly affixed to the discourses of dreams, we work against our fuller possibility. 67 In this chapter I explore the genealogy of this narrowed uplift to demonstrate that as valuations shift toward symbolic productions of culture, formerly virtuous (communal and relations-oriented) dispositions convert virile (individual and success-oriented). Emergent forms of promise (promotion in the social) pull proving attentions toward ‗productive personhood‘ to absorb ethics in strictly acquisitive or capitalistic aims. In order to achieve personal effectiveness (height in social terms), persons will need to value and be constituted by hard work, good character and productive citizenship. As such imperatives condition the ‗limits‘ of reality it follows that self-knowing will be reflexive to more agonistic ―getting ahead‖ (contest) moral referencing – how we regard who we are (voice) and what is meaningful in life (vocation) will be conditioned by ever more virile sensibility. In other words, as aspiration orients toward promise (where we locate our valuation and validation) in more fiercely ascetic ways, world relations become one of increasing contest (agon/y), working us further away from the open and orginary valuations we most naturally inhabit. The successions of (moral) stages that place increasing burden on self-demonstration correspondingly reduce vocational valuations (ethical options) to diminish who we are in all senses prior. Whether proving our worth to others, testing our own limits, or competing in places of work, the reality is that we come to experience the purpose of living as being-against-life. Vocations taken up in moral sourcing so devised position us offensively and defensively in the world. Before getting into the particulars of the work-promise genealogy that bears this out, it is helpful to grasp the ascendant disposition that expounds this human drive in the first place. For a keen insight on the matter, I look to Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker (1973). This text explores the ritual-promise relation in somewhat parallel fashion to Weber‘s proving-providence. In other words, as prescribed procedures are prudently observed, persons achieve a rite of passage. The addition I make is that as ritual practices of work displace those of worship (first affect/ions) all relations to promise become disenchanted – sterile, calculated, perfunctory, ultimately exploitative. Life confined to promise in the empir(e)ical, conforming action to expansive ambitions of culture itself, beget patently performative prerequisites, with person-hollowing implications. Becker‘s expansion thesis (ascendance via culture) pans several disciplines to demonstrate that as transcendent principle becomes explicitly cultural, ethics digresses 68 to the heroic, initiating into human relations intensifying agonism. Whereas the shift in ethical horizons may not be troubling in itself, insofar as new valuations implore moderns to take up projects to exceed their nature, action will be against nature: defensive, limit-defying, reactive and thus intrinsically aggressive. For this reason, Becker (1973/1975) charges that this effectively ‗heroic‘ moral order (beating our own human nature and nature itself) is the initiate of evil. Ever since pre-modern times, there has been a ―principle of immortality striving‖ that orients persons ―toward heights‖ (Becker, 1975, p. 63-64), but in modern times, this phenomenon has undergone immensely ramifying alteration. Drawn from this thesis in his posthumously published work, Escape from Evil, Becker (1975) demonstrates that as cultures are unable to survive without a project of expansion, they must likewise peddle promotion programs for members, but by so doing construct a violent ontology. Inversely, he says, until we are able to make peace with our animality – ridding the need to abstract better being – we are at war with everything; most of all, who we are. As it is, modern promotion systems not only plunder the mysteries of nature (the enchanted) but enforce the taming of our very subjectivity (mystery). So long as the ethical imposes this need to extrude us from native being – and positing advancement as necessary in ever new and more taxing interpretations of higher being – there is to be alleged a spiritual restlessness. Such a drive for ―limitless self-extension‖ or ―cosmic significance‖ says Becker (1973, p. 3) not only demands more from us, but so long as we fail to address such salvation schemas in scholarship and schooling, we are wages Becker (1973, pp. 1-8) fortifying illusions just as damaging as superstitions left behind. My intention is not to disavow strictly materialistic theories and scholarly commitments, but to weaken them: to show through movements of our late cultural history and its still mythic center, that there is an ethical responsibility to regard the good (identity‘s possibility) with wider sight. Principally, it is not enough to attain something favoured in the plain material sense, but we have to feel its good – it must confer ‗a sense‘ of enduring (seemingly eternal) value. This transcendent aspect of personhood we cannot ignore, says Taylor (2007), where the transcendent is no less than the felt more-of- being. Thus, at the heart of this ambition toward height, under the auspices of a moral program at hand, is a 69 play for power that can enable our projects to succeed. To feel empowered as more than what we are, we must act in ways that confer heroism (exceeding a nature-state), which in the aegis of cultural morality translates into pride: ―right‖ action. What becomes apparent is that as moral ordering shifts horizontal to social contexts alone, more natural (communal mythic) value backgrounds for feeling worth are severely compromised. The ‗feeling of more‘ once realized by belonging oneself to a greater reality is transposed into realizing one‘s own greatness as the real, which Bauman calls the lonely burden of modern life. At issue is the initiation of efficacy into human relations and its urgency to connect who we are with what we take up and race toward as the promise of glory. In this new moral dispensation, promotion systems aimed at ―exceeding being‖ not only supplant more originary, antecedent relations to life, but enact agonizing preoccupations against life itself. Grounding this inquiry are the specific enlargement programs that have been progressively heaped on moderns to arrive at such narrowed ambitions for human significance. From earliest ritual to the Pythian Games in Delphi to the recent Olympic gold by Canada‘s hockey teams, Becker (1975) says power is brought down from the heavens for a community to feel enlarged. But if this phenomenon endures when communities are a thing of the past, or life itself is turned into contest, then where do heroics find new vocation? It is to be found in the strictly horizontal proving ground; in the frame of the ‗social‘ agon. Here, Becker (1975) draws relation between our need ―to transcend the limitations of the human condition and achieve victory over impotence and finitude‖ (p. 31) on one hand, and ―I need to achieve distinction to earn social honour‖ on the other. In the later case – in late modern context – ―each organism is in a struggle for more life and tries to expand and aggrandize itself as much as possible. The most immediate way to do this is in one‘s social situation‖ (p. 49). That is to say, as the social is now the dominant setting for self worth to be conferred, we no longer steal fire from the gods (Prometheus), but we steal life from each other as gods. Recalling French ressentiment, Bauman (2008) marks life today as one of enmity, where ―free agents strive to lift themselves up and push the others down‖ (p. 37). In other words, ―my freedom manifests itself, and is measured by, the degree to which I manage to limit the liberty of others.‖ As today‘s signature ethos, ―ressentiment results in competition, in an ongoing struggle for the redistribution of power and prestige, social reverence and socially recognized dignity.‖ 70 Ted Peters (1994) calls the modern expansive drive ‗diminishment avoidance.‘ To avoid death in the living, in the arrangement we are given, one must kill the other first (symbolically), which is more or less to absorb some balance of power in the fierce interplay of acquiring social capital. Bourdieu (1984, p. 187) depicts the acquisitive act as a cultural game whereby directly or symbolically we re-direct the affect of others to achieve self-favouring effect – not unlike the way a corporation out-markets another to attract more capital to itself. Expressed another way, the game expresses the conversion of transcendent yearning into symbolic possibilities for experiencing more-of-being. But what the enlargement does not account for ironically is how the effect sourced in symbols means greater being as such is purely ideal, not real at all if not grounded in the more naturally relational. Mensch (2005) shows in an advanced logic how the modern quest for self-demonstration enacts identity reductions if a person self-affects (achieves ontic synthesis in the fashion depicted by Kant and Heidegger) from merely symbolic reference points. The inference is that as culture demands enlargement and yet we can only do so in these symbolic limits, we inevitably practice consumption of the social under what is effectively a scarcity economics. In such a case says Bourdieu, life is reduced to acquiring ―social capital‖ in a zero sum game – more for me means less for others. Becker (1975) brings together the potent interface between the expansive urge of persons in terms of the promotion programs of culture to platform the troubling trajectory of ethics I shortly take up. ―As soon as you have symbols, you have artificial self transcendence via culture‖ (p. 4). With the goal being ―to raise man above nature,‖ ―culture is in this sense supernatural.‖ But as it can only offer transcendence in the symbolic, its people will be ―living a fantasy for which there is no scientific evidence‖ (p. 5). His point is that ―this would be alright if the fantasy were a harmless one.‖ But ―the fact is that self transcendence via culture does not give man a simple and straightforward solution.‖ Instead ―it gives us a new problem.‖ In short, ―man‘s impossible hopes and desires have heaped evil in the world.‖ And in spite of science‘s scepticism – here observing Pinker, that we are ―kinder and gentler‖ – Berlinski (2009) notes of Pinker‘s ―shockingly happy picture‖ (p. 22) that the 20th century has amassed 190 million deaths in the cause of being ―elevated to new states of being‖ (Becker, 1975, p. 7), which issues ―an almost constant struggle not to be diminished‖ (p. 71 11). Each case we may imagine ―sets up society as a continuing contest for the forcing of self feeling‖ (p. 13), which ―provides ready-made props for self-aggrandizement.‖ In late modern times ―people try to come out of social encounters a little bigger than they went in‖ but it is culture that ―provides codes for such self-aggrandizement, for the ability to boast, to humiliate, or just simply to outshine in quiet ways.‖ This, echoing Weber, is the work culture gives us to do, hosting the proving ground wherein we carry out its pretensions of promise to feel more valid or else make headway toward our symbolic destiny. ―There is really hardly any way to get a sense of value‖ (p. 16) otherwise, indicating that our inability to imagine agency differently means we suffer the most acute kind of moral order. ―All morality is fundamentally a matter of power, the power of organisms to continue existing by reaching for a superhuman purity‖ (p. 22). As it is, the expansive programs of culture mark the reaches by which inhabitants can be endeared to self-promotion in kind, with our immediate task being to locate the symbiotic power arrangements in our own emergent western story. In one sense, ―the unfolding of history is precisely the saga of the succession of new and different ideologies of organismic self-perpetuation‖ (p. 25). But Brown goes even further. Such acquisitive or ―economic activity itself from the dawn of human society to the present time is sacred to the core,‖ which is to say not only are we acquisitive, but such as we are, it can be said that moderns retain the sacred but by dreams. Here lies the irony of modern life. Whereas the ―consolations of religion‖ are a thing of the past to Richard Dawkins (Berlinski, 2009, p. 11), Becker (1973) says ―a consoling illusion‖ (p. 37) endures, but ―in a world of symbols and dreams‖ (p. 3). Our enlargement by means of conferred favour in a symbolic social field means we can never keep up or do enough; neither can all enjoy favour equally or at once. Bauman (2008) says by incessantly relocating the moral compass – characteristic of liquid modern life – the social game effectively consumes us; by keeping us ruthlessly jockeying for greater position, we get played! Clearly, the limit of such an outlook attests to why the modern visage for ‗successful personage‘ generates the unique kinds of self- affecting phenomenon we know today, priming an ontological disposition that Sandywell (2000) infers is a tragic ―method of self-reflection‖ (p. 108). To be ―constituted within and directed by a particular complex of 72 cultural values, rooted in the ‗spirit of contest and conflict‘ … I will call the agonistic ethic‖ (p. 94). We do not customarily think of ethics in terms of contest; it sounds odd and is certain to raise suspicion. But if we can trace genealogically how ethics lapsed into self-serving rules of engagement more generally, we‘ll have a clearer sense for how the erosion of pathos from ethics was able to be achieved; and not only that, how it became the essential precondition that would allow our kind of moral order to flourish which keeps hidden its inherent violence. Brueggemann and Levinas note that as pathos has been bastardized, hijacked and self- samed for the good of dominions and totalities, culture has enforced outright a disenchantment of affectivity – or else affect in forms (objectified and perverted), producing nothing less than the end of ethics. In response to this particular deprivation of transcendence, they respectively source self-valuations in an ―economics of abundance‖ (community as abundance) and ―the infinity of the human other‖ to anticipate fullness otherwise. I will speak more on their insights later. Our task here is to explore how the dream, as a late comer in the west, has as a self-promotion “system” ordered new valuations for being to produce new (limited and intrinsically polarizing) forms of self-understanding. Crudely, the move from communal-ritual to rationally-apprised notions of personhood initiates grossly limited world habitation and engagement. What I speculate is that as power has shifted from the collective to the personal – or more widely, from intimate cosmic relation to gloried self-relation in cultural symbols alone (Decker, 1997, p. xxiii) – we incur with our shifting world identification greater forms of antagonism (violence) towards life: most alarmingly, even to be against our very own being in the waged divisions between self-sourcing (voice) and the moral mandates of state (vocation)! But as the modern consumer is pacified concerning that which most truly constitutes violence, referencing it in the strictly visible, we fail to recognize newer forms of tyranny; that by ―psychic numbing‖ (Bai, 2009, p. 135) that initiates and enforces a ―spiritual autism,‖ we are being killed from within. The real cunning of violence is to murder the unknowable in us, to fix cares on the progressive order alone, and to be against all that is otherwise than rational performative progression. It may be true that we are no longer embedded in the cosmos (Taylor, 2007) but to be embedded no less, in such a fierce moral frame, 73 is to encounter Weber‘s stated irrationality at its height. As Bauman (2008) registers it, the great reciprocal to enlargement by consumerism is that we are consumed (p. 59). We are taught to love an idea of what we can be and to purchase its possibility at all costs; the reciprocal of course is that we must hate what we already are. ―What we love when we love ourselves is a self fit to be loved. What we love is the state, or the hope, of being loved – of being an object worthy of love, being recognized as such, and being given proof of that recognition‖ (p. 34). It would seem, therefore, we are bowed to a new host of idols, ascetically given to proving our reverence in the prosaic, and in all other senses (or lack of them) symbolically disposed to promise projects that must make everything else less … real. Meanwhile, all we do realize in this ontological wonder/less land is ―the disposability of humans‖ (p. 56), in a materialized love (p. 59) that has as its mission and mantra that we are to ―trust no one.‖ This is our modern ethics: in promise without trust – life without relation – and faith in the purely symbolic, action must necessarily be antagonistic.  Tracing Foundations of Ascendance in the West  Kearney (1998) points out that the west is founded on the most elaborate organization of heroic myths in the global canon of literature, and Luc Ferry will show that we have not escaped a yearning for ultimate things (idealism), whether in Platonic (eidos) or Aristotelian (telos) taste. Therefore, in the escape we do seek, in the boastful separation that marks modern orientation, we‘ve only shifted what we ascribe ultimate. The Greeks did more than lead us out of a distinctly ritualistic world occupation to one more rationalistically apprised– leaving behind the old cosmos in definite ways – but by so doing, says Ferry, they gave us most definitely a secularization of religion. In fact, what Taylor calls a shift, Ferry calls an all out intensification. So, if promotion has only intensified, what becomes of persons under its more severe moral effects? Being more religiously zealous, as Ferry posits, we must be wielding more earnest moral force. This is the case I wish to explore in what follows, even as it would, in the language of the dream, appear ironic. Aiming here at the level of sensibility, if we take offence to religious narrowing of human vocation (and 74 rightly so), then we must, at the very least, be equally concerned at ways modern ontologies do no less. I would hope this registers some alarm for the revisiting of a more humane ethical orientation. The Greeks did not initiate a movement away from the religious outlook but took idealism into an innovative and more ―immediate‖ extreme to intensify the religious effect upon the human. In this chapter, we find glimpses of its late evolution to demonstrate how growing intensification away from one salvific form toward its opposite (but still salvific) has by consequence distributed new and more severe kinds of tyranny. The problem with salvation, as controlled by man – intensifying at the moral turn, Taylor (1991) notes – is its exertion of an unseen but elaborate network of pride and shame validation systems (i.e. the moral sourcing that gives proving its raison d‘être). Therefore, the modern self says Taylor (1989), alike to Weber‘s ascetic personality, is the resultant idea of a succession of ―strongest evaluations‖ of strictly cultural derivation. As such valuation occurs in the confines of cultural orders, they are, notes Chowers (2004), highly determinative. When culture constitutes what will come to be understood as character, its moral outworking will reside in an ambiguous interplay between what is good (socially acceptable) on one hand and a mysterious relation with what is made ultimate (worth our affections – our wor(th)ship) on the other. Whether one subscribes to a materialist (secular thesis) or a spiritualist paradigm, persons will seek to flourish and they cannot do so outside a transcendent (moral) frame, one innovatively ascetic in the west. Luc Ferry essentially offers the story of this unique proliferation in the west, offering first a fitting foundation convergent with Weber‘s thesis upon which we can trace some of the intricacies of the ethical shift in our social milieu. ―For thousands of years, philosophy had done little but pursue religious ends by other means – those of reason rather than faith.‖ This ―enables us to understand how and why philosophy, albeit in a manner different from and opposed to that of religion, has retained a relation to wisdom, even to salvation, as its ultimate question‖ (Ferry, 2005, p. 139). What the Greeks birthed, Renaissance intellectuals refined, and German Idealists (Kant‘s Würde) thereafter cast their own long shadow upon: the variation on a theme of transcendence that we still can‘t do without. It is the saming and thematic structure of the western world, says Levinas (1999), which philosophy incarnated into a self-sufficient deification program for an 75 otherwise troublesome bourgeoisie (p. 248). ―Idealism reached its highest expression in the ideology of the late bourgeoisie,‖ and survived as a middle class salvation scheme in the particularly ‗American context‘ as the opening quote suggests. Therefore, the road from Greece, though philosophy, by a gradual uncoupling with orthodox religion, has by a sustained ‗will to meaning‘ reached Main Street in a newly idealized man. As ―all the great examples of philosophical thought were indelibly marked by a very special relationship with the religion of their times,‖ says Ferry (2005), ―it is that continuity ... that enables us to understand how philosophy deals with the question of the good life in terms of salvation‖ (p. 140). Only now the original question posed by the Greeks ―what is the good,‖ is fully secreted by the irrepressible modern variant of the Oracle. The dream, from early philosophy to its lived out idealism in contemporary day to day variations is nothing other than ―the secularization of religion‖ says Ferry. Religion was first to systematize life (Csikszentmihalyi, 1993, p. 58); philosophy, the first to secularize it. The process that inaugurated the ‗disenchantment of the world‘ is two-sided: on the one hand, the earliest philosophers took over a part of the religious heritage, in particular the themes preserved in the great poetic narratives about the birth of the gods and the origins of the world; on the other hand, the very heritage was translated into a new form of thinking – rational thinking – which gave it a new meaning and a new status. (Ferry, 2005, p. 140) Even for Kant, ―religion ‗preforms‘ the fundamental metaphysical questions that philosophy inherits, rearranges, puts in new terms, turns around, or even deconstructs‖ (Ferry, p. 141). The dream is then in my estimation the incarnation of all idealism, philosophical and religious. In no sense therefore does it indicate a breach with religion, but its affirmation (or daringly, its fullest rationalization) albeit in a new order: the making common of a fertile doctrine rooted in new ‗productive‘ moral codes – their codification being among my immediate concerns. So bothersome was this to the likes of ―Spinoza and Nietzsche, for example, [that] each in his own way and while declaring a radical break with constituted religions, continued to take an interest in the problematics of salvation and eternity‖ (p. 142). Whereas ―Greek philosophy had the genius to develop powerful doctrines of salvation without God, thus offering us the first model of a ‗lay spirituality‘ in 76 the west‖ (p. 185), Christianity itself ironically fortified it through its own ―conversion to Aristotelianism under the influence of Thomas Aquinas‖ (p. 214). As Weber surmised, ―paradoxically, it was precisely from within Christianity that philosophy was to draw the nucleus of its future emancipation from religion‖ (p. 216), but in continuing the irrationality, philosophy like religion prior was turned upside down no less. Instead of being an ―apprenticeship to wisdom,‖ it ―instrumentalized‖ a new kind of salvation, one that birthed a moral order of even greater idealistic force, achieving perhaps an even far greater servitude. The matter deserves a moment‘s attention, because it involves philosophy‘s independence of theology, thus the origins of the secularization of thought in the modern era. If philosophy, in its purely autonomous and rational exercise, should ever rise to encompass truths that are no longer those of revelation, it follows that the latter, and with it all of theology, would no longer enjoy an evident monopoly of the legitimate definition of the good life. This opens the way to new doctrines of salvation. (Ferry, 2005, p. 221) As former doctrine-weaving institutions – church and philosophy – were absorbed by a state who could more expediently court enduring transcendent urges, it would take little time before our lineage of seductive futures would fully realize Weber‘s daring disenchantment thesis once and for all. To make the point and add dimension to this foundation, I attempt a genealogy of ethical (proving) programs in the American tradition to observe how the ascetic gone horizontal initiates a life-world gone virile; one ironically against the good after all. If not already counter-intuitive that the ascetic advances the agonistic (yes, even in hues hedonistic), it should become clearer below. Once it is demonstrated that ‗progressive promise‘ in the social demands increasingly fierce forms of agency, we can verify its final dispensation in the Dream, and its fullest rationalization in our own abstraction from life, from our very selves. In so doing, programs of ascent will prove one thing well after all, that what we very well may realize more than our fulfilment after all is our own demise, to confirm yet again the sage wisdom of Weber, except that this time irrationality realized is man ‗made‘ real in the virtual, in disembodied, disincarnate life. Becker takes up the 77 illusion in some detail in Chapter 5, to demonstrate that heaven re-invented in the absence of heavenly referents is the supreme mark of modern absurdity.  Man Made Horizontal: From Worship to Work  From the Stoics to the Enlightenment, ―an acceptance of destiny was justified ... by the intimate conviction that providence was good, the cosmos was just, and the role to which we were assigned within it, like that of the organs or the members of a living being, was necessarily fitting‖ but ―the modern revolution gradually put an end to that sort of reasoning‖ (Ferry, p. 233). Witnessed in this great epoch is new urgency to take up glory vistas with the cessation of heaven‘s moral capacity to orient us to promise. Now manifest is that we could not part with a compulsion to rise, and so with heaven‘s demise comes the coronation of the dream, variously viewed here toward its emerging culmination and consolidation in the human imagination. What is not so clear in the experiment though is the kind of moral response that must necessarily attend its great orations of promise. It would have to be worked out over time, and to be sure, over time, we worked ourselves right out of natural habitation. From this eventual outpost, it would be the case that ―the world becomes indifferent ... there is no reason to think that natural events are the result of any sort of providence. Henceforth, they occur by chance.‖ Goethe‘s inference, ―For nature / Is unfeeling: The sun‘s light shines / On the wicked and the good‖ suggests that ―the world is seen as a neutral space,‖ and rather than taking one‘s place, up for grabs are the places we can take up by favourably exercising moral forms manifestly ascendant. What our new salvation will most signify is an exit from harmonious, enchanted relationality to one grounded in atomistic rational opposition: Acting morally would no longer be following the teaching of nature, but rather opposing nature in all its respects, both outside ourselves, in combating its maleficent effects on human existence, and within ourselves, where nature now appears in the form of the rule of special interests and ineluctable tendencies to egocentrism. (p. 234) 78 Within the new sense of heroic person and purpose is ―the radical rupture, induced by the collapse of the great cosmologies that marks the emergence of new relations between nature and virtue.‖ A former integration in the world is utterly disjoined; man made ‗separate from‘ is now ‗stood against‘ the cosmos with an inescapably heroic mood urging him to exert ferocious moral force to tame the uncertain. Cut off from enchanted and sensual relation to the cosmos (one David Abram says will cut off all prior meaning) and disposed to ultimacy in purely pragmatic frames, we now get our sense for how the competitive ethos eventually consumes the modern individual, with its deleterious effects taken up in Chapter 5. In this new dispensation that legitimizes our right to be against nature for self-promotion, it would become a growing occupation to assert oneself over the affairs of life, thus fulfilling a habitation that turns the vivial into sur/vival, to render vocation against native voice. Such fierce rationality, posited by Weber, comes to mean one thing: by enacting a formidably instrumental exercise to lift us out of the world (nature) and up in status (the social), all senses of world relation become inverted; all sense is made numb. Whereas it was once virtuous to imitate nature in intimate relation, the newly detached rational agent struggles against nature (human and otherwise) since the moral has succumbed to this aggressive pose. With no reverence for anything but our immanent heroic project – as the sum of life‘s fullness – everything else must be slain. Recalling strokes of Hobbes, such acts would make us equally against the ill effects of the natural in ourselves. ―We need only contemplate our Western juridical systems to measure the degree to which they display a deep-rooted conviction that the moral world is constructed against an egotistic and rebellious nature rather than in accord with nature‖ (Ferry, p. 235). The fact of our parting with the natural for a civilizing morality needs to be seen here for its siding with ambition alone, one aimed specifically at inducing people to find a worthy exchange from stories known for fictions imaginable – needless to say, they would need to be accomplished by work and with targets made standard in advance. Pertinent then is not only that we could choose what we want to become our good but ―that we need to use our free will to control the self- centeredness inherent to our nature‖ The ascetic exercise undeniably casts choice and the good into a symbiotic, strategic relation, and with freewill‘s innovation for promise prospecting, a possible worlds consciousness would enforce the separation of mind from the body it would will to a higher state; an 79 essential precondition to the Dream‘s escalation and flourishing. What lies beneath the matter, then, is that the ‗best‘ among us could now be calculated and paraded insidiously to control moral motivation, following Becker‘s heroic cultural system for the advance of most favoured cultural idea(l)s, to initiate the free-willed separation by means of contest. Truly, the foundation of our modern pride and shame moral scheme is the tyranny of the best: he who chooses most wisely against what is ‗by nature‘ erroneous acts heroically and deserves social honour. ―This is also why ‗labor,‘ a notion not highly valued in the ancient world, took on a new and positive significance in the modern universe‖ (p. 235). Increasingly ―Man, as a race, slowly emancipates himself from mother nature through the process of work‖ (Fromm, 1962, p. 36), and it is by this order that we adopt ―an unbroken faith in man‘s perfectability and progress‖ (p. 37). That‘ll keep him busy, and more the case as fanciful futures whimsically manipulate the rules. Marx himself, critiquing the radical effects of capitalism as a new exploitive force against the unsuspecting masses puts it well in the dream context. ―It makes the wish to ‗have‘ ... the most dominant desire in man‖ (Fromm, 1962, p. 41). We are, says Becker (1975), ingesting by nature, and since regimes of promise orient us to lack, says Loy, we are vulnerable to newly exploitative promise thresholds. It is for such reasons that consumptive panaceas will be the final footing in the dream‘s solidifying foundation: as materialistic promise is our final basis for incline, increasingly calculable methods underlie getting ahead. As longing for heaven is ever more unquenchable and seemingly within reach are new versions of promise to pursue, a more fervent spirit of con/quest by means of ―work‖ will undoubtedly and most unexpectedly position our relation to the good in a mode of slavery. Is it really any wonder that, in time, personhood constructed in such transient and elusive moral programs would produce the modern spirit of exile? (Bauman, 2008; Chalier, 2004). The truth is that we have no idea what we‘re really doing. Weber, of course, brings out brilliantly how success ethics in the West would galvanize ‗within‘ a new industrial imaginary to disenchant common persons. The rise of the hard working industrious citizen responsive to a new language of promise is itself from a time that was ripe for the merging of secular and religious ideals. ―When the meaning of virtue changes, when it is no longer defined as the actualization of a 80 wellborn nature, but rather as a struggle of liberty against the natural in us, labour changes in meaning as well as status and acquires a value previously unknown‖ (Ferry, p. 235). Taylor (2007, p. 69) points out that the hard work ethic was augmented by newfound social orders, which at one level eclipsed fidelities to the communal, and on another level, the newly envisaged mechanized world mirrored for human action the aims of industry and efficiency. With our separation surely comes more urgency to prove – this is a critical factor in the dream identity today given that along with an ambition comes the hard work one must do to achieve social worth in surrogate belonging, something Bauman takes up extensively in his analysis of liquid modern relations. In moral terms alone, such affairs have no greater catalyst for extreme forms of cultural propaganda (Ellul, 1965 p. 200-209), or else the naturalizing of moral programs more generally. From what Burns (1976) will introduce next as the dream‘s founding temperament for commoners, we can see that the yeoman dream – an early variant of the good life achieved by honourably tending one‘s designated occupation – was at first fully unmediated by the social. But as filling one‘s endowment was for the yeoman a work-intensive activity nonetheless, vocation as work would in time factor into social mores in a remarkably all encompassing way. ―The person who does no work runs the risk of being not only a poor man but a poor sort of man, given that work is identified with ... what is proper to man, of liberty as a faculty for transforming the world, and in so doing, transforming and educating himself‖ (Ferry, p. 235). Shame is the poor man‘s reward, but not just any shame: the man who is not hard at work or productive to glamorous goals in the new heroism of Industry/alism is not a man deserving of gain at all. This is no small point, especially as we note in this radical ‗moral departure‘ a shift from the foundational message of mercy in the Christian gospels to one of productive action. As the moral creeps ever toward the singularly self-enlarging, by means of heroic tasks performed, it is clearly in breach of the humbler, relational themes of its founding story. Honour seeking by appeal to work(s) is entirely disavowed and constitutes the essence of what is meant by sin; that is, to turn toward one‘s own gain in spite of his neighbour is to fail the ethical. Morality in terms of contest is biblically anathema. 81 Philosophically speaking, ―the primacy of theoria has given way to that of praxis‖ (p. 235). The virtuous in the modern moral stance consists of a range of ―acts aimed at modifying reality and changing ourselves‖ in an ever more virile disposition of conquest in nature and the commandeering of the alien and undesired within. In terms of moral flourishing, our new providence is led by heroic obsession to battle constraint, improve conditions and otherwise mature from lower forms of habit/uation. As a result, in the spirit of industry and work, one is always moving away from, ―out of‖ what one is, restless, never far enough, and always with the so called end in sight. In the end (or at it), the highest form of maturity is effectively to dis-embed from the social altogether, to ‗imagine forward‘ what it may be to transcend the despised limits of relational life and ordinary personhood – to dispossess what it means to be human at all. Unlike the ancient cosmos, the order that humanity is henceforth called upon to construct and put in place no longer pre-exists humankind; it no longer possesses the transcendence of anteriority. Now humanity must not only invent order but engender it. We have entered into the reign of humanism, where values are no longer in the domain of being. They belong not in nature but in the sphere of the must-be, of the hoped-for ideal. (p. 235) Hampson (1968) indicates that earlier people had no real sense of being separate, whether from the community or the cosmos, and Taylor (1991) adds that since identity as an idea was non-existent to our pre- modern ancestors, alienation from self would have been absurd. ―The individual, in the sense in which we understand the term – that is to say, someone presumed free to live, at least in private, as he or she chooses – does not exist in the traditional society‖ (Ferry, p. 244). By correlation, neither was there a ‗moral project‘ to make for oneself a more valid personhood, or work at its possibility. Therefore, The Dream, we surmise, is something that accelerated in a complex constellation of increasingly sophisticated and symbiotic cultural and self promoting realities, whose constructs, Ferry admits, followed a calculated promise presumption in departure from anterior relations. As it was, ―the birth of the modern world – and a convenient milestone is the French Revolution – occurred in rupture with the old visions of the world. It was a move to counter religious heteronomy by aspiring to make one‘s own laws,‖ and in particular, laws that will protect for 82 societies and persons their highest abstracted values. In this sense, a self in drift from formerly storied world belonging, needing a replacement story to coax its lingering sense of providence forward, would now be positioned forward and in productive constructs, with a newly added dimension called hard work.  In order to flourish in this newest testament of the good we would entirely rewrite what it meant to be a self and measure it good, meaningful and fulfilled. With the hope of a better future that would gradually lead to valuing the young, henceforth to embody the march of progress, over the old; to denying the natural basis of inequalities and affirming equal rights for all; to declaring an end to the superiority of the whole over the individuals; and to insisting on the pre-eminence of the individual over the collective. (p. 245) Ironically enough, it is by separating persons from the world that steals promise from persons and the universe at large and makes its strictly symbolic replacement so potent as a moral strategy for culture. Ferry makes the case. Since ―the reactionary or progressive utopia posits values superior to individual life,‖ entirely outside persons, on the one hand, it must be the case that ―values in the name of which will demand its tribute of human sacrifice.‖ For such values to be reached, they must be worked toward. To be sure, what the new dream taskmaster demands in the present, says Bauman, surely changes without notice. The rules of service are as whimsical as the fanciful promise itself. And the past? I now take up the temperament of its ascetic demands before settling into the hues we see and know today in the next chapter. And tomorrow? If Bauman is right – and he is certainly among the most venerated forecasters – fictions forward in ‗liquid modern‘ styles he says are emerging will have us running ever faster from home toward our outright exile.  Variations on a Theme of Success/ion  My interest now is to explore this progression of moral (ascetic-ascendant) personhood in vivid description and to witness in recent history how the moral has evolved, especially in intimate relation with the dream, to achieve ramifying human dislocation. The very fact that there is no documented beginning of 83 the dream is already a testament to the mystery of its cultural genesis, occurring more or less unseen, and gathering momentum in subtle gradations that over time culminate in an all out self-aggressing and culture consolidating promotion scheme. Therefore, all we can do is harness loose historical associations or grasp at forces that have shifted vistas of promise, and therein speculate how people have differently arranged who they are (the identity question) by means of this slowly swelling imaginal of ascendance. As heaven‘s perfunctory replacement, dreams would make us ever more religious in reverse, ever more ascetic in ascent. We‘ve so far discovered that the initiation of the self in new vagaries of promise introduced a newly ascetic disposition, and what I now attempt are unique associations of the identity-morality relation in the ascendancy programs they co-evolve. Although there are complex realities surrounding its philosophical program, Burns (1976) identifies a new kind of person as the dream prototype that Taylor (2007) says was predisposed by such events as the Thirty Years‘ War and Reformation. Given the disorder of the times, the consequent need to re-order society and the innovation of individuals having to find their own way in terms of promise and security (and story) following a collapse of former confidences, it was the case that a hearty kind of individual arose in the American context, positing what Burns calls the Yeoman Dream. ―Beginning with the Puritans and modified by the Enlightenment‖ (p. 1), the yeoman was ―a figure of middling income who worked his own fee-simple farm‖ to enjoy a success of ―competence, independence, and morality.‖ Thus begins our moral genealogy, the antecedent of the ascetic-ascendant matrix we dwell within today. The first emblem of a morally independent person with any discernible self-advancing quality, says Burns, was the yeoman: one who had association to the land, but of an independent occupation. As an intermediary between old world morality and later forms, the yeoman was committed to a kind of action, but one of ‗fruitfully fulfilling‘ his place than having any particular stature. The yeoman‘s pride, that is, was to enjoy a reciprocal relation to the land, which gave him both title and fullness; his work was to realize this honourably, by competence and to enjoy relative freedom from oppressive social burdens. To be a yeoman was, therefore, to be more or less free from subservience – a theme having greater force on the imagination following ideological and religious struggles between persons and nation states. But as a moral intermediary 84 between worlds – no longer defined by a communal relation on one hand, yet well before the need to be defined by competence in a social field – the yeoman‘s good name came from a hard-working relation to his land, and what it/he could produce. As his attentions were to his possession and not an identity as such, his so called dream is not yet associated with particularly visible moral signs. It is however hinting at more virile kinds of world occupation to come as what one proves himself for shifts visible and horizontal. Instead of being possessed by ―culturally based‖ moral commitments, it is likely that a defensive posture drove the dream of the yeoman without any deliberate ambition in an expressly positive direction (or what we would call life-transforming ambition). ―Without a title, without the land, without a profitable skill, the failed yeoman became a tenant farmer or even a labourer ... dependent on someone else‖ (p, 2). Therefore, it would appear from Burns that the chief axiom of the initial dream stance was preservation – of one‘s independence – as opposed to being proactive, which clearly signifies contemporary dream affinities. Insofar as this aim was neither to ‗maintain a story‘ (old world motivation) or ‗build a new one‘ (dreamed futures), the simple yeoman had a characteristically independent moral ambition to be fruitful but free from others. In that his desires were simple – he did not seek social or financial eminence – his independence is uncharacteristic of modern self-made man; though some latency is to be noted. ―Despite the assumptions ... success has not always equated with great wealth; indeed, it was not until the mid nineteenth century that such a definition became a sanctioned code‖ (p. 1). The catalyst therefore was his indifference to greater relations, to focused attentions on interests distinctly his own. Some significant change from an older order, therefore, seems to be at play. For one, there is an independent spirit that appears rather hearty; and second, an evident valuing of hard work, notably with some piety. Undoubtedly, it was from such a mindset that ‗industry‘ would easily syncretise Christian and secular morality into an unusual ethic of hard work; as promise predicates became more tangible, proving programs would become more zealous. The Puritans themselves were an odd mix of old and new world attitudes – firmly committed to a religious piety, but also radical counter-cultural people who embodied an independent spirit – and so it is fitting that they are the portrait of the early American. Baxter (1838) attests, ―It is God 85 that called thee to labour: And wilt thou stand still or be doing other things, when God expecteth duty from thee‖ (Vol. 1, p. 230). This austere approach to labour was to dominate agrarian activities in the 1700‘s alongside the privilege (proving) one could take in being able to own a stake of land, as if to render it (a yield) back to the Lord. Burns‘ text is just one of an abundance of ―evidence[s] cited  ... to show how widespread was that dream and its defense in our culture during the first half of the nineteenth century,‖ where the transition between one dominant cultural form (agrarian) to another (industrial) was facilitated by a ―hard work‖ moral order. In this milieu, ―the American yeoman was the basis of an ideal society‖ (Burns, p. 6), a foundation on which a new moral order could be imaginable and exploited. Although there is some mystery surrounding the movement from moral piety – including the defensive stance against change or lost privilege – to an exultant morality, what is clear is that the American story was quite unique in developing, and one that Americans were proud to call their own. ―For many Britons, their end and aim was no longer fruitfulness for God but happiness for man‖ (p. 5), whereas here, the traditional forms endured. ―The gentleman farmer and the yeoman tended to merge‖ (p. 6) in favouring a modest competence, unlike what ―urbanization and trade were seen as dooming of this agrarian paragon across the seas.‖ As Burns notes, ―By the end of the eighteenth century in America, there was little distinction between yeoman and the country gentleman since the virtues of the American country gentleman were identical with those of the American yeoman‖ (p. 7). Where the yeoman‘s hard work was one‘s proof of faith, for the gentleman ―an individual‘s behaviour, too, was a symbol of his spiritual state; any yeoman or gentleman who violated the code of fruitfulness raised serious questions about his fitness to be numbered among the saints.‖ Pious individual resistance, with some residual antagonism toward Britain, preserved this cornerstone attitude and accompanied the lingering sense that ―the Puritan was duty-bound to prove his election.‖ In short, attachments to the land in this way would facilitate ―virtues which will enable the elect to obey: industry, thrift, perseverance, charity, piety, patience, sobriety, honesty, marriage‖ to the extent that ―reward will be in the form of wealth enough for self-sufficiency‖ (p. 4). Work‘s results would equal promotion in this life, as well as the next, with the addition of one‘s sufficiency (at being effective) being a 86 wholly new variable. Affective relations toward the enchanted (transcendent) now gone horizontal and stoic favour an effective rationality aimed at the ascendant. ―Modified by Puritan predispositions and the demands of an emergent nation, the idea of gentlemanly retirement came in America to mean a change in activity.‖ All that was needed to push ‗independence‘ ―to a more earthly perspective‖ ―was a social environment conducive to virtuous industry‖ (p. 7). It is here where the inert comes into view says Taylor (2004) as social exchange uprooted the locally storied for mutually expansive interests. Virtuous character now meant ―to act in accordance with the laws governing societies and universes. Since these laws were discoverable by anyone with common sense, the acts would meet the approbation of all reasonable men‖ (p. 9). Aided by the likes of Ben Franklin and other nationalistic personalities, this pliable virtuosity – over time becoming a ‗thing-in-itself,‘ detached from any specific heavenly or earthly authority – would adapt toward fully im/mediate ambitions. The vagaries of ―well-being is the reward‖ (Burns, pp. 10, 13) where emphasis on character, initiated for a time, a fusion of religious and secular interests. ―Independence and competence became more secular and more important for traditional success, and Godliness became Goodliness.‖ Religious virtue had passed the baton to a heartier code of productive virtues a la Ben Franklin, which meant in the growing currencies of a now socially sedimented order the lapse of the good into ―being good‖ as the moral achievement itself.  From here, Burns‘ text turns toward the greater American experience of sought largesse by moral means, which DeVitis and Rich (1996), Morey-Gaines (1982) and Decker (1997) each confirm, to render the unique ensuing dimensions that this moral genealogy of self-making entails. With the collapse of former authorities who could offer a moral compass, people were burdened to draw moral sources from the social scene alone (Brantlinger & Thesing, 2002). For obvious reasons then, literature burgeoned in the late 18 th  century to fill the vacuum, to give the newly ‗interiorized‘ commoner his navigational apparatus; and in particular, a highly regulative kind of introspective (self-examining) literature was born. ―The 1820‘s saw a burgeoning number of youth‘s periodicals‖ where ―the aim was to prepare youth to be successful in life, and both practical information and ‗moral philosophy‘ were offered in attempts to define that success and its 87 pursuit‖ (Burns, p. 18). Training held forth was distinctly individual within a strongly principled tone. ―The meaning this epistemology held for traditional success lay not only in its philosophical materialism, but also in its strong emphasis on individual effort and the self-responsibility for the condition of one‘s own soul and body‖ (p. 20). This singular appeal for one‘s own flourishing, notably directed by ‗activity,‘ produced a distinct cause and effect relationship between hard work, right behaviour and impending ‗social‘ reward. ―The major categorizing of humanity in the magazine was not along economic lines but into the virtues and the unvirtuous‖ (DeVitis & Rich, p. 23). Therefore, less than class, ―the most important division between men was the result of behaviour‖ (p. 25). Success in the early nineteenth century remained more yeoman until mid-century, when virtue lapsed into more virile forms, as Morey-Gaines will soon show. ―Thus, the great majority of virtuous Americans could truly be called successful‖ but only for a time. The gradual shift from more virtuous to virile forms of social re/cognition was not so much the effect of money as it was first envisioned by opportunity; one could say newly found autonomy was still finding its moral target. ―Traditional success for the man who toiled with his hands ... was increasingly a mere convention, while for non-manual occupations – where men toiled with their brains in their own firm – success meant both greater wealth and greater respect. Implied in this shift is a usurpation of the yeoman dream‖ (p. 31). Forces of industry would overwhelm attractions to mere virtue to now emphasize strategy, incrementally breaking down rectitude and nurturing higher social qualification at the same time. Moral order was still very much the occasion, but found stunning attachment to new reward immediacies given the abundance of opportunities that were calling upon ―fit‖ (provable) men. Eventually, ―success in life depends not on the vocation, but on the manner in which we pursue it‖ (p. 32), and so what the moral came to mean, more avowedly, was to promote oneself in more enterprising (creative) ways. The ‗language‘ surrounding success turned visible, toward ‗gotten things‘ and through hard work, the most emblematic expression of which was to have one‘s own land. From a religious perspective, this was another monumental departure, since in biblical times not only was The Land God‘s to give, but security was never to be in physical form or be sourced as one‘s hope. Thus, the terra firma reward marked profound 88 symbolic shifts from old world habits of thought and practice, in effect moving allegiances from heavenly to earthly masters and matters. ―All things we see around us belong to somebody; and these things have been got by labor and working. Since such ownership is morally earned,‖ one should ―work to have things for his own use‖ (p. 33) and ―be rewarded by wealth.‖ The right to have property ensured moral ‗attainment‘ (proof by things), with such themes more unashamedly proliferating in cliché doctrines: ―Freedom is to amass property,‖ ―Man is made to possess things and call them his.‖ Clearly, the slipperiness of ‗virtue and reward‘ language, not even so distant from the lexicon of the pulpit, would allow ―the social utility of religion‖ to initiate sweeping obsession with increased opportunity for ascendance, where having more was becoming a moral right. By 1860, after significant economic change, the simplistic views ―no longer seemed to fit society, the related concept of success seemed anachronistic,‖ says Burns (p. 35). ―The old success, the yeoman dream, had to change in order to accommodate this complexity and its urban environment; but while changing, it had to somehow maintain its goodness.‖ The message, now departed from religious language altogether, ―was that the individual could elevate himself‖ toward a ―gradual movement to perfection‖ (p. 36). Although traditional success would find many pockets of support that intended to slow the runaway move from more traditional forms of authority, ―a gradual change from the concept of traditional success to the celebration of competition‖ (p. 37) was too relentless to set back; this-worldly reward was now far too seductive. ―As long as there was a reiteration of moral individualism‖ (p. 38), there could be an ethical rationalization for personal gain. Progress itself was now defined in moral terms: ―the greatest amount of prosperous happiness for the greatest number of virtuous people‖ (p. 41), ―transforming the condition of the people ... multiplying their comforts‖ (p. 42). In an odd blend of old and still changing sensibility ―the impelling force behind this progress was obedience to the traditional virtues,‖ otherwise called ―moral elevation.‖ The ascetic-ascendant immanent frame perfected! Wholly new imaginal fields bloomed a ―‗life‘s race‘ imagery‖ to ―depict man struggling‖ and working to his limit ―for a goal‖ (p. 45). 89 Prudence could no longer match the demands of a more aggressive public life as ―such religious dedication to self-interest on life‘s crowded highway enabled‖ one ―to conquer others‖ and feel the thrill of social advantage. Added to the dis-embedding from nature and the corresponding naturalization of hard work was a fervent new in-world toughening to the task, readying more virile moral sense to follow. In periodicals of the time, for example, ―parents are warned ‗the boy who cannot take care of himself ... must be pitiably deficient in ... all the qualities of manhood.‖ Self-care, or im/prove/ment was an odd composite of character and composure, of competence in productive life. Even the old Enlightenment concept of ―The Great Chain was replaced by the belief that every one was forced to race against the rest of mankind for a limited quantity of success,‖ as ―only those most fit to survive would finish.‖ With social Darwinism finally crushing Puritan norms by the late half of the 19 th  century, the yeoman dream would meet its end. The Ethic of Success was far too seductive to co-exist with whatever religious residue was left. ―The struggle for riches became almost Darwinian and the morality almost forgotten‖ (p. 46). And if the bastardization of the religious spirit was not enough, there arose ―an increasingly widespread belief in the natural law of competitive self interest as opposed to enlightened self interest‖ (p. 47). With theological and philosophical handmaiden‘s releasing their dream suckling, it would know no other schooling than ―a competitive scramble for greater riches.‖ Ethics released to an entirely new self-advancing ontology was surely absorbing all human vocation into its unabashedly ascetic drivenness for an attained enlargement.  What late modern asceticism came to prove overall is that ethics (self-im/prove/ment) is ascendant! DeVitis and Rich trace its emergence towards the ―goal of the various success ethics‖ (p. xi), each of which ―follows the blandishments of self-improvement formulas,‖ each inflecting ―self-fulfilment as the ultimate life goal‖ (Becker & Marecek, 2008, p. 1767) and each centering ―individual flourishing as the primary object‖ with ―its promotion of self-improvement via personal effort, and its narrow sense of the social.‖ Ironically though, ―a dream of social order in which each man and woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable‖ (DeVitis & Rich, p. 4) presents to Becker and Maracek more conformity than freedom. If individual rising presumes our liberty and yet determinations are socially sourced, what exactly is it to be a self, full? We already noted that freedom is at some level betrayed by the 90 rigidly ascetic. Here again, authenticity too is no less implicated. If ascendance to our highest ‗distinction‘ is socially sourced, what exactly is our proving authenticating? What we find, in search of the ultimate ethic over time, turned to next, is a trial and error ethical lineage that migrates from Character to Mind Power to Personality to Image and finally, an outright Success Ethic that stages the Dream‘s fullest realization today. To put the exclamation point on what the journey to self-promoting identity-making most truly realizes though, Morey-Gaines will, after I profile the succession, demonstrate how progressive moral movements from the virtuous to the virile sediment into an ethical frontier whose heart and soul is laden with intrinsic violence.  In Search of the Ultimate Ethic   The first mark of the dream orientation, according to DeVitis and Rich, was the innovation of the ―Character Ethic,‖ which ―represented a group of traits and a way of life considered to have significance and moral quality‖ (p. 11). Key terms, drawn from 18th century literature, point to good character constituting: ―citizenship, duty, democracy, work, outdoor life, conquest, honour, morals, manners, integrity, and manhood.‖ The variety of ―desirable character traits included perseverance, industry, frugality, sobriety, punctuality, reliability, thoroughness and initiative.‖ As a novel extension of proving, ―performable‖ moral categories was now spread universal for the common in a new age. In addition to performing as ―one ought,‖ there was a component to the character ethic, investigated earlier, that demanded an aggressive stance against the errors of nature. One was to ―struggle against and overcome‖ (p. 15) to rid we might say what does not rightly belong to cultural consensus. ―Such success could demonstrate that man might conquer his own base nature and overcome the limitations‖ (p. 16) of his environment. By so doing, one could expect to advance personally, spiritually and culturally. Assent to good character provided a complete program for promotion (Brantlinger and Thesing, 2002, p. 367). Most significant during its emergence was that moral incline as a basis for social advancement was now being infused into the curriculum of schools (p. 363-64). 91 ―Another feature of the character ethic is that one must continue to develop one‘s attitudes and abilities in order to reach the top‖ (p. 27). At this indication, it appears that yet another kind of agonism was gaining force, one that in addition to the riddance of personal and natural error, made it implicit to mind others in a competitive field to get ahead, to get the reward. This is a remarkable shift, especially when cast in ethical terms or given its radical departure from the shared communal ethos a mere century prior. However strenuously this would be observed would likely vary, but in a closed world order with definite aims laid out, it was certain that the drive toward character was newly given warrant by purely social referents. At the outset, the Character Ethic was suspicious of higher and classical education and ―instead, a ‗practical education‘ was urged‖ (Devitis & Rich, p. 83). Character and action are symbiotic but more than this, character, says Becker (1973), was to become the first mark of the commonly symbolic in the modern scheme, indicating that character was proof of a person‘s quality ‗in terms of‘ dominant cultural forms. Crudely, character is the person! In this sense, the Character Ethic was foundational in taking people from themselves, and it exploited reward to do so. It is then, in this period historically that ‗the moral‘ took on the force of extorting good character from personhood for the good of some greater social cause. Just who‘s good would remain mysterious Eyal Chowers (2004) points out, his contention being that the era of character installed the rift between a self and the social institutions that governed its practical life. As the task was to become increasingly complex and codified, deciding what to ‗put on‘ after solving the cryptic for realizing self advancement began to necessitate strategy, suspect Devitis and Rich, to surely set the tone for a later neighbouring ethical innovations. Morality‘s culmination as a cultural tool had now fully dawned, and the played out variations of character would only foreshadow later strategic versions to come. Whereas Chowers calls character an entrapment device, Becker calls it spin: illusive categorical self-making aimed to proliferate in the cultural order as a defence against shame (its irony). ―Characterology is the study of the efforts made to do so‖ (1971, p. 73), ―efforts [that] become our ‗mode of being‘ in the world.‖ Only, ―characters vary because people choose different ways to relieve themselves of this [same] existential paradox‖ (p. 145). 92 Character types are on one level conceived positively – one‘s unique being in the world, though preferably not as categorically known – but are most often the identifications people make with the world whereupon ―people derive their sense of value‖ (Becker, 1971, p. 36). As such, character is a program of exchanging a natural primordial sense of being for one contrived and symbolic in a cultural valuation (p. 71). Brown (1959) adds ―character is rooted in character structure – that is to say, is autonomous from the body‖ (p. 204). As it is therefore derived from an ideology (p. 205), we may say it is an ideal/ism of self-valuation that begins to complement well the dream. Overall, ―the great variation in character is one of the fascinations and plagues of life: it makes our world infinitely rich, and yet we rarely understand‖ its vulnerability to being brought into a chaste-laden frame. At its core, character is a taming mechanism of persons, a civilizing construct. This way of grasping character sounds odd in relation to the way we understand the term today (that being the sum of a person‘s nature or their finest qualities). But as it accords ―polite society‖ and the normative themes of human interaction there, it is primarily an ethical drive of good repute for a corresponding conferral of benefit. ―‗Polite‘ society had a new kind of self-consciousness‖ (Taylor, 2007, p. 225). Even ―religion was narrowed to moralism‖ under its appropriation. And just as Taylor speaks of moral sources constituting identity, Becker (1971, p. 82) says culture, by means of character, ―structures a world of action,‖ as a ―source for validating identity.‖ As he sees it, ―First we discover who society says we are: then we build our identity on performance in that part,‖ ―rewarded with social affirmation of our identity‖ ―if we uphold our part in the performance.‖ In this sense, character as ―identity is simply the measure of power and participation of the individual in the joint cultural staging of self-enhancing ceremony‖ (p. 100). The Mind Power Ethic follows the Character Ethic mobilized by ―social thinkers and movements that emphasized the power of mind and will as the fulcrum for success and self-improvement at a time when Americans began to turn inward in their search for the assumed realities of the American Dream‖ (DeVitis & Rich, p. 33). A ―myriad of intellectual and practical [and pragmatic; i.e. William James] movements ... enabled Americans to mold this new world of flux and transition.‖ The dynamics of new thought and 93 possibility ―extolled the new language of scientism‖ (p. 34) and ―linked ancient idealistic platitudes of the Stoics with the modern paradigms of the intra-psychic.‖ This spirit of improvement, which Foucault calls ―le grand renfermement,‖ and which Taylor (2007, p. 105) refers to as ―the ethic of neo-stoicism‖ instigates whole new attitudes and programme‘s which intensify the derision toward less productive, disorderly members of society. It was clear to see by the kinds of topics and seminars, or even the titles of books arising out of the late nineteenth century, that personal power was the term of newly felt force and its magic was to be earnestly sought hold of. Emphasis on rational power to ―change one‘s own course‖ would influence philosophical paradigms, business models and personal agendas in ways that were vastly different than any earlier emphasis on a flourishing moral life. Even the religious were caught up in the new drive, suggests Berger (1967), now trading the old orders of explicit dependence on God‘s Providence for the improvement of their own conditions by the clever uses of reason. By means of the Mind Power Ethic and the social honour it conferred, one was seemingly a step closer to ultimate control over their own destiny. The next wave of success ethics‘ would not occur sequentially per se, but would discernibly gather up a nuclear force, sanctified from earlier times. For example, the Personality Ethic had some latency in the late nineteenth century, though by and large, it would settle most notably on American soil in the early 1900‘s. ―Exponents of the Personality Ethic focused on developing a charming presence and an attractive physical appearance. They tended to show less concern for manners as an expression of morals and more concern for the impression that manners make on other people. The singular objective was to get others to do what they wanted‖ (DeVitis & Rich, p. 49). Much of this ethic was directed at salesmen, though its influence would have great reach in ―trading off old and new brands of individualism‖ as a whole. The master of the personality ethic is none other than the still reputed Dale Carnegie. ―In 1912, he initiated a course in public speaking that by 1985 ... had graduated three million people‖ (p. 50). His well known How to Win Friends and Influence People, was published in 1936, and was ―on the New York Times bestseller list for ten years.‖ Although not yet avowedly competitive, what can be gathered from the Personality Ethic is not only that it validated the growing emphasis on achieving a better life, but that it was founded on doing so by 94 bettering the ‗next guy‘. It was a subtle antagonism insofar as it still managed to maintain a distinctly moral flavour in its appeal to success. In its genesis, it was closer to the character ethic, but when fully matured effaced character altogether (Decker, p. xxiii). According to Decker, who sees ethical migration moving from character to personality to image (p. xxii), ―the word ‗personality‘ is tied to an emerging culture of consumption‖ and he ―distinguishes between the new psychoanalytic idea of competitive personality and the older quasi-religious concept of moral character‖ (p. xxiii). Eventually, personhood would be fully accounted for ―based on image making rather than inner calling‖ (p. xxv), as Weber‘s theorized. The idealized visage of the impressive outer man was more becoming normative for constituted identity. Christopher Lasch (1979, p. 116) says ―today, men seek the kind of approval that applauds not their actions but their personal attributes. They wish to be not as much esteemed as admired. They crave not fame but the glamour and excitement of celebrity.‖ Taylor (2007) adds some sense to the otherwise murky milieu of this century of moral shift, noting the distinct religious pliability of the times. In one respect, ―attempts to discipline a population, and reduce it to order, almost always had a religious component.‖ Yet, he notes, ―at the same time, religious reforms had a public order component‖ (p. 104). As a result, ―religion, morality and good public order were lumped together‖ and in their diffusion, attachments to greater moral duty would diminish. ―In other words, the good order of civility, and the good order of piety ... merged and inflected each other‖ (p. 105). As most observers of the time sound intensification, but at the specifically symbolic, they draw the double line beneath today‘s version of what Decker calls the Ethic of Image, one that supplants character for the strategic or hollowed; and its momentum, he notes, is disturbing. Intrinsically, it was the most ardent in its commitment to the instrumental in its presumption of economic gain; that is, it sat squarely in the context of consumptive self-enlargement. So given, this later ethical play seemed the most venerable predicate of the increasing vigour en route to the fully symbolic that would later characterize a life aspired to dreams. Of such a ploy, Becker (1971) prophesy‘s ―if you strip away the fiction man is reduced to his basic physical existence ... like every other animal‖ (pp. 140-41). Therefore, in this milieu, if man stops dreaming, man loses what he 95 needs to justify himself as an object instrumentally deserving glorification (Karen Horney, 1950). Without that, he is just another animal with no cause, no reason, and no merit in anything called ―the good.‖ Morality has no cause, and every other sense for how to live divested of ideals, has no coercive capability. Promise and personhood cease to be complicit; ontology ceases to inhabit its fierce ascetic drivenness. Of course, since the onset of the Personality Ethic, there were great disruptions found in history, and albeit, interruptions to the dream aspiration itself. The likes of World War I and the Great Depression are noteworthy occasions, but the fact that the dream endured, and that associated dream doctrines – a more effective term than morality – would again flourish, underscores yet again the undying human commitment to transcendence. It was, therefore, during the 1930‘s and 40‘s, difficult to find a discernible ethic. In fact, as Decker (1997) and Kerr (1996) point out, there was little evidence of anything from the time that would incite people toward promise or abundance. It is a fascinating muse how in times of epistemological crisis (Ricouer, 1978), abstraction is clarified by the real, with implications on identity being fully at risk, such as we learn during 9/11 and the most recent economic downturn. Strange as it is, though the dream quest fell into disrepute in the 1930‘s, it would revive and wind itself back up with an even greater self-interested zeal come the 50‘s, after the ―moral victory‖ of World War II, says Decker. In other words, when promise is reborn, moral force finds renewed traction to reconvene us in its ascetic life-orientation. Strikingly, later versions of the American Dream part significantly from nationalistic associations (barring presidential speeches and highly seasonal national celebrations) to take on increased personal and pluralistic definitions, or what we might call plausible identities, or identities of design (Ruitenberg, 2003; Bauman, 2004, 2008). Not only then are there greater avenues for persons to take up success orientations on piles of old, but the message becomes one of increasing self-selection; for persons to value what they want to value, to become what they want to become. In this regard, it appears that the ethical programs of the past have, if nothing else, not only consolidated us in dreams, but culminated us in them; that is, not merely in reified form, but in exponential fashion they have pulled us further from the enchanted of which Weber speaks.  As Blackmore (1999) reveals in The Meme Machine, and Ruitenberg (2003) in ―designer identities,‖ 96 we ‗by reflex‘ adapt to the culturally triumphant to get our own pride newly injected with applause. Surely, proving for the sake of promise still keeps us captive, but in newer and ever more intensified moral forms. By now ―anyone and everyone is the hero‖ (Kerr, p. 11), and they can execute it in any number of culturally supplied symbolic ways. Since the entrenchment of the positivist movement, especially in the 1950‘s (dream it, become it), and the increasing dominion of celebrity life (even ―reality‖ shows) making its way into the average home since the 70‘s, the field of choice and requisite moral associations are too numerous to name. It may even be fitting, at this conspicuous point in western dream lore, to say that we have entered the age of the Protean Ethic (Lifton): the purely symbolic triumphant man who can adapt to the moment‘s greatest possible favour. Inasmuch as this ―self is not physical, it is symbolic,‖ Becker (1975, p. 31) laments where we have come in our western journey of self-devising in the abstract. It is troubling not only for what we cannot sustain of its fiction, but for the greater reason that we take little toll of the injustice it exerts on persons, now so invisible that our thickly self-aspiring cultural infection seems normal. More, the symbols we assert and lay hold of with greatest enthusiasm are less the classically virtuous variety and increasingly power-projecting alone. This is not to say that classical virtue is favourable, but to say the ‗value‘ we ascribe to one another is not virtue-based at all, but an effect of how much life we can suck into our collective selves to appear enlarged. So disposed to late modern life, the good is shaped more by the virile than the virtuous, which Morey-Gaines will hereafter take up. Summing up this broad assessment of historical narrowing in these varieties of ascetic-ascendant normativity, Negri (2003) speaks of what becomes ―The Ontological Definition of the Multitude‖ (p. 114) to show how the idea of order is already given to violation. In an organized culture, ―the multitude is the name of an immanence‖ for ―an ontological definition of the reality that remains once the concept of ‗people‘ has been freed from transcendence,‖ or located in a fixed moral orientation. Thus ―in the hegemonic tradition of modernity, the concept of people was created‖ so that ―a mass of individuals‖ mobilized to do work could make ―the multitude … a class concept,‖ – i.e. to supply manipulations of moral sense in the interest of the order. ―The multitude is in fact always productive and always in movement‖ and thus ―exploited in 97 production.‖ In such a case, ―the multitude is the concept of a potenza‖ and ―this potenza not only seeks to expand itself, but above all it seeks to conquer a body‖ and ―transform itself into the body of general intellect.‖ The ‗will of the people,‘ as it were, when constrained by such forces, is effectively betrayed by Enlightenment ideals, devaluing the dignity of a person. In this way, the multitude‘s absorption into an ontological schema is the erasure of persons. As a result, here is what I am waging after having traced this genealogy: ―If one defines our historical transition as epochal (ontologically so), this means that the criteria and the mechanisms of measure [can be] brought into question.‖  From the Virtuous to the Virile   Although the above writers effectively laid out the successive stages of promise in the American context, another way to comprehend the momentum of the dream orientation is through a direct appeal to the fiction of the times. As well as offering fresh insight into the dream through literature, Morey-Gaines (1982) offers palpable support for how our identity-morality lapsed from a heaven-shaped transcendence to more immanent varieties of ascent in the late nineteenth century. Through studies in period fiction, she captures how earlier ascendance based on virtuous living acquiesced to an increasingly ‗virile‘ agency that culture demanded for realizing identity. But in addition to pinpointing the shift, her framework also brings out the growing antagonism (even violence) that gets formulated into the dream orientation to offer something of a prophetic look at the increasing violence that will culminate in this enduring fascination with transcendence.  In A Companion to the Victorian Novel (Brantlinger & Thesing, 2002), there is widespread support that the old cosmic order of embedded personhood became a thing of the past, and these two observe its occurrence being synchronous with the rise of the novel in the early 1800‘s. The innovation signified several things really. Rose says ―there had been, around 1800, a reading revolution, the literary counterpart of the Industrial Revolution‖ (p. 31) presenting ―a general shift from religious to secular reading; from collective to individual reading; from intensive and repeated reading of a small cannon of texts to extensive and rapid reading of an ever increasing flow of ephemeral literature, particularly newspapers and magazines.‖ 98 Furthermore, the novel takes on an authority for guidance in everyday life for its ability to sort out complex realities of personhood in the newer social milieu. ―Victorian novels … tended to be of an improving nature with a central moral lesson at heart‖ (Patel, 1981), where ―virtue would be rewarded and wrongdoers are suitably punished.‖ Here, Morey-Gaines develops her study on the themes of American ascendancy from shifting backgrounds in 19 th  century novels, which Said (1993) saw as a background disposed to violence given the thick empire hold on popular imagination. In his chapter ―Consolidated Vision‖ he speaks of Narrative and Social Space as, ―a structure of attitude and reference‖ (p. 62) that deferred all social action to a controlling imaginary. The empire function, he admits, was to promote alliance with its aims, by aligning social action to imperial interests. As persons become empire, in fashions resembling its haughty ontology, he insists, life was unscrupulously structured in the violent.   Morey-Gaines draws a fitting close to these historical successions to demonstrate a moral order gone wrong. In fact, the antagonism in our dream orientation is quickly apparent, she says, if we look at the very language of frontier, both culturally and personally – where destiny is symbolized as moving forward in a way that ―clears the land‖ and marks out one‘s way. To begin her sketch, she recounts the failed optimism of a John Gardner (1976) character in October Light, ―Eden‘s bright apple had turned in his mouth to dust and blowing ashes / life had turned trivial minded and bitchy‖ (p. 95) to foreshadow the dream‘s malevolent escalation. The materialistic turn – she calls ‗virile‘ – toward ascendant aspiration hollows the soul and community, and as such cuts off all possibility for retreat. Moreover, because of the vagaries of its mythic complex, bound up in an indefatigably alluring language, there is no way to suspect that the dream is the derogation or nucleus of one‘s demise; it is fully counter-intuitive to charge promise (without a face) for one‘s descent. It is a vicious cycle at that, since remediating lost senses of belonging, ancestral and aspirational, sends us right back to yet another promise vista, only to incur once again, the same tragic fate. Whereas it was once as American to be religious as it was to breathe, she suspects of our orientation – as the lineage of this project repeats – ―a birthright never entirely relinquished by the dream‖ (p. 5). 99 For Morey-Gaines, ―three topics emerge as key issues for the American dream: religion, individualism, and the frontier land‖ (p. 5). In starting her argument, she announces irrevocably that religion gave birth to the dream, indicating that even as materialist forces took over and subdued all aspects of public life, it is not clear that it ever left, but for the nebulous shifts in language. And so, at some level, she ―discusses the practical aspect of American religion as it slides into the American dream version,‖ observing that presidential speeches and nationalistic holidays make unmistakeable the distinct religious core in the American dream mythos. Moreover, as ―religion is the quality of concern that produces an implicit dominant ontology‖ (p. 24), she invokes Tillich‘s ―ultimate concern‖ to regard religion and the dream inseparably, one otherwise called, in the American context, a civil religion (Linder, 1978). Whatever gives meaning and significance to a culture is its ultimate concern, its religion, says Morey-Gaines, and in the American experience the religious quality of the dream is transparent and luminous, ―infusing all of culture, spilling over the confines of institutional expression, entering new language in remembrance of the old‖ (p. 24). Even when ―the specificities of language may be lost,‖ metaphor takes over, and though it may transform earlier recollections, it never loses its zeal. The dream is the mythic urgency for ultimate concerns, still so fervently avowed in most all aspects of our lives. As religion once touched all of life, today‘s dreaming has filled the void. But the dream is not only distinctly religious, American religion itself is now irrevocably shaped by materialist reifications of promise. While linking the force of religion with the dream, Morey-Gaines calls attention to the spirit of individualism that founded and sustains the dream‘s aura, and like Burns above, she traces beginnings to Puritan cultural resistance and pious hard work. Though it is not my intent in this inquiry to examine the specifics of rising individualism, except to pinpoint its intimate relation to the dream, it is significant that the individual she posits is foundational to the success of the new transcendent experiment in American life. Specifically, its cultural story appealed most to individual personhood and its possibility to produce wholly new ways of conceiving itself in forward vistas, like manifest destiny itself; doing so in much the same way religion informed persons early on. In short, the dream has not left religion behind, where self-referencing 100 once thrived in spiritual symbols. Religion was rather replaced by an equally mythic, but more efficient self- referencing reward structure, and certainly more immediately unifying. The first way Morrey-Gaines brings out the parallel (and shift) is by drawing attention to attitudes surrounding land; one that in the American context is curiously associated with individuals rather than with communities. Notably, the very opportunity for a commoner to own land in the new world was unlike any other in history (Hampson, 1968). Whereas land was once for communal necessity, it sprung into discourse as personal opportunity. Since the beginning, land has been the persisting metaphor of opportunity driving America, and its unyielding allure relentlessly factors in unifying social aspiration. The promise of land is the promised land in new light, and in early as well as recent times, its acquisition has contained a significant moral relation: earlier, virtuous fulfilment of duty toward heavenly interests would guarantee God‘s favour upon ‗the land,‘ the community; and now, virile conquest by means of explicit self-interest would evoke social admiration for amassing land – favour upon ‗the person.‘ What this highlights is that changing notions of personhood (identity) flow in the flux of being the most highly favoured by means of acquisition, as promise is now bound up in an increasingly ‗possessive attitude‘ towards earthly things (imminent and immanent reward). The point to be observed is that the self has tended to locate its place in the world relative to the most highly charged symbols of frontier. As the pursuit of frontier turned from fulfilment (completing one‘s calling), to conquest (achieving what one conspires), ethics shifted from the virtuous to the virile, and all self-regard in-kind – since Taylor (1989) makes it intrinsic to the ethical – follows. Morey-Gaines reveals through a chronological sampling of American literature (Appendix, sections A/B) how identity tends toward increasingly self-interested advancement following a succession of moral-reward relations similar to these; that is, in robust ascetic-ascendant aspiration. Through a contrast of earliest (adamic) and later (materialist) forms of individualism she references two kinds of dream, two source paradigms for ontological constitution. In her undertaking, we recognize the indispensable historical relationship between the rise of the individual and this curious emergent term that has come to ubiquitously inform self-world relations in a now infinite 101 array of ascendant hues. And so she concludes, ―The concept of individualism in the American dream may very well be one of the most crucial determinants of our future‖ (p. 61). But lest we misplace the emphasis, it is essentially that ―the dream accounts for individualism‖ (p. 62) or else, what it very well means to be an individual is to exist in this particular thematic of ontology. The terms are inseparable: before dreams, there was no ‗common‘ sense of self; before the self, there was no general sense of the dream. There thus appears in this ontology no other way to be than to dream. In the frontier imagination of the great Western experiment, there have been but two players: the virtuous farmer and the virile cowboy. ―In sharp contrast to an idealized image which suggests strength and domination, the farmer is consistently doomed to be a small figure‖ (p. 112). The unfolding story of two frontiers has left us with but one hero; and the rest? They are fated to being storyless! Our home and native land now tells a different story, one in perfect parallel to the ethical themes we‘ve come to cherish. Strength has won, and the yeoman has been ‗forced‘ to cede ever greater portions of his home. He has lost his title; he has, as Burns had not anticipated, lost his name. There is in the end no story left in our land. Under the new ethical vision, land is ‗left‘ to us a dead thing, a hollow trophy of heroic possibility, to excite the memory of just one thing: those who are without land are without a story; those who‘ve wrested it away in ‗virtues of conquest‘ are en/titled to write their own. By cultivating the land, we harvested a story, but now in virile ascent we till away at cultivating for ourselves a name in culture‘s lexicon alone. Meanwhile, the ground beneath us lingers meaningless, and we too, its story killers, eluded of our belonging.  And Still We Dream …   In September 2008, the world was rocked by economic shock proportional to the bludgeoning of the Great Depression. Yet a mere month later, presidential hopefuls were peddling the dream as our token way out. In fact, since the 1930‘s, when the American Dream was introduced, we have in most all political campaigns been unable to escape the stale orthodoxy of its triumphant, if not utterly vacuous, national doctrine, to present the exclamation point on the long moral genealogy of this chapter. Even if prudence and 102 character – the original marks of individual morality – were suspect for the array of social categories they primed for person shaming, and even if mind power, personality, success and image have each in their ‗moral seasons‘ left behind irrevocable debris, what is to be said of the high brow moral ‗language‘ we are now given, even as material and virile ethics have utterly failed us? ―Language‖ says a character in John Gardner‘s October Light ―is the last frontier‖ (p. 157), but as this land needs to hear restoration, even redemptive re-storying, in the midst of economic and spiritual devastation, it seems we only re-circulate words of abstraction in the hopes of an imaginary better new day. So it is that I am compelled to invoke another way of speaking (a sub-version), to voice another way of being (the living sub-text) that is otherwise than being homeless in dreams. As the prophet came to announce the ‗kingdom of God is near,‘ it is ever to be said, against reigning sensibility, that promise is already ―with us‖ … now. It is ―to be‖ with my neighbour, speaking, summoning, evoking from the midst of the storied personage we most intimately indwell, and as truest basis for our initiation.No wonder we so desperately seek to acquire: we‘ve lost all relation. Yet to keep dreaming is to sabotage the harvest; to live for fictions yet to be realized is to squander seeds already given us – in some significant manner, betraying the enchanted story we already are; and truly, the most inherent possibility for experiencing whole world relations. In the coaxing promises of culture, taught to envisage a better habitation called a self, we can by toiling for a voice more valid take up vocation anew. Here, no seeds and no land are necessary. Just work hard on an idea! Value and validation will fall from thin air. Or will it? Just maybe, it‘s too good to be true after all. Or just maybe it is neither good, nor true. Have we rather purchased another deception, another zealous mysticism, except this time its violence lies unseen. If it is the case that it remains and we turn a blind eye, or mumble in acquiescence that it‘s the best we can do –  people really don‘t matter, just the projects they ‗really‘ do – we have not only accommodated war, but have altogether destroyed the human spirit; our ethos, our pathos anaesthetized. Subjectivity made strange and nullified to achieve what is strangest than who we are … what a strange allure this really is. And still ... we dream!  103 CHAPTER 4 – THEORIZING THE DREAM ONTOLOGY   Charles Taylor‟s phenomenological identity has an intrinsically moral relation. One lives for highest things (the moral), and this in turn constitutes self-regard. We are what we value most (promise), since it most orients self-demonstration (proving) in the world. While Taylor calls this a Moral Ontology, I suggest given the evidence that late modern moral constitution is narrowly „ascendant,‟ that Weber‟s „ascetic personality‟ and Taylor‟s „modern identity‟ meet well in what can be specifically called a Dream Ontology. Moral sources abstract of mythic- communal relations become fantastic as uplift imaginaries. By way of a syllogism, to-be becomes to-achieve, and to-achieve is conditioned by and contingent upon to-dream.  What was once the source of the most enduring and powerful human emotion, immobility, now exhorts us to strive incessantly. -- Gauchet (1997, p. 74)  Adventures in Sub-modernity: Transcendent Mythos in Modern Subjectivity  I began the last chapter reflecting on early idealism in the west, first observing obsessions with eternal promise and then tracing the genealogy of promotion themes, which Luc Ferry argues flow from religious pre-texts. With reference to Becker‘s anthropology – that man is by nature self-expanding and abstracts his enlargement from culturally heroic promotion systems – and to Luc Ferry‘s ontology – that the transcendent urge from the Greeks forward is salvific by nature, even intensifying over the duration of western history – I suggest that our present aspirational drives, rather than being thought disenchanted (in Weber‘s sense), are more apt to be called neo-enchanted, because we are oriented in much the same way, but by purely ascendant (immanent) rather than transcendent (enchanted) means. And for this reason, just as looking beneath transcendence saw human agency animated by moral sources promoting and proving, we may ask if a look under ‗the modern‘ (as ‗we‘ are theorized) may yield in its sub-spaces vital considerations for further understanding self-regard in its increasingly strange relation to ethics – the good, our fullness. Once again, it appears from what we have just read that we have not parted with old ways but advanced new forms of transcendence to confer new ideas of personhood in new moral orders but on piles of old. In short, we have found a different way to flourish in the world – by way of dreams – which I take up more theoretically in this chapter. But with this intensification of salvific urge, Morey-Gaines laments the 104 arrival of materialist individualism, and I accordingly, the limits of materialist theory; or what now has hegemony over the academy as a kind of secularization thesis alone for how we may know and animate what it means to be. If, as the last chapter showed, there is no way out of materialist drives to flourishing, and as I speculate here reciprocally, no way out of theorizing but in frames of materialist vision, then there is no hope for self-understanding (by means of its particular moral sourcing) apart from totalizing schemes. This is to me an intolerable border around both self-understanding and scholarly inquiry. Not only is it narrow, but utterly unethical. By extension, as it is unethical, it represses generative options for ethical possibility to move forward as it does the self it in like ways restrains. Ethics is personhood (self-regard, or ontology), fully coterminous and indissoluble! That is to say, there are more ―ways of being‖ and stories by which to know ourselves, in view of source valuations; and certainly, more than by dreams (sourcing reversed in forward scales). Even too in the post-modern quest for (re)identification there remains a closed ontological frame. But failing to see the subtexts of our later enchantment that modern theory cuts off, it has no language orientation (mode for speaking) other than protest and defaults no less to the ascetics of dreams, but with its own crippling (re)activations of promise. As Weber predicted, the growing value spheres, in this ascetic spirit, would only intensify agonism and alienation (exile). But as I counter-pose, we are, in the enchanted land of one another – in the singular wonderment of inter-humanity from whence moral source presumes radically other ways to be human – otherwise than dreams: ever so much more than a Dream Ontology can capably demonstrate who we are. At the root of this inquiry is an interrogation of personhood as most commonly theorized, where my suspicion most directly contends with a failure to regard ―whole personhood‖ as a relation between what it means to be and what it means to aspire – or larger, the question of meaningfulness as it is drawn from more than culturally available fictions. Said differently I hope to open a ―wider space‖ for realizing what is and what moves a self; one that has come to close off meaningfulness in the strictly aspirational, without factoring the anterior story or meaning-center (myth) one more naturally inhabits. It is not enough when theorizing persons to trace the history of individualism (as a category) and posit from the outside the make up 105 of so called identity; that simply confers a story of objective measures, which is no story, but a false confide/nce. This does little to reckon with existential challenges that now emerge under the rubric of post- modern identity politics. If new identity is itself a reaction to an ‗already‘ misapprehended notion of self, then we have what amounts to an ontological tautology; a misplaced redemptive ambition, if not only furthering the malaise of failed subjectivity Morey-Gaines noted. As I see it, we have ended up with nothing but a sibling rivalry built upon a faulty (and fantastically) structured notion of identity in the first place; that is, a highly localized brooding between disparate children of the same parentage – both still captured by the imagination of an entire western ―progressive‖ order that makes a self in the advancing of its material possibilities. I suggest a truer redemption for our ‗common‘ ancestral ontology is a renewing counter-voice that is fully otherwise than an ascetic-ascendant orientation altogether. To find merit for this position, I turn to Charles Taylor‘s most recent text, The Secular Age, and of course, his larger corpus of work, wherein he asserts that too narrow a definition of western personhood is drawn within a convenient binary (secular thesis subtraction story) which offers no fuller account of who we are; or worse, that we describe the self abstract of value structures which dispense its most native fulfilment in the world. Millard and Forsey (2006) say this of Taylor‘s work in moral theory to ground this insight and set the direction for this chapter: We can characterize Taylor‘s theory of the self in part by its opposition to mainstream philosophical, sociological, and psychological theories of identity whose reductive methodologies lead to a view of the self in substantive terms, as one object among other objects in the world. Against these views, Taylor adopts a ‗hermeneutic standpoint‘ that focuses on the roles of meaning and interpretation in human understanding and self- understanding. Taylor begins instead with a notion of inescapable frameworks or ‗horizons of significance.‘ (p. 184) We need, says Taylor, to understand the whole trajectory (larger system that governs engagement) that makes the self the striving and thriving phenomenon it is – and to realize that this is locked up in the 106 intricacies of the mythic, which is much more than just observing a moral shift over time or that morality is a closed off thing in itself. Two things emerge. Our morality is not based on new goals (inert as they are) per se, but on new promises (assumed meaning). Our version of individualism, he confirms, is not a change, but the ―result‖ of a story in which our most recent states of being are ―a late play‖ in which ―the‖ dominant text is one of a reconfigured and differently willed ―self-transcendence‖ (Taylor, 2007, p. 530). In Taylor‘s estimation, the newest meanings for selfhood and life aspiration occur in a spirit of immanent flourishing, but because the self is still given to flourishing at all, it bears not only a dimension of transcendence, but ―a transcendent presumption.‖ In other words, since the eclipse of the spiritual age by the secular age – one that posits a different concept of self – there remains a lingering drive toward promise and fulfilment, just differently conceived. Taylor (1991) draws this out by positing a Moral Ontology (pp. 9, 41, and 72; also see Millard & Forsey), and because morality and flourishing are, in his theorizing, one in the same, I inflect his theory to put at play the Dream Ontology – a transcendence-inclined sub-text that ascetically orients persons toward promise here and now, in a closed-world (immanent), self-empowered fashion – which if understood for its magnitude, might dispose creative vision for transforming cultural modalities that by totalizing personhood mitigate ethical subjectivity. For reasons stated in the earlier sections, but to enlarge the inquiry, I invoke dream language to pose suspicion for this lofty lexicon that otherwise eludes and conceals what dreams really are and mean in the moral sense. Fundamentally, I rest on and bring out some of Taylor‘s core themes, yet add layers to affirm and in some cases extend the chokehold he suspects. Some justification for the term Dream include: its elusive and mischievous relation between old world enchantment and new world success (uplift and proving); and though customary usage regards dreams as incidental, the fact of the Dream‘s prolific and pervasive (even ubiquitous) influence in the everyday suggests it is more extensive and effective for understanding wider panoramas of cultural reality that impinge on identity; and finally, as usage of the dream is a distinctively modern phenomenon, and while that is already ramifying, what is more striking is that its usage correlates with the onset of individualism itself, to signify transcendent story replace/ment – that is, in the vacuum is a 107 residual need ‗to produce‘ a newly storied future. In short, the late west signifies the demise of mythic stories for communal people in exchange for fictions forward of aspiring selves. As the replacement of religion in the west – and without, says Neitzsche, our being able to replace the god we killed – dreams take up the glory urge that religion could no longer fill. It appears that a self needs a dream; that is, unless it can hold onto and be morally guided by an ―original‖ story that grounds its personhood and agency, or its larger senses of meaningful world relations. For these reasons, and others that will begin to resonate later, offering the Dream Ontology as the orienting phenomenon of our culture frames a reflective grid that may offer new insight into the dynamics and problems of modern personhood – especially as persons increasingly self-reflect in attempt to ―know‖ who they are. By employing this wide-ranging (or not so wide) ontological construct, we must keep in mind that we are working with an ―imaginary vehicle‖ for reckoning with the ascent of the self – one that embodies a variety of elusive reflections on a changing idea of self, mostly conceived in the mid 1800‘s – than attempting to ‗theorize‘ the self, or to better know what a self is as a thing. In fact, this inquiry works against such objectification, instead trying to unearth sources for world relations, to learn from potential contingency how ethical fullness may be thought anew. Again, the intent is to look at forces beneath (mythic sub-texts) that motivate and mobilize this ascendancy, rather than to name under any favoured guise what a self is (as if an enclosure), or how it should be ‗thought about‘ as a new category for self-reflection. That would only give it a new vehicle for a pride/shame referencing in the posterior (moral programs or principles), which is exactly the spell (cast on us, or written of us) I attempt to disturb. Rollo May affirms the tone, citing that therapy itself is concerned with ―the problems of the individuals search for myths‖ (p. 9). That the West ―lost its myths was the main reason for the birth and development of psychoanalysis in the first place.‖ Thus, at the first level, there appears to be some crucial link between selfhood and underlying story, and a corresponding predicament due to the emission of selves from transcendent sourcing. So, it seems that between selfhood and its need for meaning, there is both a gap in understanding and application (our arche and telos made small, or else voice and vocation disjoined). To 108 miss this is to obscure a greater part of what it means to be a person says Taylor. May‘s view is that we ―cry for myths‖ (our existential disposition to rootedness) because there is urgency for transcendent meaning; a need to be caught up in belonging and enjoy the fullness it confers. Much of the malaise of youth today arises from a lack of belonging, and with only dreams to fill the gap, we wonder why the spirit of youth is so cold, so disenchanted. Consequently, says Bauman (2008), youth rush to identity-seeking of highly favoured, achievable, objectified kinds, suspecting it will fulfil the mythic urge. But if schooling only augments the dislodging of mythic antecedents to reproduce mere cultural conventions, the malaise can only deepen. So it is: ―Here we have our present age ... bent on the extermination of myth‖ (Nietzsche, 2000, xxiii). Merton adds: ―the discovery of America galvanized and inebriated the Western World,‖ and ―revolutionized the thought of Western man. He was now convinced that human society was getting off to an entirely new start‖ (May, p. 91). With these things in mind, we are pressed to ask if it is enough to explore the modern concept of identity in the context of more discrete social and personal realities, as if ―topical‖ accounts of a ―thing in itself‖ can adequately reveal this uniquely aspiring being. In contrast to the abundance of research that sets as a target this-or-that theory for a better self-knowing or agentic aim, Taylor‘s unifying explanatory framework (for self-action) opens up truly deeper spaces for addressing more subjective kinds of research inquiries, which I believe opens wider spaces for ethics in general. At hand then is the fact that, in spite of a more objective idealism that boasts otherwise (what we may want a person to be, or how we may want to theorize a self and its relationships to agency), personhood is deeply tied to a mythic relation that uniquely orients it. Chris Hedges says ―The modern world, religious and secular, suffers from a deep rift in its self- understanding, an ideological blindness of massive proportions‖ (Taylor, p. 689). And Rank (1958) is the most insistent: ―The need to detach ourselves from our past while we are still living on its spiritual value creates all the human problems and social difficulties which the humanistic sciences cannot solve because they themselves are victims of this ‗historization‘‖ (p. 65). 109 The Dream is the unequivocal modern term for associating our newly charted way of being to a mythical orientation – ascendance, but immanently so – as spiritually embedded beings once did. What I call the dream orientation, Taylor most formally calls ―maximal demand‖ (p. 640), or human flourishing; in short, the will to the ultimate good, morally and experientially, to fulfil a sense of personhood by what confers the feeling of attaining ultimate value. The relation to god has waned, indeed, but the self does not stand outside a prime relation (neutral) in the world. We still move ahead, attached to some higher sense of purpose, ideal, or promise that makes life work for our good. This valuation reflects back upon the agent for their sense of personhood, their proven worth. In effect, ―a dream come true‖ is a self having achieved its moral (self-valuing and life flourishing) demand. The mythos of the Dream Ontology is the provenness (fulfilling) of being in the most alluring (highest) cultural valuations. I now take to looking at related aspects to give a fuller sense of its function and its failure for modern self-understanding.  The Self and its Changing Moral Relation  In Sources of Self (1989), Taylor makes the case that who we are is constituted by what we value and strive toward (the good – moral – and fulfilling), and when drawing the intrinsic relationship between our highest valuations and how we regard the self, the process (irrespective of the sources) is not much different through time. We still presuppose a background moral framework ―when we judge that a certain form of life is truly worthwhile‖ (p. 26), on which we stage our personhood. As Taylor says, ―this is not grounded in the nature of being, but rather with changeable human interpretations.‖ To be ―living within strongly qualified horizons is constitutive of human agency‖ (p. 27). That is, a ―qualified horizon‖ is not a part of, but fully underlies, our drive forward, from which we experience our sense of person. In terms of identity then, ―Who am I‖ is equal to ―what [has] crucial importance to us,‖ as we are ―defined by the commitments‖ of ―what is good, or valuable, or what ought to be done.‖ Thus, ―to know who you are is to be oriented in moral space ... what is good or bad, what is worth doing and not doing‖ (p. 28). The reason we surmise the great rupture though is because ―talk about identity ... would have been incomprehensible to our forebears.‖ Moral 110 backgrounds were shared – personhood was embedded in nature, not abstracted from it – confirming that this thing called dreams (and the broader question of ontology) paralleled rising individual personhood and its need for a different kind of proving formula is a less intimate cosmos. New sources for person valuations abstract of embedded natural relations come to be symbolized in the social. But they would retain their promotional orientation, or as the above writers wage, even more fiercely so. By extension, we see some relation between identity and identity crisis today, which is precisely a question of whether one‘s life has a felt meaning orientation at all. ―We are all framed by what we see as universally valid commitments‖ (p. 29), which is to say ―we are only selves insofar as ... we seek and find an orientation to the good‖ (p. 34). From the referent of a moral background then, the phenomenological self will by nature try to embody the valued (ideal), and not only temporally, but as enduring occupation. ―Now we see that this sense of the good has to be woven into my understanding of my life as an unfolding story‖ (p. 47). Therefore, as concerns human responsibility, as ―the full definition of someone‘s identity involves not only his stand on moral and spiritual matters but also some reference to a defining community‖ (p. 36), communities (and here I have educational ones in mind) must take serious regard of what they propose as moral goods for their members. They are in the business of making selves and for this, they have a moral responsibility. Not only then is theory mistaken to treat persons as singular beings in isolation from ―valuations,‖ but the ―moral charge‖ is equally applied to educational spaces: we must earnestly note that mythic valuations exceed practical ones, and that the stories we speak are the lives we embody; or else the stories we breach is the violence we wield against the sacred space of being. Again, the aim of this chapter is twofold: one, to draw attention to the reality that theorizing the self has been insufficient because it fails to recognize the fuller ontological components that constitute personhood; and two, as a consequence, theorizing morality (optimal agency) has not only been reductive, but by excluding the ascendancy presumption (methodology) will further dichotomize the constitution of selfhood. More plainly ―moral philosophy is most commonly understood to focus on the topic of right and wrong action, and the duties and obligations that follow from it‖ (Millard & Forsey, p. 184). But in the 111 expanding field of ethical subjectivity, the moral is ―much more than normative claims about right and wrong acts‖ or merely imbuing into social fields a more creative way to be fair and just. Underlying the moral is to ―also seek to understand human good and human flourishing, or the good life, as it is so often called.‖ Our moral frame tells us what ―we ought to will‖ and that, as a call within being itself – one that is inclined to some sense of transcendence – is ―constitutive of who and what you are.‖ That one has want of fullness is already an ontological predisposition. Moral theorizing therefore fails to see that ―evaluative considerations‖ are ―crucial in the forging of our identities. Our lives are always informed by some ‗vocabulary of worth‘ ... and it is fundamental to defining who we are‖ (Millard & Forsey, p. 187). Taylor‘s leap, that I attempt to capture more fully, is that we go about this by way of poesis, or, some form self-creating, especially as the process is hidden or illusive. ―Poesis, or expressivity, is for Taylor irrational, an ungovernable urge in the subject for rampant creation and fantasy‖ (p. 186). At root, it is as an ―unbridled experimentation,‖ a ―best account ... we can arrive at ... of who I really am‖ (Taylor, 1989, p. 72). As ―our identities are made up of our commitments about who we think we should be or how we ought to live our lives,‖ we are disposed to living in a story that will generate for us a highest sense of a meaningful self. That is, this account of what it means to be a person is formidably tied to the good, to the sense of being most fully alive. But insofar as it is no longer storied, but absorbing of the social-symbolic, self-reflection will reflexively lay hold of those mobilized symbols of the good to achieve its meaning structure (identity). In The Malaise of Modernity, Taylor (1991) moves from his theory of moral sources to thoughts on modern life, insisting that as a result of the shift from identity being sourced in a transcendent story to being coaxed in more immediate forms, ―we now misunderstand ourselves.‖ We‘ve come to understand ourselves in variations of fullness that are detached from relationality and therefore falsely triumphant. Vocation has been co-opted into fantastic aspiration. ―The aspiration to fullness can be met by building something into one‘s life, some pattern of higher action, or some meaning; or it can be met by connecting one‘s life up with some greater reality or story.‖ Such ―are alternative favoured descriptions, not necessarily mutually exclusive features,‖ and so ―it would be 112 a mistake to think that this kind of formulation has disappeared even for unbelievers in our world.‖ The moral necessity (basis for agency) may be seen in this way: ―for those who espouse the honour ethic ... the aspiration is to glory, or at least to avoid shame and dishonour‖ (p. 44). Therefore, a fundamental drive for what we come to value in more intensified social fields – and on which we build and fortify our identity – is that ―we have to be rightly placed in relation to the good.‖ Once again, if an underlying transcendent disposition is not appreciated as fundamental in our identity constructs, then understanding the self as an idea – without its moral and transcendent sourcing – will be entirely misled. If we do not understand our source valuations, we do not know the self; so too, as source valuations are removed from the relational, we know ourselves abstract of what sources us. ―There are people whose lives are torn apart by this,‖ says Taylor, and so the healing intent of this research is to draw attention to the fuller ways of disclosing subjectivity, so our own sense of the good and self-regard can be freed from cultural modalities of shame. There is an ‗existential effect‘ when on one hand pressure is exerted in our culture to change our self-valuations, or on the other, when it derides existing ones, leading respectively to alienation or shame. The overtones are hugely ethical. To pose a counter-moment, Mechling (2007) offers prophetic insight from Musil‘s novel, The Man Without Qualities which he takes up to highlight self-understanding in the categories of culture. He speaks of another condition which stirs awareness, ―another reality that haunts the reality of everyday life,‖ attending in particular to how Musil informed Peter Berger‘s forays in narrative after he struggled with social constructions of our hardened ways of knowing. Mechling (2007) says the ―other condition‖ is ―glimpsed as it were, through the opening of this reality‘s crumbling structures‖ (p. 359-360). What fascinated Berger is how the ―other condition‖ can be rendered ―as a plausible enclave of reality‖ – a new portal – for seeing ―society as a fiction.‖ His novels seek ―phenomenological suspensions of the ‗natural attitude‘‖ (p. 361), so that we can behold anew the ―sense that society is both fictitious and oppressive‖ (p. 362). Having done as much as any sociologist to bring ―an existential sense of the precariousness of social reality‖ to our attention, Berger looks to ways we cut off understanding ―using knowledge‖ to impose limits on agency. Society as a stage develops ―moral alibis‖ to ―prevent authentic existence‖ (p. 363). As we look to theory itself, and to ways a new secular man wants to think (or dream) existence, we have licence for suspicion and more the case 113 if what we conceal is a ―more ethically fulfilling‖ way of flourishing in the world on account of strategic ‗cultural‘ ambitions. Berger‘s sociological and literary brilliance, dedicated to deconstructing the errors of the dream of naturalism, offers plausibility for contesting what is more often constitutive of our agency than what we are told is mere biological noise. As Taylor himself says at the end of his most recent book, this does not mean we have to become religious, but we must at a minimum come to terms with the pulse that makes the urge to transcendence endure. There are many ways to regard the transcendent urge, but the fact that one is most dominant in modern life should become disturbing at some level. Whether we ourselves have self-interest in a promoting scheme is not mine to reproach, but as much as we impose it as the vocational orientation is highly unethical if Taylor is even partly right. If for other reasons it is our commitment to deny it, then we are not ―good‖ theorists at all, and this has ethical implications on another level. Either way, we cannot miss the point that if we do espouse ontologies in the ascendant, which incur at some level the complications issued above, it is our ethical duty to understand our own moral sourcing before taking our assumptions into the spaces of the vulnerable life-worlds we teach.  The Secular Age: A New Kind of Flourishing  For children ardent for some desperate glory, The old lie.  -- Wilfred Owen (1921)   What I hope to have done above is offer a background rationale for the Dream Ontology, which as a multi-layered force or imaginary vehicle has come to regulate the identity and agency of persons in the modern age. In order to further the point, it was necessary to bring under suspicion, or offer warrant for, three key elements that place us in the moment we stand: one, that theory has not succeeded at offering wide enough insight into what constitutes modern personhood – by rigid objectification and dichotomy, or by often hiding salient realities; two, that identity is inextricably related to ―the good‖ (notions of value and fullness) and we cannot think of personhood outside of an ontology of fullness seeking, at least not at this 114 stage of modern life; and three, that in the secular age, the notion of fullness (sources wherein selves locate their sense of being) has shifted from cosmic concern to concerns in the immediate. Here I will, in light of these insights, reflect on the contemporary expressions of flourishing to further develop urgency for its narrowing self-regard. Again, if we fail to have a deeper understanding of what constitutes persons in their everyday relations, then we fail to achieve more hopeful solutions to ethical problems that are consonant with working out identity in daily life. I am compelled to think that poorly thought ontology will lead to poorly practiced science. David Berlinski (2009) takes this up in The Devil‘s Delusion, as Michael Polanyi (1981) did with his ground-breaking work in The Logic of Liberty.  The best place to begin, when looking at the implications of strict secularity on identity – its force upon furthering the Dream Ontology – is at secularity itself. ―A secular age is one in which the eclipse of all goals beyond human flourishing becomes conceivable‖ (Taylor, 2007, p. 18), and as a rule gives all power to persons to produce their own advancement formulas in the highest they can conceive. Effectively, it rigidifies the proving plane, deepening the problem of ontology, by achieving the ―comprehension of being‖ (Levinas, 1996, p. 2) through ―a destiny that reigns in essence‖ (p. 29) in what Levinas calls ―secular transcendence‖ (p. 27) through what Reckling calls a ―secular righteousness‖ (p. 153), and Brueggemann (2008) notes no less religiously: ―the dream is a salvation oracle.‖ Appelbaum (1996) succinctly brings together the religious nature of self-demonstration (proving) vis-à-vis transcendence in immanence (the dream) which Taylor will in this section bring out. ―To disclose corresponds essence‖ (p. 111) and ―as the idealist tendency … focuses attention on becoming manifest,‖ with what Derrida calls ―self-presence,‖ ―preoccupation with ontological disclosure‖ (p. xiii) not only renders ―disclosure as a form of promise‖ (p. 111) but by so doing locks us in an ―ontological trance.‖ It shuts down ―somatic initiation‖ that would otherwise have us beholden to the more wondrous enchanted space of life. What I believe Taylor is staging is the case whereby true ―transcendence refuses immanence‖ (Levinas, 1996, p. 60). The problem with secular transcendence, by way of dreams, is that what it makes most real, by making us work and think so hard, is our all out ―ontological deficiency‖ (Zimmerman, 2004, p. 55). As we therefore note human flourishing to so pervasively undergird secular life – never minding for a moment that to have higher purpose for what is merely biological is absurd – let‘s spend 115 a little time exploring how this notion of flourishing still manifests in secular life. Getting a sense for what grounds our ontology in its final manifestation is called for if we hope to reflect on identity more ethically.  Although many in the secular age are sceptical of the urge to transcend, specifically because it carries with it a distinctly spiritual connotation, the idea of flourishing may more poignantly capture the will- to-transcend, which is more the urgency at hand. Transcendence here is not used as a destination but as a compulsion, and so it is important to note the underlying force or phenomenon that we are beholden to in taking regard of promise in the first place. Therefore, flourishing as an idea may best accord the idea of the dream, because it takes up, at some level, transcendent orientation. We experience moments that are bigger than what we can talk about, wherein a sense of fullness surpasses ordinary expression. Experienced in the negative, we feel deprived of the larger wonder and ‗know‘ there is more than the moment in which we stand. ―The sense of fullness comes in an experience which unsettles and breaks through our ordinary sense of being in the world, with its familiar objects, activities and reference points‖ (Taylor, 2007, p. 5). We have experiences which ―help us to situate a place of fullness, to which we orient ourselves morally and spiritually,‖ and ―they are often unsettling and enigmatic ... unclear, confused, lacunary.‖ These, says Taylor, ―define a direction to our lives‖ much more than we are aware, which cannot be ignored if it does in some fundamental way give us ‗senses‘ of possibility and meaningfulness. To say otherwise is to make it noise. We want a fully satisfying life, and the common person expresses it as if a ―whole sense of fullness can find an adequate object‖ (p. 7), much like it once did in a deific figure. ―In other words, there is something he aspires to beyond where he is at.‖ As such, we‘ve not ―yet fully conquered the nostalgia for something transcendent‖ and in fact know these as ―lived conditions, not just as theories‖ (p. 8), but feel them in ways knowledge cannot bear. Because that is the case, we cannot theorize the transcendent, but neither should we silence it simply because it fails conventional knowing methods. Any attempt to access it or discount it by way of theory is suspect. We just know it is there! And so long as we are human but still imagine there is more, it will always just be there. A secular age has not proven to muzzle its voice, but merely to shift the attentions. ―Every person and every society lives with or by some conception(s) of what 116 human flourishing is: what constitutes a fulfilled life? What makes life really worth living? What would we most admire people for?‖ (p. 16). To prove its reach, views on a fulfilling life ―are codified, sometimes in philosophical theories, sometimes in moral codes, sometimes in religious practices and devotion.‖ Beyond the power of the known – which our scientific hubris cannot tolerate – is a more powerful force to be known. No matter the case, whether ―thy will be done‖ or ―let humans flourish‖ (p. 17), says Taylor, they are in their constitutive force one in the same. There is then a certain absurdity about modern life. What will become apparent is that we are mis-dreaming when we miss out on a relation to more enchanted human and world engagement, even with religious injunctions aside. What we see through Taylor is that dreaming in irrelation is the great absurdity (and failure) of modern life. The dream is at the start declarative of a grand syn/thesis. What then separates the old from the new is that flourishing once occurred in intimate relations and does so now in immediacies of everyday life. Flourishing and enchantment were coterminous when tied to a relational center, and so it ―becomes abstract‖ (and an abstract preoccupation) in a world now disenchanted, separate and ascendant. Taylor says the key difference is ―a shift in the understanding of what I call ‗fullness,‘ between a condition in which our highest spiritual and moral aspirations point us inescapably to God, one might say, make no sense without God, to one in which they can be related to a host of different sources‖ (p. 26). He is more generous than I am though, for I do not see the fact of dreaming in the limits of cultural symbols differentiating at all. It is rather the case that to dream is to be modern. Thus, following a reconceived sense of being in the modern world, in what Markus and Kitiyama (1991) call ―independent self construal,‖ transcendence in our new age occurs in ―alternative construals of fullness‖ (Taylor, 2007, p. 27), which is to say, transcendence simply longs for new objects of belonging; new object/ifications that trade in social currencies. Because we are interpretive beings, says Taylor, in Modern Social Imaginaries, we draw meaning from the varieties available in daily social exchanges, but the ones that reside in our culture are particularly immediate, short of reference to the beyond we in fact seek; and sadly, are referenced by what is increasingly virtual, abstract and inane (Bauman, 2008). 117 Simply stated, ―a crucial condition for this [shift] was a new sense of the self and its place in the cosmos: not open and porous and vulnerable ... but what I want to call ‗buffered.‘‖ Taylor says though ―it took more than disenchantment to produce the buffered self; it was also necessary to have confidence in our own powers of moral ordering‖ (p. 27). Increasingly, western culture found ―power to create moral order in one‘s life ... the active capacity to shape and fashion our world, natural and social,‖ by appealing to idea(l)s. Now, we choose our ideal: all ―meanings ... are ‗within‘ us, in the sense that they depend on the way we have been ‗programmed‘ or ‗wired up‘ inside‖ (p. 31); to become what we want. In a sarcastic moment, Taylor calls them ―convincing thoughts ... produced by generating the right brain states,‖ at least as the materialist might view it. ―But in the enchanted world, meanings are not in the mind.‖ As such ―the line between personal agency and impersonal force was not at all clearly drawn.‖ Rather, ―the enchanted world, in contrast to our own universe of buffered selves and ‗minds,‘ shows a perplexing absence of certain boundaries which seem to us essential‖ (p. 33). Still today, if openly admitted, we have trouble separating the boundary of a dream from a reality, so too a fictitious self from real personhood. The line between the real and the abstract, as well as the heart and the head is something we want to believe is discernible, but clearly we are conflicted, as the majority of people admit to Gallup every year  about belief in some higher power. This is a problem. At this point, we need to ensure that the many terms at play are not getting lost on the larger theme that individuals in the modern age still orient to fullness, but that the source of fullness has shifted from a transcendent relation to an ascendant drive; a move that has taken us from an ontology that is deity-centred to one that is dream-centred. Instead of drawing from a stor(i)ed past to comprehend fullness in its dynamic, we make a story forward and achieve for ourselves a destiny that holds static possibility (certitude once and for all). Both ontologies are rooted in transcendence, signifying desire to flourish beyond the natural and biological. One is completed relationally – whereby persons are ‗embedded‘ in an enchanted (spirit charged) cosmos – while the other, extruded from nature, without any contingent relation to matter itself, so it appears, is entirely self-directing. Because the former self is embedded in a spirit world, it is porous, as Taylor calls it; and whereas the later is extracted from and separate from nature (in a disenchanted world), it is buffered, 118 closed off. What I hope to compel is that a more relational, enchanted ontological disposition can anticipate the recuperation of an ethics that holds wider (than dreams) and more meaningful (than morals) possibility.  Flourishing in Immanence: The Agonies of Promise in the Enclosures of Instrumental Agency   Let me sum up what I am attempting to bring together for a theoretical frame. Taylor starts with a Moral Ontology (1989) being foundational to what it means to be human. He ends with transcendence being indispensible to modern life (2007). Linking the two, we arrive at an ontological variant that is conditioned by an irrepressible yearning to rise (Weber‘s proving for providence; Becker‘s cultural promotion systems), a Dream Ontology when the moral gravity is most irrepressibly constitutive of dreams. With the moral made clear in the earlier sections, what we witness in this chapter is what centers it for moderns – to see if there is a cluster motivation, a galvanizing of sensibility that characterizes daily life, which can exert enough force to cause people to significantly concede who they are and what they allow to be their ambitions. As such, I am speculating that in as much as the life we have waged as moderns has been somewhat universally given to a consumptive (Bauman), expansive (Becker), acquisitive (Weber), empire (Brueggemann) orientation, each casting a long shadow upon most as both a short term and long term pre-occupation, we could call the drive any number of things, but the most honest attribution for what it means to be modern in this sense is brought together by the Dream. All bear a transcendence presumption. All aspire to variable kinds of glory (Horney). All are instrumental (moral) in so doing. Let me, therefore, pull together some of its final expressions from Taylor before turning to a sceptical word; and should we still find agreement with at least some of this order of things, then the next chapter offers some alarming insights on the agonies of what it means to be modern in this narrow ontological frame.  The great gap between the moral and the dream – an infinite gap if there ever was one – that makes the moral aspect of the dream so imperceptible is given by Taylor in this way: because we have in modern life ―turned to the new philosophies of self-affirmation‖ but have done so ―without having to identify their ontic commitments‖ (p. 400), we have no ―historical ontology‖ (Hacking) by which to account for where we 119 stand (and neither to dispel the forces that make this order proliferate). Levinas (1996) adds that, ―absurdity consists … in the isolation of innumerable meanings, in an absence of a sense that orients them‖ (p. 45). As we are split in the first sense – between what conditions our action (transcendence) and the action we take up habitually in our vocations (promise) – so too then will we be split in all senses of being! Is this why we cannot see, we may surmise. Who, for example, knows where dreams come from, and if not that, how a self began to be fashioned by them. Perhaps that is why this inquiry may itself seem odd. After all, who on earth would care to deride dreams? But the fact remains, we do not ―see‖ them as morally constituting. By way of example, Taylor lays out in his Modern Social Imaginaries that as ―a‖ value amasses increasing social capital (finds growing favour for its ability to confer promise), it not only eclipses the boundary that formerly made it ‗one among many,‘ but by working its way into and eventually absorbing all others – by becoming ―the value‖ – it is over time no longer distinguishable as ―a‖ value at all, but is thought to be natural. As such, it functions increasingly beneath consciousness (when there is less, and eventually no, resistance to it), to become the controlling social imaginary. Accordingly, the triumphant value becomes ubiquitous such that all other values it trumped fade into irrelevance and no longer have the ability to affect sensibility or inform social practice. The stronger the value and the greater its currency becomes, the less likely or potent will be any counter-story, any ―other/wise‖ by which people can source fullness possibility. In our unique western world, it is likely – as we learned in Chapter 2 and 3 – that the success of the naturalized social order we know today in dreams is the consolidation of earliest shared affinities between Christian and cultural ideals of the good, which closely aligned in objectified behaviour (proving), or else a kind of self-demonstration that went increasingly external. Still, promise remains. But increasingly, it is given form. As a form of promise makes more ‗concrete‘ the possibilities for moderns, it will increasingly secrete loyalties that take us from the substantial promise we already are; that is, to make us less. Here, precariously, ―the value‖ that now fully constitutes our social imaginary is so pervasive an objectification of dreams that even when the sub-text we are – the first words that reside in us – speaks, we‘ve no recourse to heed its lexicon. As Bai (2009) says it, ―we‘ve lost the ability to hear nature‖ (p. 135), in this case our own, 120 even as all of nature irrevocably calls to us. Taylor effectively brings together the vast space between that still small voice within that we know but cannot pronounce and the ontological stricture that keeps it shut out; and while so doing registers some of the strongest words in his vast scholarship.   ―We can feel this emptiness in the everyday, but it also comes out with particular force in what should be the crucial moments of life: birth, marriage, death‖ (p. 309). We want to mark these points in our lives and we, unknowingly, ―have always done this by linking these moments up with the transcendent, the highest, the holy, the sacred. But enclosure in the immanent leaves a hole here,‖ presenting the ―malaise of immanence,‖ making out of thin air, if you will, higher senses of purpose, to assure ourselves that we are somehow flourishing in the rigid monotonies of our closed mechanistic world. ―If we fail to sense this, it is because we are cut off, divided from ourselves,‖ because we have been made, offers Bai (2009), perceptually bankrupt in the moral literacies that govern our world engagement. We hear it in music, see it in art and feel it in dramas that we ineffably relate to in recurring ways. ―Is that all there is?‖ (p. 311) echoes from age to gender to ethnicity in great varieties: a silent universal plea from a people feeling cut off from more. But where ―‗transcendence‘ is, once again in an important sense and paradoxically, immanent,‖ this cry will never be understood as such, and therefore never be satiated, so long as the yearning for dreams intensifies, and requisitely, the moral order only thickens. ―Whether in a given individual case this functions more as a rationalization or as an animating ideal is neither here nor there; the ideal itself becomes a crucial facilitating factor‖ (p. 474). It becomes us, ontologically speaking. Such an ontological trajectory can only mean one thing. Either we lose ourselves entirely – a fate that Bauman predicts – or we protest most naturally (we cry out) from the truest places that summon, but without attempt to replace the promise vacuum. Our voice is disenchantment‘s sub-text, this being the pre-text to prophetic urgency. Immanent transcendence is all about what David Brooks (2000) calls ―higher selfishness,‖ ―about making sure you get the most out of yourself‖ (Taylor, 2007, p. 477). Taylor‘s concern with transcendence in immanence, therefore, approximates my own: that the driving force of the Dream Ontology is ‗a possible world of identity‘ that too easily turns into misappropriation of a more ‗inter-connected‘ good. First, because 121 the currency is so strong – as forceful as in earlier religious times – ―fragments of the ideal, selectively acted on, remain powerful‖ (p. 478), but so much so that ―in holding on to our now reduced goals, we will hide from ourselves the dilemmas involved.‖ Instead, ―choice as a prime value‖ ―trades on the favourable resonances‖ ―to invoke the sense that there are no barriers to my desires,‖ and so it is tempting ―to see the aspiration to self-expression exclusively in the light of consumer choice‖ (p. 480). That one can locate the source and even choose their own way out of whatever encloses them sounds compelling – as compelling as the quest for authenticity did before Taylor (in Chapter 2) exposed the absurdity insofar as it commissioned the taking leave of being itself – but as it is a moral order that we in the first place never chose to be in, then the very prospect of choice as our best means for escaping the maladies of the dream‘s moral modality does not inspire much confidence. In this sense, and most unexpectedly, Bernstein (2001) says of Adorno‘s thoughts on this moral drift in the modern age: dreams are but ―shadows‖ of a ―reductive naturalism‖ (p. 138) and because they are elusive and the substance that initiates the shadow remains hidden, we best take cue from what comes most out of nature. The transcendence of immanence (if you‘ll forgive the paradox) reduces us (and our moral height) to a cultural obsession with expressivism, and so morally, incurs its associated ascetic demand. ―I am displaying my style to all of you, and in this, I am responding to your self-display, even as you will respond to mine‖ (Taylor, 2007, p. 481). Henceforth, ―the space of fashion is one in which we sustain a language together of signs and meanings, which is constantly changing‖ (see Ruitenberg, 2003; Bauman, 2004). That is to say, with the Dream Ontology, there is less and less a ground or anchor for this form of self-manifesting, and so, exponential are the fictions that remove us from any sense of good at all. ―It matters to each one of us as we act that the others are there, as witness of what we are doing, and thus as co-determiners of the meaning of our actions.‖ The moral force or good, as horrific as it sounds, is only that I maintain the pride of face, avoid shame at all costs, and keep my face, as it were, in the shallows of Greek apatheia, ―a face to the world that announces: ‗I am not ephemeral, look at what went into me, what represents me, what justifies me.‘‖ (Becker, 1971, p. 150) never minding its ―twist[ing] the world in some way to try to accord it with [our] fantasies, wishes, fears‖ (p. 151). 122 ―Self-authorization is ... an axiomatic feature of modernity‖ (p. 588) but its coherence, says Taylor, ―verges on fantasy‖ (p. 589). Such ―narratives of self-authorization, when examined more closely, are far from self-evident; and yet their assuming axiomatic status in the thinking of many people, is one facet of a powerful and widespread ―Closed World System,‖ as he calls it, imposing a closed spin on the immanent frame we all share.‖ ―How can one account for the specific force of creative agency, or ethical demands, or for the power of artistic experience, without speaking in terms of some transcendent being or force which interpellates us‖ (p. 597)? One is tempted to answer satirically, as Dostoyevsky‘s Solovyov: ―Man descends from the apes, therefore we must love each other.‖ There are too many gaps between what is and what we sense to be, too many gaps we cannot in our closed rationality fill. At the end, the burden is too strong. We must ask: ―can ... experience be made sense of in an ontology excluding the transcendent‖ (p. 606)? ―The crucial debate in modern culture turns not just on rival notions of fullness, but on conceptions of our ethical predicament‖ (p. 604). If we doubt that the immanent still bears transcendent presumption, we need only look to an obituary Richard Dawkins (2003) wrote for a friend who requested ―to be interred by burying beetles as food for their larvae‖ (p. 173-174). One can ask, is there not a tone of transcendence in Dawkins‘ own ‗atheistic appeal‘ on behalf of his friend? ―I will escape. No worm for me, or sordid fly ... I will at last buzz from the soil like bees out of a nest – indeed, buzz louder than bees, almost like a swarm of motor bikes. I shall be borne, beetle by flying beetle, out into the Brazilian wilderness beneath the stars.‖ Sounds like triumph in death to me, even a spirit of coy against what life took? Self-verification and its exuberance confirm a Dream Ontology even at death. Such an expression epitomizes ―Immanent Ontology‖ in the key of an ignored transcendence as Taylor refers it, but when juxtaposed with one more devoutly spiritual does not appear all that different except for source attributions. As this is the case, it seems from his account that ―the challenge ... to find a non-theistic register in which to respond to them, without impoverishment‖ (p. 607) is as urgent as any explanatory burden that falls on all spiritual communities to authenticate their daring claims. In raising the matter, I impose no favour for one or malice against another. My point is rather to seek a partnership for greater senses 123 of being, for the disturbance of narrowed ontology, for a more honourable way to ―re-enchant‖ the ethical, for inter-human possibility. ―The question arises here of what ontology can underpin our moral commitments, which for most of us constitute a crucial ‗fulfilment‘ ... that is a mode of the higher, of fullness which we are called on to realize‖ (p. 607). Whatever it is, ―the complaint is that our rational, formal power of abstract thinking, and of positing moral rules, has dominated and suppressed feeling, the demands of bodily existence, the concrete form and the beautiful‖ (p. 609). And either we fail to reckon with the costs or we answer it in a therapeutic register: ―what was supposed to enhance our dignity has reduced it.‖ (p. 620). As ―exclusive humanism tends toward a rejection of the aspiration to transcendence; and yet it has trouble setting it aside altogether [it creates] the problematic attempt to find an ‗internal transcendence‘‖ (p. 656) – a way to give hope without ground, myth or story. Sounds like a dream to me. In the meantime it exerts the cruel force of empire while earnestly seeking to maintain its chokehold over deepest human sensibilities. ―The tragic irony is that the higher the sense of potential, the more grievously real people fall short‖ (p. 697). As ―a lofty humanism posits high standards of self-worth, and a magnificent goal to strive towards,‖ what is often the more inexcusable truth is that ―the higher the flight, the greater the potential fall‖ (p. 699). We now live in imagined societies, not real, says Benedict Anderson (1983), where ―peculiar to the modern world is the rise of an outlook where the single reality giving meaning ... is a narrative of human self- realization‖ (quoted in Taylor, p. 716). A self realized in what? In dreams! In the end, ―the yearning for eternity reflects an ethical insight‖ making the matter profusely ontological. Such as that is obscured, ―the cost is a denial of the issue of meaning itself‖ (p. 723). As ―something more presses in‖ we push further against our subjectivity only to magnify and live out imaginary appropriations. Sure, we can remain rational, disambiguated, and stoic towards the wonder of life, keeping ourselves deluded in the composures of dreams, or we can find alternate ways to approach who we are in life‘s fuller, all too compelling, natural wooing.  124 A Humanist Critique of Transcendence   To round out the argument above, which posits a highly spiritual relation to the Dream Ontology, it is only courteous to spend a moment on the matter from a specifically secular humanist lens. Ferry (2005) begins with the observation that ―our imagination sometimes constructs to compensate for the frustrations inflicted on us by real life,‖ (p. 1) and ―to have a need to fantasize is to concede ... unhappiness in a real world that characteristically resists our desires‖ (p. 3). In fact, Ferry‘s text offers a much more penetrating look into the failed ways we‘ve answered the question, ‗what is the good life,‘ which I correspond with failed ways we‘ve thought personhood and agency. He wants to distinguish the good life and wisdom (ancients) from social success and recognition, or the ―culture of performance‖ (p. 4). In short, Ferry is concerned that the good life today has bogged down into reaction, and is a mere reflex to a competitive society. ―We bathe in the compensations of the daydream‖ because we clamour for recognition in a sea of competition, to affirm the salvific ‗proving thesis‘ at some level. That is, he confirms transcendent predisposition. As well as substantiating the earlier dialogues on the late virtues of character and success (DeVitis & Rich, Burns, Gaines and Decker), his take on transcendence as compensatory re-iterates Taylor‘s sense that we have an urge to top-up meaning due to some of the complexities of the modern age. The link he makes between the good life and the dream isn‘t much different: Success is ―the ultimate goal of our thoughts and aspirations‖ (p. 5); in the process, ―we must not underestimate the formidable meanders of our unconscious.‖ Caustically, he says ―Let us admit it: the contemporary world, for reasons that should not be eluded, incites us to daydreams at every turn,‖ even to ―present daydreams as a model for life.‖ The dream for Ferry too is pervasive. Quite consumingly, ―everything combines today to make success – success for its own sake – an absolute ideal in all imaginable domains.‖ If anything, Ferry widens the relation between identity, morality, and transcendence, and their practical manifestation in a success ethic, each of which I am suggesting can be knitted into a specifically modern ontology that is increasingly universal and uncontested, less and less real, and yet refuses to be fully understood as such. 125  He asks with similar concern, is ―it not inadequate, even fallacious, as a standard for evaluating an existence as a whole?‖ Can this drive, as it appears on the outside alone, or as it seems objective as a thing in itself, be enough of a container for measuring the circumference of our personhood and purpose? Especially so if success considerations are not a once in awhile event, but in fact our magnum opus, the full measure of who we are. To this, he most sceptically asks, Is it not both naive and mistaken to insist on thinking about life in terms of a category better suited for a year-end exam than for the development of a good life? Isn‘t it enormously pretentious to think that we can make a success of our lives ... especially when we consider all the things in our existence that do not depend upon us, but rather on the hazards of birth, the pure contingency of events, or the blind strokes of fortune and misfortune? (p. 5) We ―grant too much of a starring role to our unhappy ego. Or to a free will that plays only a bit part in the drama?‖ ―The fact remains, though, that illusions of social ‗success‘ and the fantasies surrounding the myth of the self-made man ... are so forceful today that they seem to occupy all available space, to the point of obscuring the horizon‖ (p. 6). Dreams as moral force are ubiquitous! In some measure of ethical urgency, he says ―under cover of inviting us freely to action and to self-fulfilment, is not the ideal of ‗success,‘ to which both our daydreams and the contemporary cult of performance give so much weight and set at such a high price, fast taking shape as a new tyranny.‖ What Ferry wants to put in tension is whether success is transcendence in a modern register or whether there is another ‗more honest kind‘ of flourishing. In earlier time, ―the question of the good life has been primarily a search for a transcendent principle ... that would permit human beings to appreciate the value of their singular existence.‖ The transcendent principle gave shape to life based on some ―suprahuman criterion.‖ More lately ―man has become the alpha and omega of human existence, and the transcendences of times gone by seem illusory‖ (p. 7). But, as such, ―it is a change worth taking the time to comprehend‖ (p. 8), to learn what it means for our lives. His concern is as much for the narrowing as it is about pretensions. ―For a materialist, who values consistency, the figures of transcendence … in the name of which anyone claims to