“Presumptuous is the artist who does not follow his road through to the end. But chosen are those artists who penetrate to the region of that secret place where primeval power nurtures all evolution.” — Paul Klee, On Modern Art
Nature-Naturing & Nature-Natured
For the the sake a simple hypothesis, nature has two dimensions: “nature-naturing” and “nature-natured”. The former represents the vastness of nature in its potency while the latter represents the multiple orders or complexes of the world. Nature-naturing is the origin and destination of everything, while nature-natured consists in the world itself with all of its particular complexities.
The ontological difference between the two dimensions is held open by an abyss. It is this abyss that must be confronted by the human being if they are to seek an understanding of the relation between potential and actual being.
Spinoza’s Monism mentions nature-naturing and nature-natured, claiming to fundamental insight that nature is an indivisible, uncaused, substantial whole – indeed, it is the only substantial whole. Apart from monisism, the classic form of panentheism can push us closer to a vision of the cosmos as consisting of both deterministic reality and the god of potent actuality: panentheism says “all is god” and asserts that all things are within god’s beingness. But nature-naturing, as a pre-semiotic realm empowering all genera, is not exhausted or subsumed by the particular things of the world. That which is indivisible, uncaused, as the substantial potency of the divine, cannot be exhausted by its varying incarnations in the realm of nature-natured.
Nature is all encompassing: there is no outside to nature; its reality has no other. This mean also that there is no referent for nature. Nature is all there is. And this nature is subject to the ferocity of its self-othering – an ecstratic ejection. Nature-natured, as compositions, as the innumerable orders of a world, exists as created nature up against a dense immanence of preordinal expression (nature naturing).
It is impossible to adequately describe nature-naturing. Nature naturing is elusive because the only way to access this region of potency is through nature-natured, the latter of which is not the thing itself, so to speak. It may be that nature-naturing is not acessible through the world of phenomena, since it is sheer potentiality or potency and it is pre-semiotic. That being said, how can we properly split the world into two dimensions if we cannot access nature-naturing? We must come to know it only through the fingerprints it leaves within the variable dimensions of existent materiality.
Nature-naturing more generally refers to nature doing what nature does – the causal activity of nature. We cannot properly point towards the casual tendency but nevertheless it exists, and the proof of the existence of that casuality is all around us: there is no casuality without potentiality. Nature-naturing refers to the idea of nature as self-generating, dynamic and animate, as nature as what it is in itself and conceived through itself. It is a realm of ‘pure’ possibility.
The potency of nature-naturing goes on through its dynamism to create and sustain a world, but it is not the world itself: it is that which is a necessary condition of world-sustaining.
This binary of nature-naturing and nature-natured is a useful one, keeping in my that the division between them is not absolute.
By definition, potencies ought to express themselves in orders, and therefore it is a bit misleading to consider the potency of nature-naturing as ‘pure’ – it is more accurately expressed through descriptions of nature naturing as primal potencies, as an ejective power. As soon as this power is ejected into the orders of the world, it is ‘impure,’ so to speak. From the standpoint of the human understanding, reference to a ‘pure’ empowering source may be inadequate but there is scarcely a more efficient way of trying to signify that which is simultaneously the power of origin and its sheer possibility (“not yet”).
It is crucial therefore to attempt to describe nature naturing not only as a dimension of origin but also a futural dimension, indicating its forward momentum. Nature naturing loops back upon itself incessantly. If it were only a futural movement, it would be an endless transformation – it is would a metaphysical anarchy without a first principle. We know, however, that the potencies of nature are relatively stable and forward-moving. Therefore the potencies loop back upon themselves, retaining their origin as they are concresced into the unknown future.
The world as we know, or nature-natures, could be said to be the residue of this potentiality – this empowering force of nature naturing, where potencies become cosmic habits that govern orders of a world. What we come to know as a world in the understanding could be described as cosmic habit. These cosmic habits are sustained by an open field. In other words, the potencies of nature naturing are stable but restless, which is to say, they are left open towards possible evolution or transformation. Thus, within the phrase nature-naturing is signified a creative tension between habit and growth, continuity and novelty.
Nature in itself seems not to exhibit a goal, even though the empowering potentiality coaxes structures towards a more creative display of their potency. Taking into account growth and novelty, it is apt to say that nature-naturing is always more than the sum of its parts. This movement that is more than the sum of manifestations in the world is manifest in an internal movement. The orders of world express a restlessness that is far deeper than even the “not yet” or futural possibility, as if there is some ideal consummation at the end of evolution: this futural dimension is open, and it is open at every instant – i.e. in the immediacy of the flow of time.
What we can understand of nature-naturing is achieved through its variable manifestations in a world, as nature-natured. Can we trace back what is existent to the origin of sheer ejecta?
On Artistic Potencies
The relevance of art to nature-naturing is that art ought not imitate the mere phenomena of nature but rather, convey its active principle.
This is more difficult than it seems, since we are usually familiar with taking on the work of art as a thing, and we do not necessarily recognize in its order the potential that is latent within the work. This is because the elusive, pre-semiotic and pre-ordinal realm of the work of art is cut off from our access. We can only allow ourselves the privy of the work of art as it exists in its material incarnation, which is to say, in the realm of nature-natured. In other words, the ontological gap that exists between the two realms, as that which the human being must traverse in order to come to the understanding of being, also exists within the work of art.
It is how we approach the work of art that will determine whether or not we are conscious of this ontological gap.
Nature-naturing is not a supreme Being or a unified will, and this is because there is no ‘whatness’ to nature-naturing. Nature-naturing does not merely mold nature-natured into shapes that please it. The aesthetic phenomenology is more open. If one was pressed to make a description of nature-naturing in simple terms then it may be likened to an underconscious. Further, our conscious representations are aspects of nature-nature, and it may be said, then, that our unconscious has a more direct access to nature-naturing, on account that it exists as an aspect of the potencies emerging from nature-naturing. If art is to take up its active principle, then it must be that it ought to take up its force as an unconscious tendency. This is not, however, to emphasize that the artistic consciousness has to go ‘surreal’ or express the unconscious directly. Rather, the question of art and its active principle can be lodged against an emphasis on materiality. Specifically, how can materiality express itself in its underconscious, in its potency?
The binary vision of nature-naturing and nature-natured is limited, but the limitation is necessary because it describes a true event: this event is the split within being, the ontological chasm. In consequence, art remains a technique whereby one can demonstrate the manipulability of reality, and on this account it remains a crucial dimension for expressing the existence of being, and if it is to properly do its job then it is necessary to recognize this abyss.
The ontological chasm between the human consciousness, which exists as nature-natured, and its ability to concern itself with the active principle itself, is the proper domain of all sacred art.
Recognizing artistic potency is, therefore, a crucial aspect of being an artist. This potency, as nature-naturing, is the domain of sheer potential, is in a state of self-exisiting. The artist, searching after the divine nature, is lodged within the domain of nature-natured, or the domain of the actual, but through the engendering of spirit of art can retrieve glimpses of the potential being. This is, after all, how creativity itself works. Creativity is dance between its particular complexities and latent potency. Hence the artist can create a world, and therefore exist within a making-of-a-world, or worldness, but simultaneously, and crucially, they are openly poised beyond habit. Their task is not only to manipulate matter but to coax out of matter all sorts of emergent capacities.