A charitable lecturer once neglected to fail an essay I had written on Nietzsche – the criticism was I had rather used him as a springboard for my own ideas – by rewarding me with 42%, rather than, say, 39% (the loftiest of scores for a fail). What genius then did the additional 2% reward? In any case, he was right, I’m no scholar. I had sprung… into a pool, empty of water; luckily it was an inflatable paddling-pool.

Kierkegaard speaks of a secret, a searching and – impossibly – of the impossibility of direct communication. Nietzsche speaks of a jewel, an unblinking comprehension and the possibility of affirmation.

Springing again, in Kafka’s words, “Es gibt ein Ziel, aber keinen Weg. Was wir Weg nennen, ist Zögern.” (There is an end-purpose-goal, but there is no way which leads to it. That which we call ‘the way’ is in fact hesitation-procrastination.) The “goal” is knowledge. We must first be clear with ourselves what we want to know in terms of recognising which will to knowledge is driving us. That will is to assert one’s truth, goodness and reality: that knowledge is before me. Petty knowledge – a funded, peer-reviewed, and scholarly set of footnotes – is fruitless procrastination, in culinary terms, jelly-making, which delivers no sustenance to the flesh.

This is especially true for theological science. Apophatic theology gets to the starting line at least, but can’t start; while the hedgerows of speculative theology and dogmatics ensure one is not confronted with the starting line in the first place.


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