Making Footprints Not Blueprints

S02 #04 - The freedom to be tomorrow what we are not today—Part Five - A Short Postscript, June 2021

June 02, 2021 Andrew James Brown/Caute Season 2 Episode 4
Making Footprints Not Blueprints
S02 #04 - The freedom to be tomorrow what we are not today—Part Five - A Short Postscript, June 2021
Show Notes Transcript

The full text of this podcast can be found in the transcript of this edition or at the following link:


Please feel to post any comments you have about this episode there.

Music, "New Heaven", written by Andrew J. Brown and played by Chris Ingham (piano), Paul Higgs (trumpet), Russ Morgan (drums) and Andrew J. Brown (double bass)


As I mentioned in Part One of this extended piece, I originally wrote much of the material contained in it back in 2016 for a Sea of Faith Conference at Leicester University and, naturally, I’ve done a lot more living and thinking since then. Along with everyone else I’ve also been experiencing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, something which, in my own case, has only served to encourage me to travel ever further along the road of no-position outlined by Paul Wienpahl (1916-1980) and to a proclamation of what, in his famous essay called “Walking”, Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) called the “newer testament—the Gospel according to this moment”. Both of these I explored with you a little bit in the last episode. 

Anyway, this always-already unfolding journey has helped me see that, having finished recording the last three episodes, it might be helpful if briefly, albeit highly allusively, I point to what seem to me to be three, important, general implications of the footprints I have made in the last five years. 

Firstly, becoming (or at least trying to become) a person without a position in the fashion outlined by Wienpahl has helped clearly reveal, at least to me, the illusion of the self as being some kind of independent, stable, enduring individual thing. In turn, this has helped me see my complete dependence upon, and intra-activity with, what the Japanese twentieth-century philosopher, Tanabe Hajime (1885-1962), called “Other-power”, i.e. a power that is radically different from, yet indissolubly and reciprocally related to, my own “self-power”. I hasten to add that this “Other-power” is not understood to be some supernatural, other-worldly power (for example like the God of theism) but, instead, something akin to Tanabe’s understanding of absolute-nothingness, “something” that is always-already generative of, and operative in and through, the natural world as mediated by the countless existent things of this world including, of course, ourselves. In passing here, but very importantly, Tanabe’s philosophy as metanoetics offers, I think, a vital counterweight to the problematic form of individualism that has come to underpin and drive our own, highly destructive, neoliberal, late capitalist culture. If you want a quick heads-up about what a philosophy as metanoetics is then please follow the links provided in the transcript of this podcast or in my associated blog page. 

Secondly, and relatedly, following Paul Wienpahl in becoming a person without a position has helped powerfully reveal to me the limits of reason, a faculty which, inevitably, is always-already an aspect of any person’s “self-power.” Reason, of course, has its vital and continuing place but I can now see far more clearly than before that we must better learn to draw on what the poet John Keats (1795-1821) called our “Negative Capability”. By this, he meant that what we are and can be is always defined as much by the things we do not know and cannot possess as we are defined by any known and possessed facts and reasons. To quote Keats directly, we must learn how to be “in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.” I now think that properly to achieve this a person needs to adopt a certain kind of regular philosophical practice of repentance, in my own case it is that found in Tanabe Hajime’s aforementioned philosophy as metanoetics

Thirdly, my many explicit and implicit gestures made throughout this piece towards the primacy of movement—in which what it is for anything to be what it is is to be something in motion—have encouraged me explicitly to embrace a philosophy of movement and also what is called new-materialism, especially as they are expressed in the philosophy of Thomas Nail and through the poetry of the first-century Roman poet, Lucretius, and the twentieth-century poet, A. R. Amons. I should also add that for me the Italian philosopher Franco “Bifo” Berardi’s idea of futurability also plays a key role here. I won’t say anything more about these related writers and topics right now but, once again, if you want a quick heads-up about them then please follow the links provided in the transcript of this podcast or in my associated blog page. 

All of this has served to send me back to a number of other thinkers I’ve explored in the past but, in addition to the names already mentioned in this episode, particularly to Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), Jan Patočka (1907-1977), Henry Bugbee (1915-1999), James W. Woelful, Ernst Bloch (1885-1977), Thomas J. J. Altizer (1927-2018), Simon Critchley, Emanuele Coccia, Knud Ejler Løgstrup (1905-1981) and Michael McGhee (see HERE and HERE).

As I have just indicated, I hope to explore some of these footprints with you in future podcasts but, in the next series of Making Footprints Not Blueprints, starting in July 2021, I want, firstly, slowly to walk with you through Paul Wienpahl’s “Unorthodox Lecture” of 1956 since it was that short text which, back in 2007, definitively set me going along this particular road less travelled. If you’d like to read Wienpahl’s “Unorthodox Lecture” straight away then please follow the links provided in the transcript of this podcast or in my associated blog page.

So, see you in July.