The eye of wisdom in the desert knows the Name as Logos through the Name as Spirit, ascribing glory to the Name of God, the Father. Wilderness turns every winding way into a straight path when God the Son reveals God the Father and the Spirit bears witness to the Father through the Son. The straight path winds again in varied ways whenever we waver from God, but narrow is the way of the awakened eye of the heart. Wisdom turns and sees glory descend from God the Father to the Son, restoring glory through the Son to the Father. The Logos of wisdom in the desert is unveiled as agonistic not agnostic paradox. For wisdom is not a discursive dialectic which sublates antitheses so as to relax unbearable tension. Desert elders transmit wisdom with ineffable logoi of sheer paradox, like ‘dazzling darkness’ or ‘life-death death-life,’ opening beyond the impasses or aporia of every binary logic into apophatic theoria. For the desert, metanoia is not a mere change of mind or opinion but a transformative, deifying metanoesis of the heart. Wisdom awakens to this enlightening metanoesis, this catalytic noesis beyond noesis, in the ‘dazzling darkness’ of impassable paradox. Critical tension holds: it does not relax into conceptual resolutions or syntheses of rational dianoia, as in the philosophical dialectics of Plato or Hegel. It holds extreme tension steady, in the grip of aporetic paradox, so that what the mind cannot grasp, the heart’s eye sees. ‘No way,’ aporion, is the only way for wisdom to pierce through objectifying thought, which being a mountain obstructing the way, wisdom leaps over or cuts through, so for wisdom there is nothing in glory’s way. Wise paradox consumes dialectic so that wisdom’s heart’s eye wakes.
Agonistic wisdom purifies the heart, as the desert has always known, and Heraclitus saw and Kierkegaard confirmed. Kierkegaard wrote philosophical fragments as John Climacus for good reason, although the Dane’s wisdom was not a ladder but a leap. The apophatic logic of hallowing ineffability embraces paradox without resolving impassible contradictory communions into conceptual syntheses. The desert lived wisdom as glory that delivers and deifies, overcoming the temptations of sophisticated metaphysical speculation. Orthodox wisdom in the desert lives doxological paradox not as abstracted ambiguation or incoherent nihilism but as ‘dazzling darkness.’ Plato’s dialectical logic sought to incorporate the agonistic logic of paradox because the Academy intended to transcend and include Heraclitus as well as Parmenides. But the desert was never the Academy and was not interested in rational syntheses but in supporting the ascetical exercise of theoria, transformative vision of glory, realising the mystagogical mysteries of theosis, deification. ‘Dazzling darkness’ in the desert has always been spiritual exercise, ascesis, the practice of contemplative vision, theoria, not a philosophical dialectic or rational synthesis achieved by discursive logic, using the rational exercise of dianoia. Saint Denys the Areopagite transmitted the flaming obscurity of Heraclitus as ‘dazzling darkness.’ For Maximus and Gregory Palamas, Denys’ ‘dazzling darkness’ was the Logos of agonistic paradox that imparted hallowing wisdom to the desert.
The Academy always insisted that its dialectic transcended and included the agonistic logic of paradox, which it saw as the temptation of sophistry and nihilism. Hegel agreed with the Academy that mystical vision was the betrayal of true philosophy. But Patristic Hesychasm in the desert always insisted that unknowing was not agnostic, nor agonistic paradox nihilistic. Desert elders knew that the pathologies of sophistry and nihilism were only really cured by a Logos of glory which eternally transcends rational dialectics and purifies the heart for wisdom. So with regard to the war of logics, at the heart of the wisdom of stillness, which logic, the logic of paradox or the logic of dialectic, finally transcends and includes the other? Or is there a perennial tension between them that is never resolved, so the war of logics is never won but held in critical suspension? In which case, does the desert’s city, not the city’s Academy, have the last word, which is silence, hesychia, hallowing stillness? Desert elders smile, because such dialectical war games are surely well over and done when wisdom steps right back to behold glory as ‘dazzling darkness.’ Why cling to war games when glory reigns? Why cling to academic philosophy when wisdom deigns to abide in those who love her? Paradox is Great Peace when, through profound metanoia, glory raises dialectic from rational dianoia to the Hesychast wisdom of metanoiesis. What reason overlooks, wisdom’s eye of the heart sees and lives as paradox of glory, opening glory to glory without end.