The reflection we present has a purely platonic intent. When we use the expression “platonic love,” we do so to refer to ideal, not personal love. But this is not entirely accurate. For Plato, love is eros, a search for goodness and truth. This search, however, cannot exist in isolation: it is only possible through dialectics, that is, through dialogue. Moreover, it is an infinite search, because it lasts until death. So, it is rather like the paradox of Achilles and the tortoise.
Yet Plato is not only of interest here because of his discourse on eros: his thought will reappear in our reflection as a context or as a horizon of understanding. We must not lose sight of this fact, which is almost methodological.
We have chosen to write about the “destructive spirit,” taking inspiration from an expression used by the German philosopher and literary critic Walter Benjamin, author of an article entitled “The Destructive Character.” Benjamin’s expression recalled that of the Russian anarchist philosopher Mikhail Bakunin, who wrote of a “revolt that creates by destroying.” In this expression, his radically communist spirit seems to coincide with the core of the Christian message, which affirms that, if the grain of wheat does not die, it does not bear fruit, as the Jesuit Erich Przywara astutely pointed out. We will see later the relationship between these two thinkers.
Destruction in time and space
When Benjamin spoke of the “destructive character,” he did so from a spatial perspective. He stated that the fundamental activity of the destructive character is to cleanse, and its fundamental purpose is to create space. There is also a reference to time, which can serve as a starting point for our reflection.
The German philosopher stated that the “destructive character” is the spirit of all forms of traditionalism. These were his words: “The destructive character is a feature of the traditionalists.” This is because “traditionalism” does not refer to the left or the right, but rather to a way of relating to the past. For Benjamin, as for Bakunin, it was a relationship with the past characterized by “destruction.”
It is true that “preserving” corresponds to space and “destroying” is proper to time. Time must destroy the present so that the future can arrive – always in a new way – and its place. Yet, even time is related to preserving, that is, preserving space. In fact, the temporal coordinate, with its overwhelming action, constantly destroys everything that is in this present moment, in order to recreate everything again in the following moment, so that a moment occurs in which some things are recreated and others are not.