A surprise is a defiance of an expectation.
A superficial surprise can catch us unprepared practically, but the situation is readily understood.
A deeper surprise requires some thought. We need some time to make sense of the facts and the consequences.
A radical surprise catches us unprepared to understand: we are required to adjust how we understand in general in order to understand the surprise. We do not understand how to understand what imposes itself as needing understanding. A radical surprise hits us ontologically. Kinds of being which were once dismissed or undifferentiated from kinds of being are now vividly existent within our disrupted reality.
The first radical surprise seems like a revelation of the truth. Its style is hot and it attracts heat-seekers.
A second radical surprise is as radically surprising as the first. The permanent fact of surprise emerges, and beyondness situates I within itself.
One can prepare to defend one’s closed horizon against surprise (which means to be an ideologue), or be prepared for being unprepared, which is another way to say “be open”.
The transcendent is by definition what is beyond experience and beyond explanation (since explanation draws on experience).
Active limited transcendence is what gives meaning to the transcendent. There was how you saw before, and there is how you see now– and by extension, there is how you see now and how you might come to see. It is the strangest kind of analogue.
A person’s conception of transcendence is limited by the depth of the surprises they’ve undergone. The key is to examine the structure:
Romanticism, for instance, conceives of the transcendent in terms of nonsensical modifications of qualities of objects; the giveaway is the objective ontology to which every idea conforms. All they know and have at hand is the object-form. A romantic is prepared for bodiless bodies, silent sounds, invisible colors, all sorts of inexplicable forces acting on things.
The romantic is perfectly ignorant of spirit, and parades her ignorance ignorantly and innocently. She doesn’t even realize there’s a truth here against which lies are possible. Fundamentalists are a rustic variety of romantic – less imaginative, more practical, more irritable. They’d be less irritable if they were less practical. The god of the fundamentalists does not like being put to the test, because he tends to bomb them.
An atheist does not believe in the romantic god, but he lacks any alternative vision. Honestly forces him to deny; ontological stuntedness prevents him from finding what would force him to affirm.
Atheists and fundamentalists love to debate because they work at the same ontological depth.
Mysticism conceives of the transcendent in terms of the first surprise. A mystic turn away from the world toward the subjectivity that underlies it. In doing so, they turn away from what would surprise them yet again if they would turn back around. Mysticism is right, but not right enough.