Symbolic and Diabolic in Yeats’ “The Second Coming”

Some time ago, we discussed here in the pages of The Chrysalis the meanings of “symbolic” and “diabolic” as antitheses and opposed forces. It is usually not thought of in this way, but it is so. The “symbolic” means to bring together, while the “diabolic” dynamic means to “thrust apart” or “to toss obstacles in the way”. Thus in the terms, “symbolic” and “diabolic” is represented integrative and segregative force, or, correspondingly, “concord” and “discord”.

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In The Presence of the Kingdom: The Christian Trinity in Secular Thought

In the last few posts in The Chrysalis, we’ve probed how an impulse arising from the mythic domain gets translated into an historical event, and the phases of that transition called “metaphor”. In those terms alone, one can say that the world of everyday life is really a world of realised symbolic forms or metaphors, and therefore also has a mythic aspect, which can be read as such. This, too, is a feature of McGilchrist’s “Master” mode of attention.

So, today, I’ll provide an historical example of that process which, I think, is quite illustrative. It is the invention of perspectivism and perspective consciousness itself in the Renaissance that had its roots in the mythical.

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Aurobindo’s “Fourfold Atman” in the Phasic Structure of Experience

I’m rushing things again a bit, posting again so quickly without really allowing time for the assessment and digestion of previous articles, but I usually write under a pressure that won’t desist or let up until I’ve gotten it “off my chest”, as they say. So here I want to illustrate the themes of the previous posts by bringing Aurobindo’s four aspects of the Atman into the discussion, which are very much the issue, too, of Blake’s “fourfold vision”.

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Myth, History, and Mytho-History, II

If we are going to speak of being within “the spiritual field of influence” of anyone, we would have to say that this spiritual field of influence is what is called, in the Upanishads and in Aurobindo’s writings, the “fourfold Atman“. Nor should this idea offend a Christian, as it is also the vision of John recorded in the Book of Revelation of the Throne of God surrounded by the four beasts, or of Christ on the Cross surrounded by the Four Evangelists — Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. It is also the meaning of the indigenous “Sacred Hoop”. And as I have said, the names “Atman” and “Adam” are probably etymologically related, and refer to the Anthropos. Furthermore, it is also Blake’s “fourfold vision” and of “Albion divided fourfold”.

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Myth, History, and Mytho-History

Perhaps nothing more signifies what Shakespeare called “times out of joint” than the contemporary opposing tendencies to glorify the past on the one hand, and to deconstruct that same past on the other. This, too, is an aspect of “the end of the Master Narrative”, and is implicated even in much of the current social violence and the identitarian reaction, in which this deconstruction is also attacked as “cultural Marxism”.

The glorification of the past can become an especially egregious problem when it inhibits the mobilisation of those social energies needed to make the “leap” into a new future and a new history, and so the function of a deconstruction is to serve as a kind of demythologisation of the historical in order to release those necessary energies.

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Mind in Dissolution

“We had to destroy the village to save it, sir”. Some of you will recognise this as what is often called the “iconic statement” of the Vietnam War, uttered by some hapless Marine officer and subsequently reported by Peter Arnett. It turns out, in retrospect, that this piece of double-think is far more iconic of the general dissolution of the Modern Mind and “the end of the Master Narrative”

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Identity and An Age of Wholeness

The thaw has arrived here and with it, spring breakup when the ice cover on the lakes begins to fissure and fragment revealing the underlying “living water”. That’s what the name “Saskatchewan” actually means in the Cree language — living waters. Observing that yesterday in the context of the tragic events in New Zealand, suggested to me a new metaphor for describing the present conflict between “identity” and the emerging Age of Wholeness.

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