While it’s still at the top of my mind, I want to quickly speak further to the issue of Rosenstock-Huessy’s “metanomics” as consciousness of the ecodynamic laws of society as these are represented also in grammar. There is a longstanding association, historically, with words for magic and the word “grammar” as spell-casting, which very much has to do with the power of language to regulate and legislate time and space. This is attested to even in the origins of the word “technology”. The Oxford English Dictionary I consulted traced the etymology of the word “technology” (the logos of the techne, or reasoning about the means or art) from the study of grammar. It was part of theology, being the study of how to articulate and communicate “eternal abiding truth” grammatically — how to make eternal truth incarnate or discernible, as it were. The meaning of techne and technology shifted with the reconceptualisation of the universe as a Clockwork mechanism. And with that, the “truth that sets free” shifted towards an emphasis on the “facts of the matter”.
In his sociological writings, Rosenstock-Huessy observed that four lacks, diseases or deficits afflict civilisation and society, and the victory of any one of them suffices to result in breakdown and collapse. The four deficits are
a) lack of respect
b) lack of unanimity
c) lack of sufficient power
d) lack of faith
The corresponding terms we use for these are, respectively, a) revolution, b) anarchy, c) war, and d) decadence. And in Rosenstock-Huessy’s terms, it is the task of any vital social science to nurture and cultivate society’s shields against these diseases in terms of respect, unanimity, power, and faith respectively. A little reflection reveals that these are somehow associated with Blake’s four Zoas and with Jung’s four psychological types.
While I was browsing some of Blake’s paintings on the internet, looking for his illustration of how the spirit of Milton entered him to accompany the interview with Joseph Chilton Pearce as per my comment in the last post, I also came across another illustration of Blake’s interpretation of the fourfold human form. The only difference between this one and the one I’ve commented upon in the past is that this one is in simple black and white. And I noticed, of course, how appropriate it was also to illustrate Pearce’s notion of “the crack in the cosmic egg”, which was the title of Pearce’s first book (The Crack in the Cosmic Egg is available online).
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
These opening lines to Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities are brilliant. It could be said that, right there, is the meaning of that strange “double-movement” described by Gebser, too, as the contemporary Zeitgeist. It might even be said that the “two cities” metaphor represents the “two worlds” of the two different modes of attention of the divided brain, as discussed in the previous post. And isn’t there in this “Two Cities” theme something of a prelude for, or an anticipation of, Robert Louis Stevenson’s later The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
These lines occurred to me this morning as I read that NATO has apparently invoked the collective defence clause of the alliance to send warships to interdict the flow of refugees from Syria, among them the Canadian warship Fredericton. And, of course, once again in the name of humanitarian intervention.
The greatest fundamental change in human awareness would occur when perception shifted from dualistic perception to the comprehension of enantiodromia. This would be foundational to any notion of a “New Age”.
This very notion of “two worlds”, which is even still persistent in Descartes’ metaphysical dualism or the “mind-body problem”, and in C.P. Snow’s The Two Cultures, or even as Heaven and Hell or nirvana and samsara, and so on — or as the nagual and tonal in Castaneda too — is very much tied in with the distinction between enantiodromia and dualism. And these also pertain to the “two different worlds” as perceived by the divided brain according to Iain McGilchrist, as the two attentions or two cognitive minds.
The two worlds are, nonetheless, one and the same. This is what William Blake was attempting to communicate.
It often occurs to me, as I read highly refined and articulated sociological works or cultural philosophies, that they are often just elaborations upon already existing popular expressions and intuitions.
For example, what is Gebser’s “deficient perspectivisation” but what we call “myopia” or “tunnel vision”? And what is “the mental-rational consciousness structure now functioning in deficient mode” but another way of saying “too clever by half”?
My inclination is to want to write a long series of posts around the theme of “the crystal spirit”, pursuing this meme of the brain as being more an organ of perception rather than a calculator or calculating machine, and that, by virtue of its being divided, it resembles a prism in its functions. Buddhism, for example, does not consider “mind” to be different than any other sense organ. “Mind” is considered a sixth sense, and in that sense I think I have good grounds for holding the brain to be primarily an organ of perception.
We might, in that sense, consider Jean Gebser’s “structures of consciousness” and civilisational types (in his The Ever-Present Origin) as facets of the crystalline structure of consciousness, and consider in what way these might be correlated with Iain McGilchrist’s illuminating study of the divided brain (in The Master and his Emissary).