Breakdown of Perspective Consciousness Revisited

The physicist and science writer Paul Halpern tweeted this morning the cover of a book by Isaac Newton on Optics that was in the library of Werner Heisenberg. It’s quite fascinating because of the graphic that was included on the cover of Newton’s book on optics shows Dürer’s grid — a device invented by Albrecht Dürer to train the eye to perceive perspectivally. This device is of great interest because it illustrates exactly, in a very objective and concrete way, what is called “a point of view” as having once been an actual physical instrument to deliberately focus perception in a particular way and direction that became a metaphor for logic and thinking in general — the rational and logic ordering and arranging of space as a ratio of spaces and as a system of objects. Beginning in the Renaissance, the onus and emphasis shifted to the eye as the principal sense and organ of knowing and intellectual mastery.

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The Twelve Tones of the Spirit

We’ve touched upon the archetypal significance of the number 12 in earlier posts, particularly as regards Rosenstock-Huessy’s essay on “The Twelve Tones of the Spirit”. (I seem to recall an essay from my university days in which the late eco-philosopher Henryk Skolimowski had a very similar twelve-fold pattern of social ecology, which I’m trying to locate again). We’ve also noted the recurrence of this number in Jung’s principal archetypes of the collective unconscious, in the twelve gods of high Olympus, the twelve signs of the Zodiac, the twelve disciples of Christ, the twelve winds of the Compass Rose, twelve petal symbol of Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga, the twelve tribes of Israel, and so on. Evidently, this pattern figures in Rosenstock-Huessy’s “twelve tones of the spirit” (this essay is available online as Chapter VI of his book I Am An Impure Thinker).

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The Self-Transforming Individual

We might spare a few words today about Robert Kegan’s idea of “the self-transforming individual” and how this pertains to Jean Gebser’s anticipation in The Ever-Present Origin of the new integral consciousness. For me, Kegan’s self-transforming individual is another signpost, however preliminary, that we are on track for bringing to realisation Gebser’s integral consciousness. “I hold many identities, I embrace paradox” is how Kegan helpfully describes the life-motif of the self-transforming individual, (which recalls Walt Whitman’s line “I am large, I contain Multitudes”). As you might glean from that, the self-transforming individual is the incarnation of the ultimate paradox of being — the One and the Many — which is the paradox that also guides David Bohm’s thinking in Wholeness and the Implicate Order. This is all quite consistent with other descriptions of the “new consciousness” or metanoia we have examined in The Chrysalis.

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Primary Reality

When Castaneda finally overcame the obstacles and resistances in himself and saw directly and immediately “energy as it flows in the universe”, he was shocked. He was shocked not because he achieved what his teacher don Juan called “seeing”, but because he realised he had always seen reality this way but just didn’t know that he did.

This experience of directly perceiving “energy as it flows in the universe” is of interest to us for four principal reasons. Firstly, it corresponds, too, to David Bohm’s (Heraclitean) premise of primary reality being “undivided wholeness in flowing movement”, or what he calls “the holomovement” in his great book Wholeness and the Implicate Order. Secondly, it meets the requirement for what Jean Gebser calls “diaphaneity” or “the transparency of the world”. Thirdly, it is corroborated by neuroanatomist Jill Bolte-Taylor’s own direct experience of her “Stroke of Insight”, and fourthly because it corroborates Iain McGilchrist’s discoveries of the “Master” mode of attention described in his book The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. We might also add a fifth reason — that being confirmation of Heraclitus’s notion of panta rhei — “all flows”.

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Albion’s Awakening

For William Blake, the seminal event of the emerging New Age he foresaw was the awakening of Albion, his name for what he also calls “the Universal Humanity”. Reciprocally, it is also the decline and fall, and the madness, of Urizen, hence what Jean Gebser similarly refers to as the “double-movement” of our times — one of a new integration emerging concident with a process of fragmentation and disintegration. This “Universal Humanity” is also now what we refer to as “the Global Soul”, and one of Blake’s other names for this is “the Poetic Genius” who is “the true Man”.

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Integral Spirituality

In The Christian Future, or the modern mind outrun (1946) Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy made his argument for what we might call “integral spirituality”, and as part of his overall project for “universal history” appropriate for, and foundational to, any emerging planetary civilisation. In it, Rosenstock-Huessy showed the place of the “liberators” — Abraham, Lao-Tse, Buddha, and Jesus — within the quadrilateral and his “cross of reality” framework. The work might then be considered a reference work for what we mean by “integral spirituality”.

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Wholeness and Fragmentation

I mentioned in an earlier comment that I was presently reading Jose A. Yaryura-Tobias’s book The Integral Being. It is a very simple book, which might be considered a very basic primer for an integral philosophy, the central theme of which is encapsulated in his statement that “An integral being will not develop within a diseased system”.

It is this concern with the “diseased system” and the manner in which it continuously reproduces itself that underlies many of the integralist approaches we’ve examined in The Chrysalis. Something of interest, too, in The Integral Being are the elements of a fourfold logic and a premonition, too, of what Rosenstock-Huessy refers to as “the Twelve Tones of the Spirit”, although this is not as clearly enunciated by Yaryura-Tobias as effectively as by Rosenstock-Huessy.

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