One of the most interesting matters brought up in Castaneda’s writings is the role of “the petty tyrant”. Surviving Trump and Trumpism — or authoritarian populism and the politics of the hoarde more generally — may well be a matter of learning to see and use Trump as this same petty tyrant in one’s practice of self-overcoming. I can almost believe that Trump, among others today, was indeed fated to serve as this same “petty tyrant” for our metamorphosis. It’s a suspicion that has been lurking around the edges of my mind for a while.
It has been an intense last couple of days for me — strange coincidences and synchronicities that I am still in the process of digesting, and which I may get around to posting about at a later date.
Today, though, I wanted to follow up on yesterday’s remarks on Michiko Kakutani’s article on “truth decay” (which has stirred up Twitter it seems) with some remarks on Jean Gebser’s notions of “the demonic” and demonic forces, or what we might also refer to as Mephistophelian forces. And while it’s not very fashionable in a more or less rationalistic culture to speak of “the demonic”, the term is quite appropriate when properly understood.
The Guardian has published today what looks to be a lengthy excerpt from Michiko Kakutani’s forthcoming book The Death of Truth. It’s a very good and thoughtful piece on “truth decay” but which doesn’t always hit the mark, in my view. (Michiko Kakutani is described as “the former chief book critic for The New York Times”). Eventually, I will want to tie together observations like Kakutani’s “truth decay” with Gary Lachman’s remarks on “chaos magick” (in Dark Star Rising) and with my earlier critiques posted in The Chrysalis of Rolf Jensen’s “post-rational” The Dream Society along with what is currently billed as “marketing 3.0“.
….and, of course, how all this relates to “Trumpology”, Christopher Lasch’s “culture of narcissism”, and the prescient writings of cultural philosopher Jean Gebser on “chaotic emotion” and historical mutations of consciousness structure. There are common currents and undercurrents in play here, and they run very deep. So, today I’m going to attempt to provide additional insight — and perhaps a little orderliness of thought — into what we are calling “chaotic transition”.
In The Game of Thrones series, there is a poignant scene where Brianne of Tarth is training her rather naive squire, Podrick Payne, how to fight. Podrick is taking a beating until Brianne reveals the secret of why: “Don’t go where your enemy leads you”. It’s also one of the biggest mistakes of the present period, and not just Trump’s alone, and it is the meaning behind the phrase “useful idiot”.
This morning I want to make a bit of a digression from the theme of the last couple of postings and speak to a rather strange and arcane subject — that of the “assemblage point”. “The assemblage point” comes from Carlos Castaneda’s writings, which are about his apprenticeship to the Yaqui Indian brujo (sorcerer and teacher) he calls “don Juan Matus”.
It is a very intriguing and quite plausible idea, which I will try to describe here. I’ve not come across a description of anything like it in other “esoteric” accounts except possibly in one other place — William Blake — and a possible elliptical reference to it in Jill Bolte-Taylor’s “stroke of insight” TED talk.
Regular Guardian columnist Kenan Malik published a short piece today about the deep connections between Europe and Islam as revealed in Renaissance art. It is necessarily short because the invention of perspectivism in the Renaissance marked a parting of the ways, since perspective in art — and photographic effect — was rejected by Islamic authorities at the time as “competing with God” (ie “magic” or sorcery). Ironically, though, it was Islamic scholars — men like Averroes (ibn Rushd), Avicenna, among others – who helped prepare the way for the European Renaissance, including Islamic works on optics that were used by Europe’s “first scientist”, the monk Roger Bacon (also called Doctor Mirabilis). That work on optics laid the important foundations for the invention of perspective art in the Renaissance, beginning largely with the pioneering works of Giotto.
If you have been with The Chrysalis for any length of time — or have read cultural philosopher Jean Gebser’s account of the ascendance of the mental-rational or perspective consciousness — you will perhaps appreciate how the invention of perspective is foundational to what we call “modern mind” or “modern self”, presently in the throes of dissolution, confusion and chaos. Malik’s short article has reminded me to revisit those earlier postings and the dissolution and incoherence of perspective consciousness now manifesting in today’s social and individual phenomena of chaotic emotion and cognitive dissonance.
“Cognitive dissonance” is a useful term to describe our present “chaotic transition”, even though it has been known in the past and described in different ways. Cognitive dissonance is a reflection of what Jean Gebser referred to also as our current rampage of “chaotic emotion”. Jesus used the metaphor of “whited sepulchres”, sparkling clean on the outside (self-righteous), but full of decay, corruption, and dead-men’s bones on the inside. “The truth is not in you” he declared to those who were certain they were the custodians of truth. But when his disciples asked how they were to know the truth-speakers from whited sepulchres (or false prophets) he could only respond “by their fruits you will know them”, which “fruits” can only be understood in relation to his other maxim: “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”.