The Collapsing Centre

“Since Copernicus, man has been rolling from the centre toward X” — Nietzsche

“Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold” — W.B. Yeats’

The fate of liberal democracy is the story of the collapse of the centre, and about this there is a great deal of anxiety and handwringing. In many respects, what is called “the collapse of reality” and the collapse of the centre are the same. The centre is the centre of the balance.

And while it is true, let us look at this issue of the collapse of the centre differently with the help of a little graphic I quickly threw together. The collapse of the centre may also be a shift in the centre of balance which, in some ways too, is the whole meaning of “paradigm shift”.

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The Land II

I want, now, to return to the previous discussion of what European perspectival art and aboriginal unperspectival art tell us about ourselves. The earlier post on “The Land” brought to mind a passage from Canadian philosopher George Grant’s book Technology and Empire that I read many years ago in university but only recently understood. Here, Grant is describing the immigrant (that’s us!) experience of the New World and the break with the “Old World”, which is what I find so revealing, as well, in the Canadian Group of Seven landscape paintings (as discussed earlier)

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The Tripartition of the Soul and Fourfold Vision

Although I do want to eventually continue to explore the differences between European-style art and Aboriginal-style art for what these can tell us about ourselves, (and about the difference between “perspectival” and “unperspectival” consciousness structures, in Gebser’s terms), I felt moved this morning to comment on some issues about “the soul” that people may find confusing. There are so many different configurations or representations of what we call “soul” — singular, or twofold (dual), or tripartite (threefold) or tetramorphic (fourfold), or even fivefold (Egypt) that the mind may come to the conclusion that nobody knows what they’re talking about and that it’s all unreal.

What’s with that?

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Max Leyf on Truth in the Post-Truth Era

We’ll return to further discussion of what the comparison of European art with Aborginal art can tell us about ourselves and the meaning of “the Land” (for I am not done with this yet). However, I do want to draw your attention especially to Max Leyf’s brilliant exegesis on truth in the post-truth era on his website Theoria-Press (so far published in three parts). And especially part III on “Nietzsche, Plato, Cartesius, Kant”, and how we ended up with nihilism.

The Land

Canada’s famous Group of Seven landscape painters revealed through their art a certain sensibility, awe, and reverence for the landscape and the wilderness that is fast being overtaken and eclipsed by a more technocratic age and mentality in a kind of self-enclosure that many people find alarming (as “the culture of narcissism”). Today, what more and more people only know as “the Land” is smokestacks and oil derricks rather than old growth and majestic trees, skyscrapers and megastructures instead of mountains and mountain ranges, vistas of shopping malls rather than natural landscape.

It is also quite interesting to compare this earlier settler response to the Land in their arts to indigenous arts, where landscape doesn’t figure at all. What we call “landscape” is almost completely invisible in comparison to the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds and the vital and spiritual relationships between them, which are very prominently represented in indigenous art. That for the native sensibility is “the Land”.

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The Gestalt of Reality

We are (slowly) becoming more sophisticated in our understanding of how the structure (or Gestalt) of our reality and the structure (or Gestalt) of our consciousness are coincident and co-evolutionary, in contrast to the viewpoint called “naive realism”. “As above, so below” in other words.

In our time, this Gestalt of reality is undergoing a mutation or transfiguration — an alteration of the entire pattern which we refer to as a “chaotic transition”, but which Nietzsche also anticipated as his “two centuries of nihilism”. This “Gestalt” is what others refer to as a “paradigm”. This transfiguration is a result of the irruption of “deep time” into our awareness, which alters the entire older Gestalt of the threefold or three-dimensional reality of spaces.

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Beyond the Robopath

“The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it… History is literally present in all that we do” — James Baldwin

If we are to get beyond the problem of what Lewis Mumford and Roderick Seidenberg both refer to as “post-historic man” (who is the spitting image of Nietzsche’s “Last Man”), we need to gain insight into that controlling force we call “history” (which is also Blake’s “Ancient of Days” or “Urizen”). Nietzsche, too, knew that understanding and insight freezes action, and that is pretty much equivalent to what Buddhism seeks as the release from, or the transcendence of, the karmic law of action and reaction and the law of consequence.

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