Some time ago I posted a piece entitled “Storms to the Stormy”, which — having taken a queue from one of the Seth books — looked to draw out the connection between “inside” and “outside” events, following the Hermetic principle of coincidentia oppositorum or “as above, so below”. It also follows from this Hermetic principole, that there is an intimate, if yet undisclosed or non-transparent, connection between environmental and psychic events through the medium of “the field” — the energy webs in which everything is implicated, and in which we are immersed much as a fish is immersed in its watery element. We have, in a sense, become blind to our own immersion in what physicist David Bohm calls “the implicate order” (or what others call “the field”) owing to the “deficient mode” of the perspectivising consciousness which has had the pernicious effect of abstracting us and psychologically distantiating us from intimate knowledge of this energy continuum, or “web of life”, that some now refer to as “Gaia Mind,” or the return of Gaia — or, indeed, “the return of the repressed”.
I give you the end of a golden thread, Only wind it into a ball, It will let you in at Heaven’s Gate Built in Jerusalem’s Wall — William Blake
This clever line from Blake is an allusion to what was known as “the Eye of the Needle”, which occurs in a couple of parables in the New Testament, such as “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”. Tradition has it, and Blake evidently is referring to it, that the Eye of the Needle was the name of a gate in Jersualem’s wall (although no archaeological evidence exists for this). Blake’s “golden thread” passing through Heaven’s Gate in Jersualem’s wall is quite evidently a reference to this same Eye of the Needle. Traditionally, and perhaps significantly in terms of the parable, this narrow gateway called Eye of the Needle was the only entrance into Jerusalem when the main gates were closed for the night. Because the gate was so narrow, any baggage or cargo that the camel carried would have to be unloaded first before the camel could pass through the gate.
In my reading of current literature on consciousness and the state of contemporary society, there are a few common themes emerging, which might be considered strands of this golden thread. It would be worth our while to identify them.
As I walk, as I walk
The Universe is walking with me
In beauty it walks before me
In beauty it walks behind me
In beauty it walks below me
In beauty it walks above me
Beauty is one every side
As I walk, I walk with Beauty.
There are aspects to this Navajo prayer which I did not fully draw out in the first post “May You Walk in Beauty” that I would like to draw your attention to today (if for no other reason than to take my mind off the thoughts I posted in the comments to the previous post).
All fundamentalism, like all reductionism, commits the same error of profanation: it seeks to reduce the divine to the human level, rather than elevate the human to the divine.
“Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, is now one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic.” — Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction“
In a very short period of time, we have gone from “culture of narcissism” to “new normal” to “post-truth society” as phases in the total disintegration of modern man. “Absurd”, “bizarre”, or “surreal” are not adequate any longer to describe the terrain we are entering. Such terms have already been worn-out by overuse. “Nihilism” sounds even too abstract. It’s a No Man’s Land which may even become — and certainly has the potential to become — a literal reality.
There is, today, a great deal of very insightful, very wise literature being published. I certainly can’t keep up with it as much as I would want. But at the same time, there is this great dissonance – a chasm — between how we live our lives and what we now know… or believe we know. Despite the evident truth that “the emergence of unconscious knowledge” — previously repressed knowledge — is today a fact (and “irrupts” coincident also with the “end of the Grand Narrative”) we seem to have great difficulty turning that emergent knowledge and awareness to account in the practical affairs of life, so that what we know and how we live have become quite dissonant and inharmonious. And for many of us this contradiction between what we now know and how we conduct our lives has become acutely stressful. There is, as it were, a precipice, an abyss, between this emergent knowledge and how we actually conduct our lives, and the bridge across this subject-object dichotomy seems nowhere evident, which would actually be the bridge to the future.
After reading Australian indigenous journalist Stan Grant’s essays on feeling “trapped by the white gaze” in The Guardian (here and here), and spending a bit of time musing on this “gaze” in conjunction with my reading of Robert Romanyshyn’s excellent Technology as Symbol and Dream, I came to the realisation that this “white gaze” which people of non-European extraction find so disconcerting, or even despotic, is a perfect description of perspectivising perception. It hasn’t much directly to do with “whiteness” per se. The Gaze is a cultural artifact, culturally conditioned, that first rose in the Renaissance with the invention of perspectivism. The Gaze is a mode of perception, linked to a particular consciousness structure — the consciousness structure that Jean Gebser calls “perspectival” or “mental-rational”, and which Romanyshyn refers to as “astronautical man”.
I know from my own experience working with the Aboriginal Healing Project in Canada that the Gaze is experienced by indigenous people as real, and as being very perplexing and disconcerting. So, let’s explore this in depth — the roots of this “gaze” in perspectivising consciousness and perception, and also its strengths and its weaknesses.