The Sacred, the Secular, and the Profane

Before I go much further in exploring branding and consumerism as profanation of the spiritual, I probably should clarify the meaning of “profane” and “profanation”. In my estimation, most dictionaries get it wrong — or, at least, partially wrong — in thinking it is synonymous with “secular”, so they end up juxtaposing “sacred” and “secular” as antitheses. False logic.

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The Shepherd and the Wolf

There is as much wolf in shepherd as shepherd in wolf. I once pointed that out to a man whose social and political thinking had been largely shaped, it seems, by notions of “the Good Shepherd”, until I pointed out that the good shepherd and the big bad wolf have exactly the same interest in the flock — to fleece it. Their ways of predation are simply different. I think the poor man was shattered by the realisation that the good shepherd is as much a predator as the big bad wolf. A lot of political thinking, though, is based on the presumption that the good shepherd and the big bad wolf are opposites.

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Branding: Perception Management and Control

A large number — close to 56 percent — of all Fortune 500 companies have formed alliances in their communications. — (Brand Sense, p. 41)

The average consumer is bombarded with an astonishing 3,000 ad messages a day. (Brand Sense, p. 40).

These two statements should be deeply disturbing. But the implications of these seem to pass under most people’s radar (which is, after all, the point of it). You can certainly learn a great deal about the human condition and social trends by learning about propaganda (or “branding”) and reading the research of the marketers (which is where all the real social research is being carried out with practically unlimited budgets, and where all the research results of psychology of perception and the neurosciences are being absorbed, exploited and applied).

These two statements go a long way in accounting for the significance of “the Modern Corporate State” or “corporatocracy”.

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The End of History, the Golden Straitjacket, and Inverted Totalitarianism

By chance I came across mention of a book by Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang entitled Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, (Bloomsbury, 2008). Chang is a frequent contributor to The Guardian and I always look forward to reading his articles on economics there. Amazon had his book on sale, so I ordered a copy, which, having arrived surprisingly quickly, I dived right into.

It could have been subtitled “The Real History of Globalisation”, and though I’m always uncomfortable with the use of the word “myth” where falsification is meant (for it is only accurate of the degenerative or “deficient” phase of the mythical consciousness structure) the book is very good in describing how the real history of free trade , the “free market”, and globalisation have been falsified. Myth, whenever it becomes subordinate to the mental-rational consciousness, becomes propaganda, and is in that sense precisely what Plato meant by the use of “the Noble Lie” for social and political organisation of his Republic. So, although Plato disparaged the poets as confabulators, and myth as untruth, he nonetheless thought it useful and utile as propaganda.

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Domed City and Closeted Minds

The fantasy of futuristic domed cities is, along with the body as perpetual motion machine, the wet-dream of every technophile, and these are, in that sense also, the fantasy of the mortal self in time (Mr. McGilchrist’s “Emissary”) — its aspirations for permanence and immortality reflecting the ego-nature’s fear of Time, Death, and Dark Night. These fantasies have their roots, not in the rational portions of the psyche, but in older and more non-rational and “irrational” portions of the psyche — in magic and myth. The rational mind merely rationalises them.

The domed city is not only a return to the sanctuary of cave and grotto and even the womb, but an image of “paradise” in technological disguise, for the very word “paradise” means “a walled enclosure”. The walled enclosure, like the contemporary gated community, is an ideal of wild and unpredictable Nature totally tamed, domesticted, and regulated, barricaded and isolated from real, living Nature by substitute technical processes — but completely insulated against “the law of the Earth”. And in some ways the “Anthropocene” is already an image of this self-enclosure of the rational upon itself in tautology.

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The Tao: Energy as it Flows in the Universe

The culminating achievement of Carlos Castaneda’s time as “sorcerer’s apprentice”, and his principal task, was “stopping the world”, or what Buddhists also call “stopping the wheel of space and time” (that wheel or chakra being represented by the ancient symbol of the svastika, which is really the symbol of samsara and samsaric existence). When one accomplishes “stopping the world” one sees reality as it is — “energy as it flows in the universe”; the Heraclitean flux. “Stopping the world” or the wheel of space and time is also the insight into the Eternal Now, as opposed to the momentary.

The flux of energy is not random. It has a pattern, a logic of its own. That pattern informs the structure of physical reality, and is called for that reason “the Logos”. It is also symbolised in the Taoist symbol of the Tai Chi (meaning “the source, or origin”), but could be just as well represented in Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” or Holling’s “Adaptive Cycle“, although this might not be obvious at first glance. Nonetheless, each purports to represent the same thing — energy as it flows in the universe.

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The Mage, the Sage, and the Genius

Let’s continue from the previous post on “The ‘Deficient Phase’ of a Consciousness Structure” and my suggestion, there, that the triad of “mean-spirited”, “small-souled”, and “petty-minded” could be easily taken to represent the “deficit” of sensibility that characterises each of Gebser’s consciousness structures — the magical, the mythical, and the mental.

And, as you probably have already inferred from the title of this post, it’s quite evident that a particular human archetype is associated with each — the Mage (and the magical), the Sage (and the mythical) and the Genius (and the mental). Now things get interesting.

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