Progressing Ourselves to Death
In the former Dark Age Blog, our present historical harvest of “perverse outcomes” was frequently cited as evidence for the breakdown of reason, in support of the thesis presented by historian Jean Gebser in his book The Ever-Present Origin, that Late Modernity is characterised by the deficient (or defective, or decadent) mode of the mental-rational structure of consciousness in development since the (Greek) Renaissance (rebirth, as it means). “Perverse outcome” also belongs to the karmic law. Perverse outcome is also known by other names — “unintended consequence“, “revenge effect“, “reversal of fortune”, or, lately, as “blowback“. The proliferation of unintended consequence — perverse outcome or blowback — has necessitated the adoption of a entirely new approach to current events known as “crisis management“.
But it is the entirely predictable self-inflicted (a necessary blowback effect or perverse outcome of the irrational pursuit of “rational self-interest”.
Lately, two very peculiar, but far-reaching, examples of such perverse outcome have been reported in the media, but (as usual) without provoking much deeper thought or analysis about our historical situation (as David Ehrenfeld described the syndrome, which I quoted from him in my last post). Canada recently banned as toxic the widely used plastics compound Bisphenol-A (or BPA). As it turns out, it has been implicated in male infertility. Today, laptop computers (microwaves) are now reported as having a deletrious effect on male sperm quality, potentially leading to infertility also. Additionally, (but still unacted upon) are reports by the American Academy for Environmental Medicine that genetically-modified plants may also be implicated in infertility in humans (an alarm and declaration widely ignored by the mainstream press, particularly the agri-business sponsored media like Canada’s The Western Producer — derisively called by some The Western Seducer — which habitually falsifies and distorts the whole GM controversy).
(As Shakespeare once put it, “hoist on his own petard”).
Years ago, in fact, the declining rate of fertility in Europe was attributed to the ubiquity of plastics in the environment. The factor involved wasn’t precisely identified then, but it would seem, now, to be BPA. It would appear, though, that BPA is only one of many other factors currently acting as effective unplanned birth-control mechanisms — or biological time-bombs — along with microwaves, laptop computers, and the consumption of genetically-modified organisms. We’re paving the way for the Empire of the Ants.
In other words, we seem to have constructed a built-environment tailor-made for our own self-destruction — a kind of built-in nihilism with the effect of erasing ourselves from the face of the Earth. Nature, it would seem, — even as artificial nature — “is not without a sense of irony” (to crib a statement by Morpheus from the movie The Matrix). Erasing our roots has become, it seems, quite literal.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch….
People narrowly and anxiously fret about transient cigarette smoke within 3 metres of a doorway, while the greater invisible destruction, arising from their own collective conduct and behaviour which they overlook en masse, continues around them, in them, and through them. There’s an old saying that exemplifies this mere self-interested perspectivist myopia and ignorance: “can’t see the forest for the trees”. I hope you appreciate the psychosis — the narcissism — of such narrow-minded thinking and perception. The sins of the individual are completely insignificant, actually, compared to those of a society as a whole.
Very few see the problem in its full global scope. This is why Gebser traced the history of perspectivism, beginning in its vital and positive development in the Renaissance, to its inverted and perverted decadent and reified state as narrow-mindedness and myopic perception at our “end of history” (which Nietzsche called “nook-and-corner perspectivism”). Every picayune strategy we under-take to correct or amend the unsatisfactory results of what are ultimately our own narrowly conceived and executed self-interested acts and behaviour (now become self-destructive) only exacerbates the problem of perverse outcome. The problem being, that our self-interested self-image is completely inconsonant with our actual lived reality and experience. And that inconsonance between our self-interested self-image, and our actual experience of our reality, results in our current epidemic of duplicity and hypocrisy (which is very seldom conscious duplicity and hypocrisy). In the Dark Age Blog, we called this our true contemporary “four riders of the Apocalypse” — Double-Think, Double-Talk, Double-Standard, and Double-Bind. The self-image (which is Ego) is the real root of the problem of perverse outcome and the source of our multiplying and proliferating crises.
And that is why “crisis management” exists, today. It is a vain and completely idiotic attempt to make reality conform to our self-image as our vaunted and vain self-interest.
But, I can assure you, “reality” will win. And when reality wins (or truth, which means the same thing), we, being the egotistically inclined narcissists that we are, will decry this inevitability as “catastrophe” and even “apocalypse”.
It is difficult to love human beings. Maybe that’s why it is such a spiritual challenge and a Great Work. My own temptation is to harbour deep contempt for these donkeys and asses, and my own resenttiment is for having to live amongst this mob and herd (There! I’ve said it!). But transcending that contempt is my own specific challenge and practice of “self-overcoming”, and there is no other meaning to “transcendence” other than this self-overcoming of the vanity and conceit of a self-image and its self-interest, which is just another hollow idol.