The political tensions evident in our time between “progressive” and “conservative” moods and orientations basically resolve into the issue of the desirable versus the necessary. Generally, conservatives tend to dismiss the desirable (progressive) as utopian fantasising, etc. Progressives, on the other hand, tend to represent conservatives as historically regressive, or even repressive and reactionary.
But once you wade through all the ideological posturing and verbiage, the real root of political and cultural controversies and tensions in our time is the social conflict between the desirable and the necessary as the factors that orient us towards the future and the past, respectively.
Two weeks ago, one of the fellows I commute with into the city told a strange story. He had ocassionally mentioned that a certain man he worked with as a heavy mechanic was very morose as well as being a chronic alcoholic. On this particular day, though, the police had come to his shop and had arrested the man for a murder committed a full 25 years earlier in Ontario.
After his historical survey of the four modern European revolutions — the Lutheran, the English Civil War, the French Revolution, and the Russian Revolution — Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy concluded from observing the pattern he saw emerge between them that there would yet be a fifth revolution that would conclude and close the series. As he interpreted it, the World War was the initial rumbling of this coming global restructuration and it had made the fifth revolution necessary and irrevocable. He called it “transnational revolution” and concluded that its motivating principle would be “health.”
Rosenstock recorded his survey in a book entitled Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man, but the principles he distilled from the lengthier study were also reproduced in his more accessible and shorter work, The Origin of Speech.
We are now already well into this transnational revolution, which is another way of saying, really, “world revolution”.
Every now and then, a thought flies through my mind like a passing cloud or like a migratory bird. Some of these strange birds nest or roost for a while amongst the branches of my nervous system. Perhaps they may even lay an egg or two. From these hatchlings may come a blog post, because I can then observe them at leisure and at length.
Other strange birds only perform fly-bys, and these so quickly that I scarcely even recognise them. Perhaps they are not birds at all but bats in my belfry? (I do have bats in my attic. I even found a very bewildered and frightened bat in my bedding one evening where it had taken refuge from the cat).
In any case, the main purpose of “Random Untimely Notes” (which may sound a bit out of tune) is to acknowledge and record the passing of these strange birds, even if they do not presently stop to lay and hatch some eggs which might become blog posts. “Random Untimely Notes” will be updated frequently, I suspect.
The construction of a universal history of the human experience after the First World War was felt by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy to be the most urgent task of the present time. He called it the “transnational revolution” with the task of “synchronising antagonistic distemporaries.” He applied himself to that task, but only paved the way for others to follow. His pioneering approach was (and is) still promising. It is, nonetheless, true that the absence of a full universal history of the human experience, which would also be the self-consciousness of human fellowship, is the main reason we have so many problems today with both “multiculturalism” and “the clash of civilisations,” as well as the degradation of the biosphere. One can equally appreciate cultural historian Jean Gebser’s work, particularly in his Ever-Present Origin, as being equally a prelude to a broadly encompassing universal history appropriate for the Planetary Era.
Integralism, holism or ecology are but other terms for “universal history.”
The German visionary poet Rainer Maria Rilke was held in high regard by cultural historian Jean Gebser, who even penned a book about his prose and poetry entitled Rilke und Spanien. Gebser (amongst others) seemed to feel that Rilke had his hand on the true pulse of the times, with his sensitivity to the issues of perceiving and being.