The Monstrous and Inform

I awoke this morning from a strange dream. The dream has struck the note and chord that is to be the mood of my day. And to confess it, almost every post on The Chrysalis first takes shape in dream and during sleep.

In the dream — a confusing inchoate, random, and swirling chaos of shards of images, a disorderly vortex of fragments of phenomena. They seem to be seeking something? Slowly, the chaotic vortex of swirling shards and fragments begins to coalesce and congeal into a structure or form — not a visible form or perceptible structure, but in the shape of a name. It tries to pronounce its name to me, not in words so much as a telepathic thought-form, and my mind is struggling to discern the name-form it wants to declare itself as, for its Name is its Form, and not merely a name for a form. Haken?… Hagen?… No. Krogen?…. No that’s not it. Then the name becomes clear — “Kraken”.

At that moment, my cat pounces on me. She wants to be fed and let outside. With my mind diverted by the cat’s demands, the dream retreats into that “limbo” that dreams frequently disappear into upon awakening despite my efforts to hold it in conscious focus. I make my coffee, and settle down to scan the morning’s news headlines.

Oddly enough, one of the first articles I see is a review of the new movie “Pacific Rim” and a brief history of monsters and the monstrous in media and imagination. I’m interested in that. As I read the article, something about it seems familiar, and it’s then that I recollect the dream. That feeling of the “uncanny” returns, but it’s always the more expressive German word that first comes to my mind when I experience the uncanny — unheimlich.

I now recognise the feeling that attends the scene from the dream of the swirling chaos of fragments and dis-jointed images. It is the same feeling I get when I scan the day’s headlines on Google News, or on any news site on the Web. And the power that wanted to speak its name, Kraken, as the monstrous and colossal force from the deeps, I recognise it too, now. It is what Seth has been calling, in the quotation we’ve been studying, “the ancient force”.

When, at this point now, of mankind’s development, his emerging unconscious knowledge is denied by his institutions, then it will rise up despite those institutions, and annihilate them. Cult after cult will emerge, each unrestrained by the use of reason, because reason will have denied the existence of rampant unconscious knowledge, disorganized and feeling only its own ancient force.

Its Logos is the Name. Only when I learned the name did the “rampant” chaotic vortex of fragments of images subside and gradually assume form — “Kraken”. Its Name is its Logos. And its Logos is its dharma.

I can’t think of any other way of saying it. But I was astonished. It wanted me to know its true Name! Its Name is its Logos and its Logos is its dharma. How else can I express this? Its Form is its Name, and its Name is its teaching.

The Kraken is often depicted as a giant squid or octopus. But that is only its symbolisation. Efforts to identify it with an historical, biological creature experienced by ancient mariners are completely delusional and misguided. Its true status and reality is this: that the Kraken belongs to the same psychic reality as the World Tree. The chaotic swirl of shards of images and fragments of phenomena are its thrashing tentacles. If one sees only the thrashing tentacles, one perceives only chaos, the incoherent, the disintegrate, the wild disunity of things. To learn its name, though, is to see the thrashing tentacles of existence as leading back to a centre, and as part of a greater whole to which the seemingly random and chaotic belongs. For that reason, the thrashing chaos of images slowly subsided and ceased as its Name became clearer, for its Name is its orgranising centre and its identity.

As I reflected on this, it struck me that the Kraken is a morph of the World Tree. Its tentacles are the branches of the World Tree, Yggdrasil. They are both Names or symbols for the same “ancient force” in its two aspects, as disorganised and organised energy, or chaos and cosmos respectively. But they both have the same root. If Athena is the goddess of reason, her “alter ego” or morph is the Gorgon. Athena and the Gorgon are comparable, in their polarity and image, to World Tree and Kraken respectively. For the Gorgon’s head as a tangle of snakes is the chaos of unreason as much as the Kraken’s thrashing tentacles.

They are, in other words, a statement about the proper relationship of the ego consciousness to its “roots”, and the consequences of the loss of such connection or relationship. The World Tree then appears as the Kraken, and the head of Athena as the Gorgon. Yet, they are the same energy, the energy Seth calls “the ancient force” in organised (cosmic) or disorganised (chaotic) manifestation, therefore as wonder or terror, and therefore as “good” or “evil”. Kraken and World Tree share the same identity, are the same psychic energy.

Consider these images,

The KrakenThe Gorgon(The ship in the illustration, being attacked by the Kraken, or “ancient force,” is the ego consciousness feeling itself besieged and overwhelmed by the ancient force or the energies of the “unconscious”, Nietzsche’s “Dionysian” power)

To perceive in what way the Kraken and the Gorgon are the same ancient or chthonic force, and yet are only metamorphs or transforms of World Tree and Athena respectively (just as Dionysus is a metamorph or transform of Hades) requires that one engage the intuitive or “imaginative” faculty (in Blake’s meaning). They are the same power perceived in two different aspects or polarities, threatening or benevolent, in terror or in wonder, and therefore as paradoxical.

For another example of this, please read William Blake’s “Memorable Fancy” from his Marriage of Heaven and HellTo comprehend Blake’s meaning here, you will have to suspend discursive logic and enter into that “imaginative” or intuitive mode of thinking sometimes called “symbolic thinking”, which is the mythic mode of aperception. (And also take note, too, of how the “Angel” engages in what we call today “perception management”, which Blake sees through as the Angel’s false “metaphysics”.)

A Memorable Fancy.

An Angel came to me and said: ‘O pitiable foolish young man! O horrible! O dreadful state! consider the hot burning dungeon thou art preparing for thyself to all eternity, to which thou art going in such career.’

I said: ‘perhaps you will be willing to shew me my eternal lot & we will contemplate together upon it and see whether your lot or mine is most desirable.’

So he took me thro’ a stable & thro’ a church & down into the church vault at the end of which was a mill: thro’ the mill we went, and came to a cave: down the winding cavern we groped our tedious way till a void boundless as a nether sky appear’d beneath us & we held by the roots of trees and hung over this immensity; but I said, ‘if you please we will commit ourselves to this void, and see whether providence is here also, if you will not, I will?’ but he answer’d: ‘do not presume, O young-man, but as we here remain, behold thy lot which will soon appear when the darkness passes away.’

So I remain’d with him, sitting in the twisted root of an oak; he was suspended in a fungus, which hung with the head downward into the deep.

By degrees we beheld the infinite Abyss, fiery as the smoke of a burning city; beneath us at an immense distance, was the sun, black but shining; round it were fiery tracks on which revolv’d vast spiders, crawling after their prey; which flew, or rather swum, in the infinite deep, in the most terrific shapes of animals sprung from corruption; & the air was full of them, & seem’d composed of them: these are Devils, and are called Powers of the air. I now asked my companion which was my eternal lot? he said, ‘between the black & white spiders.’

But now, from between the black & white spiders, a cloud and fire burst and rolled thro’ the deep black’ning all beneath, so that the nether deep grew black as a sea, & rolled with a terrible noise; beneath us was nothing now to be seen but a black tempest, till looking east between the clouds & the waves, we saw a cataract of blood mixed with fire, and not many stones’ throw from us appear’d and sunk again the scaly fold of a monstrous serpent; at last, to the east, distant about three degrees appear’d a fiery crest above the waves; slowly it reared like a ridge of golden rocks, till we discover’d two globes of crimson fire, from which the sea fled away in clouds of smoke; and now we saw, it was the head of Leviathan; his forehead was divided into streaks of green & purple like those on a tyger’s forehead: soon we saw his mouth & red gills hang just above the raging foam tinging the black deep with beams of blood, advancing toward us with all the fury of a spiritual existence.

My friend the Angel climb’d up from his station into the mill; I remain’d alone, & then this appearance was no more, but I found myself sitting on a pleasant bank beside a river by moonlight, hearing a harper who sung to the harp; & his theme was: ‘The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds reptiles of the mind.’

But I arose, and sought for the mill, & there I found my Angel, who surprised, asked me how I escaped?

I answer’d: ‘ All that we saw was owing to your metaphysics; for when you ran away, I found myself on a bank by moonlight hearing a harper, But now we have seen my eternal lot, shall I shew you yours?’ he laugh’d at my proposal; but I by force suddenly caught him in my arms, & flew westerly thro’ the night, till we were elevated above the earth’s shadow; then I flung myself with him directly into the body of the sun; here I clothed myself in white, & taking in my hand Swedenborg’s, volumes sunk from the glorious clime, and passed all the planets till we came to saturn: here I staid to rest & then leap’d into the void, between saturn & the fixed stars.

‘Here,’ said I, ‘is your lot, in this space, if space it may be call’d.’ Soon we saw the stable and the church, & I took him to the altar and open’d the Bible, and lo! it was a deep pit, into which I descended driving the Angel before me, soon we saw seven houses of brick; one we enter’d; in it were a number of monkeys, baboons, & all of that species, chain’d by the middle, grinning and snatching at one another, but witheld by the shortness of their chains: however, I saw that they sometimes grew numerous, and then the weak were caught by the strong, and with a grinning aspect, first coupled with, & then devour’d, by plucking off first one limb and then another till the body was left a helpless trunk; this after grinning & kissing it with seeming fondness they devour’d too; and here & there I saw one savourily picking the flesh off of his own tail; as the stench terribly annoy’d us both, we went into the mill, & I in my hand brought the skeleton of a body, which in the mill was Aristotle’s Analytics.

So the Angel said: ‘thy phantasy has imposed upon me, & thou oughtest to be ashamed.’

I answer’d: ‘we impose on one another, & it is but lost time to converse with you whose works are only Analytics.’

The paradoxical manifestation of the ancient force or energies, which is so dependent on the nature of human perception, is contained in the Latin word “inform”, and it is extremely relevant for our current situation in “the Information Society”. “Inform” means both monstrous, misshapen, formless, disorganised, chaotic, and yet, also, formal, structured, organised, proportionate.

This paradox, ambiguity or equivocal character of “inform” is at the heart of today’s “Information Society”, which appears both highly organised and yet highly disorganised, chaotic, and overwhelming at the same time. Yet, regardless, it is a question of the psycho-dynamics of what we call “information”, for information (like matter) is also a form of energy, and energy can be organised or disorganised in its expression, therefore as both generative and nihilistic.

More on that later.

Advertisements

34 responses to “The Monstrous and Inform”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    Here’s Tennyson’s poem about the Kraken, as I just discovered on the Wikipedia site. The sonnet makes clear that the Kraken, here, is also the ancient dragon power, and so Tennyson’s poem illuminates the Kraken as also being Seth’s “ancient force”, but also a prophecy about its rising “and on the surface die”. But this “dying” is rather a metamorphosis, just as Blake’s “Leviathan” in the poem above is also the Kraken, but is transformed by the power of Blake’s “imagination”

    Below the thunders of the upper deep;
    Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
    His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
    The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
    About his shadowy sides; above him swell
    Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
    And far away into the sickly light,
    From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
    Unnumber’d and enormous polypi
    Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
    There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
    Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
    Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
    Then once by man and angels to be seen,
    In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

  2. Scott Preston says :

    Another interesting thing I found in the Wiki article on the Kraken was this: “the real danger to sailors was not the creature itself but rather the whirlpool left in its wake”, which is exactly the dynamic of the “vortex” of fragments of images as it appeared in my dream, until this whirlpool subsided with the revelation of its name.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Which makes me wonder, suddenly, whether the Black Hole — the Abyss — supposedly at the centre of the whirlpool galaxies, sucking all light and energy into its own maw, isn’t a modern “rationalist” myth or symbol of the Kraken?

    • Maya says :

      Interesting that giving it a name seemed to end the whirlpool. Did it feel causal at all? Because then the name would be like the ego/order to the subconscious/chaos.

      For instance (found this quote online, but I had heard “call each thing by its proper name” before and it might have well been Pasternak:

      “Lara walked along the tracks following a path worn by pilgrims and then turned into the fields. Here she stopped and, closing her eyes, took a deep breath of the flower-scented air of the broad expanse around her. It was dearer to her than her kin, better than a lover, wiser than a book. For a moment she rediscovered the purpose of her life. She was here on earth to grasp the meaning of its wild enchantment and to call each thing by its right name, or, if this were not within her power, to give birth out of love for life to successors who would do it in her place.”

      Also in Genesis (I’m not religious, but it’s classic example illustrating ancient forces, even if they are human feelings) Adam is given the task of giving each animal. I guess this is what one does in paradise? Science? I mean that with a capital ‘s,’ as in any sort of knowledge-making…

      Seems like once Maslow’s hierarchy is complete, the self-realization piece is just that.

      From a brief scan of your other posts, it seems like this hits on some other ideas for you as it does for me. I look forward to reading them more thoroughly!

      • Maya says :

        Edits:
        *)
        *…giving each animal a NAME.

        It’s late; I’m going to bed 🙂

      • Scott Preston says :

        Interesting that giving it a name seemed to end the whirlpool. Did it feel causal at all? Because then the name would be like the ego/order to the subconscious/chaos.

        Thanks for dropping by. Yes, that is it. The whirl subsided as the name became clearer. You could say that it coalesced into the name. You could say, just as an analogy now, that the whirl of fragments of images were like the letters of an alphabet flying in every which direction, and which gradually coalesced into an intelligible word. I think I recall an animation of that from somewhere.

        • Maya says :

          Do you feel like this blog is sort of that for your mind? I sat down to write something very very similar abstractly, but quite different in the concrete and was very pleased to find resonance in your writing. I often feel like this, with thoughts very slowly coalescing into words. Sort of feels like a drop out of a cloud. I feel like I want to read all your work before I start mine haha

        • Maya says :

          Haha I searched for “cloud coalescing into words” on youtube (’cause why not) and got this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJEDlVxzP5E. Totally an emergent phenomenon too! Also very related to what I was trying to write about when I stumbled on this blog!

        • Scott Preston says :

          Do you feel like this blog is sort of that for your mind?

          Yes. Although, I feel almost compelled to write, as if I were a pen in someone’s hand. It’s not always totally clear what I’m writing about, when I set out. I don’t rehearse it or prepare a draught. But in the course of writing, it coalesces. I start out with the kernel of a thought, and it spins itself out.

        • Scott Preston says :

          That video of the starling clouds is beautiful. I’m quite fond of starlings. Most people hate them, but they have the most beautiful song when they want to sing it instead of cackle. I was once sitting with a coffee at my favourite outdoor cafe in Vancouver one morning. The starlings used to scavenge around there or beg for food. I noticed one starling sitting on the back of a chair singing its heart out into a window. I was amazed at how sonorous its song was, how complex, even symphonic. But why it was singing at the window was a mystery, until the I saw the restaurant owner — a Lebanese man — reach out the window and give the Starling some pita bread. It was singing for its supper. Never thought of Starlings as a pest after that.

          Back to the video. You could say, yes, that this might correspond to the image of the dream. But imagine yourself, first of all, inside this cloud, and not observing it objectively, as in the video. If you are first inside the cloud, you would not see the beautiful wave-like form. It would seem like absolute chaos — a whorl, a whirl, a senseless motion of things.

          Only outside do you see the order, shape, the dynamic form, the unity of movement.

          As I mentioned, the so-called “unconscious” does not know space and time. It knows non-locality and synchronicity. “Space”, in its terms, is formed by psychic distance, an emotional distancing corresponding to intimacy or aloofness or disinterestedness. Naming is, in fact, and again in its terms, “objectification”. For it, “close” or “distant”, “near” or “far” are feelings, not measurable spacings. It’s spacings are like the spacings in music, sounds and silences. What we call “the unconscious” is what Harold Waldwin Percival calls “feeling-and-desire mind”. The ego consciousness is what he calls “the body-mind”. And our basic problem is, that the two have come apart. In Blake (as I noted in an recent post), these correspond to “fountain” and “cistern” in his Proverb of Hell.

          I think I should post something about that again.

          So, naming is gaining distance in psychological terms.

          By the way, that movement of the starlings — that reminds me of a microsoft screen-saver programme called “mystify”.

  3. Thinking Green says :

    Very interesting – it seems that your longsworde has struck the ruling daemon of our times. A Kraken, even. Yes, there is a poetic rightness to this, the swirling tentacles as shards and fragments of imagery, the hurricane of seemingly random information that pours through our distracted lives.

    I’m reminded of H. P. Lovecraft’s “ancient sleeper,” from his “Cthulhu Mythos.” He describes the entity, Cthulhu, as “A monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind.” An image search will return many strikingly Kraken-like images of Cthulhu. This ancient creature is apparently hibernating and trapped deep within an underwater city and it’s presence is an unconscious source of profound anxiety in the human race. Some people worship it and seek to wake it.

    Intriguingly, there are some very strange correspondences between John Dee, Aleister Crowley, and Lovecraft — and Blake too.Dee and Crowley were certainly very interested in speaking to the “ruling daemon” of the times, and seem to have had some success. The demiurge, Blake’s Urizen, shows up in their biographies in startling manner. But the tale is so baffling, bizarre, and yes, even unheimlich, that I can only post a link to it. http://www.digital-brilliance.com/contributed/essays/GnosticTrail.htm

    But great post. Yes, the Kraken may be, ultimately, Yggdrasil in turmoil. Interesting that “Gandalf” has emerged into popular consciousness recently due to the success of the Lord of the Rings movies. Tolkien based Gandalf on Odin – and Odin was wise and powerful because he had hung himself from Yggdrasil, sacrificed himself to himself (as he puts it in the Edda) and learned the secrets of the runes that went on to become the Norse alphabet.

    • Thinking Green says :

      This from Wikipedia about Odin’s sacrifice:

      In Rúnatal, a section of the Hávamál, Odin is attributed with discovering the runes. In a sacrifice to himself, the highest of the gods, he was hanged from the world tree Yggdrasil for nine days and nights, pierced by his own spear, in order to learn the wisdom that would give him power in the nine worlds. Nine is a significant number in Norse magical practice (there were, for example, nine realms of existence), thereby learning nine (later eighteen) magical songs and eighteen magical runes.

      One of Odin’s names is Ygg, and the Norse name for the World Ash —Yggdrasil—therefore could mean “Ygg’s (Odin’s) horse.” Another of Odin’s names is Hangatýr, the god of the hanged.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Apparently, the origin of the Christmas tree custom. Reputedly, (although I haven’t researched this thoroughly, and don’t know whether fable or fact) the Norse used to hang the heads of their defeated enemies on a tree — part of “the cult of the severed head”. With the moderating and civilising influence of Christianity, the heads were, again reputedly, replaced by Christmas bulbs.

        It seems to make sense, as I never understood the custom of Christmas trees or why one would kill a perfectly lovely tree and then hang baubles and bulbs on it to make it look alive.

      • Scott Preston says :

        There is something in this myth of Odin hanging from the tree in order to gain knowledge of the Runes and the wisdom that would give him power in the nine worlds that rings true.

        It reminds me in some ways of an essay I read by the culture critic George Steiner called “The Hollow Miracle” about the state of post-Nazi German arts and “letters”. It appears in a collection called Language and Silence but also as a PDF at https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://64.62.200.70/PERIODICAL/PDF/Reporter-1960feb18/38-44/

        The corruption of language by Nazi propaganda, Steiner notes, made it difficult for Germans to organise their thoughts and experiences after the defeat of Nazism. The author Stefan Zweig reportedly killed himself in despair because he felt he could not write in the German language any longer, feeling that the language was now inauthentic, tainted and polluted by Nazi propaganda. It wasn’t until Heinrich Böll, who wrote in an austere, simple, and minimalist style, that German language and “Letters” began to recover its powers to again organise and express thought and experience without stammering and stuttering and stumbling over its Nazi associations, for Hitler and Goebbels had destroyed the language of Luther and Goethe, the German Reformation and Renaissance.

        Hence, our concern with propaganda of all types and its inducement to self-deception and falsification of experience by the perversion of meaning, for it can result in self-destruction. The upshot is, that if the “irruption” of the unconscious or “ancient force” in our time must be answered by an “enlightened and expanded egotistical awareness”, then that awareness is intimately connected with grammar and speech. If grammar and speech cannot adequately distribute and organise that knowledge, the basis for a successful outcome is correspondingly reduced by what Rosenstock-Huessy called “amalgamate false natures” and “the ballyhoo of competing propagandas”, all of which is connected with what Jean Gebser calls “deficient rationality”.– a reductionistic language of description and explanation which can no longer adequately handle, organise, or clarify human experience.

        The result is our incapacity to bring order to the chaos. We too begin to stammer, stutter, and stumble, because the language is no longer adequate for transforming the lead of chaos into the gold of knowledge, and becomes itself a chaotic affair. And with that, the ego consciousness begins to disintegrate, become inarticulate, and incoherent.

        • Thinking Green says :

          Yes, the poet Paul Celan, a German speaking Jew, whose parents had been killed by the Nazis, struggled with these issues too. Celan eventually took his own life, but not before he embarked on an effort to “rewrite” German in new ways.

          Once, I ate some peyote cactus and came up with the phrase, “we need to take control of the means of perception.” In fact, maybe the cactus said that. But yes, the ordeal Odin voluntarily undertakes, in order to gain (or regain?) command of language, through alphabet, writing, grammar, runes, is very resonant in our time.

          And looking to the roots and origin of language seems to be a necessary task these days. Interesting how words washed in the fountain of origins shed a lot of mud, and appear wholly different, changing our perspectives. As you pointed out with your refreshing piece on “private.”

    • Scott Preston says :

      Great comment. I had forgotten about Lovecraft’s Cthulhu. I don’t know much about Norse mythology, but I did briefly encounter that story about Odin’s self-sacrifice in order to learn the mystery of the Runes just a few days ago, and skipped over its significance — the “alphabet” as a way to order or organise the ancient force. Consider that the word “grammar” is connected to the older word “grammarye” — which is magic — and to the word “glamour” and “glimmer”, which originally meant a “magic spell”. We’ll come back to that later, when I take a look at Rosenstock-Huessy’s “grammatical method” and his “cross of reality” as the attempt to organise the chaos. For his “cross of reality” does resemble the World Tree. He describes grammar as being the proper “distribution” of the powers of time and space.

      Anyway, we’ll come back to that. What impressed me about my dream was it was also a revelation, of sorts, about the efficacy of “ecological thinking”, for not to see the various tentacles of the Kraken as separate, but as connected or “rooted” in a source and comprising a whole — that led to the subsidence of the chaos of imagery. Its Name is its Logos.

      That reminds me of those suffering from a terminal illness who feel a sense of relief and calm once they know the name of their illness, which gives a confusing and perplexing chaos of symptoms an intelligible structure, and a meaningful orderliness, at least.

  4. Thinking Green says :

    ” ….the “alphabet” as a way to order or organise the ancient force. Consider that the word “grammar” is connected to the older word “grammarye” — which is magic — and to the word “glamour” and “glimmer”, which originally meant a “magic spell”.

    Yes, organising the ancient force through the magical runes: the alphabet — and grammar. The power of language, and the old time fear and respect that people had of those who could read and write… and “spell” things. Witchcraft. Good point. To “spell” something correctly is to more effectively invoke it.

    Interesting that the Celtic druids seem to have refused to write their myth / philosophy down on paper, even though they had an alphabet (ogham) and could also use Greek if they needed to. Julius Caesar suggests that the reason they refused to write things down was because they wanted to ensure that they kept control of the secrets, but Caesar would say that of course. There may have been more to it – a sensitivity perhaps to the subtleties of spelling and grammar and the effects of language on the “ancient force,” as you note.

    Your earlier post on the etymology of privacy – also fascinating and useful. The privateer! Yes, is he a rapacious brigand or a friend of the English crown? Well, as the English are being steadily stripped of the hard-won and much-loved National Health Service, it would not be surprising if they concluded the former.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I just re-read Steiner’s essay on “The Hollow Miracle” that I linked to above. It has been some time since I read that essay, but I see how the haunting words of Seth are made manifest in Steiner’s account, and how Steiner’s essay illustrates and illuminates Seth’s meaning. If they were understood in their reciprocity by everyone, I wouldn’t feel the need to maintain The Chrysalis any longer. Everyone would know and perceive the truth of both. And perhaps only in their reciprocity could their shared truth be perceived.

      I was intrigued by Steiner’s mention of the Nazi historian who described the extermination camps as “the anus of the world” — where human life is digested, metabolised, assimilated, and finally excreted. I paused then and wondered if this Nazi knew, or had even heard of, the omphalos — “the navel of the world”. He must have known it? And yet, if he did in fact know that in choosing to describe the death camps as ‘the anus of the world’ that he was deliberately describing them as the contradiction to the omphalos, then he must have consciously decided to ally himself with the demonic, with darkness, death, destruction, nihilism, rather than with life, creation, light, and genesis. And that was a most disturbing thought to me — that a man would willingly, and not just stupidly, ignorantly, and unconsciously — chose the Darkness.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Here’s an interesting thought, for what it’s worth. If I mentioned above that “Black Holes” might be the mythical form the Kraken takes for the mental-rational consciousness, it may be that “white holes” are the form that the mythical omphalos takes for the mental-rational consciousness — the portal by which light and life enter the world. That contrast, and the suggestiveness of it, occurred to me as I was reading the Wiki article about the omphalos, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omphalos

        What this signifies is the meaning of Seth’s words that “unconscious knowledge” is still influential and still exercising its power over the mental-rational mind, but not in a way recognised as such. This failure of recognition is then Gebser’s “deficient rationality”, and is the real problem — that the mental-rational does not recognise that its own roots still lie in the archetypal.

    • Scott Preston says :

      It’s possible that the Druids never wrote down anything in order to preserve their fraternity and the power of their specialisation. But, on the other hand, Socrates, Jesus, nor Buddha never wrote down anything either. It could be that they all wanted their knowledge to be born alive in the immediate lightning bolt of speech between teacher and student, and not entombed and ossified in writings. Socrates, in any event, suggested as much. He was suspicious of the written word, and the written word would then become a kind of immortal power in itself — an idol.

      Cadmus sowed the dragon’s teeth (the alphabet) and up sprang armed men — the Spartoi. Interestingly, in a movie I saw of this, the armed men were skeletons, the living dead — not alive, but semblances or simulacra of life.

      • Thinking Green says :

        The written word as an idol? Interesting. Some poets I know value the opportunity to recite their work in public, almost as an act of metaphysical importance, it seems to be. The words carried to the ear on the breath of the composer is as important in other ways perhaps as the process of absorbing the poem through the eye form a page.

        Yes, the Druids certainly placed a high value on speech and the spoken word. They were all qualified bards after all. And the process of becoming a bard was quite arduous, requiring the initiate to commit to memory the entire poetic and mythic lore of the tribe – hundreds of story cycles and poems, not to mention learning music and mastering the harp. Yes, speech and the power of speech seem to have been of central importance to the Celts, eloquence and fidelity to the word being highly valued. We live in the Roman legacy, alas, which put an end to the “old” Europe..

        Also, there seem to be quite a few similarities between the Celtic tribes and the Plains Indians cultures, but I don’t want to got too far off topic.

        • Scott Preston says :

          The written word as an idol? Interesting.

          The technical term is “logocentric”, and it is, in that sense, a kind of narcissism too. The word is mistaken for the thing. Words are opague. Speech is not transparent or translucent. The light of meaning does not shine through them. It’s what makes propaganda, or “the optics,” effective.

          Socrates’ famous objection to writing as the destroyer of memory… this blogger takes a run at that. http://outofthejungle.blogspot.ca/2007/11/socrates-objections-to-writing.html

          Also, there seem to be quite a few similarities between the Celtic tribes and the Plains Indians cultures, but I don’t want to got too far off topic.

          It would not have been off topic in the old Dark Age Blog, which I retired a couple of years ago. And it was “deliciously dark”, to steal a slogan from a beer commercial. During much of that time I was working as a consultant on the Residential School system for the Aboriginal Healing Project, specifically on problems of intercultural and intergenerational communication — across and within cultures. The tribal origins of the Euro mind did, of course, come into it, and the subsequent history (influence of Greece, Rome, and Judeo-Christianity) in shaping the European attitude. The Sioux (who I worked with mainly) were desperate to try and understand what had happened to them, and very confused about the Euros’ attitude and values. They were most interested in knowing the syntax and semantics of the Euro languages, because this is where they felt the problem lay, which returns us to the question of logocentrism. I prepared a number of teaching modules and seminars on the subject for the project.

  5. amothman33 says :

    IBn Arabi maintained that imagination is one the senses. He also maintained that dream is also one of the senses. He always says that almost all his books are invoked in dream. Imagination, dream and perception are prior to language, when the sources get polluted the extension automatically get polluted. The story of good and evil never ends. They are the testing forces of the proper conduct of the human. The human is the playing ground of such forces. The dilemma resides in him being a player in the game and his over all maturity begins in this conflict. All narrations , good and bad are essential in the game.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Ah… I’m glad you commented on this Abdulmonem, because you reminded me that what we here call “the Kraken” is somewhat the same as Rumi’s dragon in the Snake-Catcher’s Tale. http://harpers.org/blog/2007/12/rumis-the-snake-catchers-tale/

      The images Rumi uses for this are interesting, though. He describes a human being as “a mountain range”, and the dragon is found frozen in the snows of this mountain range, sleeping much as the Kraken until it too is awoken. The man is like “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” in Goethe’s fable.

      In any event, Rumi knows the beast,

      The snake is your animal-soul. When you bring it
      into the hot air of your wanting-energy, warmed
      by that and by the prospect of power and wealth,
      it does massive damage.

      Leave it in the snow mountains.
      Don’t expect to oppose it with quietness
      and sweetness and wishing.

      The nafs don’t respond to those,
      and they can’t be killed. It takes a Moses to deal
      with such a beast, to lead it back, and make it lie down
      in the snow. But there was no Moses then.
      Hundreds of thousands died.

      In other words, this “animal-soul” is the same as Seth’s “ancient force”, and it’s awakening from its slumber is its contemporary bestirring as described by Seth, and “Moses” here is Rumi’s symbol for what Seth calls the “enlightened and expanded” consciousness able to organise the irruption of the bestirred unconscious energies.

      • Thinking Green says :

        Just thought I’d mention another analogy that has occurred to me regarding this “animal soul” or “ancient force.”

        In Euripedes’ play The Bacchae, Pentheus, king of Thebes, attempts to prevent the anarchic carnival celebrations of the new god Dionysus. He adopts a puritan attitude and mocks the dancers and celebrants and rejects the god. But as is the way of such things, he is tricked by Dionysus into dressing up in women’s clothing and spies on the naked Maenads in the mountains. He is discovered, and they tear him to pieces – his mother one of the Maenads.

        And Pentheus is the grandson of Cadmus, who sowed the dragon’s teeth.

        • Scott Preston says :

          Great comment, and of more relevance to this discussion than first meets the eye. It was one of Nietzsche’s favourite myths or tragedies. Considered in terms of the Seth quote we’ve been studying, Pentheus is the mental-rational (ego) consciousness, denying and repressing the ancient (Dionysian) force. The Dionysian irruption is represented in the anarchic Maenads, who take their revenge on the mental-rational. This is Seth’s warning about “superstition” and “chaos” — they tear Pentheus to peices, which is of course disintegration of the ego consciousness’ ratio.

          Cadmus sowed the dragon’s teeth and Pentheus is the grandson of Cadmus. The myth seems to be saying that the beginning of the end of the mythopoeic consciousness was the invention of the alphabet, which led to rationalism and skepticism. Assuming that this may be the jumping off point for understanding the development of the mental-rational consciousness, I highly recommend Bruno Snell’s great book The Discovery of the Mind: The Greek Origins of European Thought. And if you have a mind to look into that, have a look also at Rosenstock-Huessy’s short The Origins of Speech. You’ll see some remarkable patterns in the history of consciousness. The Origins of Speech is also a good introduction to Rosenstock-Huessy’s social philosophy overall and his “grammatical method”, which is an holistic and ecological-oriented approach to thinking. We’ll be diving into that as we look further into the Seth quote. In fact, we’ll be wrapping up the Seth material with Rosenstock-Huessy.

        • Scott Preston says :

          It might be suggestive to speculate on the meaning of the name “Pentheus” in relation to his being described as the grandson of Cadmus, and as a skeptic who runs into trouble with Dionysus because of his skepticism. “Theus” is the word for “god”, and “Penta” is Greek for “five”. The only connection here I can see is that after Cadmus sowed the dragon’s teeth, they began to fight amongst themselves. The myth has it that at the end of the combat only 5 combatants were left standing. But it’s not clear if this has any connection with the name “Pentheus”, or why the number “5” is so important in the myth.

          The other possible connection is with the word “pensive” and also “pent”. Pensive, of course, means thoughtful or absorbed in thought, so there is here some connection with the meaning of “pent” as “closed up” or dammed up. But why this might have any possible connection with the number “5” isn’t entirely clear, and may not be significant at all. A pentagramme is a 5-sided figure, of course, and suggests a confined or protected inner space against an outside force, but this is just speculative. I’ve otherwise found no root connection between the name “Pentheus” with “penta” (5), and the words “pent” or “pensive”.

          The suffix “-theus”, signifying a god or a divine power, also forms the names of the Titans Prometheus and Epimetheus, and their names translate into “fore-thought” and “after-thought” respectively (or foresight and hindsight). Here “theus” is modified by the morpheme “me-“< as "-metheus" and pertains to "mental" function, mind or mindful (although in the case of Epimetheus, it seems to have signified "mindless", but still mental functioning, so that the names Prometheus and Epimetheus might be equally understood as "mindful" and "mindless" respectively).

          The question here is whether "Pentheus" represents the mind of Greek rationalism and skepticism that was developing in this time, undercutting and denying the myths — an ego consciousness beginning to separate and isolate itself from the "unconscious" (with tragic consequences in the play). It's interesting to note that Dionysus was a very late addition in the Greek myths, and was the last god to be added amongst the Olympians, (even though Heraclitus stated that Dionysus and Hades were the same). If Dionysus represents the energies of the unconscious or "ancient force", then we can see why he comes later — he emerges as a power just as the ego consciousness or "self-awareness" begins to separate or segregate itself from the darkness or nighttime of the tribal "unconscious", ie, begins to individuate. The myth seems to be saying that this process of individuation of consciousness as ego consciousness, and of the origins of the mind, begins with literacy and the alphabet.

          There's an anecdote from the life of Augustine that might be pertinent here. As a young man, before he accepted Christianity, he recounts how he walked into the room of his teacher (who had already become a Christian) and was astonished to find him reading to himself silently. It appears that this kind of inwardness was not normal, and that the custom was to pronounce aloud the words one was reading — still very common amongst Muslims reading the Qu'ran. Why was Augustine astonished? Probably because this anecdote represents the discovery of subjectivity, of a "soul".

  6. amothman33 says :

    Knowing we need not knowledge. Knowledge if not always verified becomes as you said an idol, that is why we have different prophets, to keep knowing alive.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Knowing we need not knowledge.

      Sorry that I did not get around to replying to this earlier, but you make a great point here. “Knowing, we need not knowledge”. That is even one of the core teachings in the Buddha’s Diamond Sutra. The dharma (teachings) are like a raft built to cross a river. But once one has crossed the river, what need is there of the raft?

      The various bodies of teaching (dharma) in Buddhism are called “Vehicles” (yāna) : Mahāyāna, Bodhisattvayāna, Vajrayāna. (The word “dharma” is connected to our word “dogma”). As “vehicles”, they are considered temporary and transient conveyances. Once one has reached the “Promised Land”, what need does one have of the vehicle? Therefore, the fully enlightened mind can seem very irreligious and blasphemous indeed, for he no longer needs the “vehicle” (religion) that brought him to this “Promised Land”. As you know, blasphemy, heresy, or being irreligious are charges often brought against the Sufi masters, such as the martyred Halaj. Rumi is also quite irreligious. He had transcended religion. That’s proved by the composition of the many who came to his funeral. It is said that Jews, Muslims, Christians, Zorostrians, Buddhists all came to Rumi’s funeral to show their respects. That unity is what a great and enlightened soul can accomplish just by being what he or she truly is. His very soul is the force of integration and integrity.

      • Scott Preston says :

        I might add to this: as children, we need the authority of our parents in order to learn how to function and manipulate in reality and society. But someone who merely remains a child eventually becomes childish. The child is expected to mature, and to come to think for himself/herself and become a responsible and autonomous adult — mature.

        So it is with religion. It can carry you only so far — to the threshold. That is its purpose. A man or woman is supposed to wrestle and struggle with their religion for that is spiritual maturation. A man who does not grow into spiritual maturity by wrestling with the spirit, as Jacob did in the Bible, but who merely clings to belief and religion makes no spiritual progress, and is like the child who cannot leave his parents, but always remains a child.

        It is interesting, then, that Rumi never speaks of God as “Father”, but always as “the Friend” and in terms of “friendship”. Not the parent-child relationship, but friendship is Rumi’s great ideal, for true friendship is pure, whereas the parent-child relationship is also beset with struggle and strife, and one is expected to outgrow it. Friendship is spiritual maturity.

  7. abdul monem says :

    Only what is infinite in us will remain, that is to say, only what is infinite in us ever really existed. Only in my presence in the vast one, my limitation disappear in the vastness forever.

    • Scott Preston says :

      This has the makings of a beautiful mantra

      Only what is infinite in me will remain
      Only what is infinite in me ever really existed
      Only in my presence in the vast One
      Will my limitation disappear in the vastness forever.

      “The end result which shamans like don Juan Matus sought for their disciples was a realization which, by its simplicity, is so difficult to attain: that we are indeed beings that are going to die. Therefore, the real struggle of man is not the strife with his fellowmen, but with infinity, and this is not even a struggle; it is, in essence, an acquiescence. We must voluntarily acquiesce to infinity. In the description of sorcerers, our lives originate in infinity, and they end up wherever they originated: infinity.”

      In one of his books, Seth also suggested an exercise: imagine the boundaries of oneself expanding outwards to fill the universe. Since the ego nature cannot really think in terms of infinity, one has to feel or intuit it, so the ego nature is, in a sense, subdued by its meeting with infinity.

      This is the beauty of Rumi’s poem “Say I am You”

      I am dust particles in sunlight,
      I am the round sun.
      To the bits of dust I say, Stay.
      To the sun, Keep moving.
      I am morning mist,
      and the breathing of evening.
      I am wind in the top of a grove,
      and surf on the cliff.
      Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,
      I am also the coral reef they founder on.
      I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.
      Silence, thought, and voice.
      The musical air coming through a flute,
      a spark of stone, a flickering
      in metal. Both candle,
      and the moth crazy around it.
      Rose, and the nightingale
      lost in the fragrance.
      I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,
      the evolutionary intelligence, the lift,
      and the falling away. What is,
      and what isn’t. You who know
      Jelaluddin, You the one
      in all, say who
      I am. Say I
      am You.

  8. abdul monem says :

    I am god in disguise, if only I discard the veil of the ego consciousness. Life is meaningless and unreal, unless it shaped in the service of the eternal one.

  9. abdul monem says :

    That is the meaning of surrender, as was understood by Goethe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: