Something about the comment thread in the last post on myth and history has suggested to me that I post something further about the meaning of “enantiodromia” and the panta rhei of Heraclitus. “Enantiodromia” was a term invented by the depth psychologist Carl Jung, following Heraclitus, to describe a reversal at the extremity, or how actions turn into their ostensible opposites.
Once upon a time, it was de regueur for the loyalists of liberal democracy to mock dictatorship (and particularly the Soviet Union at the time) for being “afraid of the little mouse of thought”. In fact, it was taken as the very essence of dictatorship that the dictator was deeply afraid of “the little mouse of thought”.
Given McCarthyism, COINTELPRO and the well-documented covert operations (“black ops”) against dissidents in the US and elsewhere, the accusation was always more than a bit disingenuous, duplicitous, and hypocritical. But it is also self-revealing of the state of uneasiness, insecurity, paranoia and simply the bad conscience of the ruling powers.
If there is anyone I hold in lower regard than George W. Bush (and possibly even lower than Canada’s current Prime Minister Stephen Harper), it is former “New Labour” Party leader and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. On occasion, I allow myself some latitude to indulge in repugnance and disdain for the “celebrated” (and it’s not as if my posts are entirely free of that mood of disdain).
So it is with a feeling somewhat akin to nausea that I read in today’s Guardian the completely indigestible views of Mr. “Born-Again” Tony Blair on the links between violence and religion (“Extremist religion is at root of 21st-century wars, says Tony Blair“).
Delirium: (n) A sporadic or temporary mental disturbance associated with fever, intoxication, shock, or injury and marked by restlessness, excitement, hallucinations, and general incoherence (< de — down, away + lira — furrow, track)
Reading Zygmunt Bauman’s Liquid Modernity (which I recommend, and which is available for download online as mentioned in a comment in the last post) brought to mind an exchange of emails I once had with a professor at Harvard. He had written an interesting piece for a journal that specialised in the history and philosophy of science and technology — an area I’m particularly interested in — and in it he addressed the dichotomisation of reality and of the modern mind. I emailed him seeking clarification of some of his points.
For months, now, I’ve been having the same strange and bewildering dream, over and over again, although it keeps shifting its format and mode of presentation and representation. It’s a dream of the integral consciousness structure, and it keeps recurring as though trying to make itself understood or comprehensible to my mind. I’ve posted nothing on this to date because it seemed too indeterminate and in continual flux. There was simply nothing I could say about it that wouldn’t appear contradictory or a confused jumble of impressions.
But last night, something of an image suggested itself in yet another repeat of my dream of the integral, and I’m feeling bold enough — or foolish enough — to try to put it into words even though, to my grammatically-oriented mind, the vision seems quite unarticulated and incoherent itself.
Once upon a time there was a man who desired enlightenment, and he sought the opinions of some known Zen masters in order to become illuminated about enlightenment. The first Zen master he talked to told him that the essence of the way of Zen was “to eat when hungry, drink when thirsty, sleep when tired.” This puzzled him. He decided to get a second opinion. So, he consulted another noted Zen master, and this Zen master told him that the way of the master was “he eats, though he is not hungry; he drinks, though he is not thirsty; he sleeps, though he is not tired.” After this, he became even more conflicted and confused.
He need not be. Both Zen masters were correct, paradoxical as it may seem. This is a story about being and having and of the very roots of man’s existence in desire and desiring. For man is born of desire and as himself desire, the desirable, and the desiring. Desire is the very engine of life, of evolution (and of revolution, too), although it is quite impermissible to say so in our present subjectless, unconscious, and dissociated scientistic culture.