Archive | February 2014

The Occult

The word “occult” only dates from the 16th century, according to my etymological dictionary, to describe what is veiled, hidden, concealed, unseen, or occluded. As such, “occult” signifies the contrary of revelation or the apocalyptic, which signify dramatic dis-closure or dis-covery, as the casting aside of a veil. Everything that, with the ascent of perspectivising consciousness, became “background” or “underground” fell into the shadow world of “the occult”.

What is presently called “the occult” grew up with the development of the mental-rational consciousness structure itself — as its shadow — but which has come to lead a semi-autonomous life of its own, even though it is a tacit or implicit aspect of the mental-rational consciousness itself.

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Ironic Reversal

A few months back, I posted a piece on ironic reversal at our “end of history”. In it I noted the irony of the neo-conservative thesis — an irony that seems to have been lost on its true believers — that the “end of history” could be nothing but the absolute self-negation of the modern era, modern society, and modern civilisation; that “the end of history” could be nothing but the same “post-modern condition” that they pretended to deplore when it was enunciated by others. The “end of history” thesis served to affirm and justify Margaret Thatcher’s “there is no alternative” and “there is no such thing as society”.

The ironic reversal (or enantiodromia) implied in all this is, of course, that this “end of history” along with “there is no alternative” is the self-negation and deconstruction of the liberal democracy and its values, the historical victory of which it pretended to celebrate, for it could only result in a form of totalitarianism itself. This was the irony also recognised by Nietzsche when he wrote,

“Liberal institutions cease to be liberal as soon as they are attained: later on, there are no worse and no more thorough injurers of freedom than liberal institutions.”

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Disillusionment

It says something about our narcissistic culture that “disillusionment” is considered a disease, and not cure, convalescence, and self-recovery. What’s to value about being “illusioned” in the first place? It’s the condition of illusionment that is the disease.

Disillusionment is, in fact, the very meaning of “apocalypse” as disclosure or revelation of truth. The deeper the illusion, the more shattering the truth when it finally asserts itself. This is why acknowledging truth is sometimes very painful. “The cure for the disease is in the disease” is the great Rumi’s cryptic remark about malaise and disillusionment. Illusionment is narcissism and is connected to what Ernst Becker called “the denial of death”.

Those who resist and refuse disillusionment-as-revelation are precisely those we call “denialists” and reactionaries. Embrace disillusionment. Even when it feels like death it is the dispelling of the Cloud of Unknowing.  One can even say that the “malaise of modernity” is, in fact, the experience of disillusionment.

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Life with Animals

Not always idyllic….

But then, maybe the moose just wanted to play tag.

Yes Margaret, There is a Society….

(…. and it is almost completely psychotic).

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The Grammar of Dreams

I often have strange, bizarre dreams, as I’m sure most of us have. But I’m also persuaded dreaming has an implicit grammar, and that “grammar” — and not logic — is the most appropriate way to reflect on the structure of our dreaming.

And perhaps not just our dreaming, but of our experience of ourselves and our reality more generally. Grammar rules over speech as an ecology of species and forms and of their mutual interactions and transformations  — verbs, nouns, words, names, pronouns, participles, enumeration, declensions, adverbs, persons, infinitives, prefix and suffix, definite and indefinite articles, morphemes, phonemes, etc. Dreams, likewise, have their own grammar — an implicit ecology of species and forms — in terms of images and symbols.

That is what Freud and Jung attempted to discover in their own dreams and in the dreaming of others — an implicit grammar of dreams — even if they didn’t explicitly suggest that term (or, at least, not that I recall).

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The Mark of Cain

The story of Cain and Abel in the Book of Genesis, and of how Cain slew his brother Abel and thereby became the first murderer, is something that still intrigues. All sorts of interpretations — even some purporting to be “scientific” — are on offer, and most of them are far from the mark (so to speak). Thus, in some of the more common current interpretations — the anthropological interpretations framed within the structure and horizons of the mental-rational consciousness itself — Abel the herdsman is the symbol of the pastoral civilisation that was displaced and suppressed by the agricultural and settled civilisation. Some religious interpretations are even weirder and even more pointless.

Such interpretations reveal only the mind’s tendency to merely touch upon the surface of things, and to mistake what are only secondary qualities and peripheral features as being, in fact, primary and essential.

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