The Balance of an Idea: Multiformity and Realisation
Once again I will remind that it is advisable to have first read the previous two posts (“The House of Stone and Light” and “The Balance of an Idea: Mandala and Pyramid“) before diving into this one, as some concepts presented here probably won’t be understandable without reference to concepts presented earlier.
I trust that, by now, the essential problem of the mental-rational consciousness structure (particularly in its later stages of self-articulation) is apparent. While powerful in its focus, it is also negligent of vast domains or other dimensions of reality. Given it’s shape and focus, it is inherently sectoralising or compartmentalising, but then holds what it beholds as being all reality. In this bias, there is a certain latent tendency also toward totalitarianism.
We can, perhaps appreciate this problem of comparmentalisation and sectoralisation better by comparing, once again, the “shape” of the modern mind with the mandala structure (towards which the new “integral consciousness” is presently stumbling, fumbling, and groping). Here once again is the premier symbol of the mental-rational consciousness, which people associate with Freemasonry or the “Illuminati” (ie, the European Enlightenment),
By way of contrast, we’ll reference the mandala symbols of the Sacred Hoop of the North American Plains Indians along with an illustration from the German mystic Jakob Boehme
The triadic or pyramid structure is now seen as being a constituent part of the mandala, but not identical with it. This is what I intend to be understood by “sectoralisation” and also as the problem of reductionism. While the “cone of vision” or perspectivising mode of perception is quite valid, in claiming exclusivity it induces a condition of dismemberment and dissociation from the whole. It is an over-specialisation in one direction or dimension of reality which recalls to mind the title of one of Herbert Marcuse’s books, One Dimensional Man. To cite William Blake, once again, the mandala represents “fourfold vision” , while the pyramid represents “single vision”.
You will also note the position of the eye in both instances. In the one, it is at the apex of the pyramid. It is not only a very hierarchical position, but also a domineering one. In Boehme’s illustration, the illuminated and illuminating eye is at the centre of a cross formed by the German words for the four primal elements — earth, air, fire, water. The eye now sees in all four directions, and yet, at the same time, it also occupies the vertex of four distinct triads. This is the paradoxical character of Boehme’s “eye”, in that it is both whole and yet single. The eye is both at the same time, both holistic and yet also partial.
It is this that underlies Arthur I. Miller’s Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung. The “cosmic number” of the pyramid-form is 3, and things are clustered in 3s: “length, breadth, depth” (the three dimensions of space); “thesis, antithesis, and synthesis” (dialectics), “liberty, equality, fraternity” of the French Revolution, (or contrariwise, the fascist’s “work, family, nation”). With Einstein’s “discovery” of the fourth dimension, time, the “cosmic number” is now 4, which has become a problem for the mental-rational consciousness. The shift in the cosmic number from 3 to 4 is at the root of a lot of the “culture war” of our time and of intimations of a “new age” in the process of unfolding.
Miller, I think, intuits this very well. As an historian of the mental rational consciousness or modern intellectual history, he followed up his Deciphering the Cosmic Number with Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time and the Beauty That Causes Havoc. Picasso was the artist of the fourfold vision, or what Gebser referred to as “the aperspectival“.
(By the addition of time as a dimension of reality, also, we are leaving behind the long age of the the dominance of the Greek philosopher Parmenides and entering the age of his philosophical foe, Heraclitus).
It is also of interest to note that the centre of the cross formed by the Sacred Hoop is not occupied by an eye, but by the voice that befits cultures that are largely ear-oriented or oral. The ear is the organ of knowing, rather than the eye. This is represented in the phrase “to speak from the centre of the voice” is to speak from the centre of the Sacred Hoop, and thereby integrate the four directions. Speech — grammatical, articulating speech — rather than the eye is central to both the Sacred Hoop and to Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality“.
The mandala is, in essence, a map of the idea. Ideas are real entities. They are multidimensional or multiform entities. Grammar is, in effect, a mandala and is generative (the fuller meaning of which we will touch on later). That an idea has an implicit multiform or multi-dimensional and fourfold structure you know, but perhaps have not reflected on much. But when we speak of it “all coming together” (which is the meaning of “conceive” — to grasp together or “coming together”) in that “Eureka!” moment is when the idea is “conceived” in its essential wholeness and in respect of all its aspects, and those aspects achieve balance.
An idea has an implicit fourfold structure for one simple reason: the realisation of an idea is the meaning of history. History is the story of realisation. In order to become real or “get real” (as we understand “reality”) something must “take time” in order to “take place” at all. “Taking time” and “taking place”, as the meaning of realisation or actualisation, (or “eventuating”) is owing to the fact that “real” refers to the matrix of time and space. Time and space are fourfold: times past and future, and spaces inner and outer. In terms of the Sacred Hoop, for example, the times are symbolised by the cardinal points East and West (the path of the sun from dawn to dusk), while the spaces are symbolised in the cardinal points North and South.
So the mandala is not just a model of reality. It is a map of the “idea” of reality itself as it manifests or achieves self-realisation in time and space. Once conceived, an idea seeks full realisation of all its dimensions or aspects in time and space, and becomes “concrete” or mature only when it comes to its fullest expression in time and space, or what is called “fulfillment”. It assumes “factuality” only when it acquires a past and a future and is also represented as “value” and as a “fact” — objectively.
Any great idea has an implicit fourfold structure. We can describe these aspects in terms used by Rosenstock-Huessy — trajective, prejective, subjective, objective. Distortion or perversion of the idea occurs when one of these aspects is suppressed or inhibited from realisation. An idea, being an energetic entity, must be realised in all four directions of reality. For this reason, we have arts and sciences, politics and religion. For this reason, we have four types of grammatical speech — dramatics and epics, lyrics and analytics; or imperatives and narratives, optatives and indicatives. It’s “the whole idea”.
The self-realisation of an idea may take generations working in a great division of labour identified as “periods” in which one aspect of the whole idea is articulated. “Man”, as such, is an idea in the process of self-realisation. In a sense, Gebser’s four (or five) “consciousness structures” corresponding to civilisational types are aspects of the idea of Man in process of self-expression or self-realisation, and as the limit of his self-understanding at any particular time in history. Rosenstock-Huessy put it more imaginatively perhaps when he suggested that “man is God’s poem”, and the final lines have yet to be written. The real maturation of the idea depends on its being successfully articulated in all four directions of the cross of reality. “Realisation” has no other meaning.
So… so much for Fukuyama’s “end of history”, which would imply the full self-realisation of the idea of Man, and that’s simply not the case. It would mean that the “idea of Man” has arrived at its final form.
The purpose of the ego function is to articulate and distribute the idea in the four directions — backwards, forwards, inwards, outwards — which is also the function of grammatical speech, and those functions become expressed as arts and sciences, politics and religion. The ego nature in its grammatical or distributive function (ordering or patterning of the idea) resembles, in that respect, a prism, and it exists (when functioning properly and not narcissistically) in order to guide or induct the idea into realisation,
Here again you have that peculiar pyramid structure, while others insist, rather, that the “true self” resembles not a pyramid, but a diamond — multifaceted.
“In the beginning was the Word [Logos]” is not intelligible at all if one treats it as an historical fact. That will be the topic of the next post. Great things are possible now for the human species, if the human species doesn’t flub it totally, which, unfortunately, it presently appears hell-bent on doing.