The New Normal: Unreason Seizes Power

Reason and reality are related words. That relationship points to an important truth towards understanding reason and reality (or consciousness and cosmos, if we wish to put it another way). Ideally, they are best thought of in terms of husband and wife. They perform a marriage, a bond.  Their happy union is what is called “cosmic consciousness”. And the fruit and offspring of their union is called “truth”.

This marriage of reason and reality, or consciousness and cosmos, is the ultimate meaning of the hieros gamos or mysterium conjunctionis — the sacred marriage.  Of this sacred marriage, alchemy provides us with many symbols,

Hieros Gamos

Hieros Gamos


Hieros Gamos IV

There are many such images sourced from many different wisdom traditions.

Our culture is, however, “divorce culture”. We even use that term “divorced from reality” to describe madness or unreason. That is to say, “divorce” and “dualism” amount to much the same thing — the same state of affairs. By “divorce” here is meant the disintegration of the unity of existence. This divorce of reason and reality — consciousness and cosmos — was formalised in Cartesian metaphysical dualism which formally dichotomised Being into discrete subject and object states, or the extremes of Ego and It, or of spirit and matter.

The Cosmic Feminine

The Cosmic Feminine

Consciousness, or Reason, is the bridegroom. Cosmos, or Reality, is the bride. The offspring of their marriage is Truth. Unreason, or “false consciousness”, is the divorce of reason and reality. Where reason and reality, consciousness and cosmos, become divorced, truth cannot be realised.  Such a state of affairs is barren and fruitless, and we rightly call it “wasteland”.  And our culture of analysis, of nuclear fission — our dualistic “divorce culture”, if you will, of a strict “either/or” logic — simply cannot fathom the meaning of these symbolic forms.

Aion -- the Cosmic Masculine

Aion — the Cosmic Masculine

What is being called “the new normal” is the sour fruit and consequence of this dichotomising way of thinking, which we have come to call the “deficient mental-rational” consciousness in which reason decays into mere rationalisation or mere ratiocination. The elements of this “new normal” are revealing — the normalisation of double-standard, and therewith also double-talk, double-think, and double-bind.

These four aspects of the “new normal” I have previously named our own “four riders of the apocalypse” — Double-Talk, Double-Think, Double-Standard, and Double-Bind are their names. They are the elements of unreason. They are the characteristics of duplicity, and in accepting this “new normal” in those terms is to accede to the seizure of power by Unreason. This has been the trend since the First World War and modern disillusionment with the “Age of Reason”.

These “four riders” are the perverted and corrupted expression of the paradox of the fourfold human.

This way lies madness and a delirium of madness. Although there are hopeful signs that the error of centuries is now being rectified, it may come too late to redeem us from its consequences in complete disintegration– that is, “collapse”.

The divorce of reason and reality, of consciousness from cosmos, in terms of the subject-object dichotomy has been, in many ways, a disaster. The pursuit of power came at the expense of truth, in many ways. And if today truth and power are also divorced from one another, it reflects the fact that reason and reality, consciousness and cosmos, have been divided and divorced from each other at the root.

There is another term that was once used for this disintegration and dichotomisation of the integrity of being — the diabolical. That is what the word means. The diabolical is the duplicitous — the forked-tongue. Its contrary is symbolic, which means “to bring together”, which is the symbolism of the sacred marriage in which reason and reality, consciousness and cosmos, are reintegrated and are at peace.

Of course, democracy cannot survive the seizure of power by unreason. And neither will democracy survive “the new normal”.  The new normal must be revealed for what it is, and then consciously and actively repudiated for being what it is: duplicity and false consciousness.



13 responses to “The New Normal: Unreason Seizes Power”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    It is, by the way, the persistent theme of all contemporary dystopian literature — Kafka, Orwell, Huxley, etc. That theme is the seizure of power by unreason and the unreasoning pursuit of power.

  2. Scott Preston says :

    Here’s an example I just came across in today’s Guardian. James Mitchell, a psychologist, has been accused of being the CIA’s torture architect, which he does not deny. Then, towards the end of the article, he declares himself a supporter of Amnesty International (!)

    There’s something of the smell of Dostoyevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor” about Mr. Mitchell — the confusion of reason and rationalisation. It’s not the only example I could bring up either.

  3. alex jay says :

    “And if today truth and power are also divorced from one another, it reflects the fact that reason and reality, consciousness and cosmos, have been divided and divorced from each other at the root.”

    It seems apparent that lying is the “new normal” and perhaps soon will be codified in law if the current US administration gets its way (with the current bunch of Supreme Court rabble, you can bet on it) —

    • Scott Preston says :

      I’ve been marking examples of “new normal” whenever the phrase is used in the media or speeches, etc. Invariably, there is nothing positive about it (at least, so far). Even where it is not employed in a critical sense, it always refers to some lapse or decay of standards. In other words, “new normal” is a term for decadence, and the frank admission of a civilisation that no longer has the stamina or will to realise its ideals any longer. In that sense, demoralisation. The new normal is quite synonymous with what we call “nihilism”.

      You also hear it in slogans and advertising hooks like “orange is the new black”, with its barely disguised Orwellian implications.

      All sorts of things seem connected with this “new normal” — “death of God” (Nietzsche), “culture of narcissism” (Lasch), “culture of lying” (Coyne), “infantilisation” (Barber), “Dark Age” (Jane Jacobs, Morris Berman, etc), “post-modern”, and so on. The “new normal” is dystopian.

      So the corruption and perfidiousness of contemporary politics is just symptomatic of the broader issue raised by Jean Gebser — the decay, degeneration, and disintegration of the mental-rational consciousness structure into “deficient mode”, as he calls it.

      Reason reduced to rationalisation is how I’ve described that decadence, which is simply the attempt to justify duplicity.

      Of course, it’s hard to see in the dynamics of this “new normal” any outcome except a catastrophe in the making. Still, you have thinkers like Jean Gebser, Aurobindo, Chaudhuri — even Nietzsche, in his terms — who see in this catastrophe-in-the-making, in the very midst of this “new normal”, a positive development, too — the birth pangs also of a new consciousness structure. Gebser calls this “the integral” of course. Aurobindo called it “the supra-mental”. Even Rosenstock referred to it as a ‘metanoia’ or “new mind”. Nietzsche heralded it as the “transhuman”. And, of course, so does Seth.

      Not that it’s a guaranteed development. It could be abortive. If it is abortive, though, the outcome is pretty clear — “the end of this earth and its mankind” (Gebser) or “the race, as such, will not endure” (Seth).

      The “new normal” is the realisation of an old adage that “time makes hypocrites of us all”. That’s another way of saying “loss of integrity” or disintegration. But rather than seek to overcome this situation, we “adjust” to it or resign ourselves to it in an irresponsible sort of way as being “just the way things are” or “the natural order of things”.

      Always with the abnormal and the deviant the situation is ambiguous, contradictory, paradoxical. The only question we can put to it is “is it living or is it dying”? In some ways, the zombie image represents this ambiguity of the living and the dead — the ambiguity contained in the term “creative destruction”, for example. It’s both true and false at the same time.

      As mentioned before, that’s the ambiguity in the Dance of Shiva the Destroyer — it is also a dance of creation. It is both: apocalyptic and nihilistic, the synchronicity of life and death, the coincidence of regeneration and decay. “Nirvana and samsara are the same”, as Nagarjuna put it. Our logic, however, doesn’t accommodate such paradoxes or the coincidence of opposites or enantiodromia.

      Rosenstock attempted to restore vitality to reason by restoring the centrality of the paradoxical to consciousness. In the same way, Gebser sought to overcome dualism by recognising, instead, the essential polarity of all processes (ie, the paradoxical), and so Athena and the Gorgon are one and the same, as Hades and Dionysus were one and the same for Heraclitus.

      “There is nothing good or evil but thinking makes it so” is an old saying, but it’s only a partial interpretation. Its the essential polarity in things. Everything has this polarity — “heaven in a Wild Flower and Eternity in the hour”, as Blake put it equally — the coincidence of the infinite and the finite is this polarity, or the immortal with the mortal form.

      The “peace that surpasseth understanding” is to perceive the simultaneity of this, that the ostensibly contradictory are not contradictory at all — “Heaven in a Wild Flower”, “Eternity in the hour”, “Nirvana and Samsara are the same”

    • Scott Preston says :

      “New normal” also has some additional meanings — uncertainty, perplexity, disorientation, loss of familiar horizons of existence, drift. Old values being emptied of meaning.

      It can not only mean a devaluation of values, but also a revaluation of values.

  4. abdulmonem says :

    For the last forty years I have been studying the Quran as a guidelines for understanding the conduct of both the universe and the human. On both counts I found that both spheres are constructed on the premise that the truth embodied in both areas are to be revealed. On the universe side the energy theory ( the consciousness theory) is coming close to understand that there is an undecipherable energy behind all the entities that populate the universe, it activates it ,affirms it and demolish it. it is basic message is moral not epistemic, because the divine words are limitless and beyond the human grasp, and that shows us the vast sea of some of the divine words that we are already sinking in. On the human side the divorce of the human soul from the body is challenged everywhere and the divorce of human consciousness from the divine consciousness is no longer acceptable. A catastrophe in the making is showing itself everywhere. It is a race to the bottom. This is not pessimism, it is a cycle that strikes when lies, oppression and injustice become the norm and there is no sign that the human is capable of rectifying the sickness. No wonder some are talking of the coming extinction, there are so many extinctions cited by the Quran as a reminders, but alas no ears to hear and no eyes to see and no hearts to reason. Once we trade our humanity for expediency, our value for price, our morality for legality. our allegiance for god/ the truth, to flags,countries and others modern pagan gods, the clouds of doom are liable to crowd our beautiful horizon. Loving one country is no cause for injustice. It is pathetic to torture somebody under your roof. The sickness is far beyond the sick Michel. Love is justice, saying otherwise is a felony. Our world is a den for fascists and liars under the banner of democracy. Correction is an artistic endeavor. All prophets are artists in their spheres. I conclude by quoting Allen Ginsberg, the words are our psychic now, whoever controls the language, the image control the race and thus god programmed the movement of correctional changes on words, images carried by devout artists.

    • Scott Preston says :

      it is a cycle that strikes when lies, oppression and injustice become the norm and there is no sign that the human is capable of rectifying the sickness

      It certainly seems so. I keep thinking back to the meaning of the Hindu’s “carriage of Jagannath” — a blind, indifferent force crushing everything in its path, and then I recall also Heidegger’s seemingly despairing remark that “only a god can save us now”. Nietzsche’s anticipation of “two centuries of nihilism” reminds of the carriage of Jagannath.

      But then I recall the German poet Hölderlin’s remark: “Where the peril is greatest, there lies the saving grace also” and that recalls Rumi’s remark: “the cure for the disease is in the disease”. And that is also Gebser’s “double-movement” of the times; or, as Heraclitus also put it “the road up and the road down are one and the same”.

  5. LittleBigMan says :

    This past Friday, at lunch with four of my colleagues, one of my colleagues astonished me by acting in the same exact way she has been known for despising in those that have the power. Remembering her behavior and the behavior of many others around me has convinced me that not only unreason has seized power, but this unreason has become or about to become us.

    If Agent Smith is the face of “Unreason” and “Neo” the face of what is moral and reasonable, then this scene from The Matrix demonstrates how “Unreason” will meet its own end:

    I’m not surprised that James Mitchell is defending his torture techniques and at the same time our highest courts are thinking of ways to protect lies told by the elite. It’s all a defensive mechanism. The Unreason will meet its end. I just don’t think I’ll be around to see its magnificent fall.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Far more surprising for me (well, maybe not that surprising after all) is the irony of Mr. Mitchell defending his torture practices while at the same time expressing his support for Amnesty International. The Jekyll and Hyde character of his thinking and conduct seems to be lost on him. That is unreason, something Gebser referred to as “compartmentalisation”, and as a deep sign of dis-integration of the modern consciousness structure.

      It’s not the only example either. It’s very widespread, and is particularly striking in the fascist mentality. Viereck notes this in his book Metapolitics: The Roots of the Nazi Mind: “The need of so many Germans for excessive outer order, whether barracks or filing systems, is caused by their dark half-awareness of their excessive inner disorder”, which is but another way of stating the Jekyll and Hyde self-contradiction.

      The Nazis made a big deal out of how Germany represented the “Power of Order” against the “Powers of Disorder” — the outside world. So, you see in that also the workings of “projection”, as the psychoanalysts call it — the truth about ourselves which can’t be admitted to consciousness lest it shatter the self-image. It gets worrisome when I hear the same kind of talk from Mr. Harper, about how Canadians are “surrounded by a sea of troubles”. Actually it’s Mr. Harper who is our sea of trouble.

      The pattern is familiar. The more chaotic and confused the inner world (one might even say debased and depraved) the more we insist on outward forms of “law & order”, of punishment, or the discipline of uniforms and ranks and files, titles and honours and formalities, regimentation and controls which come to serve as masks. Any kind of spontaneity is forbidden. All kinds of dissembling become mandatory.

      • LittleBigMan says :

        “The more chaotic and confused the inner world (one might even say debased and depraved) the more we insist on outward forms of “law & order”, of punishment, or the discipline of uniforms and ranks and files, titles and honours and formalities, regimentation and controls which come to serve as masks.”

        This is truly what has happened around me; I mean with the “titles and honours and formalities” having been bestowed upon some of the foulest personalities I have seen. Just like genuine democracy that cannot be simply transferred and it has to come into existence via organic, gradual, and evolutionary process, the current reign of the “unreason” must’ve also come into being organically (through osmosis), gradually, and an evolutionary process through which the shadow personalities have learned to express themselves through deception (e.g. James Mitchell).

        It seems to me that the unreason will spread far and wide before it begins to collapse.

  6. abdulmonem says :

    When the inner world of the human gets debased and corrupted. all external mode of repair will not solve the malady. Internal sicknesses requires internal antidotes. The most efficient self-rectification is that which is done in front of the hidden god, that is in front of the self self.

    • Scott Preston says :

      It was the role of the “Confessional” in the Christian culture to perform this. What is interesting to note is that “confessional” is the exact opposite of the tendency to disguise oneself or to wear a mask. One must assume that this latter tendency is also associated with Nietzsche’s “death of God”. In other words, the confessional was the anti-dote to the narcissistic.

  7. abdulmonem says :

    Exactly but confession in front of god and not in front of another person, to be followed by self-transformation to serve the purpose of the confession.

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