My thoughts this stormy, blustery morning come like the wind, in gusts and like the devil winds — in no particular order and perhaps with no common theme. They take me by surprise, push me around or swirl me about, and then drop me like a dry leaf. Uncanny (but beguiling) how my mental mood this morning resembles the weather “out there”.
So, here they are, also coming in gusts and bursts… random early morning thoughts and impressions in a storm.
In the last post, I attempted to show that “the West” as used by politicians and punditry (including and especially, perhaps, neo-conservatives like Niall Ferguson or Samuel Huntington) is really a fatal confusion — one that tends towards an absolutist, totalitarian politics in its very conception. This is, in essence, the “dictatorship of reason in the West” that is the thesis of John Ralston Saul’s book Voltaire’s Bastards and The Unconscious Civilization.
I attempted to show, following Rosenstock-Huessy’s approach, that what is called “the West” isn’t a unitary entity or civilization at all, but a more or less stable equilibrium of four, more often than not, contradictory streams of influence — the Tribal, the Greek, the Roman, and the Judeo-Christian (Abrahamic), and that these influences persist in the form of social archetypes — the Poet, the Philosopher, the Politician, and the Priest, or in the institutions associated with these types.
Many people use the term “the West” or “Western civilisation” as if they actually knew what it meant. Politicians especially love to speak of “the West,” not just as a political entity but even as a quasi-mystical or mythical being. The Buddhist has the sangha, the muslim has the ummah, the Christian has the oikoumenē. The politician, however, has “the West” and speaks of it in much the same way.
Not only does the politician not have a sniff of a clue what he’s talking about, he actually imposes upon us a falsehood. The politician does so for one reason — to make us governable. His especial interest is in winning power and authority and in the exercise of that power and authority. If a lie will accomplish that better than a truth, then the lie will always be preferred to the truth. The lie is simply called “political truth”. What is “political truth”? It is a lie designed to make us governable. But a lie which, in the end, corrupts us all.
It occurs to me this morning, following an exchange of commentary with LittleBigMan under the posting “The Outlaw Spirit: Giordano Bruno”, that comparing the meaning of “empathy” and “telepathy” is a very excellent way of approaching the fundamental paradox of existence — the identity of the one and the many, or unity of opposites — and of the meaning of the Heraclitean Logos — which is the unity or identity of the universal and the individual or, how the universal becomes presence or is re-presented in the individuated as “the You of you”.
So, in discussing the meaning of empathy and telepathy, and the relationship between them, I hope you’ll come to a better appreciation, not only of the meaning of the Heraclitean Logos, but also of the reality of your own “intuitive self” — this self which has been forced into the background of the modern identity by the cogito, or mental-rational consciousness structure, where it has become “the unconscious” or “the occult”.
I awoke this morning to a very interesting article by Sandra Laville in The Guardian newspaper entitled “Designing out crime in Scandanavia” — a report on how attempts are being made in some Scandanavian countries to inject values of “openness, democracy and empathy” right into architecture and urban design.
Leaving aside, for the moment, whether that “injection” is even feasible, I want to highlight this article for what it says about the theme of my last few posts on “empathetic epistemics”, and the very different philosophy and outlook that underlies this approach (right down to the twinkle in the architect’s eye that Laville deems important enough to recollect for us).
Nothing seems more remote and unlikely today than the “revolt of the masses“. We are more accustomed, rather, to seeing apathy, indifference, complacency, or malaise as the mood and condition of society at our “end of history”.
I have read dozens of books purporting to diagnose the numerous crises besetting democracy and the society of Late Modernity. They have all been good and useful, as far as they went. John Ralston Saul’s Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West is another in that line of books, and he has some interesting things to add to the debate about the direction (or lack of direction) of the society of Late Modernity.
In general, though, they all approach the issue from the same angle — the isolation and identification of the objective indicators of civilisational decay and decline, while ricocheting off the inner dynamic and the really vital issue — the demoralisation of the civilisation of Late Modernity. Ralston Saul’s large book could have been much shorter and more to the point had he actually named the problem he seeks to tackle — demoralisation.
I think, for the benefit of those who have come late to The Chrysalis I might take this opportunity to explain why I hold that we are presently in a “pre-revolutionary situation”, as I’ve stated in some postings past. I agree largely with Robert David Steele’s analysis and characterisation of the global situation, and agree also that the only thing really lacking at this time is the “precipitant”, or tipping-point, or “omega point”, or what Steele calls “the Tunisian fruit-seller” moment, in reference to the young man whose self-immolation precipitated the uprising called “the Arab Spring”.
So, this post is a further elaboration on a comment I gave in reply to alex jay in the previous post, and it should be considered in reference to that comment on the evident precursors — or the presence of ” the anomalous” — that bespeak a growing dissonance between our consciousness (our self-understanding) and our cosmos (or reality) that must become rectified.
To put that another way: the anomalous is the ominous.