The Future of Man’s Possible Evolution
These are very strange, turbulent times; quite unprecedented in some ways. In some ways, also, not so unprecedented. We call such moments and times “pivotal”, which is to say crucial or critical. Past and future, new and old (or “neo-” and “paleo-“), origin and destiny, come into decisive confrontation and conflict. Many paths open up, leading in different directions, all of them contending for our loyalties and for “hearts and minds”.
The ballyhoo of competing propagandas for this way of life or that way of life is an omen, not of the “end of history” so much as of the breakdown and disintegration of the human form — the human psycho-spiritual configuration or “gestalt”, if you will. Eric Kahler calls it “the breakdown of the human form” in his book The Tower and the Abyss. Jean Gebser describes it as the disintegration of a consciousness structure in his book The Ever-Present Origin. It’s called “crisis of identity” in other circles. Nietzsche described it in terms of nihilism and the death of God. It has also been called “post-modern condition” and “end of the Grand Narrative”. It was the theme of W.B. Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming“.
The “times are out of joint”. What do these things mean?
The whole period of the World Wars, 1914 – 1945, constituted a revolution in human affairs. I don’t believe that we have yet caught up with the meaning of this period. We always seem to come to ourselves too late. It nonetheless was anticipated by Nietzsche as belonging to his “two centuries of nihilism” — decoherence and disintegration of the human form as a prelude to…. X.
Nietzsche nonetheless ardently hoped that this “X” — the unknown possible human — would be the spiritually awakened “overman” — a new psycho-spiritual configuration, “the free spirit” — as a kind of resurrection after the death of God and the crucifixion of the human form that is his “two centuries of nihilism” and the dark night of the soul.
The “overman”, or transhuman — the fully self-overcome human who even in some ways has ceased to be “human, all-too-human” — was also anticipated as a possibility of X by others. Sri Aurobindo referred to it as the “supramental consciousness”. Jean Geber, of course, anticipated it as the emergence of “the integral consciousness“. In Jung, it is the fully realised Jungian “Self”. Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy simply referred to it as “metanoia“, or “new mind”.
This is one pathway, but it is not the only path that is opening up. There are many other probabilities, and the point is that each will be attempted. Many paths will begin and end in desolation and an evolutionary dead-end. There will not be one “human race” per se, but multiple threads and identities, human gestalts, and “species of consciousness”. We are already seeing the divergence, are we not? We are already seeing “cyborgians” and various man-machine hybrids as one example. Gender pluralism is another. Genetic modification is yet another likely probability.
The implications of the “end of the Grand Narrative” is a crisis of identity, and the crisis of identity is a symptom of the disintegration and breakdown of the human form, by which I mean the psycho-spiritual configuration or pattern hitherto called “Man” or “person”. This psycho-spiritual configuration is the meaning of Man, or what some are pleased to call “human nature”. Identity, however, is not fixed. It is merely a definition to which we subscribed and conformed, and that subscription was called “the Grand Narrative”. At root, nihilism is the disintegration of the human form (the human mold or human archetype or psycho-spiritual “gestalt”) and the dissolution of a singular narrative of identity. “Human” has become contested territory. “Human” has become liquid.
Under circumstances of widespread identity confusion, it is necessary to guard against attempts to seduce the human psycho-spiritual configuration or lure identity into new, limiting forms or definitions, or what is called “pigeon-holing”, which is the current function of much propaganda. Much contemporary propaganda is the attempt to manipulate and control the meaning of “Man” or “human”, and thus the identity, and the focus and spectrum of possible human perception. This is what I’ve referred to as “the foreign installation” in the past. It is what William Blake called “the mind-forg’d manacles”.
No one definition of “human” is likely to prevail in the future. There will be different experiments in the psycho-spiritual configuration; different “time threads”, or pathways through time, different arrangements of the psychic furniture, as it were. Different combinations and configurations of Blake’s “Zoas”, perhaps — the constituents of the psychic whole. Some will bear fruit and others will be fruitless. Some will be healthy and others will be dead-ends. All the pathways of possible human evolution and the possible human will be attempted at once and co-exist.
It will be a strange world.