Archive | April 2015

Return of the Native

The great Victorian novelist Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928, and I really love his writings) published a book around 1878 entitled The Return of the Native. Nietzsche was writing at the same time about the re-emergence of the Dionysian consciousness, while Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894)  published his novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1886, which had come to him as a dream. The Late Victorian period was a strange, strange time, in that respect. The stifling emphasis on propriety and decorum and even priggishness (which we refer to as “Victorianism”) was really an overcompensation for this fearful irruption of the orgiastic pagan or “return of the native”. Hardy, Nietzsche, Stevenson were only the consciousness or heralds of this incipient return of the pagan or Dionysian, along with its destructive power exercised against all the formalities, orders, institutions which had kept it suppressed and repressed (including the Church).

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Science and the Return of Magic

Once more, I want to touch upon a subject that I took up a while ago in The Chrysalis as an all-important historical episode in the origins of the Modern Era and its characteristic consciousness structure (ergo, mode of perception — the perspectival). I’m referring to a decision made by one of the “founding fathers” of science (and modernity more broadly), Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626), in assessing the relative merits of “science or magic” for the human conquest and mastery of Nature. Bacon is the source of that motto “scientia potens est” (“knowledge is power”) which even came to adorn the logo for the very controversial (even perverse) Total Information Awareness project.

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The Veil

The veil and wearing the veil or niqab has become somewhat controversial in Western societies, with even attempts to ban it by law in some places. Westerners have, somewhat hypocritically, an especial antipathy to veils and veiling, which arouses suspicion about someone having something to hide. Ironically, some Muslims feel the same way about Westerners who wear perfumes and scents. We might find it humorous when Rumi repeatedly states that he knows someone by their fragrance or odour, but there’s good reason for that. The nose knows, as it were.

The Westerner “knows” by the perspectivising eye, and the Sufi “knows” by the intimacy of smell. There’s lots of opportunity for mutual misunderstanding there. Basically, it goes back again to the invention of perspective. Perspectivism or perspective illusionism was banned in Muslim countries as “competing with God”. It was equated with making images or idols. The emphasis in knowing remained on the other senses, whereas it shifted to the eye in Modern Era. “Seeing  is believing” doesn’t necessarily make sense to someone from the Middle East who knows the dangers of the mirage.
A perspective painting is also a mirage.

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Natural Selection versus Divine Election, III

I think this  issue is important enough to spend a little more time on, in the interests of greater clarity. I made some further attempts at clarification in the comments section of the first post on this topic, in response to a comment by LittleBigMan.

Now, the qualities of a good, robust model of logic is that it should account for all human experience, not just a sliver of the full spectrum of that experience. It should be complete, by which I mean, it should form a holon. Present evolutionary theory, with its emphasis on natural selection, is not complete. Nor is Ken Wilber’s AQAL (All Quadrants, All Levels) model of logic. They invite controversy and contradiction by their very omissions.

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Natural Selection versus Divine Election, II

If evolutionary change is the response of an organism or species to its changing circumstances, then it’s not too difficult to see the stimulus for the “mutation” in the structure of consciousness that Jean Gebser and others call the “irruption” of a new “integral consciousness”. That changed circumstance is the emergence, since around the First World War, of the Global Era thanks to technologies of communication and transportation (particularly, earlier, radio and air transport). This “ensemble” of such technologies (to employ a term used by Jacques Ellul) have more or less displaced both Nature and Nation by throwing a net over the planet and constructing a new milieu or environment, which now demands of us a new response.

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Natural Selection vs. Divine Election

There is little that irks me more, or that I find more tedious, than this useless controversy about evolution or creationism. Here again, the human brain seems congenitally stupid, incapable of thinking beyond simple dualisms, whereas the truth of the matter is simultaneously more complex and yet also more simple. In a lot of cases, too, “evolutionists” have simply made a surrogate religion of “natural selection”, “random mutation”, and adaptation. “The world created the brain”, writes one.

Nonsense. That’s just sloppy thinking. That’s just dogma, and even an applied willful ignorance.

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Sentience: The Ghost in the Machine

You probably have all heard the phrase “the ghost in the machine”? It was also the title of a book by Arthur Koestler on the problem of mind-body dualism (which I have yet to read, I must confess).

The ghost in the machine is a reference to Cartesian metaphysical dualism — spirit-matter, or mind-body — which introduced the dichotomy that has more or less plagued the Modern Era since its conception. One fork of the dichotomy led to Hegel (idealism and nationalism) and the other fork of the dilemma led to Marx (inverted Hegelianism, materialism, communism). Also individualism versus collectivism.

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