He Sowed the Dragon’s Teeth

“Where Man is not, Nature is barren” — William Blake, The Proverbs of Hell

But also where the human is, Nature is barren also. The ambiguity in this situation is the result of a perversion of reason. The human has become a super-predator. This was not the intention. Blake is quite right. So is the Book of Genesis in stating that reason was intended to subdue and pacify the raging typhoons and torrents of space and time, and so to sow concord rather than discord. This is the myth of the “lyre of Orpheus”, which is grammatical speech. But, instead, we have become Cadmus, who sowed the dragon’s teeth.  Cadmus is quite likely the alter-ego of Orpheus.

Reason is the lyre of Orpheus. To be more precise, grammatical, articulating speech is the lyre of Orpheus — “the music that soothes the savage breast”.  Articulating and eloquent speech, which is reason, is the “music” that bends the ears of space and time. That’s the magical power of grammar, which is why the word “grammar” (as “grammarye”) was associated with magic and enchantment — a “glamour” means “magic spell” and it is derived from the word “grammar” itself.

When my Lakota friends here speak of the ideal man or woman as one who “speaks from the centre of the voice”, and thus from the very centre of the Sacred Hoop (or so-called “Medicine Wheel”), this is also a reference to the Lyre of Orpheus. The four directions of the Sacred Hoop, North and South, East and West, who are the Guardians of the Four Directions, are also the Titans of old — the powers of space and time, of times past and times future; of spaces inner and spaces outer. “The Sacred Hoop is in language” say the Old Ones. That’s another way of saying “grammar”. Grammar is the representation of the Heraclitean Logos.

In their “natural” estate the powers of space and time are forever at war with each other. They are in a state of discord. They were the elements Earth, Air, Fire, and Water to the pre-Socratics, and the chronicles of the pre-Socratic philosophers documented their contentions and antipathies, and their intellectual quest for the integrating principle in the mysterious quintessence or “fifth element” that ruled them all. Heraclitus identified this pacifying and integrating element as the Logos. But, for all intents and purposes, the Logos was identical with the Lyre of Orpheus. St. John identified the Logos as “The Word” — Christ consciousness. Christ Consciousness is also the voice that speaks from the centre of the Sacred Hoop, and so is also Lyre of Orpheus.

Agnus Dei: Christian Mandala of the Fourfold Self

Agnus Dei: Christian Mandala of the Fourfold Self

This should not be too difficult for us to comprehend. Even today, we are faced with the problem of reconciling the four fundamental cosmic forces — electro-magnetism, gravitation, the strong and the weak nuclear force — in an elusive “integral theory”; the Logos or “quintessence” once again.  This is the ever-present and “pre-existing pattern” of which Gebser wrote in his book The Ever-Present Origin. The Logos and the “Lyre of Orpheus” are the same.

Cadmus, I have suggested, is the contrary factor — the sower of discord. He sowed the dragon’s teeth and up sprang armed men who immediately set to fighting each other over a jewel Cadmus threw into their midst. Our reason now resembles the dragon’s teeth more than it does the Lyre of Orpheus — disintegrative (discordant) rather than integrative (and concordant). Is this not reflected even in our politics, which has become merely “war by other means”? This is what Gebser also calls “the mental-rational structure of consciousness now functioning in deficient mode”.  It is the analytical attitude carried too far which has dissolved and disassembled the Sacred Hoop and the Cross of Reality.

So, you can think of the “Cross of Reality”, as discussed in previous posts, as akin to the Lyre of Orpheus, and of the grammatical method as the score for the music. “Synchronisation of antagonistic distemporaries”, what Rosenstock-Huessy describes his method as being, is concordance, leading towards a convivium.

Everyone of us is Orpheus. But also a Cadmus as well. That’s the Jekyll and Hyde state. Reason was not intended to be predatory or nihilistic, or to enable the human to become a “super-predator”, but to guide Nature to peace and fulfillment, which is what it means to “speak from the centre of the voice”. That is what Blake means in saying “Where Man is not, Nature is barren”.

 

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