Shedding the Human Form
Because of recent inclement weather, I have had lots of “downtime”. Plenty of time to get things out of my system. It won’t last (nor will I) so that’s why I’m posting things rather rapidly.
I concluded the last few posts on “suicidal despair”, the thanatic impulse, nihilism and the will to perish with the suggestion that this thanatic impulse, or sickness unto death, is the perverse or distorted expression of an inner, even spiritual and healthy, impulse — to shed the human mold or slough off the human form. That is the meaning of “The Chrysalis” itself, and I have to thank Don Dwiggins for providing the link that serves as the rationale for the name Chrysalis also. It’s very much worth reading that piece on “imaginal cells” and the chrysalis stage.
But I think I need to explain, further, why I think the present human form is also a chrysalis stage.
By “human form” I don’t necessarily mean the biological form, although that is certainly a part of it. I mean, mainly, the human self-understanding and the human self-image that arises from that self-understanding. That self-image that arises from the self-understanding (the definition of the human) is called “the ego-nature”. It is not just the individual’s inner picture of himself or herself, but is also rooted in the consensual or communal assumptions about what it means to be “human” and what is taken as “humanity”.
I’m suggesting that this self-understanding is wrong, and is based on wrong assumptions about what “human” is and means. These limited (and limiting) root assumptions or beliefs, which also inform the self-image and construct the ego-nature, or what we call the “identity”, are the real cause of our problems.
This self-understanding, which may be more or less consciously expressed and formulated (but mostly unconscious) is the “mold” into which human beings are poured at birth by parents, society, and so on, and which they rarely escape. I have also referred to it, in that sense, as “the foreign installation” (somewhat after Castaneda’s usage). It is this self-understanding that I call also “the human form” and which I compare to a chrysalis (or larval) stage.
It’s my conviction, as well as the conviction of others frequently mentioned in The Chrysalis, that this human form or chrysalis is today undergoing dissolution and rupture — a painful and stressful process to be sure – quite in keeping with the parallel process described in biology (a perfect description of which I’ve linked to above as the role of “imaginal cells’). It corresponds, therefore, to a radical change in the human self-understanding that shakes the root assumptions about that self-understanding, also expressed as “identity”, to its very foundations. In fact, it is being experienced as “loss of self” or “loss of soul” or “deconstruction” or as “nihilism” and so on, and is the cause of much bewilderment, perplexity and confusion to those who don’t know what is happening to them. In fact, it feels, in many cases, like living death.
And in a sense, it is.
Nietzsche called it “the Dionysian” or “overman”. Jean Gebser, in The Ever-Present Origin, calls it the “irruption” of a new consciousness structure (the prospective “integral”), Rosenstock-Huessy calls it a “metanoia” (“aftermind” or “beyond mind”) , and Sri Aurobindo calls it the “supramental manifestation” or “Supermind” — the descent of “the supramental truth-consciousness”. It’s a fundamental non-linear discontinuity in the evolutionary narrative, and an abrupt rupture in the narrative of linear time.
In effect, it means principally that Archaic Time, Magical Time, Mythical Time, and Mental-Rational Time will all coexist, as one integral “soul”, in which all these times and temporal frameworks will be equally accessible to consciousness. Gebser calls this “time-freedom”. Human beings will not exist within one time horizon, but in a potential plurality of time worlds.
So much for “God the Clockmaker” and the Clockwork Universe. But this was also an image of the human self-understanding. So the “death of God” is also a death of the human self-understanding.
Naturally, this is experienced as very unpleasant by the ego-nature, the human form. It doesn’t have a framework to understand this convergence of the times, but which is the reality of the integration. “Time” St. Augustine once wrote “is of the soul”. But the soul is fourfold in nature, and the dissolution of the human form is very much about time, or rather times.
To put it in rather more prosaic terms — a fourfold soul (even as Blake’s “fourfold vision”) is attempting to make itself at home in a dualistic consciousness. That house is too small for it, and like the chrysalis form, the ego-nature is resisting its transformation, because it experiences this latent metamorphosis as an existential threat. It’s too small, which is what we mean in calling the ego-consciousness “petty-minded”, “small-souled”,”myopic”, and self-interested.
But, in fact, it is this ego-consciousness itself, which is merely the self-image, that is the alien presence, which has always been called “the false self”. And it’s in that context, and with that meaning, that you have to understand “suicidal despair”.
The unconscious dynamic that is attempting to manifest itself is, therefore, the very antithesis of the “culture of narcissism”, that narcissism that Blake decried also and whose words about that narcissistic condition grace the masthead of The Chrysalis:
“For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern” — Blake
This self-enclosure has gone about as far as it can go, and is now undergoing a reversal according to the rule of enantiodromia — reversal at the extremity.
The danger of mass suicide is a very real thing — the Twilight of the Gods, as Nietzsche called it also. An ancient legend that chillingly came to life in the Nazi period, and which also made a tragic-heroic appearance in The Lord of the Rings. It sent a shiver down my spine when the King of the Rohan, Theoden, leads what he believes to be a suicidal charge against the Orc army with the words “Ride! Ride to ruin and the World’s Ending”. Ragnarok.
Almost all the world’s peoples have some Legend of the Fall, an apocalyptic or doomsday scenario. And the danger in our time is that someone may enact it as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and perhaps even now preparing it, willing it, desiring it.
“For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ “Then they will begin TO SAY TO THE MOUNTAINS, ‘FALL ON US,’ AND TO THE HILLS, ‘BURY US.’ “For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”…