The Disorderly Mind

There’s nothing like an election campaign to reveal the disorderly logic of the postmodern mind. You’ve probably noticed it yourself. It lacks coherence. It is quite inarticulate.

As above, so below this disorderliness of the mind or consciousness structure is reflected at the “micro” level,  in such superficially articulate but completely unintelligible postmodern manifestos like Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto“, to mass perceptions of “the coming anarchy” and the perceived need for a “New World Order”. That disorderliness of the deficient mental-rational consciousness structure is what made “the Sokal hoax” of postmodernism so pertinent.

That disorderliness of the mind/consciousness structure is revealed in self-contradiction, duplicity and other forms of illogic. But that same disorderliness or chaos is in some ways also a symptom and a reflection of the disintegration of one form of logic or mode of perception and the emergence of a still implicit new logic and mode of perception that hasn’t yet become fully aware of itself or completely articulate. And if you pay close attention, you will see that the mind is struggling, as yet still unconsciously, towards that very quadrialteral or fourfold logic that Rosenstock-Huessy has articulated as his “cross of reality”.

The disorderly mind’s search for a new principle of order can sometimes take very perverse and aberrant forms — mainly authoritarianism or totalitarianism — in the form of “law & order” memes as much as neo-imperialist “New World Order” projects or the monopoly of “the one best way” of doing anything. The perceived outer anarchy or chaos (often expressed by neo-conservatives and neo-liberals) requiring strong authoritarian measures as corrective or rectification is just a reflection of the inner anarchy or chaos of the disorderly mind which is also looking for certainty in some solid principle of order or authority.

It’s my conviction, of course, that Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy has made that implicit emergent logic explicit and self-aware in his “grammatical method”, his social philosophy, and in his “cross of reality”. It is a logic suited to a four-dimensional cosmos. And it only makes sense to talk about a “New Age” if it is also the expression of a new logic — a metanoia — a new order or orderliness of the mind; a new structure of consciousness.

This disorderliness of the postmodern mind is what some are referring to as nihilism or the threat of a new barbarism and a coming “Dark Age” (Jane Jacobs, William Irwin Thompson, Morris Berman, me, etc). But, as Jean Gebser has insisted, it is at root a double-movement of consciousness that accounts for the epidemic of duplicity — on the one hand, the nihilism or disorderliness represents a deconstruction or breakdown of an old consciousness and its inherent logic (the perspectival or mental-rational) along with the emergence of a new structure he calls ‘the integral structure’ of consciousness (the aperspectival and arational).

Gebser lacked a robust method to justify his profound intuitions about this as he set them out in his Ever-Present Origin. He hoped for a champion who would come along with such a robust method that would account for his intuitions. It’s my conviction that Rosenstock-Huessy provides that robust new logic that justifies Gebser’s intuitions about the emergent integral consciousness structure. The “cross of reality” is that integral and integrating structure and new principle of order, and with it comes also a new self-understanding of the human form as itself being a fourfold structure. This is both new and yet very old wisdom also.

This emergent “complexification” of consciousness, as it were, is only perplexing and perceived as disorderly and anarchic to the extent that no pattern has existed to interpret it properly. Gebser insists, for example, that evolution unfolds according to a “pre-existent pattern”, but it is damnably difficult to perceive in Gebser’s writings what he thought that pattern might be. That pattern and logic, nonetheless, is made explicit in Rosenstock-Huessy’s grammatical philosophy and grammatical method.

Yes, it is a more multiform and complex logic than the simple dualistic logic contrived by Descartes and his successors that has pretty much defined the Modern Era in terms of the perennially troublesome subject-object dichotomy, or as Rosenstock-Huessy referred to it as aberrant “Ego-It” logic. That dualistic logic not only spawned delusions of separate realms of “spirit” and “matter”, “private” and “public”, “nationalism” and “materialism”, “culture” versus “nature”, it has also led to the Jekyll and Hyde schizophrenia of the modern mentality and personality structure.

Order Out of Chaos” (Prigogine) or “Wholeness and the Implicate Order” (David Bohm) — both made freely available for download — belong to that current search for a new principle of logic or order as correction to the mind’s current disorderliness and illogic. Both speak to the issue of a new emergent principle of order as much as Rosenstock-Huessy’s grammatical method and cross of reality. And I’m convinced by all this that we are indeed on the brink of a major “mutation” in the history and evolution of human consciousness.

Emergence, however, is also sensed as emergency, and our confusion about this complexification of the consciousness structure — that is to say, the addition of new powers and faculties to consciousness — can become abortive if we don’t understand what’s happening. An epidemic of mass mental-illness and even suicide and mass suicide is a grave possibility without an appropriate way of understanding this shift in human identity and self-understanding that Gebser refers to as an “irruption” within the old consciousness and personality structure itself. Breakdown may also be breakthrough, and often is.

That’s one of the reasons I keep recommending Arthur Miller’s book Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Carl Jung and Wolfgang Pauli. The famous quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli went through the very same personality fracturing and crisis of consciousness as we all must. The book is really about how he resolved the shift from a three-dimensional consciousness to a four-dimensional consciousness — “four” being the new cosmic number. Rosenstock-Huessy has likewise boasted that his grammatical method will save many a soul from schizophrenia in the same sense, and I think he’s quite correct in that. Understanding the full meaning of the grammatical method and the ‘cross of reality’ may well save your marbles and help you keep your wits about you as we go through this major turbulent transition from the Modern Era to the emergence of Planetary consciousness.

That is to say, from “point-of-view” to the “overview”, which is about as good and as succinct a way of describing it as anything. (And if you haven’t viewed the short film “The Overview Effect“, please do. It has lots of relevance to understanding the fourfold vision and the cross of reality, too, corresponding to Gebser’s new integral consciousness structure as the realisation of a true “universal way of looking at things”).

Complexification need not be perplexification.


3 responses to “The Disorderly Mind”

  1. abdulmonem says :

    Donna last sentence in her manifesto said she would rather be a cyborg than a goddess. It is a disorderly mind. It is a trend supported by the hoax of Sokal. Such trend is not unusual in the history of mankind, this only means that change is at hand. Thank you Scott in trying to shed some light on the road, in this darkness. The eclipse of Harper star is a good omen and hope that what is going in Iraq brings about some good results also.

    • Scott Preston says :

      That might well be. Tony Abbott was replaced in Australia as Harper has been in Canada. This might signal the beginnings of a reversal of a trend. We’ll have to watch if that is the case, and whether it might be more than just another swing of the pendulum.

      Hmm. Interesting that “swing of the pendulum” phrase I just used. I just woke up from taking a short nap, and I had a dream. All I remember is a fragment of it. There is a supercomputer named Theode (evidently a pun on diode, or Ode of Theo, too — “God Machine” as it were). There is a man dancing on the face of the supercomputer, apparently in defiance of gravity. But his dance is awkward and jerky. A binary dance. He swings his left leg around to face downwards, then he swings his right leg around to face upwards, again and again, moving to the electronic pulse of Theode. He seems to be mesmerised by that pulse and unable to break the spell. There is a room of white-coated technicians observing him, and one of them says “[name] meet Theode” (I can’t recall the man’s name. But then, I awoke from the dream to the sound of my cat purring in my ear, so the “electronic pulse” was the same rhythm as The Little One’s purring (that’s my cat’s name, Little One).

      Interesting dream. I wish I could recall all of it.

  2. abdulmonem says :

    It is a very interesting dream, but very suggestive regarding the jerky dance of our mesmerised humanity against the beautiful background of the god. A humanity that is moving to meet the god and to Him return everything. I wish you recall all of it.

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