The Whole Shebang

Contemporary physics is continuing to demonstrate that what we know as physical reality rests upon nothing at all — the Void, the Abyss, Chaos, the Big Empty, the Great Nothingness. At some fundamental level of what we know as “reality”, time and space are simply irrelevant, and there is no determinant “ground of being” to be discovered.

Some will find this absolutely horrifying. But we have become sophisticated enough, perhaps, to realise that “Nothing” (or “Abyss of Nothingness” or Chaos) ain’t what it used ta’ be either — it’s the eternal domain of infinite potentiality that coincides with what Jean Gebser calls “the ever-present origin”. The Big Bang isn’t an event of aeons past, but in a sense happens every day, and every second of every day. Genesis is right here and now.

We are also beginning to realise that what we call “physical reality” has something to do with consciousness itself, and that consciousness intends its world, or as Nietzsche put it, “fundamentally we experience only ourselves”. “You create the reality you know”, as Seth also consistently and insistently stated.

Spacetime has something to do with consciousness and intentionality, and that is what the “cross of reality” is meant to illustrate. It is we who decide, at some fundamental level, what is to be the past and what is future, and what is inner and what is outer. They are, as it were, like the petals of a flower, the Buddha’s “gem in the Lotus”. Reality and our consciousness of that reality are quite inseparable things. Our long, slow process of “awakening to the world” is actually an awakening to ourselves, from a condition “when the soul slept in beams of light”, as William Blake once put it.

The reconceptualisation of Kosmos (which in fact can’t be “conceptualised” at all) has thrown the modern intellect or mind into a state of crisis. “Visualisation” is an important part of scientific models, but the “new reality” can’t be visualised because there is nothing to visualise.

William Blake already knew the central role of “the Imagination” in intending and constituting its world, and that the physical reality was only a trompe l’oeil of the physical senses. Things appear to be solid, but they are not. We appear to have a body, but it’s only a “cloud” or a “cloak”.

1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that call’d Body is a portion of Soul discern’d by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age
2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
3 Energy is Eternal Delight

The world constructed by sense perception alone is what Blake calls “the Ulro”, the Shadowland, and which is perceived as such when “the doors of perception” are cleansed and opened. It’s the Imagination that generates form out of the energetic flux.

That’s what Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” is — a mapping of how consciousness (or “the Imagination”) intends its world, arising or upwelling from “the ever-present origin”, the true fountainhead which is called Here and Now, or the Eternal Present, and reflected in the mirror of grammar.

The cross of reality is a radiant model of consciousness and reality. It makes no sense to speak of “radiance” without invoking the polarity of intensity and extensity, too. The simultaneity of all past and all future, the inner and the outer in a quadratic relation is the work of consciousness itself, which draws everything into contemporaneity or “presentation” as Gebser calls it. Time “expands” in two directions, you will note. The past changes and evolves as much as the future changes and evolves as consciousness grows in deeper awareness of itself.

The cross of reality is both an image of integration of space and time, and also of crisis. The two are inseparable. As an integration, it is the most appropriate model of the spacetime continuum and its equilibrium. It’s four dimensional as the human form is fourfold.

Because time and space have to do with consciousness, the integration of time and space in the spacetime continuum is a reflection of a major change in the consciousness structure towards the integral. Previously, time and space were considered separate issues, and time itself was discounted. There was only “mind and matter”, Reason and Nature, subject and object, according to the dualistic logic of Modernity. Descartes freely admitted that his “wondrous strange method” did not account for time and had no place for time. Time, he declared, was miraculous — a daily creation of God.

So, the irruption of time into consciousness in terms of the spacetime continuum has become a major crisis for the modern mind, and the stimulus for its reaching beyond itself to effect a new integration and a new equilibrium. Gebser insists that the disintegration of the “ratio” of the rational structure of consciousness has much to do with the irruption of time and the new need to integrate it into our thinking. Since time is twofold as space is twofold, this represents a new complexification in which human reason must now come to handle a minimum of four simultaneous variables (backwards, forwards, inwards, outwards) rather than the traditional two (inwards and outwards).

“Globalism” in its deeper sense, is this emergent simultaneity of a multivariate reality and the new imagination of the spacetime continuum. The new multivariate reality is a precise reflection of the multiformity and multidimensionality of consciousness itself.

The denial of time by the mental-rational consciousness was not only reflected in its contempt for history, but also the denial of death. You may have noticed this yourself, but those who lack any appreciation of history or “deep time” are also pretty shallow intellectually and mature little beyond the adolescent stage of personality. They are myopic — the “frog-in-the-well” perspective (as Feuerstein humourously called it). The irruption of time into consciousness is indeed frightening because, in essence, time is death — time is mortality — even if we prefer to objectivise that and call time “a measure of entropy”.

The “ratio” of rationality, and what was taken as “Universal Reason”, was a perspectivist construct based on a ratio of spaces — the three dimensional universe of length, width, and depth. By establishment, it omitted time as a factor. It wanted to be timeless itself. So, the irruption of time within this consciousness structure of perspectivising rationality is indeed a major cause of contemporary anxiety and even paranoia. This is the chief deficiency of the rational or perspectival structure of consciousness: it does not know how to handle the experience of time.

Not surprising, perhaps, given St. Augustine’s insight that “time is of the soul”, but the “soul” wasn’t a big player in the modern conception of reality.

Time is the outstanding issue of postmodernity. That’s what Einstein’s innovation in physics (and Picasso’s in art) inaugurated. Our attempt to account for time and the experience of time is the issue of the breakdown of the mental-rational structure (or perspectivist) structure of consciousness. Our wrestling with time and the meaning of time, and the attempt to integrate time into our awareness, lies behind all the current innovations in arts and sciences — the quest for a new pattern, a new equilibrium. And in that sense, Gebser and Rosenstock-Huessy are really “time-thinkers” — and that can be confusing to space-bound perception.

How time emerges from timelessness (or the finite from the infinite). That’s the riddle of the emergent reality.


20 responses to “The Whole Shebang”

  1. LittleBigMan says :

    “You may have noticed this yourself, but those who lack any appreciation of history or “deep time” are also pretty shallow intellectually and mature little beyond the adolescent stage of personality.”

    That depends 🙂 and I’d like to point out a distinction here.

    The Western civilization owes a great deal of its ancient history to non Judeo-Christian sources like Tacitus and Herodotus who wouldn’t have dreamed of fabricating history in order to have it used as blueprint for secretive ancient cults to do evil over time of many centuries later. It seems to me this is extremely important because these historians recorded the initial tapestry of events that actually happened. The later events recorded by other historians that may have had religious affiliation of some sort, even those of Jewish or Christian allegiances, would have to connect to these initial events somehow, or else the integrity of what they recorded could easily be questioned.

    So, it seems to me the recorded history of Western civilization has integrity because of the great work that was done at its origin and it is therefore worth studying and knowing about.

    But to the best of my knowledge, unlike Greece and Rome, non-Western ancient civilizations did not have genuine ancient historians of their own, and that opened the door for disingenuous cultic characters with evil minds and intentions to fill the gap with greatest and wildest fabrications. Most notably, of course, the Middle East, where the darkest cults on earth have not only written, but have created its history based on these fabricated stories. Now, those histories, should be exposed for the lies they are. These fabricated events – going all the way back to the time of Pharaohs (Moses swung his cane and the sea parted so he and his tribe could pass – yeah, right!) – has led to the events that have made the Persian Gulf region the “uninhabitable” place that it has become today – as you correctly put it a few essays ago.

    That kind of fabricated history, and any other story like it, should be laughed at.

  2. alex jay says :

    For what it’s worth?

    Long time … many reasons. I’m having a Lazarus experience; it was only a physical distemporary. Still enjoy your abstractions. Blake rules!

    Meanwhile, I’ve been following your progress – unfortunately, sad to hear of your kidney thingy – and following on from several themes over the months, you might find this link instructive (sure you will):

    • Scott Preston says :

      Well, well… yes, indeed, a long time Alex. What an odd thing — I just got an email from someone named “Alice Jay” at the same time as your comment appeared.

      I mentioned Wolin’s “Democracy Incorporated” briefly in a recent post, and in fact I was in the process of reading the ebook version when my laptop crashed and burned, so I haven’t been able to return to it until I replace the laptop and recover the data on the hard drive. I was going to comment more at length on Wolin’s “inverted totalitarianism” as it relates to the disintegration of the mental-rational consciousness structure, but that will have to wait until I recover my hard drive so I can complete the book. His thesis about how democracies become “inverted totalitarianisms” through a series of unintended consequences or perverse outcomes of many small acts (the Butterfly Effect, in essence) is very much in keeping with our interpretation the disintegration of the “ratio” of rationality, evidenced by just such things as “unintended consequence”, “perverse outcome”, “revenge effect”, “ironic reversal” or “blowback”. In effect, “inverted totalitarianism” is ironic reversal.

      • alex jay says :

        “Well, well… yes, indeed, a long time Alex. What an odd thing — I just got an email from someone named “Alice Jay” at the same time as your comment appeared.”

        Don’t tell me you’ve located my baby sister after we were separated at Disney Land? : )

  3. abdulmonem says :

    Hi Alex, happy to see you back. I enjoyed reading Hedges on Wolin. Thank you Scott.

    • alex jay says :

      Thank you my Sufi brother. It’s been a hard road, but better than walking through a swamp. May Islam find the true path again … and all the other distorted wisdom traditions …

  4. abdulmonem says :

    In the Sufis traditon, the physical reality rests on god, the infinite, as god rests on the physical reality to reflect his unseen presence. God is consciousness ( do you see consciousness) and through consciousness we identify our self with him, the non-dying entity to cast away the fear of death. Die before you die is the experience the seeker runs through to taste immortality in the mortal form which they called Al-fana. The death of the ego consciousness. It is a practical exercise not a mental pursuit that require sincere devotion to the one and persistent and attentive pursuit of his oneness in everything around. It is a matter of taste, it is enough to put a spoon of honey in one mouth to tell him what honey is. Description is useless in the realm of the spirit, the realm of intuitional flashes, flashes of intuition. I captured some of such flashes through meandering forth and back, back and forth in your article Thank you for igniting the desire for search in wonders.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I’m just finishing up reading Feuerstein’s Structures of Consciousness. and just moments ago came across this statement “The arational-integral consciousness is necessarily incarnational and full. It is only apparently void because it is ego-transcending. Gebser had understood this, though his work pays insufficient attention to the practical implications of this insight”.

      [By “incarnational” Feuerstein means “embodied”, and not otherworldly or abstract]

      “Apparently void” is exactly it, which was my experience in “the dream of the fish”. It appears as vast void because there is nothing in the infinite that the ego or body-mind can “grasp”, which would be something like King Canute attacking the ocean with his sword (apparently a Celtic ritual that was performed at the inauguration of all kings to teach them humility). It’s true. The “sword” of analytical intellect is useless in the presence of that void, but you learn that the ego-nature is a very small thing indeed. It’s the ego-nature that interprets that infinity as “void”, but the “Itself” does not know itself as that void.

  5. Scott Preston says :

    By the way, I’ve not found anything to take issue with in Feuerstein’s Structures of Consciousness in respect of his interpretation of Gebser’s Kulturphilosophie. The few objections I have read against it were owing, not to what Feuerstein actually wrote, but from what Ken Wilber took from it without Wilber, apparently, having read Gebser in the original. “Caught together, hanged together” seems to be the reason Feuerstein is lumped in with Wilber’s mistaking of Gebser’s arational-integral consciousness structure.

    Feuerstein’s book is very good, but it’s less an “Introduction” to the thought of Gebser than an explication, meaning that one should already be familiar with Gebser’s Ever-Present Origin as background, and that’s a very major undertaking in itself (the original German edition runs three volumes). It’s very sad, even alarming in some ways, that Structures of Consciousness is no longer in print, or even available in digital format, even today with “Print on Demand” being available.

  6. abdulmonem says :

    Beautiful insight in narrating the misled grasp of the ego regarding what is called void. There is no void and god know himself but wanted others to join in this knowledge. We are speedily walking in that knowledge.

    • Scott Preston says :

      How people experience the “void” varies, but it is a state of nonduality. In Genesis, the Great Void is not so much Nothingness as endless water… water, water everywhere. Chaos is water, and the act of origin is the separation of “the waters above from the waters below”, light from dark etc — the beginnings of differentiation of the infinite into finities, confinities, and definities, so to speak. This is pretty much the state called “archaic consciousness” and which is associated with the contemporary “oceanic feeling”, but which is not conscious of itself as being such.

  7. LittleBigMan says :

    A very good article linked by Alex Jay. Living in America, one distinctly experiences two Americas: one America that’s made up of its easy going and warm people and the second which is made of its corporate environment. It’s this corporate America that is run by the ancient cult of Money Changers (which already control the entire Middle East) and it is going to be the ruin of this great country – if the nation isn’t awakened to it.

  8. alex jay says :

    “By the way, I’ve not found anything to take issue with in Feuerstein’s Structures of Consciousness in respect of his interpretation of Gebser’s Kulturphilosophie. The few objections I have read against it were owing, not to what Feuerstein actually wrote, but from what Ken Wilber took from it without Wilber, apparently, having read Gebser in the original. “

    Loads and loads of laughs … if that isn’t a crtique of your take on Blake’s “single vision” accusation unfairly hoisted against Issac Newton put any better, I don’t know what is.

    I have found nothing in Newton’s intellectual pursuits that could remotely be farther from the facts. Not only was he a multi-visionary, but – dare I say – could give our beloved, Mr. Blake a run for his money – from a different angle. Had Wills Blakey actually met the man (born around 30 years after Newton turned up his clogs) away from the corrupt Royal Society environment at the time and had a serious conversation about ol’ Issac’s secret passions, I’m sure they would have become bossom buddies, if it wasn’t for the fact that they were both socially autistic that is.

    Like Wilber in your example: had Blake actually been privy to the volumes of manuscripts Newton kept secret on his research into the bible and his alchemy pursuits (spent twice as long on them than he did on his natural philosophical/scientific day job) trying to find an unifying principle between spirit and matter, perhaps your great mentor would have changed his “single-vision” of Newton. Indeed, Newton was trying to accomplish then, at the cost of a mental breakdown, where we are heading towards now in the discourse between the natural and supernatural.

    Much maligned by Blake I fear…

    For a more updated (less kosher “scientific” version of the great man, who incidentally looked like an in-his-prime version of Led Zepplin’s Robert Plant, no wonder I like the guy), here’s an adequate documentary to set the record straight(ish):

    • Scott Preston says :

      You’re confused and so was Newton. Someone dabbling in the esoteric and the occult isn’t the issue. It’s how they go about that that is the issue. If you bring your methods of natural philosophy to subjects that have nothing to do with natural philosophy, you are still trapped in “single vision” and you end up distorting the subject matter to try and force it to conform to your expectations of what “truth” is. This also is a matter of the “deficient mental-rational” and single vision.

      Newton, for one thing in his alchemical studies, truly believed in the transmutation of lead into gold as a possibility — the physical substances, that is. The true alchemists called people who mistook alchemy as some kind of magical technology “puffers”. Newton was a “puffer”.

      Living a double-life like that is not proof of anything but schizophrenia. The basis for that schizophrenia was laid down by Bacon when he put the choice as one between science or magic, or to put that another way, when Plato separated the logos from the mythos earlier.

      Apparently, you still don’t get the meaning of Khayyam’s Caution: “only a hair separates the false from the true”.

      • alex jay says :

        “Apparently, you still don’t get the meaning of Khayyam’s Caution: “only a hair separates the false from the true”.

        Not only do I get it, but I got it before you were born – or a toddler at most – you young thing. In fact, I have quoted it almost as often as you do. I have missed winding you up. : ) You know I love your mind, but I am also a life-long card-carrying devotee in the art of synchronising antagonistic distemporaries. Ask my mother … on the other hand, that won’t do much good as she went into the big sleep a long time ago.

        Now, apply your logic of Khayyam’s “hair” to what separates the physical from the spiritual. I think that Newton’s quest, while biased to the former as a reactionary impulse to the orthodoxy of an un-“enlightened” decrepit – a bit like our time – power structure, i.e.the “church” (Galileo comes to mind), nevertheless incorporated the latter as demonstrated by his quest to reconcile the two: i.e removing the “hair” from the equation. Why use the bible and mythological sources unless you thought there was a connection? Under that premise, anything is possible – even turning lead into gold, Certainly makes more sense that virgin births and physical resurrections don’t you think?

        You got me on the “puffer” thing, and I know quite a bit on alchemy history (the quest was meant to be spiritual) as we spent many a happy moment on “The Dark Age” blog delving into the likes of Paracelsus, John Dee et al.

        • Scott Preston says :

          As your link to “Newton’s Dark Secrets” clearly showed, Newton was finally frustrated and defeated by his alchemical studies, to the point of having a breakdown. Newton was sexually inhibited with a “conflicted life”, and his attempt to force alchemy to conform to “exact recipes” corresponding to his fundamental laws proved he didn’t have a clue about the implicit Hermetic philosophy of which Alchemy was simply the artful expression.

          Newton represented the singular great accomplishment of the perspectivising mode of perception (or mental-rational consciousness) — the unification of terrestrial and celestial space or coordination of plural spaces. This isn’t “synchronisation of antagonistic distemporaries”. No one, and not Blake either, begrudged him that victory. Blake’s object to Newton’s “single vision” he stated in his manifesto “there is No Natural Religion”,

          “If it were not for the Poetic or Prophetic Character the Philosophic & Experimental would soon be at the ratio of all things, and stand still, unable to do other than repeat the same dull round over again.”

          In other words, the “dark Satanic Mill” is the mind itself that is not integrated with the Poetic and Prophetic. What Blake calls “Imagination” is fourfold in that sense, also — Poetic, Prophetic, Philosophic, and Experimental. It was similarly Goethe’s objection to Newton’s optics.

          It has nothing whatsoever to do with “the separation of the physical from the spiritual”. That’s not the point. It was the separation of exsperience from meaning, that is the issue of Newton’s “conflicted life” and “single vision”.

          • Scott Preston says :

            Should add to that last comment, that this was also what terrified Pascal, “the Silence of the Infinite Void terrifies me”. What he meant was, experience without meaning, existence without purpose — the same as Blake’s “dark Satanic Mill”.

        • alex jay says :

          Oh … where, when, how and most importantly who came up with this “puffer” thing in relation to alchemy? Some silly professor from some silly deadbeat institution masquerading as a centre of learning? I’m too lazy to search it …

          To me a puffer is a fish or a smoker …

          • Scott Preston says :

            Yes, I can see that you’re too lazy

            “Although in the West it is thought to concern the transmutation of base metals into gold, many of today’s best scholars agree that Alchemy defies any strict definition (2). Research into its enigmas might best begin with a historical inquiry into the identity of the best known “adepts”. These individuals stood distinctly separate from the fanatic “puffers” who constitute a major source of ridicule toward this whole field. “Puffers” , so called because of their use of the bellows, relate to “adepts” just as “quacks” relate to allopathic physicians. A meticulous study reveals the true adept to be sincerely religious, inclined toward natural science and generally free from the greed and vanity that compelled the puffer. ”


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