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.