Archive | January 2016

The Intelligentsia

We hang together, or we shall hang together, is the fate of the intellectuals. — E. Rosenstock-Huessay, Speech and Reality

The “end of the Modern project”, the post-Enlightenment or post-modernity, is the story of the First World War. The disillusionment of the intelligentsia was profound. The theme of dystopia became prominent in literature following the Great War. Many retreated from social engagement completely into a private metaphysics, reactionary attitudes, or began to concern themselves with obstruse matters of relevance only to an insular like-minded group. Others became merely courtiers and minions of the power elites. In 1927, Julien Benda complained about La Trahison des clercs (The Betrayal of the Intellectuals — albeit for many of the wrong reasons) and the charge that the intellectuals had abandoned their posts and their responsibilities still echoes down the decades in the critiques of Noam Chomsky, John Ralston Saul, and Chris Hedges. Ralston Saul even refers to the intellectuals as “Voltaire’s bastards”.

And not without good reason.

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Revelation and Revolution

I concluded my day yesterday by posting a comment to the last entry in The Chrysalis that, in a nutshell, summarised The Chrysalis and served as a kind of synopsis of everything I’ve read about or thought about regarding the meaning of contemporary events. I arrived at the synopsis as a culmination or climax upon concluding my reading of Thomas Berry’s book The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future, and reflecting on the intersection of concerns expressed there with the work of Jean Gebser, Rosenstock-Huessy, Iain McGilchrist, Nietzsche, Aurobindo, and many others, all of whom have attempted to articulate the theme of an impending or incipient “new integration”, even a species change, and all of whom might well be described as “apocalyptic thinkers”, (or as we might put it optionally, “thinkers of the chaotic transition”). By “apocalyptic” I understand its original meaning as “revelation” or “disclosure”, also represented by the dancing god Shiva — the dance of creative destruction or the dance of “the shattering truth”.

The specific instance of this meaning of the apocalyptic as the coincidentia oppositorum was neuroanatomist Jill Bolte-Taylor’s “stroke of insight” as she described it in her TED talk, which was in a quite literal way a shattering revelation, a revelation born in the midst of the catastrophic — the dance of disillusionment in the ambiguous or paradoxical sense of that term. And I can’t emphasise enough, really, how much Bolte-Taylor’s personal experience is the model and pattern for what we can anticipate as the meaning of the “chaotic transition” on a larger scale. Her trauma and revelation was Shiva’s dance played out in microcosm.

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Intent, Will, and the Philosophy of Assent

“Will to power” was identified by Nietzsche as the fundamental operative force pervailing in the cosmos. Until Castaneda came along, it really wasn’t possible to properly interpret this “will to power” other than as a drive to domination. But don Juan’s understanding of “intent” as the fundamental force operative in the cosmos provided a proper context for understanding what Nietzsche intended to say by “will to power”. In actual fact, “intent” is not quite identical with “will” at all.

What Phenomenologists call the “intentionality of consciousness” is a reference to this same will to power as being also don Juan’s intent. Don Juan also uses “intent” almost synonymously with “the force of awareness”. That is to say, similar to the principle of Phenomenology in which the act of attention or perception simultaneously intends the world it perceives. Consciousness creates form. In effect, what is called “intent” is what is also called “creativity” or the “creative force”. It is this implicit “force of awareness”, understood as intent, that gives substance to “Seth’s” oft repeated remark: “You create the reality you know.”

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