The Hermetic Resurrection: Synchronicity, Affinity, and the Holographic Universe
Since the issue of Jung’s “synchronicity” and its relation to the Hermetic doctrine of the affinities emerged in the commentary to the last post, and that this has everything to do with what Seth referred to as the unruly eruption of “unconscious knowledge” in our time, and Jean Gebser’s chaotic “irruption” of a new consciousness structure; and since Hermeticism is actually being exploited for purposes of propaganda in the form of “marketing 3.0” also, and therefore implicated in what Mickunas calls “technocratic shamanism”; it would be advisable, I think, to spend a bit of time on this. This “irruption” has been in evidence at least since around the late 19th century, in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and especially since Nietzsche’s recognition of the “Dionysian consciousness” coming into conflict and contention with “Apollonian consciousness”, which is the basis for Gebser’s interpretation of the “double-movement” of our times.
If we are to try to avoid the “deficient” expression of Hermeticism, in terms of “technocratic shamanism”, we need to appreciate exactly how the Hermetic resurrection is occurring today, and what Hermeticism actually is — that is to say, the magical structure of consciousness.
The essential principle of Hermeticism is the doctrine of the affinities, fundamentally expressed in the principle “as above, so below”. This is another way of expressing what is the principle of all magic — pars pro toto, the part contains, reflects, and represents the whole. In William Blake’s Hermeticism, this is expressed as “Heaven in a Wild Flower and Eternity in the hour”, or “the universe in a grain of sand” — the perception of the infinity that is hid in the finite, and the eternal that is hid within the temporal — the All in all. This perceptual modality is called the “effective” mode of the magical consciousness. And it has become somewhat of a commonplace in contemporary physics to speak of the “holographic universe” in precisely those terms — pars pro toto. The microcosm reflects the macrocosm and vice versa. There is, in principle, no essential boundary or separation between the part and the whole. In shamanism, for example, it is often taken for granted that finger nail clippings or hair contain or represent the entirety of the person.
Jung’s “synchronicity” is the return of the doctrine of the affinities. Today, when we speak of “resonance”, we are largely invoking the notion of affinity. In “natural magic”, as practiced in days of yore, a plant or herb was considered to have an affinity with a certain planet (the affinity still contained in an apparent connection between the words “planet” and “plant”). The particular “virtue” of a plant or herb was its resonance with a certain planet or configuration of planets, or what was called “influence” — it’s “in flowing” virtue. The very word “desire” means “down from the stars” — an “influence”. In those terms “synchronicity” and “affinity” are very closely related in meaning.
The affinity doctrine is what is connected with issues like “quantum non-locality” (or transluminal effect) and the “observer effect”, as well as the holographic universe theme. These do, indeed, invoke Hermeticism and the principles of alchemy. Fundamentally, Jung’s archetypal psychology was derived from his study of alchemy, and also belongs, therefore, to the Hermetic revival. But it’s use in advertising and branding raises some disturbing questions about “technocratic shamanism” (or “technocratic Hermeticism”) as the manipulation of affinities or “resonances” for the purposes of inducing “branded behaviours”, which belongs, actually, to voodooism — a deficient form of the magical consciousness. Our deeper intuitions about this is what gives rise to questions of “zombie economics” or “zombie consumerism”, and in fact, the whole zombie meme in contemporary popular culture. This is close to what Gebser also means by “sorcery” as the deficient or deformed mode of the magical consciousness structure.
It is, in these terms, quite true that we are living through a time when “something radically new is afoot”, as one advertiser and consumer researcher also recognised. What’s afoot is “magic” (also recognised to some extent by Gary Lachman in his Politics and the Occult). It is this same eruption of “unconscious knowledge”, but which, when unconsciously allied with rationalism begins to assert itself as “instrumentalist rationality” and will to power, otherwise called “technocratic shamanism” or “machination”. To avoid the problem of the Hermetic Revival decaying into “necromancy” and this machination, we need to be fully aware of the meaning of Hermeticism or the “new alchemy” as part of the restructuration of contemporary consciousness leading, hopefully, towards genuine “holistic” or “integral consciousness”. But what “marketing 3.0” throws up as “holistic” is a smokescreen designed to co-opt the integral or holistic for purposes of power and domination — exactly what Colbert referred to as “truthiness”. That, at least, is my tentative conclusion about it.