Pandaemonium, Mayhem, and Return of the Repressed
The phrase “return of the repressed” corresponds to the saying “truth will out”. It says nothing about the manner in which truth will out or how the return of the repressed will manifest. In fact, “return of the repressed” and “truth will out” are equivalent in meaning to the word “apocalypse”, which, while signifying “disclosure”, “uncovering” or “revelation” as “unveiling”, has the significance of a catastrophic revelation as “shattering truth”.
Call it what you will — pandaemonium, mayhem, “chaotic transition”, or apocalypse — these things will always accompany the return of the repressed until such time as the living energies released by the relaxing of the inhibitions become organised into new cultural patterns or a new structure of consciousness. Organisation here means “integrated with” the dominant consciousness structure which is then transformed by the integration. What we call “the reactionary” disposition is the always violent effort by the “false self” to restore the status quo ante, or to co-opt the energies that are seeking emancipation from their inhibition.
The return of the repressed presently takes the form of the resurgence of magic and myth “irrupting” within the mental-rational consciousness structure. The “deficiency” of this return is the attempt by the hegemonic consciousness structure — the ego-nature or “false self” — to either suppress or, more likely, co-opt the return of the repressed rather than effect a true integration. The hegemony of the ego-nature is what is called “narcissism” and “culture of narcissism”.
The false self exists because of the formal inhibitions, which produce “the repressed”. It is called “false self” not because it is essentially false, but because it is a usurper in the psychic household. In those terms, the “false self” corresponds to McGilchrist’s “Emissary”, in his book The Master and His Emissary. The Emissary is the ego-nature, and it is the instrument of the repression or inhibition. Where it can’t repress or inhibit, it co-opts. Co-optation is the strategy of usurpation. Co-optation is the current strategy of “spiritual marketing” or “marketing 3.0”.
The pandaemonium (which means “all devils”) begins first in the psychic structure itself, made manifest then in the increasing inarticulacy and incoherence of thought and speech, which approaches the condition of speechlessness and resembles mere shouting, yelling and the growling and snarling of beasts. Feralism. This signals the dissolution of the older cultural patterns (including the “loss of self”) represented in the daily manners, mores, rituals, ceremonies, and protocols of daily social life (or what we call “civility”), which are also an era’s “institutions” and also belong to “the establishment”. In contemporary terms, even these things have fallen under the meaning of the despised “political correctness”. W.B. Yeats, in his poem The Second Coming, refers to these simple protocols of daily life as “the ceremony of innocence” being “drowned” in blood.
The post-modern “loss of self”, which attends the “deconstruction”, is conjoined with the return of the repressed as also “end of the Grand Narrative” along with “the liberation of unconscious knowledges” (Foucault, and in this case its “be careful what you wish for”). Among other things, this “loss of self” is referred to as “self-alienation” or simply as “losing one’s grip”. “Losing one’s grip” is the meaning of pandaemonium or mayhem. In effect, among the old cultural patterns that are being “deconstructed” is also the modern “self”, for this self exists in-and-through-and-as those cultural patterns which form its milieu and sense of order and belonging. This loss of self or sense of identity necessarily increases the sense of uncertainty and anxiety about the present and the future, and generates both “folkish” nostalgia and “folkish” resentment (that is to say, identity politics, clannishness and “ethno-nationalist” sentiment. Community and folkish populism are not necessarily the same thing).
Pandaemonium is essentially the refusal of the hegemonic structure of consciousness to integrate the return of the repressed and becomes malevolent.
In Regaining Consciousness: Resuscitating the Soul, Frank Broucek does a very good job of taking down the “zombie logic” of Scientism, scientific materialism, and the Mechanical Philosophy. These comprise, in effect, the “deficient mode” of the mental-rational consciousness structure as analysed by Jean Gebser. Their disciplined deconstruction is a very necessary preliminary stage for effecting a new integration or metanoia. Broucek does, I think, demonstrate convincingly that the dogmatic character of present scientific materialism or Scientism is a reaction formation against the return of the repressed, or an attempt to co-opt it. This attempt to co-opt (and thereby pervert or distort) the return of the repressed (that is to say, “rationalisation”) results in self-devouring absurdities and self-contradictions in the logic. The result is what Algis Mikunas calls “technocratic shamanism” or what Peter Gordon calls “mythomania“.
I do not think that the return of the repressed is simply going to go away, or that newer and more “efficient” means of effecting the inhibitions and repressions (technocratic management) or co-optation will succeed. What we need is “survival knowledge”, which is the kind of knowledge that can endure, outlast, and outrun the pandaemonium that is surely coming.