Dark Age and Chrysalis Stage

There have been quite a few new subscriptions to The Chrysalis lately. In just a few weeks it has gone from 123 subscribers to 173. As is my custom whenever there are significant numbers of new subscribers I perform a recap now and then in order to supply context for the postings in The Chrysalis and to provide orientation for new readers — the context not only being what we call “contemporary history” (or “current events”) but also the long-wave context called “history and evolution of consciousness”, and how contemporary history and current events fit into that long-wave.

It becomes a more daunting task as postings accumulate and as time rolls on, and it does feel to me much like physicist Carl Sagan’s recipe for making a simple Apple Pie — “first, create a universe….” That’s the sensibility that we call “the Overview” in contrast to “the Point-of-View”. The Chrysalis, too, is an experiment in the possibilities of Overview, otherwise called “integral consciousness”, rather than the Point-of-View as norm — the perception of the Whole moreso than of the Part, in other words.  And this I refer to as “the Hermetic Philosophy” in contrast to The Mechanical Philosophy.

To understand the meaning of The Chrysalis, and the chrysalis stage, we have to revisit its predecessor — The Dark Age Blog — which I began over a dozen years ago. The Dark Age Blog (or TDAB, as some veteran readers refer to it), was my assessment and interpretation of the negative, or nihilistic, manifestations of the new, and it was, indeed, very dark and gloomy about the Human Prospect. After about 850 essays, documenting the self-devouring and self-negating tendencies of Late Modernity, I abruptly terminated TDAB and went into hibernation, feeling myself very despondent about the horror stories I had posted there. I did not hold out much hope for dodging and evading the very worst manifestations of the nihilistic.

The Dark Age Blog, as some of you will recall, focussed on what I there called our “Four Riders of the Apocalypse”, which I named Double-Talk, Double-Think, Double-Standard, and Double-Bind — altogether what we call “duplicity” — as evidence of the disintegration (or loss of integrity) of the consciousness structure and personality of Modern Man now living in complete and gruesome self-contradiction that was bound to end unhappily. I likened, then, that condition of duplicity or self-contradiction to the meeting of matter and anti-matter, in which both become mutually annihilate and leave — not a “synthesis” — but a void of meaninglessness — The Great Nothing; the Abyss; the Void. And in the blog, I drew upon current events to illustrate that this was, indeed, occurring and intensifying.

It was during my withdrawl that I began to reconsider and revalue the meaning of Dark Age, under the influence of the cultural philosopher Jean Gebser, who had already anticipated this prospect many decades ago and recorded his impressions of the trends of the times in his great book The Ever-Present Origin. It was already beginning to dawn on me, towards the end days of TDAB, that there was an implicit or latent polarity to the darkness of Dark Age, and that a Dark Age very often functions like the chrysalis stage or larval stage of the insect. After a few months meditating on that latent potentiality of Dark Age, I relaunched the Dark Age Blog as the present “Chrysalis” intending here to fan that latent potentiality into a recognisable presence — through the process that Gebser calls “presentiation” or “concretion of the spiritual”. If Dark Age described the collapse of consciousness and its extreme narrowing into a limited and very constricted “point-of-view” (and I borrowed William Blake’s statement about that for the masthead of The Chrysalis) then I would focus on the hidden potential in this diabolical situation, in large part inspired by the great Sufi poet Rumi and the German poet Hölderlin: “where the peril is greatest, there lies the saving power also”, and where Rumi had written also that “the cure for the disease is in the disease”. And I also took comfort in Jung’s principle of “enantiodromia” — or reversal at the extemity of action, or the Hermetic principle and paradox of coincidentia oppositorum or “coincidence of opposites”  — as holding out promise of a transformation or metamorphosis of Dark Age itself.

In other words, I began to hold that Dark Age and the chrysalis stage were one and the same process — that “double-movement” described by Gebser as disintegration and new integration. And it was not long after I launched The Chrysalis that reader Dwig provided the perfect rationale from biological science for why Dark Age and Chrysalis Stage should be considered one and the same process in two aspects. “Imaginal Cells: The Caterpillar’s Job to Resist the Butterfly” provides the perfect example from life. And for this reason, we at The Chrysalis have come to refer to this “double-movement” or coincidence of Dark Age and Chrysalis State as “chaotic transition”. It has an implicit logic, but that logic is decidedly non-linear, non-dualist, and non-Aristotelian inasmuch as it violates “the law of contradiction” which is the nature of paradox and the paradoxical as coincidence of opposites. What is presently called “New Normal” or even “Post-Truth Society” or “Chaotic Transition” is the realm of the contradictory and self-contradictory, or the duplicitous and dissonant, become the norm because it is the emergence into our reality of the truth of paradox and the paradoxical for which our received logics (or the Newtonian-Cartesian worldview) are not equipped or adequate to handle. In terms of the dance of the dialectic, thesis and its anti-thesis have become one and the same thing, mirror images of each other.

Jean Gebser calls this the incipient “irruption” of a new consciouness structure — the integral — and appreciation for the paradox is at the heart of it. It is for those reasons that we hold, here, that the Hermetic Philosophy is overtaking and subsuming The Mechanical Philosophy or what Gebser also calls “the mental-rational consciousness structure now functioning in deficient mode”. That is to say, an appreciation of the paradoxical nature of life and reality, which was denied by the Mechanical Philosophy and the Mental-Rational as violating the “law of contradiction”, is now foundational to the Hermetic Philosophy (or “alchemy” as some call it). This contest between consciousness structures — old and new consciousness — is what underlies the controversies over an “either/or” type logic, now deemed obsolete, and a “both/and” type logic that embraces the paradox, such as we find these days in quantum mechanics. And, if you read the “Imaginal Cells” essay, you’ll appreciate the anxiety and anguish that come with this transitional stage.

Jean Gebser calls the new “mutation” of consciousness “integral” or “aperspectival-arational” in which all consciousness structures which have heretofore characterised the autobiography of humankind — the archaic, the magical, the mythical, and the mental-rational — are becoming integrated, or what present depth psychology also refers to as “return of the repressed”. We are, indeed, seeing this happen in our time, but in a very disruptive, turbulent, and disorderly (ie chaotic) and unenlightened way. Under the impress of this “irruption”, especially of the paradoxical, the Point-Of-View perspectivising consciousness structure with it’s “either/or” dualistic and segregationist logic is disintegrating, which is also called the “post-modern loss of self” or “culture of narcissism”. Narcissism and loss of self are not at all opposites.

So, the function of The Chrysalis is to highlight, acknowledge, and recognise these manifestations of the new as transformations and metamorphoses or “revaluation of values”, albeit not without a sidelong glance at the continuing dreadful symptoms of disintegration and decay of the Modern Era and modern identity (ie, the consciousness structure rooted in perspective, three-dimensional logic). It is no longer adequate for the reality we live in, but has become reactionary — the ego-consciousness defending its turf.

And it is in these terms, then, that these four streams of nihilism as Double-Talk, Double-Think, Double-Standard, and Double-Bind (or predicament or dilemma) are the main features of the Modern Era’s decay or decadence, and the disintegration of its consciousness structure. It’s what underlies not only Pope Francis’s remark that “duplicity is the currency of the day”,  or also the “epidemic of hypocrisy” (as appeared in today’s Guardian), but also underlies the meanings of “New Normal” or “Post-Truth Society”. But implicit, or latent, within this duplicity and the symptoms of Dark Age are the seedlings growing in the detritus of the ruins of the Age which I call “Chrysalis” stage, and the duplicity is simultaneously this double-movement that has not yet become conscious of itself as such — as the paradoxical — but still casts everything still into a dualistic logic of “either/or”. The new logic, already aborning, embraces the paradox, whether as Gebser’s cultural philosophy or as Rosenstock-Huessy’s social philosophy of “speech-thinking” and grammatical method.

In fact, it’s part of the “chaotic transition” that, for the time being, the paradoxical is being manifested as the paranoid. (The words are related in terms of the doxa and the nous). They are part of the same process befitting the expression, which is pretty much our motto here, that “only a hair separates the false from the true”. And so we overcome and transcend mere dualistic rationality and the supposed finality of the law of contradiction in a strictly linear and three-dimensional logic. Dialogics is also coming to supercede dialectics as part of the breakdown of the mental-rational, too, and we will have to investigate how that is also reflected in chaotic transition and the new consciousness.



10 responses to “Dark Age and Chrysalis Stage”

  1. donsalmon says :

    Very much appreciated, Scott, this “recap.”

  2. Scott Preston says :

    Just wanted to point out, too, that for the ancient Greeks the symbol of psyche or soul was the butterfly. A rather poignant symbolism in relation to the chrysalis stage as described in the essay on “Imaginal Cells”.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    Immigration and NAFTA: Felicity Lawrence, writing in today’s Guardian, shows the link between NAFTA, “free trade” and illegal immigration, and why Trumpism is the wrong answer to the right question. It’s worth reading,


  4. Scott Preston says :

    Just to show that Double-Think and Double-Talk are not restricted to the right alone, this article I just read from “Dissident Voice” is full of it


    To someone outside the US, like myself, to read someone protest that they aren’t “racist”, but that there’s a need to save “white majority culture” or “white culture” sounds completely dissonant and hypocritical. I do not know what “white culture” is or what special virtues are supposedly indelibly linked with “whiteness” (actually, we are more grayish-pinkish than white). There seems to be here an irrational factor associated with the mythical or magical, where “whiteness” equates with some notion of purity. Quite evidently “white culture” and “silent majority” are presumed to be equivalent.

    There is no such thing as “white culture”. We can speak of “Western”, which is a geographical and historical topic rather than a racial one. But there is no “pure” Western culture. The West has been influenced and fertilised by all sorts of different streams — Judaic, Arabic, Chinese, or North American indigenous, too. The great virtue of Western civilisation was this very openness to external influences. This is what we mean by “Open Society”.

    If there was anything possible to describe as “white culture” it was the insularity of the Age of the Tribes of Northern Europe. And the only sense one can make of “white culture” otherwise is in terms of the mental-rational structure of consciousness, or perspectivist consciousness, as dominant mode.

    And in those terms, “white culture” would mean — its humanist and universalist values. But then the author immediately negates and contradicts those same values by reducing them to racial categories — matters of whiteness. It’s these very values of universalism and humanism that made the Open Society, and it wasn’t “whiteness”.

    For my part, I would like to see less “white culture” and more indigenous and aboriginal culture.

    • donsalmon says :

      Scott, I’m not sure how you see this person as Left wing. He sounds like every (proudly self- identified) right wing North and South Carolinian I have talked to.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Dissident Voice bills itself as a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice, so it’s odd, very odd, that Hirschhorn’s piece should appear there and in that framework. I recall reading something by Hirschhorn in some other place that seemed to be sensible. It didn’t play with racial categories like “white culture”, though.

        This dissonance is not all that uncommon, the “I’m no racist, but….” kind that then proceeds to demonstrate why he or she is precisely that. Maybe “Dissident Voice” should rename itself “Dissonant Voice”?

        You know what that is, of course — projection of the shadow.

  5. abdulmonem says :

    I am occupied with god that is why I can not approach any topic without having the notion of a divine being present. What is the value of scriptures if not for use. God did not make whiteness or blackness nor fire or dust as criteria for human or non-human evaluation or privilege. The white man burden is a fabrication of a misled mind that is led to what we are calling white culture . The perfidy of the British is well-known by the Europeans, the fabricator of that concept, the concept which Scott showed in his comment the misnomer behind it, preferring the human in its originality without these human imposed coloring. These groups behind these misnomers are the the ones who have created all these perversion in the world, the ones that permitted what is forbidden and prohibited what is permitted. The ones whose cycle is coming to an end as it is apparent from the corrective consciousness that is rising everywhere in this recovering world.

  6. Charles Leiden says :

    Scott, thanks. I can understand what you are writing about paradox. Luckily I enjoy the company of open-minded and erudite friends and just the other night I suggested that accepting paradox was one of the higher forms of intelligence. One of the friends is sometimes weary of generalizations – this tends to initiate some sort of discussion, which is probably the purpose. Accepting paradox is going beyond the black/white either/or perspective as you write. One could suggest another name for the integral is the authentic. I feel that a distinguishing quality in the integral is an awareness of dissonance and a conscious effort to close the gap between one’s ideals and behavior. Between our vision and our reality.

    • Scott Preston says :

      My candidate for the proper name of post-modernity and “chaotic transition” is “Age of Paradox”. I think in the next few posts I’ll flesh that out some, but I hold (as does Gebser, too) that what we are calling “chaos” is largely the “irruption” of the paradoxical.

      Yes, most of the Western intellectual tradition based on “the Greek Mind” as Rosenstock called it, thought it could get away without acknowledging the paradox as real. It specifically excluded paradox through the law of noncontradiction in logic. That’s what the law of noncontradiction is intended to do — exclude the paradoxical.

      Now it;s the Age of Paradox and the mental-rational/perspectival is in trouble, as we see. So, we should try to understand the meaning of paradox and the paradoxical: Moment and Now are paradoxical, Master and Emissary are paradoxical, Goethe’s “two souls” are paradoxical, and Gebser’s “double-movement” of disintegration with integration is paradoxical. I believe these are connected. The eye of “Single Vision” and the eye of “fourfold vision” are paradoxical. The law of noncontradiction is being violated everywhere, including quantum physics, and that is very disconcerting for many. Feels like the end of the world, in fact. And even “the end of the world” is paradoxical because apocalypse is paradoxical, for which reason I hold that there is a connection between paradox and paranoia, and then the question is how to get from this paranoia to metanoia (also paradoxical).

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