Language and Chaos
The fate of language is very much connected with issues of “chaotic transition”, and on this Christmas Eve I wanted to draw attention to some of the parallels between the indigenous Sacred Hoop and the Christian cross and the prophesies associated with each, and with “the Word” (or Logos) that is common to both — especially the meaning of the Christ spirit as archetypal Healer, and correspondingly the Mender of the Sacred Hoop.
The story of the birth of the Christ as Logos is the story of the child who will come to take on, and ascend to, the cross and fulfill his destiny as the image of the “vital centre” and the literal “crux of the matter”. Equally so, “the Sacred Hoop is in language”, say the elders, and the ideal human is likewise he or she who “speaks from the centre of the voice”, which is the centre of the Sacred Hoop and therefore identical also with the Word or Logos that integrates and brings order to chaos or heals and mends the Sacred Hoop by inspired, articulating speech. Articulation is integration. The inarticulate and incoherent is chaos and is synonymous with “breaking the Sacred Hoop” or disruption/corruption.
It’s in much the same spirit that both Rosenstock-Huessy, with his “grammatical method”, and cultural philosopher Jean Gebser, with his “grammatical mirror”, interpret the changes to human consciousness structure over time, and Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” is very similar, in this respect, to the Sacred Hoop, for it is also “in language”.
The signposts of speech, by which we orient ourselves in reality, are quite evidently breaking down. Disinformation, “fake news”, spin, propaganda, pretense, spam, “false-flag”, black ops, “ratfucking”, “bait-and-switch”, branding and perception management are the contemporary drivers of our chaos, intended to confound reason and perplex our perception. There is a surfeit of confusion, bewilderment, uncertainty, paranoia, and anxiety in consequence and people are prepared to believe even the most absurd and surreal (and that means the most irrational and untrue) things just to try to establish some conceptual order in their experience. The gullibility and credulity of much of the populace in this respect, is in some ways, simply a defensive pose — a life-preserver against a sea of confusion, disorientation, and anxiety.
Take, for example, the wide-spread phenomenon of “symbolic belief” (or “cognitive dissonance” by another name really), but which may be more akin to what we call “superstition” — which is, indeed, belief in things one does not understand, as Stevie Wonder once put it in song. “Symbolic belief” is likewise the belief in things which one knows, in one’s “heart-of-hearts”, to be untruthful, yet which are held to with near religious conviction because one’s identity is all entangled with this symbolic belief. This phenomenon is most disturbing because it is symptomatic of extreme self-alienation exactly as described in W.B. Yeats’ ominous poem “The Second Coming“. It is quite obvious that this “symbolic belief” is the counterpart to “post-rational” or “post-truth” society and is a measure of the alienation of the identity from the vital centre (also called the “core self” or “true self” or “soul”, or “heart-of-hearts” and so on) where it becomes superstition. This is equivalent to the process that Gebser calls “distantiation” as opposed to “presentiation”. This same vital centre is often referred to as “ground of being” or even as “ultimate truth” or as the Logos.
And it is indeed equivalent to the centre of the Sacred Hoop or the centre of Rosenstock’s “cross of reality”, which is the integral “standpoint” as it were. When we speak of things getting “carried away” it refers to dislocation or displacement from this vital centre. This is the problem of Blake’s reference to “Single Vision” and the return to sanity is what he called “fourfold vision”. It is precisely “fourfold vision” only at the vital centre of the Sacred Hoop or the cross of reality.
To be “carried away” is what is called “sin”, or “transgression” or “hubris”. At the extremity of any one of the radial axes of the Sacred Hoop or the Cross of Reality lurks “Nemesis” — the avenging power. What lies in wait at the extremity is Pain, if not Death. It’s only in this sense that Blake’s Proverb of Hell is true that “the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom”, which is apparently Mr. Trump’s motto, from what I have read. Blake’s proverb has the same meaning, though, as “pride goeth before a fall”. It is not “pride” per se that is meant here, but hubris or excess. If Blake’s proverb is truly Trump’s motto, he has failed to understand it, and it has become a superstition. “The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom” is the via dolorosa, “the Way of Pain”. And it is essentially this same via dolorosa, or Way of Pain, that describes the journey of the Prodigal Son into a “faraway land”.
If Blake’s proverb is indeed Trump’s motto and slogan (and he gives every impression that it is) then the world is indeed in very big trouble, for it will have chosen the Way of Pain despite itself. This kind of Pain — called “samsaric” and much like all pain — is intended not for punishment but for education, correction, and rectification and is connected with the karmic law of action and reaction. What is called “pleasure” and what is called “pain” are only the pale echoes and mundate reflections in the “Ulro” of their “aetheric” or eternal forms as joy and sorrow and have nothing to do with deficient notions of “reward” for virtue or “punishment” for sin. Pain, or samsara, or the via dolorosa or Angst is the fruit of excess and is a measure of distantiation from the vital centre or truth into Nemesis.
It’s at the extremity of pain, which is travel too far along one axis of the cross of reality or of the Sacred Hoop (called “Single Vision”), that the attempt to escape existential pain, rather than result in a return — the nostos — to the vital centre may turn into self-annihilation instead, or what Blake calls “Non-Ens”. Even what is called “death-by-cop” is just one example of this extreme attempt to escape existential pain.
The vital centre is also the root or language — the “ever-present origin” — and is the only and true “fountain” or “fountainhead” (certainly not Ayn Rand’s, who is only confused). “The cistern contains, the fountain overflows”, is another of Blake’s Proverbs of Hell that pertain to this. Cistern may be considered the cross of reality or the Sacred Hoop, while the fountain may be considered the vital centre. The “fountain” corresponds to what Gebser calls “irruption”. Since the vital centre is the origin and source of inspiration, and the root of language, it is for this reason also that Rosenstock-Huessy proclaims that “God is the power that makes men speak”, which is exactly the meaning of the indigenous “centre of the voice” in relation to the Sacred Hoop.
You might say, that Blake’s “cistern” is Iain McGilchrist’s “Emissary”, and that Blake’s “fountain” is McGilchrist’s “Master”. This would be equally true. But it is just as true to say that language — grammmatical speech — is the cistern, and inspiration is the fountain, correspondingly, cross of reality and vital centre.
Since rediscovery of the “vital centre” is also restoration or mending the cross of reality or Sacred Hoop, this is what it means to “speak from the centre of the voice”. This “speaking from the centre of the voice” which restores the dynamic equilibrium of cross of reality or Sacred Hoop, corresponds to don Juan’s “four enemies of the man of knowledge” named –Fear, Clarity, Power, and Old Age (or Death). These are the same “guardians of the four directions” we find in other cultures, and in Rosenstock-Huessy’s social and grammatical philosophy they appear rather as the social enemies of Decadence, War, Revolution, and Anarchy. Castaneda’s “four enemies” are also, in their positive aspect, four benefactors, and the aim of the “man of knowledge” is to hold these four in check (homeostasis, in other words). Likewise, Rosenstock-Huessy’s four enemies of society are the negative aspects of positive forces of Respect, Power, Faith, and Unanimity.
These four are, as Guardians of the Four Directions, are, in turn, represented in Blake’s mythology of the four “Zoas”, and are implicated in the four structures of consciousness (and the four ways of knowing) in Jean Gebser’s cultural philosophy. These are equally present in Holling’s Adaptive Cycle in ecology.
Rosenstock-Huessy is, in these terms, correct to say that “grammar is cosmic process”. As above, so below. The breakdown of this “cosmic process” is chaos.
And since this is a Christian holiday, I will say something about the Word or Logos on the Cross and the four evangelists who guard it — Mark, Matthew, Luke and John — for these also reflect in time the four beasts who surround the Throne of God in eternity as described in the Book of Revelation and which also become the “Zoas” of Blake’s mythology. “As above, so below”. The four evangelists are equally the same Guardians as the North, South, East, and West of the Sacred Hoop, as depicted in illustrated manuscripts from the Christian Era,
Those interested in Christian hagiography of this nature may find Rosenstock-Huessy’s more theological writings, particularly his Fruit of Lips; or Why Four Gospels? to be of some interest. In the secular age, the four evangelists as four Guardians have become the four principle ideologies of conservatism, liberalism, socialism, and environmentalism, but which today have likewise, become incoherent and inarticulate and hyper-partisan in much the same way as the Christian cross splintered and shattered into sect and schism in Late Christendom. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, it’s impossible today to make sense of what is meant by “conservative” or “liberal” or “socialist” or “environmentalist” at all. It’s all helter-skelter and willy-nilly because they’ve all forgotten their specific function as wardens of one of the space or time fronts of the Sacred Hoop or Cross of Reality.
The secular ideologies have forgotten their roots, and, like Blake’s warring four Zoas, their purpose and have become hyper-partisan and disintegrate. Christmas has become rather meaningless in consequence of this for there is no “peace on earth and goodwill to men” to be found today. We even kill the tree that was once celebrated, decorated and crowned as a living being. Whole forests are now wiped out for this grisly and ghastly purpose.
A little thought will reveal that conservative and liberal correpond to the moods of time — past and future respectively, and thus to respect and faith; while socialism and environmentalism respond to the needs of the inner and outer spaces — nurture and nature respectively, and thus to unanimity (or fellowship) and the corresponding relation to the outer as Nature and preserving the bond between the inner and the outer.
“Fourfold vision” means, in this context, recognising the integrality of the four — the family, the individual, the community, and Nature — as articulations of one life process and that no society can long survive the suppression or repression of any one of these. Today’s “totalitarian temptation” is the false belief that any one alone exclusively suffices, and that is a recipe for chaos. It’s in this sense that “fourfold vision” may be properly described as spiritual ecology and the “ecodynamics of society”, as Rosenstock-Huessy put it.