Marty Glass and the Kali Yuga
I’m about half-way through Marty Glass’s book Yuga: An Anatomy of Our Fate. It is, I have to say, even bleaker about our current situation in the Kali Yuga than my former Dark Age Blog, or Carolyn Baker’s Dark Gold: The Human Shadow and the Alchemy of Global Crisis. Bleaker even than Jane Jacobs’ Dark Age Ahead.
I’m sure that if Jane Jacobs were still alive she would see contemporary events as confirmation of her prognosis that we are in a Dark Age. William Irwin Thompson has it that we have been in a Dark Age for some time already.
In Dark Age Ahead, Jacobs gives five symptoms (or pillars) of our Dark Age, as quoted from the Wikipedia entry on her book:
Community and Family : People are increasingly choosing consumerism over family welfare, that is: consumption over fertility; debt over family budget discipline; fiscal advantage to oneself at the expense of community welfare.
Higher Education: Universities are more interested in credentials than providing high quality education.
Bad Science: Elevation of economics as the main “science” to consider in making major political decisions.
Bad Government: Governments are more interested in deep-pocket interest groups than the welfare of the population.
Bad Culture: A culture that prevents people from understanding/realising the deterioration of fundamental physical resources on which the entire community depends.
Marty Glass also has five characteristics of the Kali Yuga (or spiritual Dark Age): a) The Fall Into Time, b) The Reign of Quantity, c) The Mutation into Machinery, d) The End of Nature, and e) The Prison of Unreality.
Of course, these all intersect and are related to one another as aspects of Urizenic consciousness — that is, Blake’s “single vision” (or McGilchrist’s “Emissary”) which can barely be described as consciousness at all. As noted before, they are symptoms of the Prodigal Son’s state of extremity at the outer limits of his journey or exile from the vital centre. All in all, these five add up to a condition of “post-consciousness”. But then again, so was the Prodigal Son. It was only in his extremity, living as a swine amongst swine, that he came to remembrance of himself and his original home.
Blake would certainly take all this as his Urizen in his madness, while Gebser would call it “the mental-rational consciousness structure” — or perspectivising consciousness — now functioning in “deficient” mode. And, indeed, each of the five features of Glass’s Kali Yuga are the hot topics of the day in one form or another, being the identified features of the crisis of Late or Post-Modernity.
There are evident correlations between Jane Jacobs’ five characteristics of Dark Age and Glass’s five features of the Kali Yuga, although Jacobs’ only scratches the surface that Glass penetrates more deeply into — as being the total eclipse of the spiritual.
For each of these five features of the Kali Yuga, one can identity a notable contemporary champion who struggled with them: Blake struggled against The Fall Into Time; Robert Pirsig in his Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, struggled against the Reign of Quantity; Lewis Mumford and Jacques Ellul struggled with The Mutation into Machinery; Rachel Carson or Bill McKibben struggle against The End of Nature; Noam Chomsky or Neil Postman struggled with The Prison of Unreality. They all picked some special aspect of the “rough beast” for particular attention. But perhaps only Blake saw the rough beast as a whole, and called it “Urizen”, and otherwise today known by Mr. Tweedy as The God of the Left Hemisphere.
For what it’s worth, Glass’s five characteristics of the Kali Yuga also provide a useful schema for interpreting much contemporary dissident literature — what particular aspect of the rough beast or Dark Age with which they have taken up the “mental fight”. All-in-all, the five features of Dark Age or Kali Yuga are characteristic of what Pitrim Sorokin also described as “sensate consciousness”.
The Fall Into Time; The Reign of Quantity; the Mutation into Machinery; the End of Nature; and The Prison of Unreality all describe contemporary nihilism, the manner in which, as Nietzsche put it, “all higher values devalue themselves” through the millstone of the “nothing but” — fundamentalism and reductionism.
I suppose it’s safe to say that for Blake, the Fall into Time is the reason for all the other features of the Kali Yuga, and the chief reason why he was anxious to open the “doors of perception” to the perception of the eternal and the infinite hid within all things, and why Jean Gebser emphasised “time-freedom” as the theme of the new consciousness “mutation”, which is his conviction that, in our time also, the Prodigal Son is coming to remembrance of himself and his true home (and either does or falls off the deep end and into Oblivion, fulfilling Walter Benjamin’s anticipation of self-alienation passing over into eventual self-annihilation).