I found this image below on a website called “The Chicago Philosophy Meetup“, and given all we’ve discussed here in the past about the “pyramid of vision” (perspectivising consciousness) and the triadic structure of modern consciousness (as represented, for example, on The Great Seal of the United States) I found this particular representation striking as an example of “metamorphosis” connected with the act of perception.


This is clearly the symbol of the European Enlightenment (and of dialectical rationality) that is represented in the Great Seal, and a careless observor might conclude that it is the same symbolic representation of the rational-perspectival-dialectical mind that characterises the mental-rational consciousness.

annuit coeptisIt is, and yet it is not, for it has metamorphosed from a vertical, pyramidal orientation to an horizontal one — a pathway, a roadway, even, perhaps, “the Good Red Road” of North American Indian lore. In this transmutation, as it were, it has assumed a completely different meaning. “Same, but different”. There is also an additional feature in this particular symbolisation that is absent from the earlier one — it incorporates the double-helix, symbolically associated with the caduceus of Hermes, at its centre and thus introduces an element deliberately excluded from the older symbol — the Hermetic Code, the double-helix as the image of paradox.

The Caduceus of Hermes

The Caduceus of Hermes

What else is accomplished by this reorientation of perception? Well, for another thing, the Solar Eye is no longer at the apex of a pyramid or cone which is its cause, which it constructs perspectivally, and has become, rather, a destination and a destiny. The Alpha has become the Omega and the pyramid, having metamorphosed into a pathway with a destiny, it is also a return to history. The re-orientation is thus also from spatiality to temporality and transit.

A transmutation, or metamorphosis, is achieved here that very much brings to mind Thomas Kuhn’s description of a “paradigm shift” from The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It’s an example, too, of how “all that is old is made new again”. If a shift in consciousness structure is characterised by new perception — the perception of relationships between things and events hitherto invisible or opaque, or a revaluation of the meaning of existing relationships — this strikes me as a fine example of that. It also brings to mind what Rosenstock-Huessy said about human destiny — God is in the future, not the past, and we have a calling, and appointment, with that.

History, Rosenstock-Huessy once remarked, is “God’s poem” — a theme that echoes that of Omar Khayyam

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

Which is, of course, exactly what Mr. Fukuyama and his followers attempted to do with his “end of history” and “final form of society” ideology — stay God’s hand, as it were, very much reflecting that futile gesture of the reactionary conservative, William F. Buckley, Jr., who once defined a conservative as one who “stands athwart the railway of history yelling “Stop!””.  Stopping history, staying God’s hand.

The old symbol makes the eye of enlightenment the beginning of striving. The new rendering makes enlightenment now the end of striving. You can certainly see it both ways. How you perceive it is a matter of predilection, which is reflected in the political and social controversies of the day.

This transfiguration, which it is, of the pyramid into path is the most interesting shift, along with the reorientation and repositioning of the Solar Eye of Knowledge and Enlightenment as a destination and Destiny rather than as a given — as the reification or regidification of space. The old symbolism represents closure and the mood of “post-historic man”, while the new rendering suggests a return to history and the Open Road.

Of course, the authoritarian right can just as much seize upon such symbolism as rendering visible the old reactionary and phoney language of a “national awakening” and the establishment, once again, of ministries of “Public Enlightenment” (or Orwell’s “MiniTrue”) to which we seem now presently doomed to repeat — Urizenic “Enlightenment”, a profane enlightenment. It’s always possible to render the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” — the Sun symbol — as a Sun King, or Pharoah; a destined one; an anointed one; a good shepherd to his flock — the “godly man” who represents the most dangerous form of psychic inflation.

False Enlightenment: the mind as “tabula rasa” or “blank slate” sufficiently resembles Buddhism’s “empty mirror” to be mistaken for it, just as the Totality and the Whole resemble each other sufficiently to be confused in the mind. “All higher values devalue themselves” — Nietzsche’s definition of nihilism — is just as much on display here, especially as “New Normal” and “Post-Truth” which now passes itself off as an “awakening”. What’s actually “awakening” here is the Lizard Brain. Psychic inflation and the awakening of the Lizard Brain or “the ancient force” are very often the same process.


6 responses to “Metamorphosis”

  1. Steve Lavendusky says :

    Scott, and anyone else who is interested.

    TEMPLE OF THE COSMOS: The Ancient Egyptian Experience of the Sacred by Jeremy Naydler

    SACRED AGRICULTURE: The Alchemy of Biodynamics by Dennis Klocek

    Wonderful books by a couple of interesting thinkers.

  2. Scott Preston says :

    If you haven’t done so, you might want to catch DavidM’s recent postings (3 part series) of Michael Dowd’s lectures on his Integral Permaculture website entitled “Standing for the Future”

    I found Dowd’s lecture on “Grace Limits” particularly interesting

  3. Scott Preston says :

    This is truly bizarre. Mr. Trump claimed to be “draining the swamp” by ending the “special interest” lobby and lobbying. How did he do this? By making the special interest lobbyists the government, et voila, no more swamp. No more “lobbying”. Magical slight-of-hand. Apparently, the way to end the special interest lobbying of Wall St, Big Pharma, and Big Oil is to make them the government itself. That’s the “surreal” solution.

    Seems to me that this may be the root rationale for “alternative facts” — to gloss over the fact that the lobbyism that Trump vowed to end he did “end” simply by making the lobbyists the government itself.

  4. Scott Preston says :

    Pankaj Mishra’s new book Age of Anger is now out, I see. There’s a review in today’s Guardian

    Probably worth a read, although it (apparently) doesn’t end on a happy note.

  5. Scott Preston says :

    I see Orwell’s 1984 has moved up into the ranks of Amazon’s best-sellers. See? Trumpism is good for something. It’s going to be hard to take, for the most part, but it will engender an “awakening”, I’m sure — just not in the sense they think. i love the irony of that….

    In fact, watch for the ironies. It’s going to be a great time for ironies.

  6. Charles says :

    Crazy days. The Michael Dowd lectures are very good.

    You wrote:

    This is truly bizarre. Mr. Trump claimed to be “draining the swamp” by ending the “special interest” lobby and lobbying. How did he do this? By making the special interest lobbyists the government, et voila, no more swamp….

    It is bizarre.

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