The Pubescent and Petulant Politics of the Chauvinistic Super-Patriot.
Or, The Real Problem with “Post-Historic Man”.
Concerns about “post-historic man” began to emerge in the late 50s and early 60s, with the writings of Roderick Seidenberg (Post-Historic Man) followed by Lewis Mumford (The Transformations of Man), and they anticipate Thatcherism and Fukuyama with his pernicious “end of history” doctrine. It should be noted, too, that Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, who we have had many occasions to mention, considered himself primary an historian and secondarily a social philosopher. And his writings also anticipate a “post-historic man” and his own quest for a “universal history” suitable for a planetary civilisation must be appreciated as an attempt to counter-act this “post-historic man”. And, of course, the cultural philosopher Jean Gebser is the farthest thing from “post-historic man”.
In my satirical comments on current eruptions of petty-minded and pubescent chauvinistic nationalisms (always better to be chivalrous than chauvinist if you truly believe that “the West is the best”) lies a disturbing truth about this type called “post-historic man”. I’ve suggested that the term “post-historic” easily translates into “post-conscious”.
The problem with post-historic man is that he not only “acts as if there is no tomorrow”, but also acts “as if he were born yesterday” — two propositions of popular language that really speak to the profounder implications of post-historic man. The man who lives for the moment and for instant gratification lives an infant life only, and damns the future and the past to oblivion. Post-historic man is, in that sense, a thorough nihilist who neither learns anything from the patterns of history, nor takes any responsibility for the future. And without memory or responsibility he remains, essentially, childish, an infant.
That is rather key to understanding Rosenstock-Huessy’s “time-thinking” method and his cross of reality and is equally key to understanding Gebser’s notion of “time-freedom” as the fruit of the mature consciousness, for indeed, “mature” is another word for “noble” (Nietzsche) or “integral” (Gebser).
To a large extent, Rosenstock-Huessy blamed this infantilism on an obsessive concern with subject-object dualism to the neglect of the polarities of time, which he called “backwards” and “forwards” (Origin and Destiny) or “trajective” and “prejective” orientations of time equivalent to the subject-objective orientations of the spaces of life. The addition of the times past and future gives us the “cross of reality” which is not dualist, not triangulating, but a quadrilateral describing our real orientation and the dimensions and directions of consciousness in physical reality
In past posts, we’ve compared this cross of reality with William Blake’s “fourfold vision” and the indigenous Sacred Hoop. And once you really appreciate the problem of “post-historic man” (which is also connected inevitably with “post-truth man” and “post-rational man”) you may discover just how much Blake’s vision and the Sacred Hoop pertain to the mature form of humanity, as integral being
Or why, too, in Christian iconography Christ also occupies the centre of the cross of reality flanked by the four Evangelists as in this illustration Agnes Dei
The trouble with post-historic man as interpreted by Rosenstock-Huessy, is that as long as he lives only for the self-interest, he lives only along the “Ego-It” axis of the cross of reality, and his essay entitled “Farewell to Descartes,” to which we’ve referred many times, might be considered a critique of Seidenberg’s and Mumford’s “post-historic man” (and who is also Nietzsche’s decadent “Last Man” of his Zarathustra). Gebser’s somewhat cryptic comment in The Ever-Present Orgin about “our guilt about time” refers to post-historic man, who is pretty much unconscious.
It should be very clear that in an age when Time has become the outstanding issue and “dimension”, post-historic man is an anachronism and an obsolete type. That’s why Gebser feels he’s due for a fall and to be supplanted by a more mature type — integral consciousness — who basically “fulfills the times” which post-historic man, the man of “Single Vision” in Blake’s terms, is unable to accomplish, for acting either like “you were born yesterday” or only living “as if there were no tomorrow” which are both problems of narcissism and the culture of narcissism, is a dead-end.