Giotto, Picasso, and Gebser’s Aperspectival Consciousness II

In yesterday’s posting on Giotto, Picasso and Aperspectival Consciousness, we briefly (perhaps all-too briefly) traced the turbulent unfolding — in “agony and ecstasy”, as it were — of the third dimension of space (or, rather, the tripartition of space into spaces) to consciousness and perception that was prefigured in the Early Renaissance/Late Middle Ages and represented in the works of Giotto and Petrarch; proof that very big things often arrive in very small packages — or on little dove’s feet.

The unfolding (or “evolution”) of a new “dimension”, as I mentioned, also involves a corresponding “in-volution” befitting the law of dynamics that states: every action has an equal and opposite reaction — that is to say, a coincidentia oppositorum. Standard histories of the Renaissance and Late Middle Ages very seldom pay attention to the “in-volution” aspect of the transition — the restructuration of consciousness, perception, and cognition —  although this is now what is usually intended to be understood by the term “co-evolutionary” — the co-evolution of cosmos and consciousness.  Or, as the great Sufi mystic and poet Rumi once put it, “the whole universe is a form of truth”.

It is heartening to me to see that more and more people are beginning to pay attention to this “involution” aspect, after centuries of neglect of, indeed suppression of — “subjective values” and the act of perception itself.

We see, in the history of unfolding perspective consciousness from Giotto to Descartes, a gradual intellectual mastery of space — and especially the third “dimension” — through this tripartition of reality, although the histories recount the struggle the perspective artists (and later the scientists) faced in gaining acceptance for what was paradoxically referred to as being either “perspective illusionism” or “perspective realism” (or “naturalism”). Perspectivism was quite controversial for that reason. It was suspect, and came very close to being proscribed by the ecclesiastical authorities of the day, as it was to be in the Islamic world. The arguments made by the perspective artists to win acceptance for the innovation of perspectivism — that the tripartition of spaces was a visible metaphor for the Holy Trinity, or that the relationship between infinite and finite spaces was a visible metaphor for the relationship between time and eternity — were the very kinds of arguments that got perspectivism proscribed and banned in the Islamic world as “idolatry”.

Indeed, the acceptance of perspectivism brought with it some unintended consequences — a radical restructuration of the meaning of “truth” and a radical reconstruction of the meaning of “human nature” as well as knowledge shifted from an emphasis on the authority of the ear to the authority of the eye and to what was visible and demonstrable. If the emphasis was on time and the meaning of time in Christendom and the organisation of space was neglected, in the Renaissance this shifted radically towards space, and the negligence of time. As Owen Barfield has capably shown in his book Saving The Appearances: A Study in Idolatry, it was arguments about the nature of Truth that underlay the trial of Galileo by the Inquisitors, and the same is true of Copernicus and Descartes, and this is very much related to the shift from time-orientation to space-orientation of consciousness. Perspectivism is about space and spaces, and it might not be too much of an exaggeration to suggest that the Age of Revolutions followed, logically, from the seeds of perspectivisation planted by Giotto and Petrarch.

For Jean Gebser, in any case, the “perspectival” consciousness structure and the “mental-rational” consciousness structure (or logico-mathematical) are synonymous terms, in that the tripartition of spaces in terms of length, width, and depth is reflected in the tripartite dialecticism of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis and which, as the form of “Universal Reason”, was deemed to by identical with the mind of God — the way God’s mind actually worked. This is, in fact, Blake’s demiurgos — the mad Zoa named “Urizen” (or “Selfhood” or “Nobodaddy” or “Satan” or “Ancient of Days”) who we’ve met earlier in The Chrysalis in Blake’s image of him as the space-bound eye of perspective perception,

Urizen — Architect of the Ulro, “Ancient of Days”

You will, I hope, see that Urizen’s posture mirrors da Vinci’s perspective eye

da Vinci’s Perspective: the Eye and the Pyramid of Vision

Blake’s Urizen is the mental-rational/perspectival consciousness — space-bound and space-obsessed. And, as you may note, Blake depicts Isaac Newton in the exact same posture as his Urizen, which is Blake’s illustration of what he calls “Single Vision & Newtons sleep”.

Blake’s “Newton”

Since William Blake’s chief interest was the relationship between time (Ulro) and the Realms of Eternity, Newton’s space-obsessed “single vision” (or what we call “point-of-view” or perspectival consciousness) was, as far as Blake was concerned, madness. “Single vision” is not so much false as very incomplete, since it is an element of “fourfold vision”, or what Jean Gebser would call “aperspectival consciousness” (or “integral consciousness”) corresponding to his ideal “universal way of looking at things”.

And that brings us to the significance Picasso had for Gebser, and “the beauty that causes havoc”, as science historian Arthur I. Miller so aptly described it in his book Einstein, Picasso. Picasso thought perspectivism was “unnatural”, and you can see in his works the struggle to escape the fixity and trap of the “point-of-view”. Gebser notes that Picasso incorporates time and the flux into his painting, abandoning the “photographic effect” of earlier perspective representation. Some of Picasso’s paintings show shadows falling at different angles as the environment changes or the light changes as well as changes in colour, tone, shading, or hue. Picasso attempts to paint what we might call “the Heraclitean flux” of reality as we actually experience it — existentially. But many of Picasso’s more “cubist” or abstract paintings show something else in addition — Picasso abandons the fixed “point-of-view” reference coordinate and actually seems to go into orbit around the subject of his painting. To say that this represents multiple perspectives or various “angles” or different “points-of-view” all represented at once doesn’t quite do this justice. Picasso is exploring the “fourth dimension” — time and pursuing an integration of times and spaces in art, ie, holistic.

It’s this “orbiting” motion that suggests to Gebser the idea of the “sphere” as opposed to the “triangle” or pyramid as a more authentic “universal way of looking at things” and as symbol of the integral or “aperspectival” consciousness. What’s represented in Picasso is what astronauts also experience and describe as the “Overview Effect”

It’s in those terms that we might suggest that Picasso stands in relation to a “new Renaissance” as incipient form of the “aperspectival/integral” as Giotto stands in relation to the Old Renaissance of the perspectival consciousness. In that sense, yes, the “beauty that causes havoc” as Miller describes it is the disruption and dislocation of the fixity and rigidity of the “point-of-view”. Picasso is straining towards that “universal way of looking at things” that Gebser highlights as the chief characteristic of integral or aperspectival consciousness.

We might suggest another example of this “orbiting” in relation to the indigenous Sacred Hoop, without contradicting Gebser’s anticipation of the “sphere” as symbolic representation of the aperspectival.

Turtle Island as Sacred Hoop

Imagine, rather, that Picasso is circumambulating or orbiting along the perimeter of the Hoop, around the central point, and faithfully recording everything he sees in his painting as he does so. And imagine that the colour quadrants or zones or dimensions are Gebser’s different “civilisational types” or “structures of consciousness”, which are also different temporal Eras. Or, for that matter, that the zones are representations of Blake’s “four Zoas”. Picasso would pass through all four to finish his painting — in Gebser’s terms, the “unperspectival”, the “pre-perspectival” or the “perspectival”; or, optionally, the archaic, the magical, the mythical and the mental-rational. That would also be a pretty good way of describing a Picasso painting in terms of “the beauty that causes havoc”, as Dr. Miller calls it.

A Picasso is a holon, not a pie-slice of reality. And that’s what “aperspectival” means — holonic.

I’m persuaded, then, that it is indeed the case that as Giotto stood in relation to the Renaissance and perspectival consciousness, so Picasso stands in relation to the “new Renaissance”, as it were, of integral, aperspectival, ecological, or holonic consciousness, or “overview” rather than “point-of-view”. But that may also have “unintended consequences” for our own present expectations about the future, just as it did for the “Old Renaissance”.



20 responses to “Giotto, Picasso, and Gebser’s Aperspectival Consciousness II”

  1. abdulmonem says :

    I was thinking of why Blake painted Newton naked with his attention fixed on the below and its comparability to Adam nakedness as a sign of a fall but the only difference is that Adam never forgot the above and was able to fly from the siege of the limitation of the world of dimensions while Newton enjoyed the fall in that dimensions which causes all the wrath of Blake on him. Seeing the integral consciousness in arts is beautiful provided it ignites the integral in the humans actions in the world. Time does not show any signs in that direction, on the contrary the general trend is moving in the other direction despite the shouting voices of the danger of departure from the integral path. The source of knowledge is one and its division in the world of the humans into scientific, artistic , philosophical, theological etc should not blind the humans from the oneness of the source. Division is demanded by the diversifying nature of the manifestations. The story of the one and the many and their complementarity,that has never stopped being played on the stage of our toiling world. It is a question of faithful knowledge that indulges itself in reverence and respect toward the visible and invisible.

    • Scott Preston says :

      There are various interpretations of what Blake intended to be understood by depicting his Newton at the bottom of a sea, apparently oblivious to it because he’s obsessed with measuring space in the painting. Some have suggested that the “sea” is the sea of time (or eternity), which might be true if we take into consideration St. Augustine’s remark (noted by Gebser) that “time is of the soul”, in which case the “sea” could very well be what Castaneda’s don Juan called the “great sea of awareness”. That’s my interpretation, in any case. Newton is immersed in the great sea of awareness, but is too narrowly focussed, lost in “single vision” and therefore unconscious of the greater truth and reality of which he is but partially present to.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      Time does not show any signs in that direction, on the contrary the general trend is moving in the other direction

      Well, now, see…. I’m not so sure about that.

      It seems to me, it depends a great deal on where we happen to be looking. If we’re judging by “surface” or “superficial” events — i.e. events taking place entirely on the surface of the “world stage” (national elections; “resource wars” and “rushes to claim;” the “G20,” etc. and so forth); events set in motion and seemingly controlled by our supposed “leadership” — that would seem a logical conclusion. But the turbulent surface of the ocean masks, when it isn’t entirely obscuring, absolutely everything that is happening in the still, calm waters beneath the surface. That’s why I keep pointing out the “extremes” (or “distantiations,” if one prefers) and “the tyranny of the minority.”

      Someone should do a study — a real one. Not a “survey.” A study of everything occurring beneath the surface…NOW. Not fifty or sixty years ago, but NOW.

      That’s my interest, at the moment, which is why I’m still here, at The Chrysalis. Every once in a while, one of those buoys of sanity and hope pops to the surface.

      • abdulmonem says :

        Yes there is always the hopeful and the desperate and this is the story of moving from dark age to chrysalis but there is also genuine hope and false hope. What appears on the surface is a reminder that there is something cooking underneath, humans are programmed to move from the surface to the inward but not the inward of the cosmic sea but the inward of the self sea. Studying everything occurring underneath the surface is outside the human finiteness that is why we move in pieces, The problem starts when the part forgets the wholeness from where its started. and here the issue of faith faces the humans as an entrance to the world of perception. Once one read the self or the cosmos outside the whole or outside the call of the holy whole, one ignites the self fall into the abyss of dispersion. I read the story of the late Roy Brubaker the farmer from Penn whose motto of success is to have the capacity to be always there for your neighbor and compared it with the one who wants to built a wall between himself and his neighbor to reflect the two basic attitudes of our humans species.Thank you IW for such hopeful wideness toward knowing.

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          humans are programmed to move from the surface to the inward but not the inward of the cosmic sea but the inward of the self sea.

          >> Wherever you go, east, west, north or south, think of it as a journey into yourself! The one who travels into itself travels the world.

          Studying everything occurring underneath the surface is outside the human finiteness

          >> The whole universe is contained within a single human being: you. Everything that you see around, including the things that you might not be fond of and even the people you despise or abhor, is present within you in varying degrees. Therefore, do not look for Sheitan outside yourself, either. The devil is not an extraordinary force that attacks from without. It is an ordinary voice within.

          [Quotes: Shams Tabrizi]

          In other words, “the kingdom of Heaven [and the realm of Hell] is within and among you” (Jesus) or, in yet other words, “we are in the universe and the universe is in us (Neil deGrasse Tyson).”

          I think we’ve got the ‘universal’ thing down pat pretty much everywhere but our heads. (Reminds me of the awesome choreography of that Sufi dance I posted earlier; the short-circuiting companion cube that tried to solve GlaDOS’ paradox when she sprung it on Wheatley; and the ever-constant presence of one or another form of this image.)

          I prefer the term, Cosmos, as it intimates “fluid” or incessantly “in flux.” By “study,” I mean in the sense Gebser, Rosenstock and Jung, et al, “studied.” They didn’t set out to memorize, memorialize or create new ideologies. They observed, recorded and reported what they “saw” had occurred and was occurring “within.” They “meditated” or “contemplated,” to utilize two very popular terms for it; and the reason they were able to do that so deftly was that they didn’t consider anything they “saw” as exterior to themselves or, in other words, as the sole providence of “others.”

          I recall a post on TDAB that particularly struck a chord. The subject was the “uni-” in “uni-versal.” There are some who understand “uni-” one way and some who understand “uni-” a very different way. In many cases, “forms” of all kinds (including speech and writing) are considered “whole” or “holy” only if they conform to one or another uniform.

          Not many are doing what Tabrizi, Jesus, Gebser and others did in their day, much less being authentic or original in their “color commentary.” Nearly everywhere we look, is that old devil, Rote. For instance, I wondered how long after the US presidential election of 2016, it would take for a certain, small cadre of US “liberals” to pull out their old, stale “Mayberry, RFD” chestnut. (Not long, as it happens. In fact, about as long as it takes a certain, small cadre of US “conservatives” to pull out their old, stale chestnuts. :rollseyes:)

          Others, especially among the younger generation — regardless what label they choose or not to wear — I really don’t think we need to worry about all that much, not even when it comes to propaganda. Their “fresh minds” are quick and nimble. They know bs when they see and hear it. They know that “Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90’s TV show sitcom, ‘Dinosaurs.” [Link to video.]

          And I sincerely doubt many of them have ever even heard of many of the authors whose works have been discussed here.

          motto of success is to have the capacity to be always there for your neighbor and compared it with the one who wants to build a wall between himself and his neighbor to reflect the two basic attitudes of our humans species.

          Strange how those “wall” references are popping up everywhere now…even in a Samsung commercial.

          As we know, however, what’s going on in the “mind” — “popular” and otherwise — is only part of the story. Consider the popularity of all the books published in the last decade on the subject of “The Eternal Now.” If that’s not strongly indicative of an intensification of what Gebser termed “presentiation,” I’m sure I don’t know what is.

          While the “superficial” is, at present, chaotic and confused (by Rote), what lies beneath — a global movement toward connecting and reconnecting with Earth/Nature, ourselves and each other; “presencing” (the times); and, of course, the ever-present themes of “awakening;” “consciousness-raising;” etc. — goes on unabated and severely under-reported.

          One of Tabrizi’s little pearls of wisdom is perhaps most relevant for us here.

          It is pointless trying to know where the way leads. Think only about your first step, the rest will come.

          • abdulmonem says :

            Yes IW the Sufis say to the human, you think you are a tiny germ and in you the big cosmos is incorporated, they add the journey is not mental but spiritual where the spirit imposes limits on the mental, lest the human gets lost in the limitless sea of knowledge. They say sharia, the way to the water, is a shackle on the endless sea of knowledge. Truth is so deep it is easily to sink in its bottomless bottom. Spiritual experience as you well know is not a theoretical matter but a practical affair. It is do and do not, say or say not that demand choice and wise selection, either follow what god has selected for you or pursue your own selection. It is the mess of our time where humans do not even select for themselves but others select for them. It is the priority of self exploration, self-realization as prelude to enter the cosmic exploration to save us from losing our way and become an apparatus of power ,exploitation and destruction,as a result of forgetting the divine message.

  2. abdulmonem says :

    After I finished my comment and read your comment about the possibility of various interpretations which I concur with however nakedness still occupy my mind, I remembered a three parts article I read long time ago written by Antonio Dias taken from John Berger book the sense of sight speaking on the cubist moment echoing the spirit of your post which I thought I mention here because of his emphasis on what last and how knowledge is used to deny knowledge and the importance of refiring that cubist spirit.

    • Scott Preston says :

      A three part article by Antonio Dias? Where did you read that? Antonio Dias is a subscriber to The Chrysalis. Did you read that on this blog as a comment from Antonio Dias?

  3. abdulmonem says :

    No Scott, I read it on horizons of significance

  4. mikemackd says :

    Scott, you may recall that Wiczek book I mentioned some time ago. I haven’t finished it: must get back to it. This is a deep subject, getting to the real nitty-gritties of the modern crises. Here is a contribution from Mumford’s 1934 Technics and Civilization, pp 18-21. I hope I can knit this together with other recent contributions here:


    Dagobert Frey, whose words I have just noted, has made a penetrating study of the difference in spatial conceptions between the early Middle Ages and the Renascence: he has re-enforced by a wealth of specific detail, the generalization that no two cultures live conceptually in the same kind of time and space. Space and time, like language itself, are works of art, and like language they help condition and direct practical action. Long before Kant announced that time and space were categories of the mind, long before the mathematicians discovered that there were conceivable and rational forms of space other than the form described by Euclid, mankind at large had acted on this premise. Like the Englishman in France who thought that bread was the right name for le pain each culture believes that every other kind of space and time is an approximation to or a perversion of the real space and time in which it lives.

    During the Middle Ages spatial relations tended to be organized as symbols and values. The highest object in the city was the church spire which pointed toward heaven and dominated all the lesser buildings, as the church dominated their hopes and fears. Space was divided arbitrarily to represent the seven virtues or the twelve apostles or the ten commandments or the trinity. Without constant symbolic reference la the fables and myths of Christianity the rationale of medieval space would collapse. Even the most rational minds were not exempt: Roger Bacon was a careful student of optics, but after he had described the seven coverings of the eye he added that by such means God had willed to express in our bodies an image of the seven gifts of the spirit.

    Size signified importance; to represent human beings of entirely different sizes on the same plane of vision and at the same distance from the observer was entirely possible for the medieval artist. This same habit applies not only to the representation of real objects but to the organization of terrestrial experience by means of the map. In medieval cartography the water and the land masses of the earth, even when approximately known, may be represented in an arbitrary figure like a tree, with no regard for the actual relations as experienced by a traveller, and with no interest in anything except the allegorical correspondence.

    One further characteristic of medieval space must be noted: space and time form two relatively independent systems. First: the medieval artist introduced other times within his own spatial world, as when he projected the events of Christ’s life within a contemporary Italian city, without the slightest feeling that the passage of time has made a difference, just as in Chaucer the classical legend of Troilus and Cressida is related as if it were a contemporary story. When a medieval chronicler mentions the King, as the author of The Wandering Scholars remarks, it is sometimes a little difficult to find out whether he is talking about Caesar or Alexander the Great or his own monarch: each is equally near to him. Indeed, the word anachronism is meaningless when applied to medieval art: it is only when one related events to a co-ordinated frame of time and space that being out of time or being untrue to time became disconcerting. Similarly, in Botticelli’s The Three Miracles of St. Zenobius, three different times are presented upon a single stage.

    Because of this separation of time and space, things could appear and disappear suddenly, unaccountably: the dropping of a ship below the horizon no more needed an explanation than the dropping of a demon down the chimney. There was no mystery about the past from which they had emerged, no speculation as to the future toward which they were bound: objects swam into vision and sank out of it with something of the same mystery in which the coming and going of adults affects the experience of young children, whose first graphic efforts so much resemble in their organization the world of the medieval artist. In this symbolic world of space and time everything was either a mystery or a miracle. The connecting link between events was the cosmic and religious order: the true order of space was Heaven, even as the true order of time was Eternity.

    Between the fourteenth and the seventeenth century a revolutionary change in the conception of space took place in Western Europe. Space as a hierarchy of values wan replaced by space as a system of magnitudes. One of the indications of this new orientation was the closer study of the relations of objects in space and the discovery of the laws of perspective and the systematic organization of pictures within the new frame fixed by the foreground, the horizon and the vanishing point. Perspective turned the symbolic relation of objects into a visual relation: the visual in turn became a quantitative relation. In the new picture of the world, size meant not human or divine importance, but distance. Bodies did not exist separately as absolute magnitudes: they were co-ordinated with other bodies within the same frame of vision and must be in scale. To achieve this scale, there must be an accurate representation of the object itself, a point for point correspondence between the picture and the image: hence a fresh interest in external nature and in questions of art. The division of the canvas into squares and the accurate observation of the world through this abstract checkerboard marked the new technique of the painter, from Paolo Ucello onward.

    The new interest in perspective brought depth into the picture and distance into the mind. In the older pictures, one’s eye jumped from one part to another, picking up symbolic crumbs as taste and fancy dictated: in the new pictures, one’s eye followed the lines of linear perspective along streets, buildings, tessellated pavements whose parallel lines the painter purposely introduced in order to make the eye itself travel. Even the objects in the foreground were sometimes grotesquely placed and foreshortened in order to create the same illusion. Movement became a new source of value: movement for its own sake. The measured space of the picture re-enforced the measured time of the clock.

    Within this new ideal network of space and time all events now took place; and the most satisfactory event within this system was uniform motion in a straight line, for such motion lent itself to accurate representation within the system of spatial and temporal co-ordinates. One further consequence of this spatial order must be noted: to place a thing and to time it became essential to one’s understanding of it. In Renascence space, the existence of objects must be accounted for: their passage through time and space is a clue to their appearance at any particular moment in any particular place. The unknown is therefore no less determinate than the known: given the roundness of the globe, the position of the Indies could be assumed and the time-distance calculated. The very existence of such an order was an incentive to explore it and to fill up the parts that were unknown.


    That approach, by the way, led to Captain Cook’s “discovery” of Australia (discovery by those of that mindset; other people had been there for around 65,000 years before Cook sailed in; that 65,000 has just been established by evidence not far from where I live: it could be longer). They were searching for the “Great South Land”, which such thinking figured must be around here somewhere..

    • Scott Preston says :

      I’ll have to look up Dagobert Frey, although I’m not sure how much more he can teach me about the reorientation of space and time between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. I notice that Gebser has a reference to Frey, but only as a footnote in his EPO.

      Had another very stimulating meeting with Chris Kutarna yesterday — the co-author of the book The Age of Discovery. When I got back I found your comments here, and I forwarded this one to Chris this morning. Chris is going to be in Australia in a couple of months to promote his book. I mentioned to him that I’ld like to see you two get together. He’ld like to meet up there if you’re willing. Let me know.

      Really like this quote from Mumford, too. Thanks for sharing.

      • mikemackd says :

        Scott, I’d be happy to talk with Chris Kutarna; there could be logistic problems, though, as I do a lot of flitting hither and yon.

        Perhaps we could make a plan closer to the day.

        Many Thanks.

  5. mikemackd says :

    Around 60 years ago, when I was about ten, I purposed to get to the bottom of Genesis. Around 50 years ago, I read Titus Burkhart’s Sacred Art East and West, which pointed to the Rite of Orientation – involving a gnomon of some kind, and a string to draw a circle from its centre – as universal

    Around 40 years ago, I embarked upon my travels with that quest in mind. I discovered (I believe re-discovered) the Star Key about 30 years ago, and put it online almost 20 years ago.

    As Mumford said in Chapter Five of Technics and Civilization”:

    Every culture lives within its dream. … This dream pervades the life of a culture as the fantasies of night dominate the mind of a sleeper: it is reality — while the sleep lasts. But, like the sleeper, a culture lives within an objective world that goes on through its sleeping or waking, and sometimes breaks into the dream, like a noise, to modify it or to make further sleep impossible.

    Every culture has some other things else in common: they include revolving spheres above them: the sun, the moon, the stars; and they use those to track the apparently objective world’s time and space via the Rite of Orientation.

    That rite provides a fourfold division of the circle on the ground of space as we call north, south, east and west, and a sixfold division of the sphere by adding up and down. I consider that, when that sixfold division is manifested on the plane by the simple expedient of using the other end of the sting from that attached to the centre of the gnomon to detach the end attached to the gnomon, and swing it around to the circle’s circumference, and find that thereby one can precisely – precisely – divide the circle into six segments (!), would be a matter of some astonishment to any person of even moderate intelligence and curiosity.

    Hence, I consider, the Star Key: hence, I further claim, the six days of creation in Genesis, and the return to the centre to rest on the seventh, and to repeat the process every week evermore.

    The Star Key signals divisions into three, and some may have considered that to be a divine direction. Divisions of each line outlining the six-pointed star thereby signals decimal notation: nine lines, ten points. The rest of the Star Key’s numbers flow from the simple process of digital roots. Every number has a digital root between 1 and nine inclusive. For example, 23456 has 2+3+4+5=14; 1=4 = 5, so the digital root of 23456 is 5. Hence all the numbers in the Star key, that add up to 360.

    I find it remarkable that no-one else seems to think these number relationships aren’t both remarkable, and would be seen as such by the ancients. To me, as a person who has studied ancient cultures for as long as I have, they provide explanatory depth concerning numbers in ancient texts that all other explanations I have thus far encountered lack.

    For instance, I consider that not only does my above geometric explanation of Genesis’s “days” of creation fits the text better than any other I have found, but it also contains psychological resonances concerning the left hemisphere’s basic attempts to “get a grip” on reality’s blooming buzzing confusion on the face of the waters. That is a challenge that every infant encounters and must address to survive. Such heuristic mapping is our own genesis as persons.

    Which leads to a curious coda re the Theology of Arithmetic book linked to Iamblichus (4th century) I mentioned before.

    The book itself is based on the point that all numbers are based on 1 to 10, which are themselves based on 1, so by sussing them out, you can suss out lots more. Clearly, they took that way too far, but there is still further that it could have been legitimately taken, and still may be: just in different directions.

    The book’s final page is devoted to 55. Another interesting feature of 55 is that EVERY number beyond it is the sum of distinct primes of the form 4n + 3. I’m not saying that they knew that; just that it’s fitting, therefore, that the book ends with a discussion of 55.

    Similarly with the link I made in the Skolimowski string with the angle of the pyramid and the 144,000 in Revelations; again, as far as I know, an original suggestion of mine (although of course if true it would not be original, but lost to at least general understanding for ages). I mean, accurate not just to the degree, not just to the minute, but – at least according to the sources I consulted on the pyramid’s angle – to the second?

    From the gnomon and the string, to the circle, the four directions and the Star Key: from Uriel’s compass to the pyramid to Newton’s compass. They are not the problem: it’s their single vision that’s the problem. So, what’s that about?

    I think it’s about time; about time to wake up from our culture’s dream of the myth of the machine, including the myth of money, and what Jesus got himself crucified for opposing.

    The whole nine yards.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Every culture lives within its dream. … This dream pervades the life of a culture as the fantasies of night dominate the mind of a sleeper: it is reality — while the sleep lasts. But, like the sleeper, a culture lives within an objective world that goes on through its sleeping or waking, and sometimes breaks into the dream, like a noise, to modify it or to make further sleep impossible.

      There is, indeed, a lot packed into that brief quote. That’s “the Dreaming”, and it also pertains to my earlier post on “The Shock of the Real”. Mumford is here describing the real meaning of “apocalypse”, and the Dreaming is the narcissistic state or condition or the unawakened mind or ego-consciousness.

      That sometimes — eventually — reality “breaks into the dream like a noise, to modify it or make further sleep impossible” is a good description of “chaotic transition” or what we call “crisis” — the informational terms, “noise” is chaotic factor, somewhat like the audible form of what is erroneously (in my view) called “junk DNA”.

      Of course, the “objective” is not just what’s “out there”. For Gebser, it’s also what’s “in here”. In some ways they can’t be distinguished, since there is a continuum between the “out there” and the “inhere”. But that irruption, too, is initially “noise”. That is the significance of Nietzsche’s “you must have chaos in yourself to give birth to a dancing star”. It’s also connected with Thomas Kuhn’s notion of breakdown as breakthrough in scientific revolutions.

      “Noise” is a good metaphor for chaos. It is also a very good description of the present incoherence of the public conversation. If you begin with the notion of “noise” as chaos, then Rosenstock-Huessy’s social philosophy becomes even more accessible.

      Interestingly, the gods in the Epic of Gilgamesh bring about the flood and the destruction of mankind because of the “noisiness” of the human cities, so this prefigures not only the Biblical Flood story, but also the Tower of Babel story.

      “Noise” also figures very much as the meaning of Seth’s warning about the return of the “ancient force”, as I quoted him earlier in “The Most Haunting Words…”

  6. Scott Preston says :

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

    – A Tale of Two Cities.

    Keep that quote in mind from Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities as you read this article on “the New Optimists” in today’s Guardian (“Is The World Really Better Than Ever”),. It’s an interesting read.

  7. Dwig says :

    Yes, interesting to see that Dr. Pangloss is still with us. I found more interesting John Gray’s article referred to in an image.

  8. erikleo says :

    Yes, although Blake personified Newton as representing ‘Single Vision’ he didnt dismiss ‘science’ altogether. In some letters he wrote he brackets Newton with figures he admired such as Milton.

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