Having worked as a consultant for a spell at the Aboriginal Healing Project, it’s absolutely gut-wrenching for me to see how little progress seems to have been made in the actual healing of indigenous communities, especially in confronting the epidemic of aboriginal youth suicide. Right here is where building “resilience” has become most pressing. Indigenous people the world over have ever been on the front lines what we call “globalisation”, and more than most suffering the often destructive dynamics of the Megamachine.
Nonetheless, as an elder once said, too: “we’re all in the same canoe”. And he’s quite right. Our societies are broken. The Sacred Hoop is broken and the task of mending it is the Great Work of the Hermetic Philosophy which must enlist everybody’s efforts and support. This is where what Gebser calls “the double-movement” of disintegration and re-integration — or death and resurrection from death — is going to be tested foremost. For here, in these broken aboriginal communities, is where nihilism and its overcoming is becoming a test case for the entire fate of the Earth. As Nietzsche put it “If a man has a why he can put up with any how“, and that’s the secret of resilience. Our why must be, collectively, throwing ourselves into mending the Sacred Hoop. This only will give meaning to our acts and our lives in these times.
One must be careful to discern between science and scientism; likewise economics and economism and not confuse the sound with the unsound. The original ideal of science remains valid. That noble ideal was to liberate the mind from aggregate falsehoods, error, superstition, and dogma that made for the “mind-forg’d manacles,” as William Blake called them, through the clarification of human experience. It therefore ran a course parallel to the Age of Faith in that respect, for what the Age of the Church attempted — redemption of the soul from “sin” through pure faith, the Age of Reason likewise attempted — redemption of consciousness from error through pure reason alone.
But, unfortunately, pure reason and consciousness are not the same thing, even though they were and still are assumed to be so. This is the chief characteristic only of the “mental” structure of consciousness which has now bumped up against its limits of intelligibility and has become, instead, a species of madness itself.
There are diseases of consciousness. That is the meaning, after all, of what Charles Taylor calls “the malaise of modernity” and what Buddhism calls “dukkha“. Malaise and dukkha are the same. The phenomenon of “projection” is a symptom of a disease of consciousness. The healing of consciousness from disease is called “integration” (integrare means “to heal” or “to mend”), and this is essentially what is meant by “purification” of awareness or achieving clarity and the clarification of perception and experience. “Purity” isn’t what most people make of it, nor is it a moral issue at all, nor is the ideal of “perfection”. These matters pertain to healing the diseases of consciousness and perception.
So, this post is about such diseases of consciousness, among which I include scientism (or reductionism) or its apparent antitheses such as “New Age mysticism”. We will explore these issues as diseases of consciousness with the aid of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy’s grammatical method and “cross of reality”.
A culture is a milieu, and it exists for the purpose of producing and reproducing certain preferred or idealised types of human beings considered the “norm”, just as much as a laboratory worker creates a culture or medium in a petri dish to nurture or cultivate certain kinds of bacteria or colonies of organisms. The principle is the same. All organisms in some way or another, modify their environment or life-world (the beaver for instance) in such a way that one might even speak of different species having a “culture”.
But since man “does not live by bread alone”, as is said, most of human culture is a structure or tapestry of symbols and symbolic forms representing “values”. For the cultural philosopher, Jean Gebser, a culture and a “structure of consciousness” are, for practical purposes, synonymous terms, and one can read the symbolic forms of a culture to reveal its particular structure of consciousness — its accent, as it were, in terms of the magical, the mythical, or the mental-rational. Since culture is largely a tapestry of such symbolic forms, including certain kinds of symbolic rituals or ceremonies of passage and initiation, some social philosophers have defined man as “the symbol-using (and symbol-abusing) animal” (Hiyakawa) or as homo grammaticus.
The statues come a’tumblin’ down.
There’s a new wave of iconoclasm sweeping the globe. Lenin statues in Eastern Europe are coming down. Confederate memorials in the United States come a’tumbling down. In Canada also, a move is afoot to remove the name “Sir John A. Macdonald”, Canada’s first Prime Minister, from the names of schools. In Britain and its former colonies, the Rhodes Must Fall campaign calls for the topping of the statues of Cecil Rhodes. Now I read that even New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, is considering removing a statue of Christopher Columbus.
What to make of this wave of iconoclasm? Reformation (and Counter-Reformation) 2.0? The nearest thing that comes to mind is the Reformation (and, of course, the inevitable reactionary Counter-Reformation) and what that triggered for subsequent historical events. But the Reformation may well be where to look for a precedent and for insight into the present social dynamic as well.
The Shadow, Jung once noted, is about “80%” positive or dark energy or what Carolyn Baker calls “Dark Gold“, a figure which, mysteriously enough, reflects the calculated amount of dark energy presumed to exist in the cosmos, too. Jung called the Shadow “the unlived life” — the unmanifested. One may presume that what Castaneda’s don Juan calls “the dark sea of awareness” has some affiliation with both. That this life-energy or libido is bound up and confined in the Shadow is largely the result of the repression and inhibition that both Friedrich Nietzsche and William Blake (the “mind-forg’d manacles”) decried as the pernicious result of a false moralism.
As Mark Lilla frames things, the Pilgrims “did not speak in terms of personal identities; they had souls back then” — (from a review in The Guardian)
Yes, indeed. The identity crisis and identity politics is about the eclipse of the soul, which is the meaning of the symbolism of the Sol Niger or Black Sun. It’s for that reason, too, that restoring the meaning and integrity of the soul — reviving the soul as Jean Gebser’s “diaphainon” — is one of the main objectives of the writings of Jean Gebser and Rosenstock-Huessy, among others. It is correct to say that “identity” is only the soul which has shriveled up and has shrunk into a mere “point” — the “point of view”. The zombie image — the living dead — is really identity minus soul.