Owing to my distressed kidneys, I’m periodically required to have lab work performed by the local hospital, which I did today. The nurses’ station there also regularly posts “fun facts” about this or that subject. Today’s “fun facts” were about dreams, and so while the nurse was draining me of my precious bodily fluids we engaged in some banter about their posted “fun facts” and dreaming.
Afterwards, it occurred to me that I might also share that conversation with the readers of The Chrysalis, as it just might also aid you in gaining insight into your own dreams, and perhaps even why you dream at all.
Man is a paradoxical creature. Ultimately, it is what distinguishes the human from the machine. The machine cannot handle paradox. It is paralysed by paradox. That is why the Mechanical Philosophy and its logic had to deny and suppress the paradox in favour of “clear and distinct ideas” (as Descartes put it). But in doing so, it also had to deny and suppress Man in everything but Man’s mechanical aspects. In fact, dialectics and dialectical rationality breakdown in the face of paradox, which is connected, in logic, with what is called “the ears of the wolf dilemma”. When thesis and antithesis become one and the same, thinking dialectically collapses into perplexity, bewilderment, and confusion. The dialectic becomes a self-devouring, self-negating, self-contradictory process.
In earlier posts, I suggested that paradox and paranoia were intimately connected. Today, I want to explore that further as it pertains to the meaning of “chaotic transition”, and how paradox and paranoia can be transcended in Rosenstock-Huessy’s “metanoia“, or Jean Gebser’s “integral consciousness”.
The Inquisition has become symbolic of the irrationalities, disproportionalities, and reactionary paranoias of decaying regimes. The Inquisition was the form of that self-negating, self-devouring logic of the Age of the Church that is revisiting our time as well. It is the shape of the so-called “New Normal”.
In his book The Ever-Present Origin, Jean Gebser described what he called “the double-movement” of our times. Indeed, we call it “times” in the plural because it evinces this double-movement. This double-movement accounts for the paradoxes and ironies of the present, but also underlies the situation of predicament and dilemma. “Double-movement” is just an optional way of describing crisis, and a crisis is a parting of the ways, being a word related to cross, crossroads, crucial, and also crucible.
During times of rapid change, there is always a lag between events and our perception and understanding of those events. “Thought” is past tense. Reflection is always after the fact. Someone once said that “time makes hypocrites of us all”, but what that really means is that there is a dissonance between change and the adequacy of our responses to that change. We are already living in the future, but our thinking is still in the past, so that we live divided between the past and the future.
I call that “the Horseless Carriage Syndrome”, because the emergence of the automobile in its time could only be understood for many be reference to the past and precedent, in much that same way that indigenous people could only understand the locomotive as “Iron Horse”.
George Santayana is remembered for his remark that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. Marx thought that, yes indeed, history does repeat itself — first as tragedy, but then as farce.
It’s a quip that brings to mind slap-stick comedy. When the man first steps on the rake and batters his face, we feel and empathise with his pain. But when he steps forward and does it again — and again and again — we sense only his folly. We sense, in other words, the truth of Einstein’s judgement that repeating the same thing over and over again expecting different results each time is a mark of insanity. These are hallmarks of “post-historic man”, as described by Lewis Mumford and Roderick Seidenberg.
In that respect, Santayana, Marx, and Einstein are in complete agreement. The monotony of repetition and recurrence.