Origin is Ever-Present

Eternity is in love with the productions of time — William Blake

I am going to attempt to explain the meaning of Jean Gebser’s phrase “ever-present origin” (which is also the title of the English translation of his book) and how this pertains to his idea of “time-freedom”, which is, after all, the essential meaning of the term “transcendental”.

This is a bit tricky, because of the paradoxical nature of the relationship between time and eternity, or the finite and the infinite, or the mediate and the immediate, or all forms of dualism generally. But if we manage to pull it off, it will also reveal the fuller meaning of what William Blake means by “Eternity is in love with the productions of time” or by “Eternity in the hour”. In fact, it would make the sometimes enigmatic and complex mythology of Blake’s “mystical” poetry much more accessible, as well as much else besides.

The modern sensibility is that we move through time, which we associate with the dynamics of evolution. This conception of ourselves as beings in motion and of moving through time is by no means universally shared. In other cultures, it would be more correct to say that we do not move through time so much as time moves through us, or even originates with us. This was certainly the doctrine of the neo-platonist philosopher Plotinus, and it was, to some extent, the common-sense understanding of time of Medieval Man. Gebser quotes St. Augustine as saying “Time is of the soul” in much the same sense. I haven’t found that quote in Augustine specifically, but it would certainly ring true in the case of Plotinus.

“We never left the Garden” is a line from the song “Never Left” by The Oyster Band. It actually captures what Gebser means by “the ever-present origin” quite nicely. Origin for Gebser is not to be thought of in terms of beginnings or endings in time, but as equivalent to what is often described in terms of “Eternal Now” or “Eternal Present” or in terms of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, and so on. Gebser associates Origin with what he calls “the archaic” structure of consciousness, which he considers ever-present for being foundationally active, albeit latently, within the whole human psychic configuration, and is the same as what Buddhism calls “the unorginated” and “the unconditioned” because it is, itself, the source for everything considered originate and conditional. In that sense, it corresponds to the belief that “time is of the soul”. Gebser wrote his book The Ever-Present Origin, in fact, from his conviction that this archaic structure of consciousness was “awakening” (or “irrupting” in his terms) again in our times.

It is convenient, in fact, to think of Gebser’s archaic structure of consciousness as being the same as Jill-Bolte Taylor’s “Life Force Power of the Universe”, as she described that in her TED talk (to which I’ve frequently alluded in past posts).

The phrase “archaic consciousness” might be a little misleading if you think of it only in terms of something ancient from deep time, although you could also think of it in such terms. Better it is to appreciate it as what we sometimes call “the ground of being” or to think of the archaic as foundational, or perhaps as pre-egoic consciousness. The archaic is itself not timebound. It is timeless, so that you could say that it is from the foundations of the world, as long as you don’t temporise the meaning of that. The foundation is like a fountain — a fountain of energy — and Blake often uses the metaphor of a fountain to much the same end to describe Bolte-Taylor’s “Life Force Power of the Universe”, too.

So, there’s one of the main paradoxes of the archaic — it being eternally new and “now” but also ancient. Some people who have intimations of eternity or infinity are tapping into the abiding archaic legacy in their own psychic constitution (and sometimes more explicitly such as John Wren Lewis described in “The Dazzling Dark“. Oftentimes, tapping into the archaic is represented as symbolic journey into the Underworld, and in terms of “the treasures of darkness”, which is a very common narrative theme, including Dante. And I’m sure a lot of us feel like we are on a journey into the Underworld, or the Inferno, in today’s world!).

So, the archaic is not something that has been superseded by time or evolution. We never left it behind. Nor did we leave behind other states or structures of consciousness described by Gebser as “magical” or “mythical”. They remain largely active in us still, but in various degrees of latency or manifestation. The only thing that really changed was the ego-consciousness’s perceptual relationship to its world and what Gebser describes as the “distantiation” of the ego-consciousness from its roots or source in the archaic. This is the meaning of the parable of the Prodigal Son, who is the human ego-consciousness grown alienated and estranged from the sources of its life and identity.

The recovery of the archaic (and of the other consciousness structures for that matter) is what Gebser calls “presentiation”. Presentiation and integration are practically synonymous terms. “Time-freedom” and “presentiation” are also practically synonymous, and what we have been referring to as “the return of the repressed” (or what Gebser calls “irruption”) is also connected with the process of presentiation.

Gebser dislikes, for that reason, any glib talk about “evolution” as movement through time, even though it’s difficult for us not to think in terms of progression and regression in such terms. There are, for Gebser, “unfoldings”, and the other civilisational structures Gebser interprets — the magical, the mythical, the mental-rational — can be described in terms of what William Blake refers to as “the productions of time”. “Eternity is in love with the productions of time” may be very easily interpreted as the actual description of the relation that exists between the archaic consciousness and those other structures which have unfolded from it — the magical, the mythical, and the mental-rational — and which remain active within us, in a more or less pronounced way, even despite ourselves.

It is somewhat ironic that what really only marks the metamorphosis from one structure to another was what Nietzsche called a “revaluation of values”. In any event, it always brings to my mind John Lennon’s line about “look into a glass onion”. They layers or skins of the onion can be likened to the various structures of consciousness, grown around the “core”, which is the archaic (or what Gebser also calls “the diaphainon“). The glass onion is an interesting metaphor for combining multiple aspects of his “integral consciousness” — the diaphaneity or transparency of the world, the sphere or orb as symbol of the integral, and the skins of glass onion as his structures of consciousness.

The glass onion is a pretty good metaphor for the idea of “presentiation” and of the integral consciousness.


33 responses to “Origin is Ever-Present”

  1. mikemackd says :

    Scott, I feel I should report upon my day’s events in the light of this post of yours.
    This morning, I chanced to learn of the existence of a multibillionaire and philanthropist by the name of Ray Dalio, the CEO of a hedge fund investment fund called Bridgewater, and a giver of master classes about the megamachine.

    He considers that “Almost everything is like a machine, Nature is a machine. The family is a machine. The life cycle is like a machine:”

    He has recently published a best seller called “Principles”, which provides further guidance along these lines, and an epitome of those principles at:

    Furthermore, he presents a handy little YouTube overview of economics at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHe0bXAIuk0

    Wherein he noted that “Those who were inventive and hard-working raise their productivity and their living standards faster than those who are complacent and lazy”.

    This afternoon I settled down to finish an old book of mine called “Mysteries of the Dreaming”, by James Cowan (1992, Prism Press), in which Cowan claims that “Modern man is hell-bent on the destruction of all numinosities, whether they be metaphysical, mythic, or totemic, in order that he might pave the way for his own material apotheosis” (p. 130) and quotes Rene Guenon as observing in his “The Crisis of the Modern World” how it is taken for granted that anyone not producing material things must be an “idler” (on p. 136) and warns of “man’s need to maintain vigilance against the threat of spiritual extinction”.

    That chapter of Cowan’s has been included in other publications, including at http://cnqzu.com/library/Philosophy/neoreaction/Harry%20Oldmeadow/71537516-Harry-Oldmeadow-The-Betrayal-of-Tradition-Essays-on-the-Spiritual-Crisis-of-Modernity.pdf

    I am putting that here to see if other readers might find certain homologies between Gebser’s Ever Present Origin and the Dreamtime. Cowan’s chapter is entitled “Towards a New Dreaming”, and calls to us to begin to see the dreaming as a spiritual condition, just as Blake sees the Satanic state as a state of mind.

    Cowan speaks of “reestablishing our links with totems (an embodiment of each individual in his or her primordial state – p. 105) making our own Dream journeys, listening to the voice of our own Dreaming and acknowledging our ancestors as being primordially present” as “the beginning of the process of renewal.”

    In so doing, one must not make Ulro’s mistake with Ray Dalio.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I think Mr. Dalio may be one of history’s “past men” who doesn’t yet know it. Here’s the irony of all this — a good example of ironic reversal: It was once high praise to say that a mechanical process was “life-like”, ie, that it mimicked life or organic process. Latterly, with the “Megamachine’s” consolidation, life must now justify itself as being machine-like. I would submit that this inversion or reversal has a great deal to do with Smolin’s notion of “inverted totalitarianism”.

      I would say that this odd reversal is largely the meaning of the movie The Matrix.

      You could say that this very odd reversal is also a case of Jungian “enantiodromia”.

      • Scott Preston says :

        I would say, by the way, that this is the nub of the entire problem of the “megamachine”. At one time, mechanical or technical process, inasmuch as the ideal was to be “life-like” or analogous to life process, meant that the mechanical/technical process still recognised the supremacy of the life process. At some point this flipped, and that’s when you get the birth of the Megamachine or the “Moloch”. Life process became subsumed by the technical/mechanical process, and now the ideal became rather life becoming “machine-like”.

        This is a concern we find already in Nietzsche, who wrote about human beings becoming “automatons of reflexes”, as well as in Yablonsky’s “Robopathy”, but it’s already anticipated in Blake’s “dark Satanic Mill” or “Urizenic” Man.

        I like to contrast this Mechanical Philosophy with Hermetic Philosophy or alchemy. Hermeticism is theoria, alchemy is praxis. Alchemy is also technical process, but one that does not lose touch with the life process. It is symbolic performance of the life-process — “life-like” in that real sense, and it only lost that when some people began to believe that the transmutation of base matter into noble metals was something literal, rather than metaphorical and symbolic process.

        Fortunately, Hermeticism is making a comeback, even in the contemporary sciences, and may be the corrective we need to counter the nihilistic and thanatic drive of the Megamachine. .

        • mikemackd says :

          One thing that puzzles me about this Dalio fellow is that he is a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation, so possibly even more so than most organisms he can’t be enboxed in machinist stereotyping.
          While I recall it as a kind of spiritual KFC, and downright dishonest in its description of how mantras were assigned, nonetheless it has brought people to mindfulness meditation, wherein one is present in the third of a second gap between a stimulus and when our left hemisphere’s identity construction narratives kick in, our “Wizards of I” with their endless chatter (see the again mechanistically-expressed thoughts of Smallberg at https://www.edge.org/response-detail/10607).

          Perhaps that explains Dalio’s philanthropy, which, from the deeper perspective he has presumably gained as a meditator, could provide meaning to his life that his money-amassing never can. I don’t know but provisionally assume, however, as they do so in far poorer little me, that Jesus’s admonitions to the rich young man to give up all his riches, and that one cannot serve both God and Mammon, may have caused a tinkle of cognitive dissonance in one so evidently clever.

          Mumford said that we should learn all the lessons machine thinking can teach us, and transcend yet still include them in his organic humanism. Perhaps that is where Dalio is coming from, but he does not appear to have been influenced by Mumford in any way, shape, or form: he may even, God help him, really believe that nature is a machine!

          I wonder if he reads someone from his side of the political spectrum, Russell Kirk, who noted, “Society is not a machine: on the contrary, it is a kind of spiritual corporation; and if treated as a machine, people rebel, politically or personally”?

          • mikemackd says :

            Here is the Mumford quote I was referring to above:

            In the development of the human character we have reached a point similar to that which we have attained in technics itself: the point at which we utilize the completest developments in science and technics to approach once more the organic. But here again our capacity to go beyond the machine rests upon our power to assimilate the machine. Until we have absorbed the lessons of objectivity, impersonality, neutrality, the lessons of the mechanical realm, we cannot go further in our development toward the more richly organic, the more profoundly human (Mumford 1934, Technics and Civilization. New York, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. p. 363)..

          • InfiniteWarrior says :

            he is a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation

            I rather got the sense from the article that he is a practitioner of Vulcan Meditation, the supposedly fictional variety designed to repress emotion in favor of “pure” logic.

            Brings to mind Rosenstock’s I Am an Impure Thinker.

            Blake had visions as a boy long before he engraved anything!

            Didn’t we all have the most magnificent visions as a child? And does not cultural conditioning teach us to repress those “visions” we nonetheless continue to have — usually via a punishment and reward system — lest we don’t “fit in” or, perhaps, be thought mad (as was Blake in his time) or worse?

            This, of course, brings to mind another of Jesus’ “admonitions”: “Unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.”

            I tend to think of those as encouragements rather than “admonitions” for some perfectly knowable reason.

            • mikemackd says :

              Ooh-ah. I was just about to hit the “Post Comment” button when my computer crashed in a way it had never done before.

              So I lost my comment. I will try again later.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              I tend to take such seemingly “inexplicable” events as cues from “the Universe” (better, “Cosmos”) that more contemplation may be required. Call me “super-stitch-ous” (but not superstitious), but I am convinced that everything happens for a reason, regardless whether or not we’re cognizant of it at the time.

            • mikemackd says :

              Thanks for the comments below, IW. I get what you mean now.

              Now, back to my lost comment. It’s not that Dalio is either unaware of, or insensitive to, the social problems that the megamachine he exploits inflicts on his country; quite the contrary:


              I QUOTE:

              “We have to work together, to find out how you have thoughtful disagreement and then have idea-meritocratic ways of getting past that disagreement that keeps us together rather than at each other’s throats, because I do believe that this split in the country is the greatest problem of our time, and not just economically — socially, politically,” Dalio says.

              Further, Dalio suggests that the wealth gap will only become more severe.”


              I wonder what his manifest excellence working in the megamachine has to say about his competence to contribute to such a debate? Personally, he could have loads, but only if he has opened himself up, and no longer sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern of machinism.

              I see no evidence of that in what I have seen of what he has written. Once again, quite the contrary. So if I were to be engaged in any qualitative assessment of ideas, I would rate the authors so often quoted in this blog as of far more value than mere machinism, scientism, and other such single vision crudities engaged by the Gorgonic gazers of the so called “enlightenment”.

              To reverse-paraphrase one of scientism’s saints, David Hume:

              “persuaded by these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume, positivism or similar mechanistic thinking for instance, let us ask, Does it contain anything but abstract reasoning concerning quantity and number? No. Does it contain anything but experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact or existence? No. Commit it then to the flames; for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”

              McGilchrist noted that our left hemispheres assume competence in domains in which they have little or none:


              The left hemisphere is not in touch with the world. It is demonstrably self-deceiving, and confabulates – makes up a story, when it cannot understand something, and tells it with conviction … research shows that, unlike the right hemisphere, which tends toward self-doubt, it takes a distinctly flattering view of its own capabilities … the everyday world is not like the left hemisphere’s models (McGilchrist 2012 The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning, Yale University Press).


              Moreover, while good at extrinsic valuation they are blind to intrinsic ones, and so while they can manipulate with rules they have no understanding beyond them. As Mumford said, long before McGilchrist’s clinical confirmation:


              The abstract intelligence, operating with its own conceptual apparatus, in its own self-restricted field, is actually a coercive instrument: an arrogant fragment of the full human personality, determined to make the world over in its own oversimplified terms, willfully rejecting interests and values incompatible with its own assumptions, and thereby depriving itself of any of the cooperative and generative functions of life (Mumford 1965 “Utopia, the City and the Machine.” Daedalus: 271-292).


            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              “Idea-meritocratic.” Sounds familiar. I believe the arena in which this system of “idea meritocracy” plays out is most often referred to these days as “the marketplace of ideas” where, of course, “only the strongest survive.”


              TDAB (Scott’s former blog) often highlighted a distinction between “reason” and pure, unadulterated, abstract “rationality” with Blake’s “Urizen” being exemplary of the latter.

              I can’t help but notice that the term, “rational,” has come to replace the term, “reason-able,” in nearly every form of public discourse imaginable. Disagree with any “particulate” idea being presented and, of course, you’re being “irrational.” What happened to being reason-able? I gather that was an Albion-esque quality?

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Interesting article in The Atlantic this month regarding “Why People Can’t Hear….

              A specific interview is utilized in this article to illustrate a “pernicious trend” which I think reaches far beyond the media itself and, in fact, pervasively infects public discourse on any subject at any time to the point that most of us don’t want to involve ourselves in it at all. What the author is describing is not an “interviewing technique” (at least, I don’t think it is), but rather a symptom of hubris itself.

              Another article I read a few months back (and I wish now that I’d bookmarked it) suggested that the real reason public discourse is in this state is that, when a person speaks, the listener is not actually listening to what they’re saying, but rather focused on their own response. Thus, the phenomenon of the listener “putting words” in the speaker’s mouth. Those words are already in the listener’s head. Those words (and their very subjective meaning) are the words that the listener is, for one predetermined reason or another, expecting to hear; and I suspect that’s how “public debate” collapsed into full-scale word-warfare. Unless I’m mistaken, “debate” was originally a careful and time-consuming process of inter-deliberation. With the Megamachine’s emphasis on speed and efficiency and the, perhaps, “unintended consequence” of instantaneous-everything, transforming “the public conversation” at this point will no doubt prove a Herculean task.

              If Dalio is truly interested in “how you have thoughtful disagreement,” he might begin his investigation there. In fact, we all might.

    • Dwig says :

      Mike and all,

      I’ve had a couple of dreamlike musings recently on the subject of “is everything (like a) machine?”.

      In one, I was talking with someone who went further than Dalio, saying “the universe is a machine”. I responded “What do you mean by ‘machine’; can you give me an example of something that’s not a machine?”. He replied, “Hmm, I guess not”. I said “so, what you’re saying in effect is no more than that the universe is what it is.”

      In the other, someone claimed that living things are fundamentally mechanical. I responded with a proposed fundamental distinction: a machine is made of parts and components, and can be disassembled down to its basic parts, and then reassembled and can resume its operation. All living things, by contrast, are fundamentally unities, which can’t be “taken apart” without being damaged or destroyed. (Yes, you can, for example, reattach a severed finger, as long as it hasn’t been “away” too long, but it’s the interrelated systems of the hand and finger that recreate the whole.)

      There’s an interesting article, Evolution and the Purposes of Life, that elaborates on what I had in mind by “unities”. One wonderful paragraph: “The second source of confusion about teleology and inwardness lies in the failure to realize how weak and lamed our conscious human purposiveness and intelligence are in relation to biological activity. We struggle even to follow with our abstract understanding the unsurveyably complex goings-on in our own organs and cells, let alone to animate our material artifacts with the same sort of life. And when we achieve a pinnacle of effective self-expression as pianists or gymnasts, it is by grace of a body whose execution of our intentions is a mystery to our understanding.”

      • mikemackd says :

        Wonderful paragraph, wonderful dreams. Thanks, Dwig,

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        Charles posted a few quotes relevant to your musings from The New Biology by Robert Augros and George Stancu (1987) that may be of interest. The distinctions made between machine and organism are both precise and compelling.

        • mikemackd says :

          IW, your reference to Charles’ quotations prompted me to have one last shot at tracking down that Mumford quote on the primeval that was not from The City in History, and that shot found its target. It was from a 1946 compilation of essays into a book called City Development (Secker & Warburg, London), and in a 1942 essay Mumford wrote to those looking to the rebuilding of London. I have extended around the quote to provide more of its context, as follows:


          8 The Regional Pattern
          If the first place to achieve balance is in the family, where the human personality is nurtured, the co-ordinate pole of planning is the region, for it is against the natural setting of hill and river and sea, of soil and climate, of natural formations and man-made landscape, that the human community defines itself. Geographers and sociologists have reached no unanimity in defining the region; and their failure is due to the fact that they are seeking to discover, by abstraction and definition, something that is a complex product of varied, never-ending natural and human processes. Nevertheless there is one characteristic of a region that must underlie every geographic or historic reference: it must combine the primeval, the urban, and the rural as part of the daily setting of life.
          Sky, mountain, ocean, and river are part of man’s constant environment; they form the elemental basis of our animal existence; they were associated with man’s history, with his thoughts, long before he uttered an intelligible sound or learned to keep a fire burning. No urban existence that pushes the primeval background out of sight, that makes it remote and unavailable, that deprives people of intimate contact with it, hunting, fishing, rambling, exploring, collecting, boating, is likely to produce adequate men and women, able to cope with the realities of life and death. The coalescing of urban communities into one vast man-hive, a tendency to which Patrick Geddes gave the deservedly ugly name of conurbation, cannot be treated as a permanent urban phenomenon; it is a sign of that lack of political discipline which precedes and announces decay.
          Those urban sociologists who cheerfully predicted that the population of the world would-be sucked into such conurbations, did not reckon with the human cost of this development. Without contact with his primeval background, modern man tended to lose his sense of the ultimate realities – including all those obdurate conditions that lie beyond his technical improvements and his administrative contrivances …
          Good planning, in the post-war age, will rest on the solid foundations of the family and the region; it will emphasize the biological and the social needs of the people, and it will treat industrial and financial needs as subordinate ones. It will be less afraid of the primitive than of the over-sophisticated; it will distrust what is overgrown, mechanically complicated, given to technical over-refinement; it will be as reluctant to build subways and mammoth transportation net-works as the population of sixth-century Rome was to build new baths and amphitheatres. I do not by this mean that we have already regressed such a considerable distance
          toward the Dark Ages : indeed, I mean just the opposite, for by energetically commanding the forces of life, while there is still time to marshal them and deploy them, we may be able to avoid – as the Romans were not – the collapse of our whole civilization and the wiping out of its many grand and meaningful achievements in the arts and sciences. But the watchwords are stability, not expansion: human culture, not simply mechanical progress. That imposes a new scale of values. Our too masculine, too mechanical, too life-denying society has come to its terminus. Perhaps the best slogan for the coming age is that for the lifeboats: women and children first.


          Sounds like a cri-de-coeur by Mumford to all “vulcan meditators”. However, while it may not have been too late when it was written, in 1942, that was 76 years ago now. Those conurbations now include some with populations larger than Australia’s, and all indications are that climate change will cause massive loss of life in such conurbations and elsewhere, and possibly our species’ extinction. The funny part about the latter is a concomitant possibility that those mindsets that most directly contributed to climate change, such as vulcan meditators, will be amongst the last to be snuffed out. Ya gotta laugh.

          • mikemackd says :

            Oh, IW, THAT kind of Vulcan! I had interpreted it as the Neocon types who called themselves the vulcans (I think) meditating in attempts to gain ever morfe in their insatiable appetite for power: PNAC and all that.

            My bad. I should have googled the term before using it above. I have now, but have not yet digested the term well enough to make a comment of any value.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              If it helps, ST lore states that Vulcans were once much closer to their Romulan cousins in temperament and power-hunger, deciding that the best course of action to take in order to avoid annhilating themselves was to repress emotion altogether. This state of affairs led to its own “contradictions,” however, e.g. the utterly unavoidable “Amok Time” every Vulcan must pass through at various stages in his or her development.

              What is often referred to as “emotion” is actually just passion without any sense of empathy, conviction or conscience, imho, and that is something that is overwhelmingly pervasive today no matter “the side” in question, imho. (“Passionate conviction” is actually a loverly term for Rosenstock’s, et al, “impure” thinking processes.)

              I’m actually quite fond of the Vulcan IDIC philosophy, the acronym standing for Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. One wonders if the Vulcans of ST lore might ever have recognized “Indra’s Net” if not for the somewhat lacking practice of utter emotional repression the fictional race ritualized and instituted.

          • Dwig says :

            Mike, it seems to me that Mumford quote provides a good framework for structuring “localization”, recognizing that no family, community, town, etc. “is an island”. I think that attention to these nested scales will be a crucial part of “getting descent right”.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              If we’re to make any headway on that, the ingrained, immovable and, unfortunately, earnest belief among our leadership that unlimited growth (economic and otherwise) is the answer to all that ails us must be challenged with viable, practical alternatives that recognize and include the needs, desires and participation of every citizen in a given area for any impactful transformation to begin, much less thrive and, as noted many times over, there are none that are not as yet “vague” in both articulation and practice.

              Compounding the situation, at least where I live, is the fact that it is presently against state law for a township to place a moratorium on “growth” or to restrict it in any way. It certainly also didn’t help, in our case, that the nearest town’s last mayor received all her mayoral advice directly from Soros, Bloomberg and others at the US Conference of Mayors she’d attended in New York. Concerned about this, I wrote her a long and respectful letter denoting the reasons the infinite growth paradigm would be detrimental to both the town and region, replete with alternative “narratives” she might consider in her deliberations, including those of Richard Heinberg and David Korten along with the New Economy Working Group and CASSE, et al, as well as examples of current experimentations, e.g. “transition towns.”

              I received no response, but that’s likely because I live about two and half miles from the town (now, city) limits and, so, do not count as a citizen.

              Not surprisingly, during her reign…I mean, incumbency…growth in the area exploded to the extent that it no longer resembles the unique, characteristic, “natural” and truly thriving community it was until relatively recently. Rather, it has become –irreversibly, I suspect — just another “bedroom community” of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. If you’re not “downtown” (the tiny cluster of historic buildings that grew up around a seventeenth century trade route from Petersburg, Virginia to the local Native American tribe) visiting locally-owned and operated businesses, antique shops, art galleries and (now, kitschy) restaurants, you’re no longer “in town,” imo. Rather, you’re in one of several new strip malls dominated by corporate chains; hybrid residential/shopping center and/or high-end housing developments; all of which are now the norm and spreading like wildfire anywhere and everywhere there is room within the ever-growing city limits to encroach upon farmland, rural dwellings and, of course, nature itself. (Actually, what is left of the latter within the ever-growing city limits is all posted with “for sale” and rezoning signs.)

              So much for transitioning.

              I feel for the current mayor as he is, of course, catching the brunt of the equally infinite growth of complaints from long-time citizens calling ever more desperately for a moratorium.

              This scenario is, of course, typical of nearly every township and region in the United States at this point. Those who haven’t “learned to live with it” will just have to double-down on their efforts to get through to these “leaders” because — guaranteed — every successive “leader” will be “of the same (paradigmatic) mind” until and unless other “contributing factors” undergo their own transformations.

            • Dwig says :

              IW, we’re getting this in spades in Los Angeles. There’s a massive wave of investment money driving massive development projects in all parts of the City; as a natural consequence, housing prices are skyrocketing; also naturally, the homeless population is burgeoning. I estimate that the bubble will pop within the next year, leaving a huge mess and a declining population.

              I sympathize with your letter to the mayor, but from what I’ve seen among politicians and other powerful folks, trying to explain the problems with the growth paradigm is like trying to explain the importance of birth control to a Catholic Archbishop. The current dominant economic system has the status of a religious orthodoxy, and I expect the faithful to maintain their faith, even as the system crumbles around them. (Maybe your mayor will have an epiphany somewhere along the line, but she’ll have to “tune in, turn on, and drop out” of politics to follow it.)

              Of course, this whole system is fundamentally unsustainable; my best guess at the best approach to take is to work toward laying the groundwork for dealing with the post-collapse situation. We’ll be there soon enough, so we might as well try to be prepared for what we can anticipate, and to develop personal and community resilience.

              As a one-time member of a short-lived transition group, I can understand your skepticism. My feeling, though, is that most transitioners, active or latent, never expected to divert the present system from its course; the most optimistic hope is to be able to “grow the new system amid the ruins of the old”. (Of course, you have to watch out for the falling rubble… 8^). I rather like the Democracy Collaborative’s “Next System” project. It’s a bold vision and a worthy goal.

              Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen so far it has a major flaw: it doesn’t take into account the impending decline of available energy from fossil fuels (as described by Heinberg and others), and the gap between the basic energy demands of 7-8 billion people and what renewable sources can supply (not counting the necessary expenditure of a significant amount of fossil fuel energy to create the necessary renewable infrastructure).

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              most transitioners, active or latent, never expected to divert the present system from its course

              Why not? It is, after all, a living (eco)system (<– not a new link) and, therefore, perhaps far easier to “redirect” and transform than we might think.

              The current dominant economic system has the status of a religious orthodoxy

              …which seems “inescapable. So did the Divine Right of Kings,” in the words of the recently departed Ursula K. Leguin.

              17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation…how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

              19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

              And He said to them, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” ~ Matthew 17:20

            • Dwig says :

              Well said, IW. There’s a saying along the lines of “A great army never looks so invulnerable as on the eve of its defeat.” Still, before trying to move a mountain out of my way, I’d probably look for a path through or around it.

              And speaking of mustard seeds

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              before trying to move a mountain out of my way

              I don’t think that’s what Jesus had in mind.

  2. erikleo says :

    I have just used this Greyson Scale in the context of Blake’s Visions. Dr Bruce Greyson devised the scale to assess people who claimed to have had a Near Death Experience.

    My conclusion is that Blake experienced every one of these items, evidenced in his writings, visual art and letters. The only difference is that he experienced them in waking life not as an NDE!

    -Experiencing an altered state of time

    -Experiencing accelerated thought processes

    -Life review

    -Sense of sudden understanding

    -Feelings of peace

    -Feeling of joy

    -Feeling of cosmic oneness

    -Seeing/feeling surrounded by light

    -Having vivid sensations

    -Extrasensory perception

    -Experiencing visions

    -Experiencing a sense of being out of physical body

    -Experiencing a sense of an ‘otherworldly’ environment

    -Experiencing a sense of a mystical entity

    -Experiencing a sense of deceased/religious figures

    -Experiencing a sense of a border or point of no return

    Taken together the items can be seen as a description of Eternity or at least as a rejection of what I call ‘clock time’ and reductive views of existence.

    • Scott Preston says :

      There’s another one — out of body sex, which Blake described as a total “comingling”.

      “Embraces are cominglings: from the head even to the feet,
      And not a pompous high priest entering by a secret place.”

      Leo Damrosh, in his book Eternity’s Sunrise (p. 211) expressed a bit of puzzlement about that. But I fired off an email to Damrosh about what Blake means by “comingling”. There’s actually a very good description of it in Robert Monroe’s Journeys Out of the Body, and “comingling” seems just the right word for “astral sex”, if we might also call it that.

      • erikleo says :

        Thanks Scott – I’ll check out the Blake reference!

      • Photek1986 says :

        Very interesting. This reminds me of the very odd first chapter of Stan Gooch’s Creatures from Inner Space in which he discusses the succubus and incubus phenomenon. He claims to have had on-going relationships with apparently disembodied ‘spirits’. Also, I’d recommend David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus – this, too, reminds me of the unusual ‘in-between’ state.

    • Dwig says :

      Just a thought: perhaps Blake spent the latter part of his life near to death?

      • mikemackd says :

        Interesting conjecture. I have also read somewhere that his unique vision may have been triggered by the chemicals he used to engrave. If so, they may have been positively mind-altering: driven him sane, not insane, by allowing him to see through the then-and-still-endemic single vision and Newton’s sleep.

  3. dadaharm says :


    It would be interesting to understand how the ever present origin and the collective unconscious relate. In my naivité, I usually make no distinction between the two terms.

    However, the collective unconscious seems to be a rather complex phenomenon. Both Owen Barfield and Carl Jung have said a lot about the collective unconscious. But they were clearly talking about very different aspects of it.

    Barfield discusses an epistemological aspect of the collective unconscious. He describes how it determines or creates our perceptions and experiences of external reality. In particular, he is interested in how perception and experience of external reality has changed over time. (This is of course closely related to Gebser’s different consciousness structures.)

    On the other hand, Jung describes certain psychological or mythical aspects of the collective unconscious. He describes how the collective unconscious through archetypes determines how humans act in the world.

    These parts of the collective unconscious that Barfield and Jung describe are almost completely disjoint.

    If one equates the ever present origin with the archaic consciousness structure, then this probably would again be another aspect of the collective unconscious. A part that could well be very dark and wild. Much more so than the rather tame aspects that Barfield and Jung treat. It also raises the question how complicated the collective unconscious actually is.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I don’t see much difference really. Of course, we must be leary of being entangled by terms, but mainly we have to understand what was intended to be understood by their authors. Because of the polar nature of all energy, it may appear sometimes that it is all contradictory, when, in fact, it is the same thing that different authors are attempting to describe. We have to bear in mind here the parable about the five scholars and the elephant.

      Jung’s “collective unconscious” is — as I’ve addressed that earlier — an unfortunate choice of terms, because the real case is that we are collectively unconscious, and not so much that which Gebser calls “the Itself”. So, “the” collective unconscious isn’t a thing, but a process. The “soul”, “the collective unconscious”, “the Itself” or “the ancient force” or whatever all pretty much amount to names for the same process. So the idea of “the return of the repressed” really means that of which we are collectively unconscious is becoming, once again, conscious.

      Why? Because of the breakdown of the inhibitions imposed upon it by the mental-rational/perspectival consciousness structure. As a result all sorts of strange and irreal things (one might even call them “paranormal” in a sense) are “irrupting” (Gebser’s phrase), like popping the cork on the genie’s bottle (an apt metaphor used by Bolte-Taylor for this irruption).

      It’s all very chaotic for the time being, but that just reflects Nietzsche’s remark that “you must have chaos in yourself to give birth to a dancing star” (or what he called “Dionysian madness”. Not much different from what was earlier called “holy madness”).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: