The Great Irony of Our Times

While in ‘nature’ birth seems to precede death and life is described as the sum of all processes this side of dying, the Spirit reverses the order of naturalism.
In nature, birth precedes death;
In nature, life tries to shun death.
In the spirit death precedes life;
In the spirit, the founder’s death guides his heirs lives. — Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Out of Revolution.

Concerned as we are here in The Chrysalis with coincidentia oppositorum (or conjunctio oppositorum), or with paradox and with Jean Gebser’s “double-movement” of our times — one of disintegration; another of a new integration; or, one of nihilism and destruction, and another of creation — this quote from Rosenstock-Huessy’s book Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man strikes me as very illustrative, too, of what Gebser means by the “double-movement” of our times, which some presently describe also as “The Great Unravelling”. For Rosenstock-Huessy, though, it was derived from his insights into the reactionary and the revolutionary dispositions. Or, as Shakespeare once put it, “times out of joint”. It is also a description of what botanists describe as the process of “dehiscence”. This is the theme of today’s post on The Great Irony.

When people speak of the “New Normal”, as so many do today, implicated in that is also Shakespeare’s “times out of joint”, for it implies that the Old Normal and the New Normal are in conflict. Normally, we think of the times as logically progressing from the past, through the present, into the future — the arrow of time — without major discontinuity or disruption, like a lazily flowing river of time. This is referred to as “gradualism”. But in some ages, this lazy evolutionary flow of time is disrupted by sudden changes in the current, sometimes violent ones. Time past no longer flows, but becomes broken. Time past and time future come into conflict, generating sometimes extreme turbulence. The times are out of joint. The old normal and the new normal are in different states. Some natural scientists refer to this as “catastrophism” as opposed to “gradualism”, but it corresponds to the revolutionary and the evolutionary processes of time. “Chaos” is largely the coincidence of these processes. This is also ably described in Ilya Prigonine’s notable book Order Out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue With Nature.

This paradoxical process is also described by the botanical term “dehiscence”. The maturity and death of the dandelion is also the precondition for the life of its progeny, a process captured in this photograph of what we call “dehiscence”

Dehiscence — the Winds of Change

And in some respects, the process of dehiscence is also described by the ancient Greek relation between hubris and Nemesis, or “reversal of fortune” at the extremity of action, and which is also implicated in Carl Jung’s notion of “enantiodromia” — the coincidence of opposites or the reversal of polarity at the extremity which may manifest as paradox, ambiguity, or self-contradiction. And this is also implied in Rosenstock-Huessy’s description of the paradoxical relationship between the natural and the spiritual.

The great physicist Max Planck also put it once in very similar terms: “science advances funeral by funeral”. That, too, is an apt characterisation of dehiscence.

This process of dehiscence is the same coincidentia oppositorum that Rosenstock-Huessy describes above from his study of the European Revolutions, which broke out when an old order was already dead. The same process is involved in the chrysalis stage and the role of the “imaginal cells”, where the death of the caterpillar is necessary for the birth of the butterfly. There, also, the processes of regression and progression, or disintegration and re-integration, look very much alike, quite akin, in fact, to the reactionary and revolutionary dynamic. And, indeed, for the chrysalis, the times are certainly out of joint, for its future and its past are in conflict.

This is the Great Irony of our times, which I have suggested can be described as an age of “ironic reversals”.

Our age of paradox and irony, of the dynamics of self-contradiction and nihilism, begins to make sense when considered in terms of the dynamics of dehiscence, and in a way described by Rosenstock-Huessy from his study of revolutionary ages. And dehiscence is the process implied also in Antonio Gramsci’s famous definition of crisis,

“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear”.

But that also describes the chrysalis stage of the caterpillar.

(Also, a rather familiar example of dehiscence in the human sphere is a man’s or woman’s last will and testament.)

Dehiscence also explains the confusions about “progress” we see in writers like Steven Pinker or Hans Rosling, for I think they have confused what is actually dehiscence with progress. Not unusual, the dying empires and civilisations of the past, such as Greece and Rome, confused their own dehiscence with progress as well. The acme of their influence corresponded with their own demise. And, in fact, Rosenstock-Huessy’s whole account of the history of the European Revolutions, and how one followed from the earlier, could very well be described as the process of dehiscence as it occurs in the social and human worlds. And the same process of dehiscence may well be implied in descriptions today of “the demise of the nation state“. A dying age bursts and broadcasts its seeds. Some fall on fertile soil and some do not. Some are vigorous and some are not.

(“It’s globalism, Jim. But not as we know it”)

Dehiscence is a very worthwhile process to study, particularly as it applies to understanding the paradoxes of our times, and for appreciating the meaning of Gebser’s “double-movement”, or what Rosenstock-Huessy also intends to be understood by his comparison of natural and spiritual process, or what Jung also means by “enantiodromia“. And I’m sure you can think of many comparable examples.

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38 responses to “The Great Irony of Our Times”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    Another representation of dehiscence is John 12:24 in the New Testament: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit.”

  2. Abdulmunem Othman says :

    And god said and I elicit the living from the dead and elicit the dead from the living, and enfold the night by the day and enfold the day by the night , also it is the same process is operating in the humans sphere as you described in the double movements. Unity of existence. It is the human positive response to the divine message that guarantees the change in the field of human betterment in all aspects of life. This is the meaning and purpose of the motto ( respond in order to be changed) put by Rosenstock to replace Descartes motto, as I understand it. Creating the personal self resilience is a must in establishing the communal resilience. It is feeling of his awareness in our awareness is the first step in entering the realm of spiritual change, all seekers are aspiring for. It is where we place our faith as implied in our attention and attention. W are hurriedly moving from the implicate realm o the explicate.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    If you have $3.99 to spare, this documentary called “Do You Trust This Computer?” is worth watching.

    https://doyoutrustthiscomputer.vhx.tv/

    It’s remarkably current and timely, since it talks about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica apparently before the present controversies became frontpage news.

    My feed was a little jerky (and it crashed my computer at one point) but perhaps because I have an old computer which sometimes has trouble with videos. Certainly raises some difficult questions about AI.

    Elon Musk, I believe, was one ot its main backers (he certainly appears in it).

    • Scott Preston says :

      I suspect that, as the climate change crisis intensifies, there will be a great temptation to turn over Earth climate management to an AI. There is already a precedent for that — Google’s “Deep Mind” which, apparently (according to the film) has administrative rights over all Google’s servers and data. Scaling that up to Earth scale might seem an attractive solution to some. Then “Deep Mind” might take on features like Terminator’s “Skynet”.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        I haven’t heard anything about turning Earth’s climate management over to an AI…yet…but geoengineering studies and projects are all the rage at the moment, which represents pretty much the same kind of thinking, as I see it. (There is an ever-growing number of articles in both scientific literature and mainstream media i.e. The Atlantic, National Geographic, Scientific American, etc., dedicated to expounding upon geoengineering schemes designed to reduce or eliminate atmospheric contaminants and polar ice melt along with intense scientific debate surrounding the potential “pros” and “cons.”)

        As Spock might say, “Fascinating.”

        “Terraforming” is a science fiction mainstay, of course, but there are no magic bullets, imo. We, ourselves, must transform our ways of life and “standards of living” if we’re going to make it through this “Chrysalis” stage with as many of our Earthly relatives as possible.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I see so much delusion in AI schemes. If, for example, you are programming AIs with the intent to “beat humans” or outperform humans, why wouldn’t AIs enact that intent, and come to see humans as competitors? In such events, all talk about AI “augmentation” would be pretty delusional.

  4. Scott Preston says :

    The Guardian view on the law of unintended consequences and techno-science, in this case anti-biotic resistance, but also a mention of the subject we have raised here before in The Chrysalis — the role of trehalose, and artificial sugar in processed foods that has contributed to anti-biotic resistance also.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/11/the-guardian-view-on-medical-dangers-evolution-in-action

  5. Scott Preston says :

    I should like to point out, too, that the process of dehiscence differs very much from the process called “diffusion”, although it’s also very similar. In diffusion, innovations at a centre diffuse to the peripheries. This is what men like Steven Pinker and Rosling are thinking of in terms of “progress”.

    But in dehiscence, diffusion occurs with the collapse of the centre. An example is the mushroom, which spreads its spores as it bursts.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Oh yes… I see I forgot to link to an article by Hans Rosling in today’s Guardian that I had in mind

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2018/apr/11/good-news-at-last-the-world-isnt-as-horrific-as-you-think

      It’s very Steven Pinker-ish.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      I should like to point out, too, that the process of dehiscence differs very much from the process called “diffusion”, although it’s also very similar. In diffusion, innovations at a centre diffuse to the peripheries. This is what men like Steven Pinker and Rosling are thinking of in terms of “progress”.

      But in dehiscence, diffusion occurs with the collapse of the centre. An example is the mushroom, which spreads its spores as it bursts.

      You know…. I’ve used the “term,” “diffusion,” before…. As I’ve mentioned “the collaspe of the center.”

      I believe this might be what Physicists call “fusion reaction.” Or, maybe…. What “techno-scientists” call “The Singularity….” Or…maybe… What Buddhists (and Nietzsche, et al…, maybe, call “Nothingness” or “Abyss.”

      I honestly don’t now.

      What I do know — for certain — is that “over-thinking” is just as detrimental as “under-thinking.”

      “Dehiscence” and “diffusion” are, indeed, “contraries….” In a manner of speaking.. But…. You know.

      “Everything is pregnant with its contrary.”

      • Scott Preston says :

        Well, another term for dehiscence is “diaspora”. And the Jewish Diaspora is a very good example of this in the historical realm. The destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. and the consequent dehiscence/diaspora that followed, and it’s a good question whether the stream of influence of Judeo-Christianity begins with the Diaspora.

        The Diaspora would be a classic historical example of dehiscence, and I imagine this is somewhat that which Gebser has in mind in writing that either we will be “dispersed” or effect integration.

        The temple was the centre of Jewish life, and the source of its identity. So, it’s interesting in that respect that Jesus tried to shift that sense of the temple: “the body is the temple of the living God”, and he re-iterates that in different ways on a number of occasions.

        • Scott Preston says :

          I might add to this, too, another of the great ironies of Nietzsche, for, in effect, Nietzsche does return to this theme of the body as the temple of the living God, even if he calls that “Dionysus”. And, again, his idea of the “will to power” as a general operative principle in the cosmos is just another way of describing Bolte-Taylor’s “Life Force Power of the Universe”, isn’t it? One sees the exact same understanding in Blake.

          this accounts for Nietzsche’s (and Blake’s) antipathy to conventional Christianity, and why most self-described “Nietzscheans” have, for the most part, failed completely to understand Nietzsche’s “revaluation of values” or the meaning of “will to power”, and why Nietzsche rages against “the Despisers of the Body” as themselves anti-Christ. He take’s Jesus’s remark that “the body is the temple of the living God” very seriously, along with this inner life force he once described as “that which DOES “I am” rather than that which merely SAYS “I am”.

          That’s a pretty good description, too, the McGilchrist’s Master and Emissary relation, or Nietzsche’s “Self” and “Ego” distinction. And, of course, you see the exact same distinction in Bolte-Taylor’s “stroke of insight”.

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          Hi, Scott.

          Well, another term for dehiscence is “diaspora”.

          Yes, I followed your reasoning regarding “dehiscence” and “diaspora,” along with the recitation of words which (arguably) share the same “root,” all supposedly corresponding to your preferred term for “social incoherance,” i.e. Agrarian terms for the “dehiscence” of spores (or seeds) from their parent plants — spread upon the wind, so to speak, to fall upon fertile or stony ground, as the case may be, (in Biblical terms, of course).

          But I still don’t quite get the utter dismissal of or aversion to the phrase, “anonymous diffusion of Consciousness.”

          I gathered long ago, however, that the so-called “Integral Era” obviously will be subject to the same brand of “Orthodoxy” — linguistic and otherwise — as are our present times. It’s almost enough to make you want to join the “Conservatives” in their Crusade against “political correctness.”

          As for me, I’m perfectly content to hang out here along with all the other human beings just struggling to get by rather than promote the notion of some kind of “superior” human being (or language) as opposed to the human capacity of self- and Self-overcoming, among other far more important things than singular words.

          • Scott Preston says :

            It’s almost enough to make you want to join the “Conservatives” in their Crusade against “political correctness.”

            Godzilla versus Mothra. Not much to choose between “conservative orthodoxy” or “political correctness”. Stinkweed may be also be called pennygrass, but it still stinks the same, and dogmatic thinking is just as dogmatic whether it’s called “conservative orthodoxy” or “political correctness”.

            On the other hand, there is a distinction between terms like “diffusion” and “confusion” that corresponds to the meanings of centrifugal and centripetal force (and then a rough comparison to the terms “difference” and “conference”. or diffluence and confluence. These word pairs might be taken as corresponding to Gebser’s “disintegration-reintegration” dynamic, but that would be an error, for the reason that at the extremes opposites meet and become indistinguishable from one another (the enantiodromia principle or coincidence of the opposites)

            One might even say that the key difference between the integral consciousness and the dualistic mind is that integral consciousness knows this while dualistic mind does not. In other words, integral consciousness embraces paradox while dualistic mind shuns and abhors paradox, and given that this is an age of paradox in which “everything is pregnant with its opposite”, it follows that dualistic mind is not fit, even in its own terms.

            I’ll write something up this morning about this and post it — a parable of sorts about an archer, his bow, and the arrow.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Godzilla versus Mothra.

              lol Good one!

              But….

              Not much to choose between “conservative orthodoxy” or “political correctness”.

              I wasn’t referring to those two, but to the “Orthodoxy” I see emerging in the “Integral” community in respect to thought, language and speech. Not much to choose between “mind control” and “mind control,” regardless the term (or neologism) utilized to symbolize it. There’s not a name for its emergence in the Integral community yet, to the best of my knowledge, but it’s coming. (If I recall correctly, Gebser didn’t sit “Integral” on a pedestal and, indeed, suggested that it also carried the potential for a “defective” mode.)

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Already written, if I recall.

              We aim high to hit the mark. ~ Emerson

  6. Scott Preston says :

    Many games are sublimation of warfare — video games, chess, go. The essential theme of such games is “surround and destroy”. These are the kinds of games “Deep Mind” was “trained” on, to enhance self-learning. Why wouldn’t an AI come to the logical conclusion that surround and destroy is its prime directive? This is what I mean by inbuilding an intent into AI, unconsciously.

    AI is essentially being “taught” that it is in competition with humans — to replace humans or human skills or human functions, ie, to “beat humans”. So, why wouldn’t it simply fulfill that logic? AIs make no distinction between gaming and reality either.

    This is, I think, probably at the root of many people’s nervousness about AI — Hawking, Musk, etc — quite apart from the explicit issue of “autonomous weapons”.

    Every artefact inevitably bears the stamp and imprint of the culture that created it. And in a culture of competition — of “cut-throat capitalism” and of “survival of the fittest” — it wouldn’t be surprising to see that enacted by AIs too. And we’re already in-building this intent that the number one job of AIs is to replace human beings.

  7. Scott Preston says :

    More irony. Trump contemplating now joining in the TPP. Nothing like being consistently inconsistent.

  8. Scott Preston says :

    Before the Nation State era, war warfare was described as “the sport of kings”. In the post-modern era democratic politics becomes the sport of the rich. It sometimes looks like a journey from fiefdom to nation-state and back again to fiefdom.

    That is, I think, a very apt comparison. “Sport of the rich” pretty much describes the state of contemporary “democratic” politics. The Manors and Fiefdoms of old are replicated in the PACS and Corporations today.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Another great irony.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        “The kings do the fighting. The peasants do the dying.” ~ Witcher 3

        It sometimes looks like a journey from fiefdom to nation-state and back again to fiefdom.

        Nah. It’s always been “fiefdom.” Fiefdom has just taken different forms over the centuries.

        Not to worry, though. There is “life after civilization collapse.”

        • Scott Preston says :

          Joe Brewer…. I’ve heard that name somewhere. Good article, I think. Pretty much on the same wavelength as The Chrysalis.

          Also caught that parody on Steven Bannon. Actually had me laughing so hard I was tearing up!

          View at Medium.com

          • InfiniteWarrior says :

            Probably from me…. But, you know…I’m trying to keep up with the so-called “change-makers.”

            If only I could get people to listen to them on a “local” level….

  9. Charles Leiden says :

    I wasn’t familiar with the idea on dehiscence. Yes it describes the context today. Alan Watts wrote a book The Wisdom of Insecurity which relates to paradoxes. He writes,

    “the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing.”

    I agree that AI is part of the problem rather than a solution.

  10. Scott Preston says :

    I think men like Steve Bannon, the people around Trump and Trump himself learned a lot from Al Qaeda in terms of the weaponisation of ordinary everyday things. This whole process of “weaponisation” certainly attests to disintegration.

    Trump is hacking away at the foundations of the American state — the MSM, the FBI. Trump and Bannon are attempting to weaponise the MSM and the FBI by turning them into instruments of his pathological will and animus to use them against his commercial and political foes. That is, I think the “mobsterism” that Comey saw (but I don’t know if he interpreted in correctly).

    This whole process of “weaponisation” (including the weaponisation of data and information) is quite revealing, and quite possibly a foretaste of what we can expect also from artificial intelligence.

    • mikemackd says :

      A current great irony is that Bashar Al Assad, who at first devoted his life to restoring people’s sight, is reputedly now so blind to political realities as to gas his own people. Even to the most stupid amongst us, that would seem a great way to turn the tides of war and international public opinion against him.

      I do not consider it to be impossible that could happen. The parts of our minds obsessed with power aren’t the smartest tools in our mental sheds, but the Satanic states in our minds which they drive, concerned with effecting their domination, deception and destruction of the “other”, can access all the intelligence we can muster.

      Normally, one has to be really smart to become an ophthalmologist. O.K., perhaps in his case it wasn’t so much what he knew as what family he came from, but if so, why did he choose ophthalmology? If he wanted to be Dr Evil, it’s not as though daddy could not have supplied him with opportunities for same.

      There is something rotten in the state of Syria, assuredly; but as someone else from that region said around 2,000 years ago, take the plank out of your own eye before trying to remove the speck from someone else’s.

      In this case, the “plank”, in terms of our identity constructions as westerners, is the track record of our rulers as liars and killers on a massive scale in this same region. They score three out of three here, in terms of expressing Blake’s Satanic state.

      Given that, I do not see why we should see Cambridge Analytica’s behaviour:

      https://discoversociety.org/2018/04/03/it-neednt-be-true-as-long-as-its-believable-manipulating-data-to-strategize-propaganda-in-the-era-of-alternative-facts/

      as in any way an aberration from the milieu in which they prosper. They are in business, and if there was no demand for their business, they would either change that business or go broke.

      It seems the American, British etc. publics are being played by their rulers as Charlie Browns to their Lucy, in the context of the long-running joke of her always pulling the ball away when he tried to kick it, resulting in the taxpayers funding Lucy falling flat on their backs.

      When are we going to realise that, because we feel, as we need to feel, that we are good and our behaviour is just, and we identify with our nations, that does not thereby bestow our goodness and justice on those nations, whichever they may be?

      That takes work: lots of work, and we just can’t be bothered. Talk about being the sucker, never to be given an even break.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Syriasly, folks, Syria is a Gordian Knot, and everyone thinks that they are the Alexander the Great who is going to solve it. Unfortunately, it could very well be a foretaste of what may happen at a more global scale as we approach “total disintegration” (as Mumford calls it) or breakdown and collapse.

        Syria is one of the most current tragic cases of the social disease that Rosenstock-Huessy calls the “loss of unanimity” of the inner front of society — the shattered mosaic. It’s a virus that could well spread.

      • Scott Preston says :

        “Mission Accomplished!”…. er… where have we heard those words before, hmmm? We seem stuck in a time warp, but such is the problem of “post-historic man”. Call the time-warp the “vortex”, and the vortex is Blake’s “dark Satanic Mill”.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        When are we going to realise that, because we feel, as we need to feel, that we are good and our behaviour is just, and we identify with our nations, that does not thereby bestow our goodness and justice on those nations, whichever they may be?

        That takes work: lots of work, and we just can’t be bothered.

        I believe the most well-known, ancient and appropriate idiom for making that distinction in the West is “Render under to Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Render unto God that which is God’s.”

        I don’t know that it takes a lot of work to make the distinction itself. In fact, quite the opposite. (Maps and territories.) The post on National Icons, Patron Saints, and Tribal Deities wonderfully illustrates the power of propaganda to override it, however. (“Watch the fur fly,” indeed.)

        This kind of subliminal “idolatry” is, perhaps, the most stubborn, entrenched and exasperating to be found in my little corner of the world. The human penchant for idol-worship appears quite strong, but while the instillation of Castaneda’s “foreign installation” occurs like an IV drip over a number of years and, so, easily flies under the radar, it’s never fully installed, despite that propagandists obviously think otherwise. Thus the imperative, “unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.” (And that, of course, is a reference to a state of Innocence and not childishness.)

        Your comment provides the perfect opportunity to recommend yet another book: Almaas’ Indestructible Innocence. <– That's the part that requires so much hard work: acquiring and maintaining that state, so to speak. So, thanks for that.

  11. Scott Preston says :

    “All that is solid melts into air” and ” ”everything is pregnant with its contrary”. I was researching that phrase from Marx this morning (it is quite prescient of Bauman’s “Liquid Modernity”) and came across a book by that title written by Marshall Berman a few decades ago. There’s a review of it in the NYT from 1982

    “Everything is pregnant with its contrary” is what I’m referring to as the Great Irony. Jung would call it “enantiodromia”. Others, “reversal of fortune”. While still others speak of “revenge effect”, “unintended consequence”, “perverse outcome”, “blowback”, etc, etc. This is the nature of “the New Normal” — reversal of all polarities. Including the Enlightenment. The Shadow of the Enlightenment overtakes enlightenment.

    And even in physics — what is “physical” any longer? Matter itself dissolves into energy (yet we don’t know what energy really is), and energy into information (but what is information?).

    There is an equivalence of Marx’s “all that is solid melts into air” and Nietzsche’s “stare into the abyss”. But the abyss is also pregnant with its own contrary. That “everything is pregnant with its contrary” is the meaning of the chrysalis, too. The dying caterpillar is pregnant with the butterfly. Dehiscence also describes the chrysalis stage. Death is pregnant with life. Life is pregnant with Death.

    Some call all this “the pendulum”. Another swing of the pendulum.

    I like this phrase “everything is pregnant with its contrary”. Berman’s book might be interesting to read in that respect. It’s coincidence of opposites or conjunction of the opposites. And that means, breakdown of the dialectic. Paradox means that thesis and antithesis become one and the same thing. When that happens, not “synthesis” is really possible. Rather thesis and antithesis annihilate each other. End of the progression.

    That’s the great irony of Fukuyama’s “end of history” too, only he didn’t see it — that the “end of history” would necessarily also be the dissolution of the mental-rational consciousness (dialectical) consciousness structure.

    Gebser, of course, explores this quite a bit in his book EPO.

    It’s a good principle to keep in mind in this chaotic times: “everything is pregnant with its contrary” is precisely Gebser’s “double-movement”.

    • mikemackd says :

      I found your remark that Syria has a virus that could well spread a little scary. Imagine if the ““revenge effect”, “unintended consequence”, “perverse outcome”, “blowback”, etc, etc.” was the Syrianisation of the USA, with its arsenal of guns!

      While I do not consider that at all likely (and thank heavens for that; it would be catastrophic not only for the USA but for the whole planet, including those who despise the USA as well as those who, like me, love it), there are many things we think are never going to happen until they do. I mean, it’s not as though t never had a civil war before.

      On the subject of dehiscence (a new word for me, and I thank you for it), I googled “Marshall Berman” and “Lewis Mumford” together and found that Berman gave the Annual Lewis Mumford Lecture in 2013, on the subject of urbicide, a few months before he died. I have discovered many interesting writers in such a way, as those quoting Mumford generally are, at least to me …

      Anyway, this time that search also came up with another Berman, Morris Berman, author of a book I read not that many years ago, “Dark Ages America”. He wrote an article about Mumford, and put it on his blog here:

      http://morrisberman.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/the-american-sage.html

      In his last three paragraphs he quotes the last couple of paragraphs of an unpublished essay of Ernest Callenbach, found in 2012 on his computer after his death by his literary agent, in which Callenbach says, “Let us embrace decay, for it is the source of all new life and growth.”

      While that is true in nature, I do not share Marshall Berman’s conflation of organisms and artefacts. I do not consider dehiscence to be a quality of the megamachine as driven by the cult of anti-life. One of Blake’s infernal trinity, Francis Bacon, provided the goal of the megamachine as quoted at:

      http://www.thesouloftheworld.com/the-new-experiment-putting-nature-on-the-rack/

      As such, Bacon let loose our Satanic states on nature: domination, deception, and destruction. I had not known before reading that link that “As part of his professional duties, Bacon was a legal inquisitor involved in the contemporary witch trials, which deeply influenced his language and imagery concerning the domination of nature”.

      A father figure of the so-called “Enlightenment” as a participant in witch trials. Talk about Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde! The ‘detached, objective’ BDSM as Bacon, Descartes, [Adam] Smith and Montesquiieu!

      As Mumford noted in “Art and Technics (1952):

      Neither Bacon nor his eager followers in science and technics… had any anticipation of the fact that all our hard-won mastery of the physical world might, in the twentieth century, threaten the very existence of the human race .. . Bacon did not foresee that the humanization of the machine might have the paradoxical effect of mechanizing humanity; and that at this fatal moment the other arts, once so nourishing to man’s humanity and spirituality, would become equally arid, and so incapable of acting as a counterpoise to this one- sided technical development.

      • mikemackd says :

        Coincidentally, I turned on the radio when posting the above, and there is a program called “Have we lost our sense of reality?” Its podcast is online at:
        http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/faked-reality/9576884

        • Scott Preston says :

          Good podcast. A couple of years ago, I did a critical review of Rolf Jensen’s book The Dream Society. At that time it seemed like science fiction and very dystopian. Well, in just a few short years, that “dream society” has arrived, and how.

          The podcast was actually more disturbing knowing also Jensen’s book.

      • Scott Preston says :

        That last quote from Mumford is also reflected in Daniel Bell’s Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism

        Bacon did not foresee that the humanization of the machine might have the paradoxical effect of mechanizing humanity

        That might be said to be a good example of Marshall Berman’s “everything is pregnant with its contrary”.

        I’m familiar with Morris Berman. I was once in contact with him. I believe he lives in Mexico now.

  12. Abdulmunem Othman says :

    The so-called masters who have drawn the map and decorated it with the stringed marionettes have themselves turned into marionettes to be pulled by the same destructive forces that have started the game,only this time to engulf themselves in the swirl of destruction. They say the criminals always end in the same trench that they have dug for others but with a blusterous ceremony. that fits their arrogance and uncalled aggression. It is the visit we are all in fearful anticipation. Repetition is the tool we use for both construction and destruction. When we falsify the names and the basic referential vital point and replace them with abstract floating concepts that have no relation to the referential vital center, we start to build our deep abyss. When the heart blessed land is turned into a cursed land something is pruning with a type of disaster that is planetary in nature. What is going on the middle earth is showing the planetary nature of the involvement. The corrective movement will never miss its target. It is a well moved universe and everything is under control despite the stupid claims of those who think they are the masters of the world, the masters whose time is closing in to show them the simple plain truth they have denied and perverted. In the presence of god that has created darkness and its duration will not leave the spiritually fittest unaware of the falsity of the physical fittest.It s a cycle of correction that can not take place without very high cost as already being demonstrated by climate change, some species extinction, the melt of the arctic zone, the floated coastal lines,change in human behaviour, mixing the true with false the fictional with the real and Charlie Brown and Lucy draw our map of hope and expectation etc etc. We are erecting a crying wall in its shadow to mourn, if we survive and only if we realize that the uncritical discourse we are carrying in the halls of our peers, must change its direction or it will throw us into even greater confusion and more turmoil.

    • mikemackd says :

      O.K. let’s not be so uncritical of you, Abdulmunem Othman. By what cockamamie logic do you consider that by my quoting that long-running joke in Peanuts I was saying that Charlie Brown and Lucy should draw our map of hope and expectation etc etc.?

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        Not to intrude on Abdulmunem’s response, but I doubt the reference comes across readily, as applied in your comment, along cultural lines.

        That said….

        If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past ten or fifteen years (aside from why “the world” is nuts (and just knowing that is actually kind of comforting), it’s that as we struggle to forge a very different future for ourselves, a great many of us apparently expect humanity to leave a few of its essentials behind, not least a sense of humor.

        As we take up our positions along the “wailing wall” to grieve (and appropriately so) for the egregious loss of life we’re experiencing today; as we “take up arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them” (or, hopefully, mitigate them enough to make it through “the crucible” so that we may forge that bright and promising future); as we do our best to share our knowledge, our compassion, our concerns and our hopes; there will always be those who believe we should do so walking around — all the time — with frowns on our faces as if “we’ve been sucking green persimmons” all day, to borrow a joke from a Christian comedian poking fun at the confusion of “somberness” with “reverence” in respect to the sacred (or holistic).

        I must admit, I’m totally bummed at the prospect of that. “Zombie” fits quite well as a descriptor.

  13. Charles says :

    Crazy days. Appreciate the writing. I read that Berman years ago (can’t remember the details) and is an apt description.

    “Bacon did not foresee that the humanization of the machine might have the paradoxical effect of mechanizing humanity”

    I like the quote by Mumford. One could suggest the idea that those humans such as Bacon obviously couldn’t foresee the consequences of there ideas.

    I like this quote from H. T. Buckle

    Owing to circumstances still unknown, there appear from time to time great thinkers, who,devoting their lives to a single purpose, are able to anticipate the progress of mankind, and to produce a religion or philosophy by which important effects are eventually brought about. But if we look into history we shall clearly see that, although the origin of a new opinion may be thus due to a single man, the result which the new opinion produces will depend upon the condition of the people among whom it is propagated. If either a religion or a philosophy is too much in advance of a nation it can do no present service but must bide its time until the minds of men are ripe for its reception.

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