The Pixelated Personality

In today’s Guardian I read an excerpt from Jaron Lanier’s Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. Lanier is a digital pioneer turned digital sceptic. He has developed a model he calls “BUMMER” of what is wrong with social media. It’s interesting in that it does describe some aspects of the contemporary Megamachine. For Lanier, it’s not just the fact that digital technology and social media amplifies the dark side. It is also the business model that drives social media that Lanier focusses on, one that seems to even suggest that capitalism in the era of social media might even be an anachronism that we haven’t even recognised yet — the “horseless carriage” syndrome, which is our tendency to interpret radically new environments in inappropriate old formulas and habitual ways, like referring to the automobile as a “horseless carriage” or a locomotive as “the iron horse”. In may well turn out that the implicit potentialities of the new technology and the old business model are radically incompatible, and that this may well prove to be one aspect of the contemporary crisis. The problems faced by conventional corporate news media (print in particular) seems to be a case in point.

“Dataism”, and the defining of personalities as “data points” (you are your data points, in effect), and then the monetisation and marketing of these data points piecemeal or bit-by-byte (as in the Cambridge Analytica scandal) certainly attests to Gebser’s prescient earlier observations about the disintegration of the personality — fragmentation and atomisation, and the contemporary confusion of the Whole and the mere Totality which is represented by “dataism”, in this case, the delusion that one can aggregate or sum up all these “data points” and have a complete personality. So, these data points are like pixels, and we can speak i this regard of “the pixelated personality”, which now has acquired exchange value — each pixel having a market value.

(This might be another irony (or contradiction) in Jordan Peterson’s self-promotion as an adherent of “British classical liberalism”, since in promoting “enforced monogamy”, he apparently doesn’t trust the “invisible hand” of the sexual “marketplace” to sort out the problem of “involuntary celibates”, and so this strikes me as an example of Peterson’s double-talk, and not that of a man who “speaks from the centre of the voice”, as my Sioux friends say. It’s my conclusion, at this point, that Peterson is an example of that “psychic inflation” that Gebser warned about as also attending his “irruption” of repressed psychic energies).

The pixelated personality as a mere assemblage of data points with an assigned exchange value is certainly capitalism and quantification process at its very worst, perhaps even the chief symptom of the decadence of the mental-rational consciousness, or Gebser’s description of the perspectival consciousness structure functioning in “deficient” mode as instrumentalising rationality and its fragmentation and disintegrative dynamic.

One finds this also in Kurzweil’s idea of “spiritual machines” — we are simply are data points, which can be quantised uploaded into machinery, and we will discover ourselves whole and complete (and conscious!) again. This is completely absurd, the worst of reductionist science. Yet a lot of people seem to believe this crap. This is the analytical method now run amok — the method of reducing and breaking down. And it’s no wonder alarm bells are ringing all over the place.

This is the worst of what is called “spiritual materialism“, which is the chief symptom of the Kali Yuga or “Dark Age” mentality, and which is, essentially, Gebser’s concern (and the concern of many others) about the confusion of the Whole and the Totality (the reduction of the qualitative to the quantitative, in effect, or the holistic to the mere sum of its parts). The pixelated personality is the ideal model for a new totalitarianism. And it’s in this sense that late capitalism, reductionist science, and fundamentalist religion are really convergent — all expressions of the deficient mode of the mental-rational consciousness. Lanier, I think, now senses this about capitalism and digital technology. So do some others, of course, who are arguing that social media be regulated and treated as public utilities.

As much as socialising social media seems a no-brainer, which might remove the incentive for reducing persons to pixels and data points and as commodities for exchange, it won’t necessarily resolve the problem of the consciousness structure — ie reductionism, instrumentalising rationality, quantification, myopia or narrow perspectivisation, and so on. This requires self-transcendence and self-overcoming. This requires what Gebser calls “diaphaneity” and “the transparency of the world” or that true perspectivity means “seeing through” rather than “looking at”. The only other option, given current trends, is what Mumford calls “total disintegration”, which the pixelated personality portends. For it is also what has been called “crisis of the individual” (no longer indivisible), and of what Rosenstock-Huessy referred to also as the disintegration of the personality and consciousness structure of Modern Man. The pixelated personality, the human form reduced to data points, and then the manipulation of these data points to modify behaviour and personality, is probably the chief symptom and even symbol of the nihilism of the mental-rational consciousness structure.

It must be transcended, not by going back, but by going beyond or rising above.

The true alchemists or Hermeticists had a term for the fake alchemists and Hermeticists — the spiritual materialists. They called them “puffers”, who really thought alchemy was about the transmuation of material lead into material gold, whereas it was about self-transcendence and self-overcoming. What I really appreciate about Iain McGilchrist’s neurodynamic researches in The Master and His Emissary is that McGilchrist shows that the Hermeticists (including William Blake) were actually more realistic, more faithful to the whole truth, than the Mechanists and reductionists who supplanted them.

Deleting our social media accounts as a form of protest against the “business model” probably won’t resolve the ultimate problem. The abuse begins in us, in the failings of our mode of consciousness — Blake’s Urizenic mode. And it’s that which we must transcend and overcome in ourselves in order to outrun and survive the proliferating crises of late modernity.

If there’s an implicit benefit in this, our total reduction and disintegration into pixels and data points, it is that we are now concerned with the integral and integralism. The quest for the “Holy Grail” is back on, as it were. And while men like Mr. Peterson are out stalking their dragons, our task is much different. “Diaphainon” is Gebser’s name for the “Holy Grail”.

Jordan Peterson claims Nietzsche as an influence. Perhaps Jordan Peterson should recall some advice from Nietzsche — “when one goes to fight monsters, one had best take care not to become the monster oneself.”

If the mental-rational consciousness has entered its defective and deficient mode — and it seems obvious that it has — then so has the capitalist mode of production, since they are co-evolutionary. Both enter into absurdity. Both become self-negating and nihilistic instruments of their own demise. And we may say that that is one of the chief symptoms of our present “chaotic transition” and of Gebser’s “double-movement”.


149 responses to “The Pixelated Personality”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    Again, on Jordan Peterson — Peterson has a thing about the dragon and about slaying the dragon as the mythical hero. He associates the dragon with chaos and chaos he associates with the feminine — the Great Mother, and so he counters the feminine chaos with his resurrection of the “dead father” — the patriarchy.

    I think I know where Peterson gets this idea of himself as fighting monsters. It’s the old Mesopotamian myth of origin — Marduk, the hero, slays his mother, the monster Tiamat. Tiamat is Chaos, Marduk is Order. Marduk thus represents the “antidote to Chaos”. And I’m pretty sure this myth of origin is guiding Peterson’s thinking, and that he sees himself as Marduk.

    • Kel-El says :

      I agree. He reduces Chaos to lowercase chaos – something like social and poltical disorder. But real Chaos is the dark, irrational Shakti/Kali energy that’s been pushed into the unconscious, out of sight. As Jung noted, the Trinity lacks a feminine fourth. Chaos is required for what Nietzsche called “true creation.”

      I’ll defend Peterson to an extent. He’s ultimately concerned that we don’t throw out the baby with the bath water, which is fair. It seems to me the dragon-slayer mentality was what carried us here, it’s been a source of strength throughout history, and it would be a mistake to simply dismiss it wholesale, even though it is now being stretched too far. Peterson doesn’t realize that holding onto this hard Apollonianism is in opposition to Wholeness and is precisely what will only bring about the lowercase chaos he is so fervently trying to prevent. This time, it will take uppercase Chaos to bring about true “order” – not in the sense of Order vs. Chaos, but the order that comes from walking the serpentine tightrope that runs through the middle of the yin-yang symbol, in perfect balance between Order and Chaos.

      But there may be hope for Peterson yet. I noticed he’s been reading McGilchrist and recommending it to his friends. He seems stubborn but maybe he’ll come around.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Thanks for your comment, with which I very much agree. Yes, it would be interesting to see what he takes away from McGilchrist, and I hope its better than what he seems to take away from Jung.

        I’m currently listening to the podcast that donsalmon linked to. It’s a couple of hours long, but I may have something further to say about that afterwards.

        Thanks again. Good comment.

        • Kellynn says :

          Another couple of thoughts… See, I came to know about Peterson about a year and a half ago, before he became a “public intellectual,” by listening to his Maps of Meaning lectures from his classes at the University of Toronto, which are much more compelling than what you’ll get from his more recent media appearances, which are all too often just tirades against the “radical left”, postmodernism, identity politics. Not that these things aren’t important, but to me, our issues are, at the root, beyond politics. Anyway, if you want to know what he really thinks about Nietzsche and Jung, I’d recommend the university lectures.

          I’ve often heard him make a comment that Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death is wrong – a good book, but fundamentally wrong, though he doesn’t go into it deeply. His main disagreement seems to be that the repressive mechanisms and hard ego boundaries that mankind has constructed against what Becker calls our “creatureliness” *actually protect you against death*, that these have been evolutionarily necessary. Something like that. If I got that right, then I would correct him: they protectED us against death. I think this connects to the dragon-slayer point I made above. It may have served us well in the past, but now it’s pushing us into technological territory that will more than likely lead to serious existential risk (be it out-of-control AI, biowarfare, automated “slaughterbots”, or just transhumanist merging with the machine). Artificial intelligence basically represents the logical endpoint of the Enlightenment urge to know, control, and administer Nature in all its aspects, but it will fail. Kubrick’s 2001 was very prescient.

          The Denial of Death is the Denial of Kali, of the creaturely, chthonian aspect of the Feminine we’ve repressed, and the flight from the Terrible Mother will likely lead to the worst Terrible Father the world has ever seen. That’s enantiodromia and the essence of the book of Revelation. As Jung said, “The coming of the antichrist is not just a prophetic prediction – it is an inexorable psychological law…” So according to the law of enantiodromia, it seems logical to me that civilization will be saved by the very thing it has been trying to escape: our creatureliness. I believe this is the meaning behind the plethora of monomythic superhero movies. Perhaps the bat, spider, panther, or hulk-like beast – that which has become “alien” to us, like Superman – will emerge when we need it most, at the end of the Grand Narrative.

          • donsalmon says :

            Hi Kellynn: (is that an irish name??)

            I’ve never understood Becker; his view always seemed to be a very myopic European view.

            To the best of my knowledge, there just aren’t any cultures outside the modern west that have the kind of denial of death that the european/american cultures do.

            It was wholly understood and accepted as part of the flow of life.

            By the way, as a psychologist, I can tell you, the whole “evolutionary psychology” movement that peaked in the early 2000s was never taken seriously in academia, and in the past 15 or so years, it’s almost disappeared. I haven’t seen anything in Peterson’s comments that relate directly to evolutionary psychology that would be considered even mildly coherent.

            Now, taking “evolution” into account in psychology – that’s been done since the days of Darwin. McGilchrist’s entire masterpiece is rooted in a profound understanding of the relationship of evolution and psychology, but that’s light years from the pseudo science of “evolutionary psychology” (the one that started as socio-biology – hard to say whether the father or the child is worse)

            • Kellynn says :

              I don’t know Becker well enough to know whether he ever made any claims to universality or not. But to the degree his analysis pertains to Western cultures, I’d say he did get to the kernel of some kind of truth. But what do I know? I’m no psychologist – I’m just a guy on the internet.

              I am studying psychology however (for counseling/therapy). But I’m just getting started. Out of curiosity, can you cite any specific examples of Peterson’s comments related to evolutionary psychology that you found incoherent?

  2. Scott Preston says :

    About Nietzsche’s statement “when one goes to fight monsters, one best take care not to become the monster oneself. And when one stares into the abyss, the abyss begins to stare back into you”

    I could probably start a whole blog about this one statement, and begin unwrapping its full meaning as it pertains to our own “chaotic transition”. It’s rather key to the whole thing.

    Did Nietzsche forget his own advice? Some people might think so. Nietzsche, though, warned against people mistaking him for what he was not — a “moral monster”, and that to understand the subtleties and nuances of his thought, one had to have experienced life as he experienced it.

    So, I do find pop Nietzscheanism a terrible misunderstanding, including Steven Pinker’s and probably Jordan Peterson’s too. But, his errors are making him rich, by all accounts.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    Also, what I suspect underlies Peterson’s self-description as an adherent of “British classical liberalism” in conjunction with his personal myth of slaying the dragon of Chaos through resurrecting “the dead father” (patriarchy) is that would be antagonistic to notions of Gaia or the return of the Anima Mundi, both aspects of the feminine and of the Great Mother. His idea of masculine energy is as subjugating Nature and subjecting the Earth, and capitalism as the most effective instrument of that masculine energy for that purpose.

    I don’t know. It’s an image that comes to mind, particularly in his conception of gender roles, which seems mythically informed (which some critics have noted already). But there does seem something in Peterson of Gebser’s warning about the irruption of the magical and mythical contents of the psyche within the matrix of the deficient mental-rational, and attendant psychic inflation.

    But what I’ve read so far, suggests this might be the right track for understanding the “obscurity” behind much of Peterson’s views.

  4. Scott Preston says :

    “Are you going to see a woman? Don’t forget to take your whip!” — NIetzsche.

    I think there’s something of Jordan Peterson in that remark, since he sees feminine energy as chaos and the whip as masculine order It’s very crude. And maybe that’s what Peterson means in citing Nietzsche as an influence?

    There’s something ironic about Nietzsche’s remark here, though. It brings to mind a photograph of Nietzsche that he found most embarrassing in later life. He and Paul Ree are yoked to a carriage and his one-time lover, Lou Salome, is in the driver’s seat holding a whip. Salome and Ree eventually ran off with each other, leaving a jilted Nietzsche. He never really got over it or the embarrassment of the picture.

    Does that background have something to do with the famous episode of Nietzsche’s breakdown in Turin Italy? He came across a horse that ahd fallen and was being whipped, sobbing he grabbed the horse around his neck calling the horse “brother”.

    Nietzsche apparently identified deeply with that poor horse.

  5. donsalmon says :

    Scott, you might be interested in this commentary on Jordan Peterson, which also refers to him as suffering from “inflation.”

    • donsalmon says :

      It also seems, Scott, that Peterson has triggered something pretty strong in you (sorry, I don’t mean to be being overly “therapist-y” here:>)). Would be interesting to see what that is…….

      • Scott Preston says :

        As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I suspect Peterson of being something of a Trojan Horse for something he isn’t making explicit. And I’m not the only one. Mark Vernon & Rupert Sheldrake mentioned the same thing in their podcast on the Peterson Effect.

        Some of that came out in the Bernard Schiff article in The Toronto Star. And if a personal friend and colleague of Peterson’s can become alarmed, we should probably pay attention to what he thinks is the “danger” here. And perhaps he’s referring to Peterson’s apparent political ambitions, or that Peterson conflates mythology and ideology.

        I think that’s the real danger — the danger that Gebser pointed out — this conflation of ideology and mythology and magic. Such conflation is not integration — that’s a counterfeit integration, just as Bortoft noted between authentic and counterfeit wholes.

        • donsalmon says :


          Sent from my iPad


        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          something he isn’t making explicit

          Perhaps I’m missing something, but the “Trojan Horse” of which you speak actually has been with us for quite some time, just in a far less obscure form: plain English.

          Peterson has coined “intellectual-sounding” neologisms for long-standing political views, and cherry-picked his “evidence” to back them up from less original thinkers than Gebser and Rosenstock. “Enforced manogamy” = “marriage should be defined solely as between a man and a woman”. Patriarchy is a perfectly acceptable form of social organization (because hierarchies exists in nature – SD). He, et al, are uncomfortable with the upending of conventional gender as well as parenting roles and arrangements. (Why else would he object to parents being called — well, “parents” – instead of “mothers” and “fathers?”) Communism has proven a disaster in the past (though through no fault of Marxist philosophy), ergo “Marxism” of any and every kind must be avoided or fought at all costs. Et cetera. (Some see the enactment of Socialist policies as just one step along a “well-known” road toward (disastrous) Communism until, perhaps, one explains that programs, e.g. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in the US, for example, are — in fact — Socialist programs.)

          This is why social conservatives (et al) have embraced Peterson as their intellectual darling. No scientific evidence exists to support their strongly felt views, ergo no “public intellectual” arguments do either. And, of course, if one wants to be taken seriously today, one must present evidence to back up anything and everything one says.

          Thing is: no one is stopping anyone from sticking to conventional social roles and arrangements in their personal lives, if they so desire. (“Compelled speech” and the “Jewish-Communist Conspiracy” fiasco are a quite a bit stickier to address.)

          This goes back to something I mentioned to don: the ongoing debate as to whether the “soft sciences” are sciences or pseudosciences. I think a lot of the public confusion would be cleared up if the “soft sciences” — psychology, sociology, politics — were recognized and practiced as arts rather than sciences. (But, of course, I wouldn’t seek legislation to make that happen.)

          As I also said earlier, I much appreciated Ian Mackenzie’s comments on this subject:

          Beyond Mr. Peterson, the more important question is perhaps: how can those disaffected and adrift be brought back into connection and real conversation…?

          I had to think: What “conversation?” There is very little in the way of conversation going on. (Except, perhaps, at informal gatherings, e.g. Occupy.) Rather, there seems to be an unspoken consensus among us that only pure, unadulterated, logical argumentation is allowed in the public sphere.

          Gee. I wonder why?

    • Scott Preston says :

      That is a very engaging and very intelligent dialogue, and I was surprised to hear these activists speak with some knowledge of Jung and, especially, Gebser. I’m only about halfway through the podcast, though I’ve made plenty of notes. But now I have to run. I’ll resume listening later and post something about that.

      • Scott Preston says :

        As it turns out, I don’t have to run. But I do need a nap after all this strenuous posting.

      • Scott Preston says :

        I agree with the speakers in this podcast that Peterson’s views are pretty unbalanced, even if they find what he has to say occasionally worth taking in. But it’s the very unbalance that concerns me about Peterson.

        He has surrounded himself at home with Soviet Era propaganda art to remind himself of tyranny, he says (according to the NYT article). Why just Soviet propaganda posters? Didn’t Nazism provide plenty of examples of totalitarian propaganda as well?

        That may seem a mundane point, but it’s something that concerns me about Peterson. There were plenty of well-meaning people who were seduced into fascism because they saw Soviet Marxism (or pan-slavism) as the bigger threat — even Jung fell, for a while, under its spell. Yeats’ flirted with it. So did T.S. Eliot. So did Ezra Pound.

        Peterson’s threat inflation (“postmodern cultural Marxism” which I wrote about earlier as the contemporary “boogeyman”) reminds me of that. Sure, eventually men like Yeats, Eliot, Jung, et alia saw their mistake, which was precisely the mistake of thinking in binary terms.

        Which is one of the reasons paradox represents a higher form of logic. And it’s not clear to me that Peterson understands irony or appreciates paradox. Maybe that will change after his engagement with McGilchrist, and maybe Peterson could use a dose of William Blake too. But his “antidote to chaos” seems to be to suppress the paradoxical again, whereas for Jacob Bronowski, among others, the “crisis of paradox” is precisely the root issue in the present turbulence and transition — ie, the paradox of transition that Gebser calls “the double-movement”. Any “antidote to chaos” must try to suppress this double-movement, and that’s why Peterson is also politically conservative.

        But then, we have to remind ourselves of Gebser’s rule, as it were: that everything pivots today on knowing when to let happen and knowing when to make happen.

        So, I think Rosenstock-Huessy is quite correct in saying that all more vital forms of thought today have embraced paradox rather than attempting to suppress it. And what makes Peterson appear so “unbalanced” is his apparent refusal to do so. Irony and paradox and crisis are all very closely related. But if truth is at root paradoxical truth, what does that say about Jordan Peterson’s “truths”, which seem so binary?

  6. donsalmon says :

    Also, I’ve been talking with a number of people who have deleted their social media accounts. I avoided social media for over a decade, until last December when I realized I needed to understand it to do marketing for our upcoming e-course.

    My conversations on FB (the only social media I’m involved with at the moment) are almost entirely related to the kinds of topics covered here, and there’s a group of several dozen folks who frequently offer poetry, music, artistic and contemplative references, so I almost feel like this is making a statement, that social media does not have to result in the pixelated personality.

    i’m also on the 5th day of a news fast, which makes everything look quite different.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      I’ve been talking with a number of people who have deleted their social media accounts.

      I have an ambivalent attitude toward social media myself, at times thinking of it as “social media” and (alternately) as “anti-social media.” : )

      I think this comes back to the human propensity to see only the benefits that something can offer as opposed to the potential dangers that something can offer.

      For the moment, I’m willing to see where it goes.

  7. K says :

    There seems to be an typo here…you didn’t finish your sentence?: “The quest for the “Holy Grail” is back on, as it were. And while men like Mr. Peterson are out stalking their dragons, our task is much different — this “Holy Grail”.,”

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes. Thanks. I’ve modified that part. In linking to the “diaphainon” article, I also want to highlight a quote from Gebser that is included there, that I think is all important also in interpreting Peterson

      “It is our task to presentiate the past in ourselves, not to lose the present to the transient power of the past. This we can achieve by recognizing the balancing power of the latent “future” with its character of the present, which is to say, its potentiality for consciousness (EPO, p43).”

      • Scott Preston says :

        I hope people reading this snippet from Gebser appreciate then what it means to say Peterson is “unbalanced” in his views, and that this is related to his conservative political ambitions and his apparent nostalgia for anything before the 60s. Gebser here is specifically repudiating the reactionary response as inappropriate — losing the present to the transient power of the past. The balancing power is recognising the latent future in the present. And so, this statement is another way of talking about the double-movement.

        • Scott Preston says :

          I might mention, also, Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” in this regard. Gebser and Rosenstock-Huessy are of the same mind in this respect, which is why Rosenstock-Huessy also describes his own politics only as “counter-reactionary”, ie, not losing the present and forfeiting the future to the “transient power of the past”.

          In saying that, Gebser is explicitly taking aim here at something he was quite all-too familiar with in his lifetime and which pursued him — fascism.

  8. Scott Preston says :

    Now, here’s something from the Scientific American that I wouldn’t have expected (normally) from that source — the ego-problem addressed, and it is the antithesis to Petersonism in my view.

  9. Scott Preston says :

    The “intellectual dark web” is a piece of irony. Now associated with the political right, it is what was once referred to as “the underground” which was associated with the left. It’s another example of what I refer to as “ironic reversal” or inversion — topsy-turveydom. It’s all part of contemporary confusion.

    And it’s in that sense we can appreciate Marshall Berman’s remark that “everything is pregnant with its contrary”, although I would state it this way — everything is pregnant with irony.

  10. Scott Preston says :

    “One common mistake is to conflate liberalism with democracy. The two concepts are not synonyms. For most of their history, they have not even been compatible. From the time of the ancient Greeks, “democracy” has meant “rule by the people”. Some have interpreted this to mean direct political participation by all male citizens. Others have taken it to mean a representative system based on the suffrage of all male citizens. Either way, however, well into the 19th century, the majority of liberals were hostile to the very idea of democracy, which they associated with chaos and mob rule. It is hard to find a liberal who was enthusiastic about democracy during the heyday of what is often called “classical liberalism”. Indeed, it would not be wrong to say that liberalism was originally invented to contain democracy.”

    I read that this morning in The Guardian, a very interesting article (yet another one) on the crisis of liberal democracy

    And that made me wonder whether that is what Peterson means in describing himself as a “classical liberal”.

  11. Scott Preston says :

    Caroline Orr (another North Carolinan) is a pretty astute analyst of propaganda on Twitter. She wrote sometthing this morning about Trump and our present “Age of Bullshit” (as I’ve described it in very early post in The Chrysalis) which is, I think quite pertinent to Gebser studies

    So I don’t know what the right label is, but a lot of Trump’s “lies” are not simply lies. If that were the case, he would be forced to conform to reality when his lies were disproven, as they always are. But reality has never stopped him, b/c he doesn’t accept that it exists.

    This is a description of what is called “magical thinking”, and is very much connected to Algis Mikunas’s idea of “technocratic shamanism”. The idea here being that reality can be constructed through rhetoric (spell-casting, in essence), because it’s a “blank slate” to begin with. The principle here is, of course, repeat a lie often enough and people will come to believe that it is true.

    So, in those terms, in Trump we see an example of what Gebser also knew in his time observing what was going on in Germany — the irruption of the magical within the matrix of the mental-rational consciousness, corrupting both.

    So, Trump’s lies and bullshit are really spell-casting. The archetype of that is (as I’ve alluded to in past posts) the magician Klingsor in the Grail legend.

    Propaganda is, essentially, magical technique — spell-casting — and repetition is a key feature of propaganda as it is of the magical chant or formula. A lot of the perplexity today is related to his conflation of the magical and the mental, which Gebser anticipated.

  12. K says :

    Peterson just posted this conversation between him and Steven Pinker. Worth a watch. Would be interested to hear what you think. In the last 10 minutes or so, Peterson mentions McGilchrist’s book:

    • Scott Preston says :

      Hoo boy, what a can of worms that was! Talk about the intellectual echo chamber. Of course, not much of a real intellectual engagement. Neither men referred to the many critiques made of their works and their views, did they?

      Now, if I were to listen to that happy-face talk about the value of progress made since the Enlightenment, I might even come to think that sixth extinction event, climate change, planetary ecological devastation and many of the other crises we face were simply hoaxes after all. Not a mention of the cost of these various progresses (maybe we should speak of “progresses” in the plural rather than “Progress” with a capital “P”).

      I see Peterson has a thing about incrementalism. He repeats that word over and over and over again in the talk — doesn’t like radicals, in other words. Doesn’t like change much. Prefers the status quo and even the status quo ante. In fact, I got the impression (and they’ve been accused of this) that they simply cherry-picked facts and historical events to buttress their ideology.

      There’s a half dozen other things that I could mention. Peterson certainly sounds simplistic in his views, even if he makes them sound scientificky and erudite. His explanation of conservative vs “liberal-lefty” temperaments is quackery — and straight binary thinking. We’re all mixtures of this, although we may emphasise one mood or the other depending on circumstances.

      And it sounds like he’s applied that same binary thinking to McGilchrist, so far, and never mentioned one of the principle things in McGilchrist — the “usurpation” by the Emissary. And had Pinker and Peterson turned to query that “usurpation”, it probably might have been a better talk. But they didn’t because they’re implicated in that usurpation.

      That’s the irony of the talk, in my view.

      • K says :

        Speaking of thinking beyond binaries, here’s a couple of links you may find interesting. I’m not necessarily endorsing the ideas, but I feel like they are examples of an emergent fourfold consciousness. The paradigm shift is coming, slowly for now:

        • Scott Preston says :

          Hmm. Didn’t really understand either of those, but as to up and down-ism, I’ld probably say, why not big and small-ism? How about mega-ism and micro-ism? How about mono-culturalism versus polyculturalism? I can think of many kinds of reconfiguration.

          But, in my past posts on the political quadrilateral, I’ve located the social role and positions in terms of the “cross of reality” and the fourfold — liberalism, conservatism, socialism, environmentalism being this fourfold relation that maps to the cross of reality. Each addresses some human need, or some aspect of human reality — the individual, the family, the community or society, the natural world. Each points in some direction of physical reality — past or future, or inner and outer. Each meets some human requirement and need.

          That’s the fourfold relative equilibrium as I understand it — the quadrilateral of reality, and real social ecology.

          I wrote quite a bit about that a few years back in The Chrysalis.

  13. Scott Preston says :

    Just compare William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell” with Jordan Peterson’s “12 rules of life” to understand why I think Peterson is banal. Blake’s Proverbs are invitations to insight and self-knowledge. They don’t prescribe behaviour.

    • donsalmon says :

      Eternity is in love with the productions of time

      there. Now, anybody interested in Jordan Peterson can stop reading. those 9 words alone are worth more than anything Peterson has ever said or written.

    • Scott Preston says :

      “Drive your plough over the bones of the dead” is one of Blake’s Proverbs of Hell. It occurred to me when I read about Peterson’s concerns for reviving “the dead father”. Blake’s Proverb is an objection to “traditionalism” or what Gebser described as losing the present to the transient quality of the past. The Proverb corresponds to Rosenstock-Huessy’s “counter-reactionary”

  14. Scott Preston says :

    What’s happening to time? Something I’ld like to draw your attention to, in terms of the meaning of “co-evolutionary” as it bears on the ego and time, and the disintegration of both (because time and the ego consciousness are related).

    Some of you may recall a CBC Ideas radio broadcast I discussed sometime back called “Living on Oxford Time”. It’s worth listening to again in relation to this post on “the Pixelated Personality”.

    One of the interesting things in this conception of time as infinite numbers of Now Points (but no universal Now) is how uncannily it reflects the disintegration of the personality/ego consciousness into thousands of “data points” too. Illustrating the Hermetic principle “as above so below” in effect. Or, Anais Nin’s (and Blake’s) observation that “we don’t see things as they are, but as we are”.

    Now, as I once remarked about this odd conception of time as infinite moments or atoms of Now is that, if all these “points of now” have this quality of “Now” shared among them, why wouldn’t you speak, in fact, of a Eternal Present or Universal Now? But you see the quantitative part of us seems completely blind to the qualitative side of us ie, McGilchrist’s Emissary and Master modes of attention. And this seems to me a fine example of it — the atomisation of time and ego consciousness both. A moment is measurable, but Now is not measurable.

    In effect, though, if you switch background/foreground perspectives or assume an “aperspectival” approach to this question of “now points”, what it attests to is the holographic universe, doesn’t it? Or, what Blake describes as “heaven in a Wild Flower” and “Eternity in the hour” and “the world in a grain of sand”. David Bohm also calls this aperspectivity “proprioception”.

    And what it also attests to, this paradox of Now or Eternal Now as being also atomisation into “Now points” is Rumi’s statement that “the cure for the disease is in the disease”, which is related to Gebser’s “double-movement”.

    Do you see it? If you see it, you’ll begin to appreciate McGilchrist a lot more. You’ll feel the movement between the Master and Emissary modes of perception!

    • donsalmon says :

      one of the great paradoxes of time is the more one is rooted in the boundlessness, openness, spaciousness, of the Eternal Present, the more the world is experienced as process, ever flowing, Heraclitus’ flux.

      And because eternity is in love with the productions of time, there is not only no conflict, but a perfect union of this Stillness and Flow, as the ever playful Taoists always loved to express.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I should write this up as a regular post, because I think it’s rather important to understanding Gebser’s meaning of “latent” and “manifest”, for we see this in relation to this paradox about time and the ego consciousness, and the paradox of “Now” as momentary and eternal, and this is reflected in the paradox of McGilchrist’s Master and Emissary modes of consciousness. And you begin to understand Bohm’s holomovement, proprioception (Gebser’s aperspectivity) and the concerns today with holism.

      If you contemplate this evident affinity between the cosmic picture as regards time and the atomisation of the ego-consciousness also into data points (the equivalent of “moments”) and yet, see what’s implicit or “behind”, “beneath” or “before” that atomisation of time and personality, then you’ll begin also to appreciate Bronowski’s meaning about the “crisis of paradox” as it pertains to the Mechanical Philosophy and its Analytical Engine — the mental-rational consciousness. It’s only a crisis for the mental-rational consciousness or the modern ego.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Might also add that it’s a very fine example of Marshall Berman’s remark that “everything is pregnant with its contrary”, including the idea of “every-thing”!

    • Scott Preston says :

      One of the ironies of “Living on Oxford Time” is that these physicists are offering a perfectly good argument for the akashic library — ie nothing is ever lost in Great Cosmos. But they’ll never couch it as that, and that all those “moments of Now” are always accessible, which makes the idea of “time travel” possible (but not in the way the mental-rational consciousness conceives it), and it’s this that underlies the often misunderstood notion of the “eternal recurrence of same”, for which there is indeed some proof, ie timelessness.

      Are these “moments of Now” which are never lost, then, not suggestive that these “moments” are something akin to memory cells in a great cosmic brain? speaking metaphorically in that sense), and that the “akashic library” is, in effect this Great Cosmic Brain? Well, some folks would rather dodge the issue and speak, instead, of the cosmos as a computer or akin to a computer. It too has memory cells, and so on. It’s a rather transparent attempt to conserve the Clockwork Universe/Mechanical Philosophy in somewhat different terms as a kind of calculating machine — ergo, conserve the mental-rational consciousness structure against the challenges of the holistic or Hermetic model (and paradox) which is becoming increasingly more relevant to issues of quantum cosmology.

      So the “crisis of paradox” is the real deal, and it’s throwing conventional rationalism for a real loop, for which it looks like chaos in the making (hence Pinker, Peterson, and the defense of “Enlightenment” as they often misinterpret this). Paradox was suppressed in favour of Descartes “clear and certain ideas”. But, as it turns out, nature (and human nature) is quite paradoxical, and McGilchrist’s “Master and Emissary” is a real challenge to the Cartesian-Newtonian mind for which paradox was monstrous and obvious proof of intellectual error.

      Turns out that the shoe was on the other foot. Our received logics cannot handle paradox, and they are in a panic about it.

      • Scott Preston says :

        BTW, I see this among conservative rationalists all the time — that they would rather commit something akin to intellectual suicide rather than admit the paradox. Things must be either/or. Things must be black or white. Things must be true or false. Things must be good or evil, or human beings must be male or female, etc, etc.

        It’s all linked, and it’s one of the reasons we have become suspicious of binary thinking (dualism) as being itself irrational and reactionary.

        • Scott Preston says :

          One of the ironies of Peterson’s conversation with Pinker in his description of the conservative (“incremental”) and “liberal-lefty” (or “radical”) moods is his admission that the liberal-lefties are creative, imaginative, innovative (but also, for that reason, a bit chaotic) while the “conservative” merely produces and reproduces or is administrative and managerial (very orderly).

          There’s a lot of irony in Peterson of which he doesn’t really seem to be aware.

  15. donsalmon says :

    as far as 4 quadrants (a Wilber idea), I often refer to it as the “chinese menu” view of philosophy. Pick one from quadrant A, one from quadrants B, C and D, and enjoy your dinner!

    as far as FM and his up down idea, Jan (my wife) knew FM back in the 70s. I won’t say much more, but if you ask me to put on my psychological evaluation hat, there are a few choice words from the DSM-V that might be relevant.

  16. dadaharm says :


    Peterson does really have a very strange effect on people. On the web there is a very long article that claims to be a Jungian analysis of modern society. Basically, it “explains” why everybody should drop on their knees, start worshiping Jordasn Peterson and help him rescue the “dead father” from the underworld.

    It is beyond belief. Totally funny and totally frightening at the same time. (This is how I image some Germans in the thirties felt about Hitler.) Below are some amazing quotes. (The entire article is like the quotes. It is hysterical.)

    The Jungians strike back: An analysis of why everybody is obsessed about Jordan Peterson:

    Cultural complexes, like individual ones, may be the result of collective-cultural trauma and the attempt to defend against retraumatization?— but complexes are only temporary solutions, when left untreated they arrest the process of healing and growth. The intense attitudes towards Jordan Peterson are an indication of such a cultural complex. Consciousness of the complex and its archetypal meaning?— or: where it’s anchored in the meta-myth cycle of the Way?— will often start the healing process…

    Via the “button” of the personal complex, Peterson triggers a collective intuition that we as a civilization haven’t properly dealt w/ the murder of the Father since the cultural revolution of the 1960s; then: the Tyrannical Father — archetypal personification of pre-revolutionary status-quo — was killed and buried out of sight to make space for the great expanse of freedom that suddenly became possible at that time. From the assasination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 to The Doors song “The End” in 1967 we can witness this archetypal-historical moment: the murder of the Father (Order) and the incest w/ the Mother (embrace of Chaos).

    That is: the 1960s cultural revolution was also a revolution (as in a turning) of one archetypal dominant into another — a process Jung called “enantiodromia:” the reversal of an extreme into its opposite. In that era, the Tyrannical Father switched places w/ the Dionysian repressed Feminine — or the Mother as creative Chaos. The Father — as outdated, corrupted Order — went underground for renewal and dormancy in the collective unconscious, while the latter — liberated creative Feminine — came up as a new cultural wold.

    But now, in our era, another enantiodromia has been announced straight from the collective unconscious through the “Peterson complex.” Just as the Father as Order is prone to stagnation and corruption calling for the Child to usurp him, the Mother archetype — after having birthed a new creative cultural world in the interim between the destruction of the old Order (pre-60’s America) and the founding of a new — eventually goes through its own corruption becoming the Devouring Mother. The Mother, as an unconscious cultural archetype, goes from creative to devouring when she fearfully clings so tightly to the new cultural gains — such as classic liberal values and the “content of character” over prejudice — that they are in danger of being snuffed out (i.e.: Martin Luther King Jr’s dream is smothered into “intersectionality”).

    I’ll use Star Wars from the end of episode III to the conclusion of episode VI as an iconic model for the archetypal dynamics of the era of the late 1950s to now: theTyrannical Father was vanquished like Anakin Skywalker —from the Beat Generation and Women’s Lib to Civil Rights and the Summer of Love; and then trapped in unredeemed form as Darth Vader in the Death Star — from Hippies to Yuppies to Gen-X; until Luke as the Child Hero redeems him and brings his body back up from the Death Star —the collective task of our time, and the message of Jordan Peterson, necessary for adaptation to the demands of Hypermodernity: an anthroposophic anamnesis (deep remembering of the wisdom of the human individual) against the collectivizing effects of socialist trends driven by a huge corporatist media ecology. In case you are not a Star Wars fan: Darth Vader means “Dark Father,” the Death Star is the “Underworld”, and Luke means “Light” — he is the classic archetypal Solar Hero.
    (Cf: Peterson’s infamous injunction to “rescue your Father from the Underworld.”)

    and if his call to rescue our Fathers isn’t heeded, it isn’t difficult to foresee social and civil catastrophe around the corner.

    (Keep in mind as in all cases of projection it is NOT Peterson people are reacting to with this intensity; he is just the latest clear window into where the collective unconscious meets history; where the archetypal father is shining a harsh but revelatory light thru.)

    The outrage unleashed by the “Peterson complex” is really a charged flight of avoidance of what Jung after the alchemists called the Great Work of the “coniunctio:”

    The task of rescuing the Father as the Wise King while challenging the regressive and devouring manifestations of the Mother as the Kali Dragon is a huge task — maybe the biggest one we will ever face. But Peterson has shown us all that it can and it must be done.

    Clearly, now is not the time for an integral revolution of consciousness. We first need to help Jordan Peterson and rescue the dead father from the underworld.;)

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes, and interestingly in this regard, in a recent interview (which I didn’t see but which was recounted to me by a friend) Steve Bannon admitted that the only thing he thought could defeat his political agenda for the US was the #MeToo movement. So, are Peterson and Bannon allies in this sense? I think they may very well be.

      • donsalmon says :

        so let me get this straight – the patriarchal father has been dominant since at least 2500 BC – or, 5000-6000 BC as some say (that’s 7 thousand to 8 thousand years)– but since the re-emergence of the Divine Mother approximately 50 years ago, it’s been all too long and we must reestablish the balance. Well, all I can say to that is, “Me Too!”

        • Kellynn says :

          I’m glad you picked up on that, too. Overall, I didn’t think the article was horrible, but that part missed the mark in a big way.

        • Scott Preston says :

          On the other hand, I’ve read some very terrible understandings of the “Divine Mother” and “the goddess” that would make me want to join the Peterson camp. It deserved the name “femininazi”. The Great Cosmic Mother by Sjoo and Mor was one, and it was nasty and as authoritarian as Peterson’s Great Dad.

          • Scott Preston says :

            If The Great Cosmic Mother is actually where Peterson gets his ideas about feminism and “political correctness” from, I actually wouldn’t blame him for his reaction to it. That’s how bad that book was. It was thoroughly narcissistic.

            • Kellynn says :

              Actually, he often speaks highly of Erich Neumann.

            • Scott Preston says :

              Erich Neumann’s book on The Great Mother is excellent, I think, as is his book on the history of consciousness. But Sjoo’s and Mor’s book is another matter altogether (they seemingly loathed Jung and individuation. They would probably loathe McGilchrist too.) It really was an awful book. It’s the only book in my life I can remember actually physically throwing across the room!

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        Except, perhaps, that A #MeToo backlash is inevitable?

        If these somewhat disparate events reveal anything, it’s that new pressures and counterforces are beginning to take shape as the #MeToo movement continues its march around the globe….

        These days, when anyone can be accused of anything, our ipso facto presumption of guilt ought to cause the ghosts of Salem to rise up in protest.

        An awful lot of people (with, no doubt, more to come) might have extreme difficulty with the notion that “there are no accusers,” considering accusations are flying around like a plague of locusts.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      Clearly, now is not the time for an integral revolution of consciousness. We first need to help Jordan Peterson and rescue the dead father from the underworld. ; )

      The Peterson paradox, or ‘it doesn’t matter if you’re right, if people stop listening’.

      I couldn’t frame this in the same way that Bernard Schiff has: “I was a friend, and now I think he’s dangerous” — but I would say that “I was one of his biggest fans, and now I have some serious concerns”….

      Longtime readers of TDAB and The Chrysalis will recognize the “frame” from which Fuller, et al, are apparently working.

      [W]hat does the space on the other side of it — the synthesis — look like?

      The synthesis….

      • Scott Preston says :

        Ugh. Kind of fawning, shallow understanding of Peterson, but it did raise an interesting question for me whether Peterson might be a kind of way-station on the way to Gebser, and perhaps we’ll get beyond this idea of “synthesis” to Gebser’s “synairesis”.

        I don’t think Peterson should turn to Wilber, as this author suggests. He needs to get to Gebser moreso, and perhaps he’ll come to Gebser through McGilchrist (McGilchrist himself, though, hasn’t got to Gebser yet, but he’s suggested to me that he probably will but is busy with his new book). It might be most interesting to see how Peterson responds to Gebser.

        That forthcoming debate with Harris in Vancouver will be interesting to watch, I think.

        Another UGH is his comments on McGilchrist’s book.

        “In his lectures Peterson can then go on to provide the context, for example integrating the work of Iain McGilchrist, whose groundbreaking book ‘Master and Emissary’ described how the brain effectively is divided into two hemispheres, one for order (the known) and one for chaos (the unknown). ”

        OK, so he admits Peterson is a bit unintegrated (ie, self-contradictory?) and that maybe his engagement with McGilchrist might work to effect an integration, and that perhaps Peterson has some psychic inflation (a Messiah complex), but I never thought of McGilchrist’s work in the sense he describes. That’s a Petersonian spin on McGilchrist and the meaning of the divided brain. It’s not a dualism of order and chaos (or known and unknown) — its the relation between the Whole and Totality that is the issue with McGilchrist, and of individuation as opposed to individualism.

        And that strikes me as the fundamental problem with Peterson. I don’t think he’s really understood the difference between individuation and individualism the way McGilchrist has or as Gebser does, too. And that seemed to come out very clearly for me in the Pinker-Peterson talk.

        But then, my standard for illuinating talks is the Bohm-Krishnamurti dialogues.

        • Scott Preston says :

          I might add (something that was quite humurous for me) that Pinker and Peterson aren’t quite on the same wavelength about liberalism. Peterson’s arguments were buttressing neo-liberalism and “meritocracy” (having a genetic basis in his view), while Pinker expressed some reservations, admitting that, in the US (and actually much beyond the US too) the rich had gamed the system. Peterson didn’t actually respond to that, but it seems to be a point of difference between them.

  17. Scott Preston says :

    A poem for Jordan B. Peterson by William Blake

    Earth’s Answer
    By William Blake

    Earth rais’d up her head,
    From the darkness dread & drear.
    Her light fled:
    Stony dread!
    And her locks cover’d with grey despair.

    Prison’d on watry shore
    Starry Jealousy does keep my den
    Cold and hoar
    Weeping o’er
    I hear the Father of the ancient men

    Selfish father of men
    Cruel, jealous, selfish fear
    Can delight
    Chain’d in night
    The virgins of youth and morning bear.

    Does spring hide its joy
    When buds and blossoms grow?
    Does the sower?
    Sow by night?
    Or the plowman in darkness plow?

    Break this heavy chain,
    That does freeze my bones around
    Selfish! vain!
    Eternal bane!
    That free Love with bondage bound

  18. donsalmon says :

    a very interesting post from a long time chronicler of the occult:

    • donsalmon says :

      And here is an interview with the same author, who specifically references Gebser to illumine what is happening in the world today:

      • donsalmon says :

        Here, from the interview:

        So, what do you personally think and hope the book contributes to the present cultural moment? What can a serious reader hope to find in it and draw from it that will speak meaningfully into the storm?

        GL: As I say in the book and elsewhere, I think we are experiencing the nihilism that, in the 1880s, the philosopher Nietzsche predicted was on its way and could not be avoided. One consequence, and example, of this is the “post-truth/alternative fact” world we live in today. I call this “trickle-down metaphysics.” Nietzsche, and philosophers like Heidegger who followed him, recognized that the pursuit of “truth” via science led to the disturbing recognition that Truth in some absolute sense did not exist. The purely quantitative, measurable approach to knowledge can only provide relative truths. While this did not affect our utilitarian use of truth or facts — witness technology — it did undermine any sense of a stable meaning or purpose in life. Hence the existential uncertainty that characterized the 20th century and has become practically commonplace today.

        Another philosopher, Jean Gebser, believed that we are going through what he called the “breakdown of the mental-rational consciousness structure.” Fundamentally, this means that the rational, logical, scientific view of the world that has dominated since the seventeenth century is now taking itself apart. Gebser believed this was in preparation for a new, “integral” structure of consciousness, but he knew the process was no picnic. I’d say we are going through an unavoidable epistemological crisis in which the very basis of our understanding of reality and ourselves is is being uprooted. I’d say this is a result of the inadequacies of the purely rational, “scientistic” worldview that has dominated. Yet we have not yet arrived at a stable grasp of our “other” way of knowing. Hence the need for a “responsibility of the imagination,” so that we are not merely carried away by a pendulum swing to a new dark age, where reason and logic are discredited outright.

        • Scott Preston says :

          Very well put by Lachman. That pretty much summarises The Chrysalis and my former Dark Age Blog. Neat how he gets them both in two short paragraphs.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes. Very timely, since it relates to something I commented on above about Trump and magical thinking. I’ve been trying to get some people interested in following that up, but I get no takers (that I know of anyway). Nice to see that Lachman picks up on that.

      Lachman is a longtime fan of Gebser, and his new book might be quite interesting Dark Star Rising in how he explores that theme from Gebser about magic and the mental-rational breakdown.

      As you probably know, he’s had an interesting career, being the former bass player for the band Blondie.

      • donsalmon says :

        Yes, i’ve been a fan of lachman’s for a long time.

        I first predicted the transitional phase of opening to the “inner worlds” back in the 70s. It was already a big part of the “new age” (the new age was heading, in my opinion, toward McGilchrist’s intuition in the 1970s, and it was in no small part Shirley McLaine, teh commericialization also, but especailly the opening to the darker aspects of the inner dream worlds that went hand in hand iwht the extreme “alt right turn” that got the US into wars that pretty much tore apart the middle east, opening up yet other asepcts of those dark forces, and now it is coming back “literally” to haunt us.

        I’m tried of people thinking Trump himself is hte “Trickster.” I definitely think – from having watched him in NYC for years – he is as much a moron as others think. He himself is so much a cipher that he is a very convenient vehicle for those forces to use.

        There are so many positive ways to use intuition, in the arts, more and more in the sciences, as Pinker’s rationalist world is so clearly falling apart (I suspect even Dennnett and Churchland are going to throw in the towel soon.

        I remain the stubborn optimist – the odds of the new truly intuitive paradigm being born in the next decade or so are better than ever.

        But I won’t deny Lachman’s point – there’s still a very tough transition ahead – it won’t be a “picnic” (or a walk in the park – see Charles Ives: “Central Park in the Dark” and ‘The Unanswered Question” – Ives the transcendentalist was very much one who “saw” the next era……

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          All this about “magical thinking” corrupting both the “magical” and “mental-rational” “structures of consciousness” naturally reminded me of Gebser’s illustration of all the structures of consciousness bearing within them the potential for their own “efficient” and “deficient” modes, including (presumably) the “Integral consciousness structure”.

          It also reminded me of this: A Spell to Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him as well as the more grounded John Michael Greer of The Archdruid Report, whose work has been mentioned here by other commentors on occasion.

          A few of the “magical thinkers” with whom I’m familiar see Trump as a disrupting rather than a corrupting influence. (Whether or not they see his shenanigans as a disruption of the “mental-rational consciousness structure” I’m unsure because, of course, they don’t think of themselves in terms of “consciousness structures”.)

          This points up the primary disagreement I have with a great many in the so-called “Integral” community. Gebser was writing primarily about cultures and civilizations, not specific persons. Correctly or incorrectly, I take his “diaphaneity” as representing both “transparency of the world” and “transparency” among those consciousness structures.

          Speaking in the vein of “individuation”: we’re all walking our own “spiritual” paths at our own pace — both personally and in groups – adhering to that which works for us and eschewing that which does not. That is, in fact, one of the charms of the human race: We don’t all look, walk, talk and think alike. Who are any of us, then, to say that any other spiritual path than ours is right or wrong for anyone else? Yet, that’s mostly what I see in the “Integral” community at large. “Those guys over there are ‘green’ (or ‘orange’ or ‘blue’). But, of course, we’re not. We’re “integral!” <_< (That kind of thing.)

          I'd be interested to know what others familiar with Gebser's work think "Integral consciousness structure” actually means?

  19. Scott Preston says :

    You know, I woke up this morning with the Pinker-Peterson talk still on my mind, and realised, too, how little they said that really mattered. Having left virtually all the real-world existential threats and crises we face today unmentioned at all, the best they could really come up with was “whatever the problem, we’ll solve it” rationally That’s their faith (perhaps less so Peterson’s, but he didn’t object to Pinker’s plea in that respect). But, basically, their common sentiment is “stay the course”. Don’t change directions. We don’t need a course correction.

    And that’s pretty much why Peterson’s mantra seems “incremental”. He must have used that word a dozen times. But Gebser calls for a “leap”, not incrementalism.

    Paradox, quandry, dilemma, though, are not soluble “rationally”. The horns of the bull or the ears of the wolf dilemmas show up the limits of rationality. And what Pinker and Peterson don’t seem to understand is that their conventional dialectics has gone awry — thesis and antithesis are identical. That’s irony. That’s paradox. And that’s dilemma, and there’s no way to untangle that “rationaliy” or dialectically.

    Nietzsche, though, described the situation quite well, using a bow analogy — a great tension — the arc of the bow at maximum tension and stress, the two ends of the bow being both this similarity of thesis and antithesis drawn tight (agonic tension). You would hardly say that one end of the bow is true and the other false, would you?

    I think Nietzsche’s metaphor of the bow and arrow is the most appropriate way to think of this situation of dilemma. I once used a similar analogy about electrical conducting rods.

    They are men of the dialectic, and that’s fine as far as it goes, but as we see with paradox, it has its limits, and in a real sense what Gebser means by breakdown of the mental-rational is this failure of dialectics, when thesis and antithesis (in his case, individual and collective) become identical.

    And I think he doesn’t understand that about Jung’s “enantiodromia” — reversal of polarities. He seems to have missed that about Jung, and that’s why the “synthesis” metaphor falls flat in that Medium article on the Peterson paradox that IW linked to.

    This reversal of the polarities described by enantiodromia is also what Berman means by “everything is pregnant with its contrary”, or with irony. But this is exactly what is happening with the quantum world picture — paradox, breakdown of the dialectics of cause and effect, true and false, and with no prospect of a “synthesis” (Integral Theory or Theory of Everything) possible at all. We’ve reached (and over-reached) the limits of validity of dialectical rationality.

    And that’s really an awful place to be if you are Dialectical Man. And so, yes, Pinker and Peterson seem quite reactionary in that.

    But, Rosenstock-Huessy’s quadrilateral logic expands the terms of logic beyond dialectics, although it includes dialectic (three-term logic) as part of its fourfold structure. That’s the “leap” Gebser seems to look forward to as well, for his integral consciousness is also a mandala or quadrilateral.

    And I think this is the issue. Men like Pinker and Peterson are three-term men (Gebser’s “perspectival”) struggling with a fourfold reality and a four-dimensional universe which really doesn’t “make sense” anymore because our logic isn’t adequate for it. It’s still Cartesian-Newtonian (ie “Enlightenment”) even though we no longer live in that universe.

    What interest would Peterson have in promoting Pinker’s Enlightenment Now if he wasn’t still part of that worldview?

    • Scott Preston says :

      When it comes down to it, this is what underlies Peterson’s issues with masculine and feminine, or order and chaos — preservation of the dialectical universe and the mental-rational consciousness structure. And that’s how you can read between the lines of the “Medium” article on the Peterson Paradox.

      So, what he calls “chaos” we know as a transitional phase between a threefold and a fourfold cosmos and logic, and one can certainly understand his “antidote to chaos” as an attempt to conserve the mental-rational/dialectical/perspectival against the transition.

      And I think if we dig deep enough into Peterson’s talks, we’ll see that this is the definitive meaning of Peterson. Chaos has its own logic. But it’s just not Peterson’s logic.

      • Kellynn says :

        As I mentioned before, I came to know him first through his university lectures, and my honest takeaway was that he does understand synthesis, at least on some level. Or perhaps he’s only right on the edge. Anyway, you pinpoint precisely why I’ve been so disappointed in him since then.

        On the other hand, one of the common themes is the capacities of evil in everyone, and one of his go-to quotes by Solzhenitsyn: “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”

        My interpretation is that his obsessions with the horrific massacres of the 20th century must have a hold on him. Personally, I just don’t see how such a leap forward to the next stage of consciousness is really possible without serious resistance – in other words, massive bloodshed. And I think Peterson intuits the same. Thus he clenches down on a kind of reactionary stance.

        • Scott Preston says :

          Yes, but I also think that, perhaps, the Medium article got him right in that respect — however much he may abhor polarisation, he is a polarising figure, and that he himself has contributed to that.

          That’s what I meant earlier by saying, however much Peterson might be antagonistic to the “New Normal”, he’s a symptom of it and a participant in it himself. The author of the Medium article senses that, which is why he thinks Peterson is a bit “unintegrated”. But then, seems to confuse integration with synthesis, which, for Gebser was really a counterfeit integration, sort of like

          Let’s agree to disagree
          Said Tweedle-Dum to Tweedle-Dee.

          Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee are actually the same thesis and antithesis of the dialectic.

          And Gebser anticipated “global catastrophe” while Rosenstock-Huessy, also anticipating what we call “chaotic transition” hoped to avoid that with knowledge of his “cross of reality” and grammatical method. I think they hoped beyond hope for a peaceful transition from the threefold to the fourfold — a metanoia beyond the paranoia, as it were.

          Nietzsche, Gebser, Rosenstock-Huessy (among others) are apocalyptic thinkers, in that respect, which is just another term for “revelatory”. Their symbol would be Shiva, and if we’re the dwarf upon whose back Shiva performs his dance… well, that’s not a very pleasant place to be. I once described that in the old Dark Age Blog as feeling trapped between the Hammer of God and the Anvil of the Earth.

          Rumi’s poem “Green Ears” is also about that

          It’s a poem about faith, really — the kind of faith needed to instill resilience and endure the stresses of chaotic transition. I often recommend it for that reason, because I do not think we can avoid any longer Gebser’s global catastrophe. There was a window where that was possible, but when Fukuyama published his “end of history” I felt that that window closed for us. It induced a kind of complacency and self-righteousness that inhibited an honest assessment of our real situation. I thought Fukuyama was the real disaster.

          But, on the other hand, Fukuyama was just fulfilling the logic of the last century since Nietzsche.

          • donsalmon says :

            Well, being the incurable optimist (perhaps a flaw of the left hemisphere, at least according to McGilchrist) I should add a word.

            The transition is no doubt chaotic, But chaos – in striking contrast to Peterson’s confusion about it – is dramatically and profoundly creative. people often point to the fall of the Soviet Union as an allegedly “chaotic” event (in Prigogine’s sense of a dissipative structure) but it really just led as you wrote to the “end of history” and was hardly a real change.

            Here’s another take on the changes that I see as hopeful:

            1. In 1970, when I first became interested in psychology, it was taken for granted throughout academia that Jung and Freud were dead, and any mention of the mind would take science back to the dark ages.
            2. December 1995, Chalmers publishes about the Hard Problem in Scientific American.
            3. 1996: at the same time the government concluded that remote viewing had probably been proven in the CIA experiments, Dean Radin comes out with “The Conscious Universe,” one of the best overviews of parapsychology in decades. The skeptics remain unmoved
            4,. By about 2009, Richard Wiseman inadvertently admits that the science for precognition, remote viewing, telepathy and psychokinesis is as good as anything in psychology or even biology; some say it’s as good as many experiments in quantum physics.

            But this is all within the mental structure paradigm of science.

            meanwhile, 14 physicists, philosophers and psychologists begin working together in 1999 – a world wide community, a true fellowship – and in 2007, come out with Irreducible Mind, perhaps the single best compendium of non-ordinary phenomena within the sphere of science yet published. They rely on 19th century educationist Frederick Myers, who himself had an apocalyptic view, and saw very far ahead in terms of the new science emerging, and perhaps most important – in light of the dramatic changes in parapsychology – had at the root of his vision the need to go deeper than the “inner/occult” worlds toward a spiritual core, the Origin, that in which “we live and move and have our being.”

            The group (led by Ed Kelly) then published a more philosophic book in 2015, “Beyond Physicalism,” which integrates Tantra, Buddhism, Whitehead, Sri Aurobindo, Christian mysticism, and a very wide range of science, with a postlude by Michael Murphy on “Evolutionary Panentheism.”

            In 2016, Imants Baruss – under the imprint of the implacably rationalist American psychological Association publishes a book “Transcendent Mind,” which proposes that Consciousness as the fundamental reality is a necessity for the foundation of a new science.

            Beginning at the turn of this century, Matthijs Cornelissen begins traveling to universities throughout India telling whatever psychologist will listen that they should stop relying on Western, rationalist scientific models and start exploring the vast wisdom of the great Indian spiritual/philosophic tradition.

            In just the last 4 years, more than a dozen very mainstream, internationally respected scientists have renounced their materialist views and stated that panpsychism, idealism, non dualism or panentheism of some sort is necessary if science is to avoid stagnating.


            In 1992, I attended a workshop led by Tibetan Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche on lucid dreaming. I got into a conversation with a sleep physiologist who was there with his wife, who was a medical resident at Yale. At one point I said, “Ed, if it was 1970, and you told me what was going on now in terms of progress in “spiritual” or contemplative science, I’d guess you were telling me about 2010 or 2020.”

            He turned to his wife and said, “Did you hear what Don said?” She said yes, in fact, Ed had just said exactly the same thing (not quite the same year as I predicted, but close) the night before.

            Well, I still feel that way. if you had described the extraordinary changes – Chalmers, Baruss, Kelly, etc – heck, even The Chrysalis! – to me in 1992, I would have said, “well, that probably won’t happen until at least 2050.

            Keep your eyes on the prize, folks. As the Mother used to say, “The new world is already here. We just need eyes to see.

            • Scott Preston says :

              That’s an interesting chronology. Don’t know most of the names you raised there. I should look them up.

              That’s also the “double-movement” you describe, and it’s also something that Blake detected emerging in his own time (its incipience, he noted, coincident with his own birth year!). Hard to say whether he saw Swedenborg or himself as the first prophet of the New Age (but I suspect he saw himself as such, because he was also quite critical of Swedenborg at times).

            • donsalmon says :

              There’s another quite amazing (and to me very moving) way of looking at the evolution of consciousness and the chaotic transitions.

              I’m waiting for a patient but let’s see what I can put in words just now…

              Western classical music starts (officially – if you don’t go back to the Greek modes of the pre-Christian era – which is really quite close to African and Asian music…. and consciousness of the time) around 5th century AD with the codification of Gregorian Chant (supposedly “hummed” in Pope Gregory’s ear by a dove inspired by the Holy Spirit)

              Instruments were forbidden, and the vocal melodies had almost no beat, fluid measures, and overall the sense was very much of ascension, away from the sinful, decrepit earthly sphere up to the heavens.

              Organ was introduced a few centuries later, and the technique of “organum” – doubling a note 7 half steps higher – was introduced in singing around the same time. It was still a very fluid, almost improvisatory sound.

              Unlike anywhere else in any other culture, 2 then 3 voice harmony was introduced around the 12th and 13th century, during the rise of the scholastics. This required a tighter rational structure in order to coordinate the different voices, but since they were still using the “modal” structure, there wasn’t a tight “key center” (which many musicologists have identified with the Cartesian ego). Even at the height of the Renaissance, when 40 voice choirs and large orchestras were putting together 5 part harmony, there remained an integrative polyphony and very fluid harmonic and melodic progression, with at times quite innovative and non-mechanistic harmonies.

              This all changed radically in the 17th and 18th centuries. Bach experimented with his ‘equal temperament,” imposing a rational tuning on what was a very natural tuning prior to that. Mozart and the classical composers brought Western art music to its rationalist heights but it retained an opening to the Light nonetheless. The “rococo” period of the late 1700s took the rigid structure of the classical period to an extreme, and the Romantic reaction (very much in sync with Blake, Goethe, Herder and other Romantics) set in with Beethoven (and late Mozart).

              Interestingly, throughout the 19th century, composers kept adhering to the rationalist structures of the classical period, and by the early 20th century, when Schoenberg tried to break away altogether, with his 12 tone music, he ended up writing what sounded like “wrong note” music rather than anything truly new.

              My graduate composition teacher, Charles Dodge, who specialized in computer written or assisted music (very very very rationalist) used to say that the German atonalists weren’t truly revolutionary – Debussy, despite his ‘pretty melodies’ seemed to abandon rules and reason altogether yet somehow “he got away with it” (Debussy just infuriated Dodge, because it was clear Debussy was writing great music but he was breaking all the damn rules!!).

              I was at Juilliard in the early 1970s, entering the same year they admitted the first ever “rock n roll” composer, Paul Amrod. Everyone in the program was “breaking all the damn rules.” I remember when my teacher, Vincent Persichetti, told me about having Steve Reich as a student some years before. Reich came to him with a piece which was simply holding down a C Major chord on an organ for 23 minutes. “”What could I say to him? You should make it 22 or 24 minutes? He had created his own structure! (to his credit, persichetti said this with much affection, as befuddled as he was by this new music).

              My sense was, as I was ending the period of my life when I was focused on music, everyone I knew on the music art scene was struggling with what they clearly recognized as the breakdown of all the old rules and not sure what to do next. I now see people exploring computer music combined with found instruments (you know, hubcaps, trash cans, etc), video of all kinds, including animation, tap dance and whatever, and it feels for those open to it, far from being upsetting or scary, quite exhilarating – to know you are in the transition from one era to another – to know that unless you’re utterly stunned with wonder, you haven’t come up with it yet.

            • Scott Preston says :

              Interesting analogy.

              around 5th century AD with the codification of Gregorian Chant (supposedly “hummed” in Pope Gregory’s ear by a dove inspired by the Holy Spirit)

              Had to chuckle at that, because I hear it in the sound of my Jeep’s wheels — road noise. Sometimes it’s symphonic, other times it’s choir and chant, and other times it sounds like bagpipes, and it’s really clear. I refer to it as “the song of my wheels”. It’s quite uncanny. Not road noise at all but music.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              “The new world is already here. We just need eyes to see.”

              That’s as true as it can be (and a beautiful thing to behold), but this is still the reality with which we are wrestling. (No one quite like Hedges to throw a bucket of ice cold water in our faces, eh?)

              I’ve personally had enough of Hedges’ insistence that the worst that could possibly happen will happen just because he’s seen it before. It just so happens to be a very distinct possibility — becoming more distinct by the day — based upon the realities most of us are living. Those realities, though, he illustrates very well in just a few paragraphs here.

              I don’t know that I would call it optimism, but it seems to me that the notion that Fukiyama’s thesis of the End of History was powerful enough to shut that “window of opportunity” for all of us and for all time is a bit of a stretch. The last vestiges of cheerleaders for the Global Civilization of Commerce just “ain’t all that” in my book.

              It’s heartening to see that cities and states in the US have decided to continue along a regenerative path, for the most part, regardless of the nonsense going on Washington, but with “transition town” initiatives and the like still falling on deaf ears, despite those realities, one has to wonder if networked communities of place are or can be robust and resilient enough to weather such a collapse in time.

              I’m reminded, however, of what happened when Hurricane Hugo passed through these parts in 1989. (It was a very curious thing.) People who’d lived next door to each other for years, but had never actually met, spontaneously pitched in to help each other clean up; draw clean water from nearby wells; help out their elderly neighbors; held impromptu cookouts and barbeques (though mostly so that the food on hand wouldn’t spoil for lack of refrigeration), etc.

              That was also a sight to behold. Strangest thing, though. As soon as the lights, air, water, TV and refrigeration units came back on, everyone just kind of retreated to their respective little holes in the wall, never to barbeque together again. Very strange.

              And now, for some odd reason, I feel compelled to reread Stephen King’s The Stand. o_O

    • Scott Preston says :

      Let’s return for a moment to Nietzsche’s “bow and arrow” metaphor — and the maximum stress and tension he saw in this. People sometimes speak of “the arc of history”, which on the face of it seems a nonsensical phrase unless one thinks of it in terms of a bow drawn to its maximum of tension (“agony” or agonistic in the classical Greek sense).

      Now, what Fukuyama did with his “end of history” thesis was suggest that this bow had relaxed. There was no longer any “arc of history”, as it were with the collapse of the Soviet Union, or the contest of the individual and the collective. But that, too, means breakdown of the dialectic and not a “synthesis” as such. And the breakdown of the dialectic was also implied in Thatcher’s TINA principle (There is No Alternative). So, the whole mentality began to contradict itself and negate itself.

      If you have no alternative, you have no dialectic, and if you have no dialectic you also have “illiberal democracy”. Everything I see today says to me “breakdown of the dialectical consciousness”.

      Fukuyama wanted to relax the bow — the arc of history — but avoid Nietzsche’s decadent “Last Man”, which wasn’t possible. He tried to square the circle, as it were. Well, now we now that Fukuyama was wrong all along, but it seems that Pinker and Peterson what to carry that on, which makes me wonder whether Peterson has understood Nietzsche at all. Nietzsche wasn’t about “incrementalism”.

      So, I think Peterson is taking himself and his followers into a trap, which I would call a “counterfeit integration” (ie a “synthesis” of sorts) and a re-affirmation of dialectics rather than the quadratics that we need to live in a four-dimensional universe. So, when they accuse Peterson of being a “custodian of the Patriarchate”, it’s only partially true. I think he’s the custodian rather of the dialectical or perspectival consciousness structure.

  20. Scott Preston says :

    Some people do seem to think that the breakdown of the dialectical mind is the end of the world or a portend of Dark Age, which it may very well become as self-fulfilling prophecy (which is implicated in Lachman’s “chaos magick”).

    But, if we see it as simply the breakdown of the dialectic — as difficult as it might be — we could avoid all the negative consequences of that. The transition is chaotic largely because we don’t have insight into this breakdown and what it means. But then, as Thomas Kuhn once put it in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, breakdown can also be breakthrough.

    Or not.

  21. Scott Preston says :

    You know the saying — “stuck between a rock and a hard place”. That’s a definition of a dilemma or quandary, or even a paradox, and attests to the breakdown of the dialectic, for what could possibly be a “synthesis” of a rock and a hard place? Stuck between a rock and a hard place (or the hammer and the anvil in my analogy) is just another statement about the horns of the bull or the ears of the wolf dilemma, and of the limits of dialectical rationality.

    The only real “synthesis” here would be “squashed like a bug”.

    Another common phrase for that is “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”, so the breakdown of the dialectic does seem like perdition and the end of the world.

  22. Scott Preston says :

    In the news this morning, MIcrosoft is designing an AI (an “oracle”) to catch bias in other AIs.

    there’s something a little madcap about all this, isn’t there? Catching bias is supposed to be the job of “critical thinking” which, it now appears, we have to alienate, project, and model also in machinery as a substitute for critical thinking itself.

    This self-alienation into technology — I’ld like to understand the implications of this better, because it seems to also be an attempt to unburden ourselves of all responsibility, or even any sense of mastery. We rely on the AI to even do our critical thinking for us, because it’s too much of a burden?

    Here’s where the “most haunting words in all literature” become very ominous.

  23. Scott Preston says :

    From Twitter, reporting on a Trump rally: “He just got the crowd to chant “animals” as a response to “what did I call them?” And I bet some people in that crowd think of themselves as Christians.”

    Trump is certainly shadow-possessed and projecting, a regular Mr. Hyde. For, by all accounts, when it comes to the sex drive, Trump is the animal. Doesn’t even bother asking, just grabbing.

    Shadow possession is at the root of this current epidemic of duplicity,

  24. Scott Preston says :

    I haven’t read this article “Are Plants Conscious?” — just the headline and the preface. But it’s another example of the growing groundlessness beneath the Mechanical Philosophy, the Clockwork Universe, and the Megamachine.

    Of course, until we can actually say what consciousness is, we can hardly answer the question of whether plants are conscious. And if we come to the conclusion that all energy is conscious (as many are doing today) then there is nothing that isn’t conscious in some degree of consciousness. But since we can’t even answer the question “what is energy” (we only know it by its effects) we can’t even form a question about that either.

    It’s like those Russian matryoshka dolls. It’s turtles all the way down.

    • donsalmon says :

      and if you start looking with this in mind, you’ll find it everywhere in science:

      Freeman Dyson speaking of atoms as making “mind like choices,’

      A japanese biologist speaking of intelligence in amoeba;

      countless botanists speaking cogently of intelligence in plants

      the wiggle dance of bees; the brilliance of crows, the self awareness of dolphins and maybe even african grey parrots

      intelligence in water, crystals, stars, solar systems –

      and ultimately, panpsychism……

      Baruss, Kelly, Murphy, and so many others now articulating what Richard “we have no idea what energy is” Feynmann gave up on…

      all of this unthinkable even 20 years ago

      the new world is here folks; but only for ears that hear and eyes that listen

      i thank You God for most this amazing
      day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
      and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
      which is natural which is infinite which is yes

      (i who have died am alive again today,
      and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
      day of life and love and wings and of the gay
      great happening illimitably earth)

      how should tasting touching hearing seeing
      breathing any-lifted from the no
      of all nothing-human merely being
      doubt unimaginable You?

      (now the ears of my ears awake and
      now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

      e e cummings

      chant over and over, with a whisper

      (now the ears of my ears awake and
      now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

      (now the ears of my ears awake and
      now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

      (now the ears of my ears awake and
      now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

      (now the ears of my ears awake and
      now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

      (now the ears of my ears awake and
      now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

      (now the ears of my ears awake and
      now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

      (now the ears of my ears awake and
      now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

      (now the ears of my ears awake and
      now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

      (now the ears of my ears awake and
      now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

      (now the ears of my ears awake and
      now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

      (now the ears of my ears awake and
      now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

      (now the ears of my ears awake and
      now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

      • donsalmon says :

        and for everything
        which is natural which is infinite which is yes

        and for everything
        which is natural which is infinite which is yes

        and for everything
        which is natural which is infinite which is yes

        and for everything
        which is natural which is infinite which is yes

        and for everything
        which is natural which is infinite which is yes

        and for everything
        which is natural which is infinite which is yes

        and for everything
        which is natural which is infinite which is yes

  25. Scott Preston says :

    There’s another aspect of Peterson’s anti-Marx temperament that I find rather odd (and I think he’s been called out on this, his deficient understanding of Marx’s philosophy) is that it seems like killing the messenger.

    I’m currently still reading Marshall Berman’s All That is Solid Melts Into Air. The phrase is from Marx — his anticipation of the logical endgame of liberal capitalism, and Berman does a good job of relating that to Nietzsche and Nietzsche’s anticipation of nihilism, too.

    Yet this development, anticipated by Marx, seems to be what Peterson wants to rally his troops against — his “antidote to chaos” without seeing at all in what way Marx anticipated that as a logical development of liberal capitalism itself (which Peterson defends). And that strikes me as a serious self-contradiction in Peterson. And the reduction of human personality to “data points” or the pixelated personality for fun and profit and commodification is exactly this “all that is solid melts into air”.

    So, in that sense, I think Haider’s article in Viewpoint on the deficiencies of Peterson’s understanding of Marx are also quite accurate, and that Peterson is making a bit of a strawman argument against “postmodern cultural Marxism”

    As someone pointed out recently, it’s easy to refute an argument that no one is making.

  26. donsalmon says :

    i realize y’all don’t need yet another thing to read, but I still thought this worth a mention.

    I just got an email about an interview Charles Eisenstein did with Orland Bishop. Sounds very much along the lines of what’s being spoken here – especially in regard to indigenous consciousness:

    • donsalmon says :

      Here is Orland’s description:

      When I navigate the currents of the soul, I find myself within my ancestral pool. I find myself swimming in their grief, and the longing during the great event and initiation called the Middle Passage. I find myself in their collective soul journey from a place of homeland to a dream of the Promised Land. This book is a telling of the soul striving of people of African heritage into the American experience of creating a community–a community created for the possibilities of new covenants within the larger collective sphere of human life.

      The work to which I have dedicated my life is to attend to the ancestral shrines. Ancestral shrines are co-creative imaginative influences on how I see the world. They serve to enhance the human encounters that form relationships and communities within which I work and live. The primary emphasis of my work is to support the recovery of the individual’s capacity to stand in openness for the higher purpose of one’s own life. My work is in service to the creative freedom of others.

      This book reveals through the spiritual tradition of African Gnosis my identification with the impulses of particular individuals in the history of the African experience in America. Their lives and work reveal the spiritual frameworks that have guided me to my understanding of the promise of the Spirit of America.

      This book navigates the flow of the American stream from sovereignty to slavery to service of the higher mandate of the collective soul quest for a covenant of prosperity into which human beings can live.

      The Spirit of America is born in this service.

      • Scott Preston says :

        Sounds like an interesting book. I’ld be particularly interested in what he understands by the “shrines” and especially the seventh shrine as that seems to have some bearing on the “seven generations” of the North American indigenous view. (An indigenous friend of mine assembled a book of native poetry she entitled “Seventh Generation”).

        Seven is, of course, an archetypal number. The seven heavens have a corresponding seven deadly sins — seventh son of a seventh son; the “seven arrows” of Hyemeyohsts Storm, the musical scale, etc, etc. Hardly could be random or coincidental.

  27. Scott Preston says :

    Wow. The Trudeau Government just bought a leaky old pipeline from Kinder Morgan for 4.5 billion, in effect nationalising it. And just to show how topsy-turvey things are, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is lauding it. Everybody’s against government interference in the economy until it serves their interests, and the trades unions now find themselves, too, allied with the Chambers of Commerce.

    And the conservatives, of course, are all trying to save face (or ‘principle’) making noises about why the liberals are to blame for making this “necessary”.

    Yes, we certainly live in a time of baloney.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Actually, what’s very interesting about this overall is that you see how the introduction of a new factor or orientation (in this case, environmentalism) also forces a re-alignment of the other political orientations and identities, and this can be a very confusing period, and so you have something like lip-service still being paid to the old identities and orientations even as they’ve been forced to a kind of “paradigm shift”, and have had to take a different alignment in relation to the others. And what it means in this case is that environmentalism has established itself as a solid and effective political force to be reckoned with, and is forcing the other political orientations to adjust to them.

      • donsalmon says :

        Environmentalism, in its most organic, Integral” form, has always been a threat – not only to the conservative powers-that-be, but to the mainstream liberal “big government” folks as well. Liberal rationalists find the magic and mythic elements threatening, but then there are the environmentalist types who glorify the rather deficient magic/mythic aspects, justifying in part the “tree hugger” caricature.

        To the extent environmentalism forces modern humanity to acknowledge the cosmos as not only alive but intelligent, it forces a confrontation with all that is deficient in the present, quantitive, rational mental structure.

        Charles Eisenstein is one of a minority of folks who gets just how radical environmentalism has the potential to be, though he frequently falls into the magic/mythic mode as well (as well as maintaining a significant level of modernist angry aggression).

        One of the remarkable things about McGilchrist is how much his writings have the potential to provide an understanding of not only this deeper aspect of environmentalism, but to “integrate” that with a profound re-cognition of everything from jurisprudence (much as Gebser wrote) to music composition and economics.

      • Scott Preston says :

        I should probably mention that the reason this process interests me as it does here is because it also reflects what Gebser sees as the process of introducing a new “dimensionality” to thinking. It isn’t “incremental” or simply additive. It forces a change in the whole Gestalt and configuration of consciousness, and this can be a very turbulent process.

  28. mikemackd says :

    From above:

    >> “In his lectures Peterson can then go on to provide the context, for example integrating the work of Iain McGilchrist, whose groundbreaking book ‘Master and Emissary’ described how the brain effectively is divided into two hemispheres, one for order (the known) and one for chaos (the unknown). ”

    Oh, surely not. Perhaps, if so, we shall call him “Procrustes Peterson”, with a pathological degree of confirmation bias myopia.

    How can one interpret McGilchrist’s hemispheric differentiation of manipulation for the left and understanding for the left into, respectively, order and chaos? I mean, McGilchrist’s an ex-Oxford Professor of English! It’s not as if his work is obscurely written.

  29. mikemackd says :

    Also from above, about time.

    Another relevant podcast from the ABC, in which the theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli discusses the nature of time, situating it in our minds (which, being a materialists, he conflates with brains).

    [audio src="" /]

  30. mikemackd says :

    To a degree, the pabulum between Pinker and Peterson can be seen as a distraction. Megamachinic control is far more developed and sophisticated than that. Take, for example, the Wikipedia article about the Cynefin Framework, which provides an example therein about “A Leader’s Framework for Policing Protest”.

    That recognises the complex domain, as representing

    The “unknown unknowns”. Cause and effect can only be deduced in retrospect, and there are no right answers. “Instructive patterns … can emerge,” write Snowden and Boone, “if the leader conducts experiments that are safe to fail.” Cynefin calls this process “probe–sense–respond”.[1] … Stewart identifies battlefields, markets, ecosystems and corporate cultures as complex systems that are “impervious to a reductionist, take-it-apart-and-see-how-it-works approach, because your very actions change the situation in unpredictable ways.

    Would that last phrase be anathema to Peterson? Again, I don’t know, and am indifferent to the answer, but ask the question as

    Note how they use the word “leader” as a puff-word for a megamachine minion operating from an “I am right, you are wrong” stance. There are several such. No offence, I.W., but the word “warrior” is another such, used to puff up egos to cement their service of the megamachine, and having nothing to do with Castaneda’s use of the word. There is a similar difference in Islam, in the use of the word jihad. In both cases, you have those interpreting the meaning in terms of McGilchrist’s Emissary assuming the role of Master, and those where the Master leads the Emissary, not the other way around (potentially far more Satanic-state inducing). In other words, understanding first and then manipulating can be far more valuable, both intrinsically and extrinsically, than manipulating prior to understanding. However, both miss the wisdom of wei wu wei, and even John Kay’s Obliquity (

    As you do, if you can’t countenance paradox,

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      None taken. It was likely you that provided us with the link to Seth Stoughton’s Law Enforcement’s “Warrior” Problem.

      • mikemackd says :

        No, it wasn’t me, I.W. I did not know of the article, or the extent of the problem it addresses.

        That explains a good deal. Many thanks!

      • mikemackd says :

        Those poor police people. What an assault on their souls. It’s not just children that are affected by abusers, adults are tool, and as with sexual abuse of children some abused become abusers themselves: dominators, deceivers, destroyers, the whole Satanic state’s nine yards.

        As Nelson Mandela put it:

        “I was not born with a hunger to be free. I was born free … it was only when I began to learn that my boyhood freedom was an illusion … that I began to hunger for it. … But then I slowly saw that not only was I not free, but that my brothers and sisters were not free … [then] the hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people … the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. … To be free … is to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

        “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way … I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”

        Mandela, Nelson. 1995. Long Walk to Freedom. Abacus. London.

  31. mikemackd says :

    Eek. Once again, I did not re-read before posting. I did not complete the sentence, “but ask the question as it is the topic of a conversation providing deeper insights than did the topic itself”.

  32. Scott Preston says :

    “The face of the country is everywhere marked by the agony of our enterprise of self-destruction.” — Wendell Berry

    A fitting testimony to the nature of the Megamachine/Death Economy.

    This article in today’s Guardian although about the British countryside, could be about any countryside (Canadian tarsands extraction being a case in point). I couldn’t help but think of Mumford’s “megamachine” while reading it, and it’s a pretty good description of the meaning of that and of the associated “Anthropocene”

    • Scott Preston says :

      If we live in the Death Economy, what would a Life Economy look like?

      Well, first of all we have to examine and critique the foundational assumptions of the Megamachine/Death Economy and in with Nietzsche’s question in mind “what is its value for life?”, and not just human life alone. And if we are set about transforming the Beast into a Life Economy, we probably have to engage with Schweitzer’s “Reverence for Life” philosophy, too.

      Reverence for Life is implicit in Nietzsche’s question to begin with — “what is its value for life?” assumes that implicit reverence in advance of asking the question, otherwise one would never ask the question to begin with. And not enough people are asking the question except in a narrow narcissistic mode (corresponding to Gebser’s “deficient” perspectivisation, which is just another way of saying “egoism” or ego-centric or point-of-view mentality).

      What’s pertinent about Nietzsche’s question: “what is its value for life” is that it engages with McGilchrist’s “Master”, too, because that’s holistic and life-oriented.

      And that also means a change in sensibility (which we see an example of in the Guardian article), and that change in sensibility pertains to don’s quoting from ee cummings’ poem above. Nietzsche’s question is the right question for our times: “what is its value for life?”

      But that assumes, too, that civilisation and culture hasn’t already surrendered to the thanatic force (nihilism and self-annihilation), ie, to the Megamachine and the Death Economy. For then, nobody would ask the question, having already had their “instincts” as such turned against life.

      • Scott Preston says :

        What we call “social malaise” is connected with the sense of meaninglessness and purposelessness of life. But these are assumptions appropriated from the Megamachine and its milieu (Ellul’s “technological system”), because the Megamachine is the realised form of Blake’s “dark Satanic Mill” of mechanical, routine existence (“Urizenic Man”). This sense of meaninglessness, of purposelessness, is already a symptom of the instincts of life turned against itself, and become thanatic. This is what Nietzsche associates with his “Last Man” or with Angst and existential despair.

        • donsalmon says :

          IW had asked what folks think “integral” means. I think i’ve answered this question here a number of times, so I’d prefer to pause for a bit, but I’d be very interested in hearing what others think. It would also provide an interesting counterbalance to the elucidation of the mega machine.

          A few suggestions – the meaning of that word varies almost infinitely depending on who you reference – Wilber, Aurobindo, Sorokin, Gebser, Korten, etc. For example, none of Wilber’s 3 tiers have much if anything to do with what Sri Aurobindo refers to as integral consciousness. Words!

          so, what think ye all? (what, “think”?)

          • Scott Preston says :

            Well, I really thought we had covered that adequately. To ask what the “structure” of the integral might be is to ask for a mapping, and I had already made the case that Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” supplies that mapping or structure, as do almost all mandalas.

            But, we’ll take Gebser’s essential description of the integral as case. And we know from Gebser that the “structures” of the other modes of consciousness and perception are characterised by “Identity” (the archaic), “unity” (the magical), “polarity” (the mythical) and “duality” (mental-rational), but it’s “transparency” for the integral, which is insight. This is what Blake calls “vision”. Blake’s “vision” and Gebser’s “transparency” are the same, which Gebser associates with lucidity (ie “light” or translucence). And, of course, the antagonistic principle to transparency is opacity (which is shadow and darkness and Maya or Blake’s “Ulro”).

            Gebser makes “diaphaneity” (or lucidity in its real sense) the essential attribute of the integral, the core of the integral being the “diaphainon”, which is ever-present origin and vital centre both (and also called “Eternal Now”) and it is coincident with the centre of Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”, which is a radiance. The cross of reality is a radiant symbol and in that sense also a solar symbol.

            So, in talking about integralism we’re talking about transparency or vision, and this is also associated with Bohm’s proprioception that allows us, also, to “see”, as it were, the holomovement. It is Blake’s “fourfold vision”, and he has described that throughout his own poetry and mythology. Fourfold vision is integral consciousness, and fourfold vision is the transparency of the world — of the Ulro.

            We’ve covered this here in The Chrysalis many many times.

            • donsalmon says :

              My understanding of Gebser is that an essential – perhaps the essential, as much as it can be put in words – component of integrality is the complete integration of the finite (all that we can “vision” as the manifestation of the universe) and the infinite (the Stillness, the Eternal, the Still Point, or Silence, our Father in Heaven, so to speak, Eckhart’s Godhead). If that’s what you mean by transparency, that at every “point” (it’s not a point, of course) of the manifestation, the Infinite clearly shines “through” (dualistically put, sorry), then that makes some sense, though “vision” doesn’t quite capture the full integrality of it.

  33. donsalmon says :

    And the “holomovement” sounds very Whiteheadian, whereas my sense of Gebser is he has a ‘feel for the infinite” that I find lacking in Whitehead.

  34. Scott Preston says :

    As far as I’m concerned, Wilber’s colour-coding of consciousness “levels” is an appropriation from the chakra system, but is a sneaky attempt to set up a hierarchical caste system — the new “Laws of Manu”. Supposedly your “colour” is your position along an axis (the spine) marked by chakra points with their own ascribed colour, and indicative of your “level” of consciousness — a kind of great chain of being.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      Wilber’s colour-coding of consciousness “levels” is an appropriation from the chakra system….

      Definitely, and the “spine” it’s aligned along is the “spine” of Don Beck’s popularized and trademarked “management tools” version of Clare Graves’ “Emergent Cyclic Levels of Existence Theory,” which has more to do with moving among levels of complexity.

      Graves theorized that in response to the interaction of external conditions with internal neuronal systems, humans develop new bio-psycho-social coping systems to solve existential problems and cope with their worlds. These coping systems are dependent on evolving human culture and individual development, and they are manifested at the individual, societal, and species levels. He believed that tangible, emergent, self-assembling dynamic neuronal systems evolved in the human brain in response to evolving existential and social problems. He theorized “man’s nature is not a set thing, that it is ever-emergent, that it is an open system, not a closed system.”

      However, I might as easily have phrased the argument of superiority over others I often run across in the “Integral” community at large as, “Those guys over there are ‘mythic’ (or ‘magical’ or ‘mental-rational.’) But, of course, we’re not. We’re ‘integral!'” There appears to be no recognition at all that what they’re describing is actually the prominence or emphasis of one or another at various times within the constitution of one’s personality (i.e. interests and aptitudes) rather than “consciousness level”. (For example, Sharon Blackie’s interests and aptitudes might be described as “mythic,” but that certainly doesn’t mean she’s stuck at some “mythic” level of development!) Gebser must be spinning in his grave.

      Point is: Applied correctly (for lack of a better term), Gebser’s observations of the various consciousness structures is as helpful in identifying those structures “latent” and “manifest” in ourselves and our own thinking as they are in explaining that insisting upon or allowing the dominance of one or another over entire cultures and civilizations is one of the worst ideas in the long, sad history of bad ideas.

      Applied “correctly,” you said:

      I think Peterson is taking himself and his followers into a trap, which I would call a “counterfeit integration” (ie a “synthesis” of sorts) and a re-affirmation of dialectics rather than the quadratics that we need to live in a four-dimensional universe. So, when they accuse Peterson of being a “custodian of the Patriarchate”, it’s only partially true. I think he’s the custodian rather of the dialectical or perspectival consciousness structure.

      As is Pinker, at the moment. That would be a “correct” assessment in my view, but (as I’ve noted), neither of them — not to mention billions of other people — are more than just likely not to even be remotely aware that they are acting as “custodians” of the Megamachine.

      All of us were born into a civilization that is being smothered to death by the “mental-rational consciousness structure”. By all accounts, neither Pinker nor Peterson (et al) have yet to meet Herr Gebser, and all these other authors — primarily feminist authors, in Peterson’s case, I notice — are just exacerbating the situation, in my view. The more such “custodians” are ridiculed, the more their “political” influence grows.

      • Kellynn says :

        Your comment reminds me a lot of the book I’m reading right now, Richard Rorty’s Contingency, Irony, Solidarity. He would agree with what you quoted from Graves, that ““man’s nature is not a set thing, that it is ever-emergent” (what Rorty calls irony – basically akin Nietzschean becoming/self-creation). And then your next comment about how self-descriptions are often just expressions of interests and aptitudes, not necessarily one’s actual “consciousness level,” reminds me of what Rorty says about how the course of history is basically the history of applied vocabularies – descriptions of the “out there.” In other words, a change of metaphor is the precursor to, provides impetus to, or in a real sense creates the consciousness shift. Bear in mind, I am over-simplifying greatly and may not be a reliable messenger.

        Rorty, in his own way, is attempting a unity of opposites, a description of what an integrative society would look like, but coming from a different angle than a lot of the authors usually discussed here. The two incompatible opposites in this case being, on the one hand, liberalism (which he defines as the project dedicated to the elimination of cruelty and humiliation, where Rorty thinks Nietzsche come up short in his praise of cruelty) and irony on the other. Despite Pinker’s atheism, Rorty would consider him a liberal metaphysician, as opposed to Rorty’s ideal “integrated” liberal ironist.

        I’m not sure if Rorty will end up discussing it, but, what concerns me (and I believe this was Nietzsche’s concern as well) is that, in our quest to vanquish cruelty – and thus, suffering – what will drive us forward, what will inspire the will to life, what will prevent the weakening of the species and the emaciation of the spirit? (Which in my opinion is what Kurzweilian transhumanism represents.) I have my own answer to those questions, but I’ll save that for later. But it has to do with differentiating good kinds of suffering from the bad ones.

        Everyone on engaging in the conversation on this site is way better read and educated in these things than I, so I’d recommend Rorty’s book and be very interested in what you think about it.

        • Scott Preston says :

          I’ve often heard Rorty’s name mentioned as recommended reading. I haven’t yet got around to that myself, but I’ld be interested in what he has to say about irony and change, since it is so prevalent today.

          There’s a lot that can be said about Nietzsche’s estimation of cruelty and suffering (he endured a lot of it himself), and Gebser took some of that for his own philosophy of mutations of consciousness. I once expressed it, too, as somewhat akin to being stuck between the Hammer of God and the Anvil of the Earth, like a jeweller working on a gem or a metal. It is, in fact, the nature of the crucible to be that.

          The chrysalis stage of the caterpillar cum butterfly is also very cruel, and I think that’s also the best way to understand Nietzsche’s notions of cruelty, suffering, or torment. Nietzsche actually endured all of it himself, and had to learn an attitude of gratitude for that suffering as being transformative or succumb to resentment and nihilism himself, to which he was very much tempted. Nietzsche’s philosophy of resentment, cynicism, and nihilism is quite profound, because he was his own best subject in that respect and had to find a way to overcome it in himself, and the only way he could defeat it was by countering it with gratitude. This is one of the things I admire most in Nietzsche — this strength of his spirit in the experience of deep suffering. And, of course, much of this experience informs his notions of getting “beyond good and evil”.

          A mutation or transmutation of any kind involves pain and suffering and cruelty, and that’s also implied in Gebser’s “double-movement” — the agony and the ecstasy, so to speak, and that’s what’s represented in the chrysalis and the Hermeticist’s crucible.

          And to understand, too, what Nietzsche means by “will to power” you have to also understand why many of us could hardly have endured what Nietzsche endured without succumbing to despair and committing suicide. In fact, Nietzsche himself even once wrote that “the thought of suicide is a great comfort”. Nietzsche’s drive to live despite all this was very strong, and that informs much of his own idea of “will to power”, and not what it is usually taken for. The will to power is the will to be, and that means to overcome everything that says “NO” to life.

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          From the summary of Rorty’s book:

          In this book, major American philosopher Richard Rorty argues that thinkers such as Nietzsche, Freud, and Wittgenstein have enabled societies to see themselves as historical contingencies, rather than as expressions of underlying, ahistorical human nature, or as realizations of suprahistorical goals. This ironic perspective on the human condition is valuable but it cannot advance Liberalism’s social and political goals. In fact, Rorty believes that it is literature and not philosophy that can do this, by promoting a genuine sense of human solidarity. Specifically, it is novelists such as Orwell and Nabokov who succeed in awakening us to the cruelty of particular social practices and individual attitudes.

          He and Rosenstock-Huessy would get along very well, methinks.

          [Rosenstock-Huessy’s] criticisms of theology and philosophy were numerous, varied in content and highly nuanced—and hence unable to receive full treatment here. Generally, though, he thought both were, what he called, ‘second order activities’, or products of the reflective mind at ‘play’. Philosophical and theological speech trailed behind and were dependent upon the more urgent and creative acts of ‘founding’, that is, those acts which emerge out of life’s exigencies, which are epoch making ‘events’ and which are at the source of human institutions and new forms of life, and which cannot be separated from the vocabulary, or, more specifically, the shared names and foci of orientation which connect us across space and over time.

          This is an especially interesting observation to me, especially considering that a wide range of diverse, contemporary authors have come to (essentially) the same conclusion. Take Monbiot’s recent talk, for example:

          Political failure is, at heart, a failure of imagination…. It’s not political parties or leaders who run the world, but big, political stories. If you look at the history of the past seventy years, for example, you can see it has been divided up almost 50/50…between two competing political narratives: the first one, Keynesian Social Democracy and the second one, Neoliberalism.

          (And not just those two, either.)

          Why did Tolkien write Lord of the Rings? Why did C.S. Lewis write his children’s books? (Etc.) I’d like to think it’s for the same reason that Jesus interrupted the thought processes of the Scribes and Pharisees with (essentially) paradoxical logic and, alternately, instructed his people via the use of parables. I don’t believe that’s because he thought the Scribes and Pharisees were “smart” and his people “stupid.” I think it’s because he “knew” better.

          Bear in mind, I am over-simplifying greatly and may not be a reliable messenger.

          Such is the “nature of communication via the Internet.” The best we can do is introduce voices such as Rorty’s. What people do with what these authors have to say is out of our hands.

          Thank you very much for that recommendation. It will definitely take a spot atop the (ever-growing) Chrysalis book club list.

          • Kellynn says :

            Thanks for the recommendation and these comments, which were very stimulating. You are correct – that Rosenstock-Huessy quote is very much in alignment with Rorty, except he includes science along with philosophy and theology as second order activities.

            Ugh, the (ever-growing) Chrysalis book club list… I’m already not very well-read, and this site surely doesn’t help with that. But I’ve probably learned more from this blog than any other website since I discovered it about a year and a half ago (which I believe was in and of itself a bit of synchronicity). Grateful to be a part of the conversation.

            FYI: that Bruce Greyson link doesn’t work.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              that Rosenstock-Huessy quote is very much in alignment with Rorty, except he includes science along with philosophy and theology as second order activities.

              Rosenstock-Huessy was well aware that the “hard sciences” had mutated from methods of discovery to “philosophies” themselves (scientism, reductionism); that Newtonian physics has been (and is being) applied as a standard in Sociology, i.e. “the totality” of “individuals,” along with the “survival of the fittest” mentality arising from (what I think) a gross misinterpretation and misappropriation of Darwin’s theories. To make matters worse, this mentality is now being applied to the Arts.

              Social Newtonianism and Social Darwinism underly many of the social issues we’re seeing today, e.g. “the atomization of society,” which is why I think Sociology (et al) would benefit immensely from a re-cognition of itself as an art rather than a “pure” science.

              Scott has recommended Rosenstock’s I Am an Impure Thinker as a starting point many times over. It’s a most excellent introduction.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              It occurred to me after posting (as, of course, I couldn’t resist reading that Rosenstock essay over again myself), that Rosenstock actually refers to sociology by its given name: social studies.

              I happen to be old enough to remember when university courses in the subject were, indeed, called Social Studies, which implies contemplation, and not Sociology, which does not.

          • Kellynn says :

            Re: Rorty: I have trouble wrapping my head around this part: “…have enabled societies to see themselves as historical contingencies, rather than as expressions of underlying, ahistorical human nature, or as realizations of suprahistorical goals.” Because it seems to me true change and embodied learning comes about through events and action, through the acting out of archetypal/mythological patterns of behavior. I don’t see how the Holderlin-ian “saving power” – the irruption of the new consciousness, the Overman – without the danger, or without conflict and thus without a narrative. So I guess this sort of makes me teleological in my thinking? But what if enabling societies to see themselves as historical contingencies IS the suprahistorical goal, the telos is the freedom from telos – the end of Joyce’s “nightmare of history.” I might be confused…I’m just “writing out loud”…

  35. Scott Preston says :

    This is an interesting article I just read in The Globe & Mail, a kind of alchemy or Hermeticism of housecleaning, as it were, and an very interesting expression, in some respects, of the meaning of Jungian synchronicity, where house and housecleaning and mind and mental clarification become, as it were, one and the same process.

    Which brought to mind an earlier article I read in The Guardian about the Buddhism of housecleaning

    These may seem like small issues, but they are important steps in overcoming the subject-object dichotomy, or dualism.

    You can discover the dharma in anything.

    • Kellynn says :

      Ha ha, speaking of synchronicity, one of Peterson’s “catchphrases” (left all over the Youtube comments by his internet fanboys) is “Clean your room!” In part for the mental clarification you refer to, but in JBP’s case it’s also a fatherly admonition to get your own act together before criticizing the world.

  36. Scott Preston says :

    The travails of cultural change and transition are often reflected in art and literature, as you know if you have read Gebser. And so I found this review of Turkish author Ozgur Mumcu’s book The Peace Machine, and about how an “old world is dying” quite engaging. As we see, it’s a global phenomenon.

  37. Scott Preston says :

    In another sign of the times, 800 businesses — also taking a position against the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and probably The National Post line — slam Trudeau’s pipeline purchase (“Crudeau Oil”), but not for the usual reasons (aversion to nationalisation), but for quite clearly environmental ones.

    So, even business culture is changing.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Another interesting development here, where 800 businesses slam the Kinder Morgan pipeline nationalisation, is that while business conventionally and habitually always seems to complain about government interference in the market and the economy, these businesses are asking government to do just that — to divest from the Kinder Morgan pipeline nationalisation and divert those billions into renewables and an environmentally sustainable economy.

      That also is a big change in business attitudes and the business culture — certainly not any longer “neo-lliberal”, but a specific repudiation of that. That’s encouraging.

  38. Scott Preston says :

    “Duplicity is the currency of the day” said Pope Francis. And here’s a all-too typical and familiar example of that. The former chair of the Vote Leave campaign in Britain, Nigel Lawson, has actually been living in France for some time, and has now applied for a French residency card.

    which, I presume, gives him many or most of the same advantages and privileges as a citizen of the EU. A piece of hypocrisy and self-contradiction not lost on the article’s author either.

  39. Scott Preston says :

    Just came across this while doing a search on the web…. a book by Joseph Chilton Pearce entitled The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit: A Return to the Intelligence of the Heart

    I’m not sure that “return” (or the Nostos) is the appropriate term here, with it’s implications of nostalgia, although “return” in the sense of the Prodigal Son’s return (which could be appropriate idea of the Nostos) might make sense, or the “return of the repressed” which has a different sense of return. Or return as a “conversion” in the authentic sense of that term — as a turning or facing in a new direction…

    Whatever, the title itself is very suggestive, and apparently Pearce does touch on Gebser, and this death of religion and rebirth of the spirit is also a theme in Rosenstock-Huessy’s works, particularly The Christian Future. Rosenstock writes about the decay of the Pauline Age (religion) and the birth of the Johannine Age (spirit).

    And it’s true. The times stink of the rotting carcass of the mental-rational, in whatever institutional form it finds its manifestation. All this bullshit flying around, that’s just the flies gathering around its decaying carcass. It’s pretty ripe and over-ripe now.. well past its sell-by date yet still marketing itself as fresh and vigorous (as “neo– this and Neo-that ,which was just boosterism after all). I mean, the stench of decay is overwhelming just because it is overripe.

    But that means, also, that it’s ripe for defeat by a new consciousness structure, and that’s Chilton’s apparent theme and why he brings in Gebser. It might, then, be a quite interesting book.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Might add, that this is also Nietzsche’s theme of the “death of God” — the death of religion and the rebirth of spirit, which is represented in his figure Zarathustra who survives the death of God. It’s represented also in the interesting brotherly meetup between Zarathustra and the forest hermit in the opening pages of Nietzsche’s book. That forest hermit is also and autobiographical part of Nietzsche, before his “stare into the abyss”.

      But, in effect, Nietzsche’s death of God is pre-ordained by Blake — the death of Urizen and the birth of Blake’s “New Age”. This is also represented in the title of Pearce’s book. This “intelligence of the heart” is represented in Blake’s Zoa “Los”.

  40. Scott Preston says :

    Ha! Isn’t this hilarious. Canada is hitting back at Trump for his imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum, with our greatest reserve weapon — maple syrup.

    Very Canadian of us.

    • mikemackd says :

      >> Canada’s procurement minister cast doubt on the U.S.’s national security justification.

      Good heavens! Doesn’t the Honourable Minister even know that the phrase “national security” is … magic? That it’s a shut-the-gate spell over thinking and valuing for all those parts of us operating at that little girl’s perceptual level?

      What next? Questioning the need for Patriot Acts and other such totalitarian tactics of our respective national security states?

      In contrast, here in Australia a review of our National Security State’s legislation is about to be undertaken by – and what a surprise – a former head of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation! His mission is to further strengthen it. I presume “strengthen” means to make it even more like the “warrior” machine as described in the searing article I.W. linked above, as that would be inevitable if they have no understanding of paradox or enantiodromia.

      Does this mean that Canadians are questioning their vassal state status? If so, then tsk, tsk, I say! We’ll have none of that here in the land of Oz, thank you very much.

  41. Scott Preston says :

    New fissures and faultlines are forming, and not along the conventional lines of demarcation either, and this must certainly come as a disconcerting surprise to those who are given to thinking in certain habitual ways about interest groups.

  42. Scott Preston says :

    Tabatha Southey, writing in Maclean’s Magazine attempts to make some sense out of Jordan Peterson’s “enforced monogamy”, and unfortunately, JB comes out smelling even stinkier and even more ludicrous than he did in the NYT article on the matter

    • Scott Preston says :

      JB seems extraordinarily preoccupied with eros, sex, and sexual libido as an explanation for contemporary turbulence and chaos, which someone has remarked makes him look more Freudian than Jungian, and I suspect he might have a few insecurities about that himself which he is not fessing up to.

      He seems to have absolutely no economic analysis or technological critique, which is probably more pertinent than gender faultlines and fissures, whereas a lot of people see that most of the turbulence and the real faultlines are between old and new economies, or between old and new technologies (means of production). His anti-Marxism makes him, seemingly, stupid about that so far that he even refuses to consider Marx’s theories about revolutions in the means of production. Peterson seems more obsessed with the means of reproduction.

      When it comes to time and change processes, Marx is still as relevant as Thomas Kuhn is in the history of scientific revolutions. Where Marx fell flat was on his notions of consciousness and his overvaluation of dialectical historical materialism. There is also a curious parallel between Marx and Nietzsche. The original Marx of the 1844 Manuscripts reveals a very different, almost mystical Marx (a Young Hegelian), just as early Nietzsche was known as “the Little Pastor” for his Lutheran piety. Both went through some kind of intellectual and personal crisis. Marx “turned Hegel on his head” (his personal revolution) and Nietzsche had his “stare into the abyss”, so both, in some sense, experienced the death of God as a personal and intellectual crisis.

      The Marxian revolutionary idea, then, is something quite autobiographical in Marx, just as Nietzsche’s death of God is quite autobiographical of Nietzsche. Marx was trying to account for time and change processes in society in a way that his earlier commitments to Hegelian idealism didn’t seem to do the trick. He wanted to be “scientific” about it, so he turned Hegel on his head, as dialectical historical materialism. In other words, given the horns of the Cartesian bull, Marx let go of one and grabbed onto the other. Changes in the means of production became the basis for interpreting changes in social organisation and culture. Probably both Marx and Nietzsche were affected by the Darwinian evolutionary idea for which they had, of course, to account in their respective philosophies which are, in some respects, very divergent but in other respects very convergent.

      It might be said that Marx didn’t know enough biology and Nietzsche not enough sociology. And, of cource, someone comes along to try to perform a “synthesis” — socio-biology.

      This is the interesting thing about Marshall McLuhan who, in describing media (ie technology and means of production) as “extensions of man” necessarily correlates the “objective” means of production with the biological, but which is, in effect, another aspect of Jungian synchronicity. McLuhan was a controversial figure expecially among those who thought in strictly Cartesian terms — subject and object being exclusive domains. By his “extensions of man” thesis, McLuhan began to tear down the barrier that separated subject and object, biology and sociology. But with this clarity came also great confusion, especially for minds used to thinking in strictly binary terms, and that is playing out today.

  43. Scott Preston says :

    Samantha Bee is being censured for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt”. But I don’t recall that Jordan Peterson was censured for calling Pankaj Mishra a “sanctimonious prick”, after Mishra wrote an article about him in the New York Review of Books.

    I’m not sure that I would agree with some of what Mishra wrote there anyways, but the polarisation (and double-standards) are pretty evident in this name-calling, although I can understand how this “venting” may provide a release from the stresses and tensions of the time that build up in the mind and become volcanic like this.

    “the social volcano” Rosenstock-Huessy called it, and that brings to mind also Gebser’s “irruption”. We would be kidding ourselves if we expected the transition from old to new to be smooth and “incremental”.

    As Seth once put it “storms to the stormy”.

    • Kellynn says :

      As Nietzsche wrote (critiquing, I believe, Darwinian evolution), “there are no transitional forms.” What would a truly integrated person – as opposed to someone who has simply mastered the vocabulary of integration – look like? The ubermensch? Is there not also a narrative/mythological structure to existence? This irruption, whenever it occurs, is certainly going to be interesting.

      • donsalmon says :

        Georges Van Vrekhem wrote a book about the transitional person – called “Overman.” It is available for free at

      • donsalmon says :

        Ok, Scott, I know you said you don’t mind long posts. This is especially long, but I glanced over it this morning, and this page immediately came to mind. It seems particularly relevant to your observations on Peterson, but it captures, I think, many of the themes of the Chrysalis.

        It’s also available for free at From “The Philosophy of Consciousness” by Rod Hemsell. I think it also addresses Kellynn’s question about what a truly integrated person would know, feel, look like, and how they might act.

        Here’s an excerpt from that book (note it was originally delivered extemporaneously, and it was later transcribed and edited, but it still has the feel of a free flowing talk)

        The classical notion of knowledge is that the essence of things, the truth, the logos, the idea, are known immediately and expressed by language. The ideas are embodied by things and revealed by speech. Thought sys- tems expressed by language thereby represent the truth, the Being, of beings. With ‘modernism’ and the scientific analysis of things based on quantitative measurement and logical induction and deduction, there in- tervenes a constructed world of theoretical explanation and subjective interpretation which becomes the object of thought, language, and other symbolic systems. Language then is a tool for the expression of the sci- entific understanding of things, or of the economic or political or reli- gious understanding, and not the expression of a direct perception of things, or of the things themselves. Formerly word, speech, language expressed a close identity with the known; latterly it has expressed a mediated system of abstract thinking about the known. Then the known becomes the interpretation, and not the things themselves. Unfortu- nately, then the being of things no longer matters much. It is caring for the being of things that needs to be restored, as Heidegger said. White- head made a point of this division in many of his lectures, where he treated the distinction between the intuitive and the analytic approaches to knowledge as a matter of historical development. Today the differ- ence is more likely to be explained by theories of the split brain in neu- ropsychology.

        Especially in the modern age of science and technology, word, speech, or sign signify conceptual systems of explanation, our “frames” of knowledge, and not the processes and things the systems are supposed to explain, and even less their integrity, their feelings, their self-existent meaning and purpose. This view or analysis is postmodern, one for which Derrida is best known, but which was also articulated in a previ- ous epoch by Heidegger, Bergson and Whitehead, and before them by Hegel. In this postmodern epoch of the analysis of language especially, our abstract rational understanding has become the object of our thought and speech. It’s what our language expresses. And these frames of un- derstanding have become more real to us than the world to which our thought and speech refer. Thus our language becomes an expression of a world that our rational minds create, as a kind of distant representation of the world that we inhabit, like a fictional adventure in a book or movie, or a political ideology, or an election campaign, or an advertise- ment, which may have little to do with the real conditions of life, al- though they represent the values and aims of certain people or institu- tions. Even the thoughts of philosophers such as Heidegger, Whitehead, and Bergson then easily become the objects of academic interpretations and ideological institutions, which may have little to do with the view of reality expressed by those philosophers.

        We may speak at length about climate change for example, or about wars for oil in the middle east, without any real sense of how our own lives and the lives of others, near and far, are actually involved in creat- ing these things that we conceptualize, criticize or oppose. We don’t ex- perience them personally and we don’t need to, because they are pre- sented to us by the media or by academia in a frame of understanding that serves us well enough. In it we can find everything we need to know about history, politics, and the economy in order for us to be suffi- ciently well informed, critical, communicative citizens, and in order for us to propagate the “accepted” versions of things.
        Phenomenology in the 20th century, in both philosophy and psychology, tried very hard to convince us that this enframing understanding actually cuts us off from reality, and that we should step back from it as far as possible in order to recover a more direct and immediate understanding of ourselves and the world.

        The process of stepping back from our con- ditioned understanding, values, and beliefs, is known as epoche, a Geek word that signified “suspending judgment” in ancient Greek civilization. This is actually the work of philosophy according to Heidegger, and it is quite similar to the spiritual principle expressed by Indic spiritual tradi tions as detachment and equality towards any stimuli, samata. The ef- forts by phenomenologists were somewhat effective in reforming aca- demic disciplines, for a while. A deeper view of the human being emerged in the first half of the century. But then electronic media and the globalization of technology came along in a big way and replaced both the frame and critical thinking with a ready made world of encoded signifiers that have only a virtual reality to signify. For example, what does a movie like ‘The Martian’ actually signify? We see a glorified im- age of the idealized practical mind and technology that can survive liter- ally anything. So, we are finally cut off totally from ourselves and the real world, and we now believe in a virtual reality, similar to an ancient mythology.

        This, as we know, was also the critique of knowledge and society that succeeded phenomenology in the form of critical theory, and was eventually followed by postmodernism in the 50s and 60s. Now, however, we have passed beyond “thinking” and all of us see sim- ilar things, do similar things, understand things in similar ways, and communicate our feelings and thoughts with a similarly conventional language, expressive of widely shared beliefs based on the digital me- dia. And the fact that we share these things globally is actually good grounds for believing that they represent the real world; it all works pretty well in terms of predictability, and we get enough social rein- forcement to continue believing in it.

        From these circumstances and reflections two perennial questions must again concern us, which have preoccupied philosophy and science off and on for a long while: 1) How do we happen to be conscious of these things in the first place? and 2) How do these things happen to be what they are, rather than something else? In other words, What is our con- sciousness and knowledge really, and What is the being of the world?

        Scientific thinking in the past 100 years or so has made significant progress in answering number 2, with the theory of the evolution of life and mind, and the history of the physical universe. The processes in- volved in evolution are linear, causal, continuous and can be measured in terms of observable temporal progressions (which as Bergson demon- strated get spatialized by our measurements and become fixed frame- works of our understanding). How we happen to be conscious, in the first place, however, and actually apprehend experience and analyze it correctly, is a different matter. First of all our “consciousness” does not seem to be linear and measurable; it has been happening the same way at least since humans began to communicate their thoughts about the world they experience. Consciousness is primordial. And the same is true in the domain of animal consciousness, at each level of complexity from mammals down to reptiles and fish and birds and protozoans. Con- sciousness does not seem to be bound by time and linear causation in the same way as life processes and physical structures are, which are constantly changing. And, as the Idealists have always pointed out, the forms that consciousness perceives and knows also do not change. Ele- phants continue to be elephants, language continues to be language, ideals continue to be ideals, the Universe persists. Though there have been untold ages of species variation and extinction, the species are still what they are or were, and so is the process of their adaptation, procre- ation, and survival. The laws of nature don’t change.

        Consciousness, in its aspects of a-temporality and universality, has therefore been thought of generally as being something “spiritual”, un- changing, immutable, and the forms that it knows are thought of as ex- isting differently in the mind than they do in the processes of the mate- rial bodies that express those forms. This is the root of that perplexity known as the ontological difference, the difference between the being of things, from their forms and processes that can be measured. And so the question for philosophy, psychology, and the natural sciences perenni- ally becomes not only how our spiritual nature happens to do what it does, but also how it happens to exist in the context of what it knows as its other of a changing material nature? What is its ontological status, its origin as well as its process? In the modern period, and even more in the recent period of scientific technology, with neuroscience dominating the research in consciousness, the view that consciousness is a special phe- nomenon of the human brain has further reduced the enigma to material processes, thus widening the gap between the phenomenon of con- sciousness itself, and the constructed understanding of it based on the analysis of brain function. Can consciousness, a spiritual event, actually be reduced to neuronal assemblies and functions in the brain, or any- thing material? This notion was criticized by St. Augustine on philosophical grounds around 400 CE, and even more cogently now in the light of scientific evidence which indicates that human consciousness does not even need a brain.2

        Of course the easy answer, after eliminating all the possibilities we can imagine and that circulate in the media today, is that consciousness doesn’t exist at all, or at least not as something separate or different from matter. Consciousness, if it exists, has evolved along with its material structures and inheres in their elements and processes, as a principle of intelligence or mind. The monistic materialists of the 19th century, along with some idealists of the 17th and 18th, could therefore say, simply, that the universe is made of intelligent substance. But at the same time, there have always been the skeptics who have propelled themselves into the waters of dualism, determined to discover or deny the relationship be- tween these spiritual and material modes of existence, the conscious and unconscious, the mental and the physical, the abstract and concrete as- pects of this enigmatic unity. Some have actually denied the existence of consciousness itself, however absurd that may be, since the denial is a product of consciousness.

        Now, given that this apparent duality exists and the problem still has not been solved, at least for human intelligence, and particularly for the many schools of opposed thought systems that have tried to understand it throughout history, we find ourselves today, right here at this moment, —the privileged inheritors of this most prestigious, profound, noble, im- memorial, and troublesome responsibility and the appointed or selected caretakers of the mystery, the seekers of the secret, the magi—responsi- ble for preparing the future leaders of our species and the world to think and to will on the basis of consciousness of the truth of things, for the sake of our common good. They (and we) must at least strive to do the right things for the right reasons. And perhaps that means going beyond

        2. See Dr. Bruce Greyson, director of the center for brain-consciousness research at the University of Virginia, who has documented many cases, including a girl, who was an honor student entering Smith college, and as the result of an accident had a brain scan which showed she had no cerebral cortex, but only a brain stem. Dr. Greyson comments that according to normal brain science she should not have been capable of any thought, much less an outstanding intellect.

        the accepted wisdom. Perhaps, as the ancients believed, consciousness is also force–whether of truth or of falsehood.

        The philosopher Thomas Nagel, in Mind and Cosmos, states the prob- lem like this—and perhaps this will serve as our job description: “The inescapable fact that has to be accommodated in any complete concep- tion of the universe is that the appearance of living organisms has even- tually given rise to consciousness, perception, desire, action, and the formation of both beliefs and intentions on the basis of reasons. If all this has a natural explanation, the possibilities were inherent in the uni- verse long before there was life, and inherent in early life long before the appearance of animals. A satisfying explanation would show that the realization of these possibilities was not vanishingly improbable but a significant likelihood given the laws of nature and the composition of the universe. It would reveal mind and reason as basic aspects of a non- materialistic natural order.” And he concludes the section of his book with this thought, which must necessarily guide all our deliberations about the future: “Perhaps the basis of this identity (of the mental and physical poles of reality) pervades the world.”3 This was the basic in- sight at the root of the philosophy of A. N. Whitehead, now known as panpsychism, which he apparently attributed to Francis Bacon’s obser- vation that, “It is certain that all bodies whatsoever, though they have no sense, yet they have perception; for when one body is applied to an- other, there is a kind of election to embrace that which is agreeable, and to exclude or expel that which is ingrate…, and whether the body be al- terant or altered, evermore a perception precedeth operation….”4 Subse- quent ages of materialistic science have of course tried to blot out his idea. Practically speaking, however, if we could reach this ground of un- derstanding, experientially and with certainty, beyond the conflicting theories of materialism and idealism, science and philosophy, what would a convergence on such a ground imply, what difference would it make, why should we think it necessary?

        It is only when we realize that “consciousness” is more than our individ- ual human subjectivity, and especially more than a product of the neu-

        3. Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos (2012), p. 32.
        4. A.N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World , p.41.

        ronal assemblies in our brains, and that it is, in fact, an omnipresent principle of existence, present in all forms, throughout time and space, that we can refocus our intelligence on the interdependence of all as- pects and levels of existence.

        Only if this “spirit” is felt and seen in all things, and only if we identify with that reality as the uniting common ground of our existence, will a “practical spirituality” be possible, in which the interconnection of all life is respected, and ideals such as en- ergy sustainability, the preservation of biodiversity, and the creation of a harmonious global civilization become realizable. But this understand- ing is not new. Long before Bacon, it was there in the Upanishads— Know all in the self and the self in all; it re-emerged in 18th century western idealism, and again in the 20th century in phenomenology and evolutionary thought, and in the philosophies of Bergson, Whitehead, and Sri Aurobindo. To grasp this way of knowing and being nonetheless requires a practice, an epoche, a rejection of our false values and habits, and an ascent above the practical mind, now just as it always has since the time of the ancient Veda, Upanishads, and Yoga in India5.

        Practical spirituality is applied spirituality, and to apply spirituality to life is not always what we are told is practical. Bergson said that a universalized consciousness would not necessarily enhance our social status, but it would align us with the creativity of the universe. And Whitehead en- shrined in his philosophy the belief that it is the unique feature of human intelligence that it can perceive “value” and focus its will on achieving those things that are truly important. Moreover, he saw that things have value in themselves and for others just by virtue of being what they are. Bergson, Whitehead, and Sri Aurobindo were contemporaries, and their philosophies are often compared because they shared such philosophical views and intuitions of the larger meaning of consciousness.

        • Kellynn says :

          That Greyson anecdote also makes me think of the ancients, in particular Julian Jaynes’ analysis of The Iliad in The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, which still haunts me. After all, thought wasn’t always assumed to take place in the head, but the body.

          What if the body is the Master and the brain is the Emissary?

          • Scott Preston says :

            Sorry to be late getting around to your comment. I don’t actually see the brain as separate from the body. It exists for the overall body organisation. And that’s something that seems to be acknowledged, also, by Bolte-Taylor when she spoke (movingly) of the “50 trillion molecular geniuses” that make up her body (or some such number), which would be an odd thing to say if you were simply focussed on the brain alone, separate from the body.

            • Kellynn says :

              Well, it was just an offhand speculation… I myself don’t really think of them as separate either, any more than the two hemispheres of the brain are separate, as long as they are speaking to one another, but perhaps it’s just a bad analogy.

              I guess what’s been on my mind is what I see as an accelerated trend towards disembodied learning, IQ as the arbiter of success, the “information economy”, data before wisdom, the digitization of experience – all giving the impression that life is really lived “up here,” in the head, disconnected from the whole.

              The burgeoning field of technology related to brain enhancement, neural networks, “virtual” and “augmented” reality (the very terms nauseate me), to me, speaks to a disregard for our being-here in the world and an abandoning of the instincts. But ideally, instincts and thought should be one and the same.

              Something like that. I’m working this all out as I go…

            • Scott Preston says :

              I think you’ld be on the right track. It brought to mind something from Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell

              All Bibles or sacred codes have been the causes of the following Errors:—

              1. That Man has two real existing principles, viz. a Body and a Soul.
              2. That Energy, call’d Evil, is alone from the Body; and that Reason, call’d Good, is alone from the Soul.
              3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies.

              But the following Contraries to these are True:—

              1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul; for that call’d Body is a portion of Soul discern’d by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age.
              2. Energy is the only life, and is from the Body; and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
              3. Energy is Eternal Delight.

            • donsalmon says :

              My favorite part of this is the last 3 words:

              1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul; for that call’d Body is a portion of Soul discern’d by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age

            • Kellynn says :

              Sorry to keep this old thread alive, but I just had one more little thing to add, in light of the Blake you quoted from the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, which is very much in line with what was on my mind. Essentially, by positing that the body is the Master and the brain the Emissary was my clumsy way of trying to say that little-r reason (in the deficient sense of analytical, computational logic, of pure intellect cut off from the imagination and emotions) has usurped Blake’s big-R Reason.

              Case in point, the title of this article Pinker just tweeted: The Defeat of Reason: Philosopher Tim Maudlin rebuts the influential relativism of Bohr’s interpretation of quantum mechanics and Kuhn’s interpretation of science:

              I was trying to conceptualize an up-down to balance out the cross of left-right of McGilchist’s hemispheric model. `Perhaps another way to state it is – and for the record, I am extremely ignorant about neuroscience – haven’t the newer parts of the brain been created in flight from the oldest, the so-called reptilian zones? Perhaps the up-down analogy I wanted to counter left-right with was newest-oldest or outer-inner. What if – again, here comes another of my off-the-cuff speculations – there is something good, some much-needed medicine to be recovered from our reptilian roots – our serpent power? Maybe it’s time for Eve and the snake to be reconciled again, so to speak.

              I think there’s something deeper to the common ancient images of humans with serpentine lower-halves (like this picture: ), coiled like DNA strands, like the staff of Hermes could be seen as a picture of the body, the snakes coiled around the spine, the wings the two hemispheres of the brain, the knob at the top of the staff (often a pine cone) representing the pineal gland…

            • Scott Preston says :

              McGilchrist does recognise that “up-down” (or rather new-old, or neo-paleo) axis to the brain in his Master and His Emissary, but focusses on the left-right hemispheric relation, so there is actually a kind of cruciform relation here. The new-old, though, has been explored pretty extensively already, and I suppose for that reason McGilchrist felt justified in not discussing it to any great extent.

              O yes…many of the old symbols and myths are quite biological, and that’s reflected in the fact that the Greeks never made a distinction between subject and object especially as applied to the four elements — Earth, Air, Fire, Water, since they had correspondences (the old doctrine of the affinities) with metabolic system, respiratory system, nervous system, circulatory system, and also the soul could be earthy or airy or moist, etc, and water often symbolised the soul/psyche. So there was a continuum between the “in here” and the “out there”.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              What if … there is something good, some much-needed medicine to be recovered from our reptilian roots – our serpent power?

              Serpent power..i.e. Kundalini shakti (et al, e.g. qi), perhaps?

              With his expertise in Integral Yoga, don salmon would be better equipped to address the finer points of this subject in the yogic philsophy, but (correctly or incorrectly), I find the following passage in Rumi’s poem, Strange Business, also to be of relevance.

              You have the energy of the sun in you,
              but you keep knotting it up at the base of your spine.

              I’m unsure, as you’ve been here for a year and a half, if you’ve seen Anodea Judith’s visual meditation, The Illuminated Chakras, but think Muladhara — “root support” — the appropriate metaphor for the much-needed medicine in the process of being recovered or, perhaps more to the point, re-membered.

              I mentioned recently that I’d like to think all the inordinate focus on the human head (and brain) means that humanity may be in the process of bringing its Ajna into balance. ; )

            • donsalmon says :

              Not sure about my alleged expertise, but I like very much the balance you’re offering, IW!

            • Scott Preston says :

              That was a long read by Maudlin. But cutting through all the verbiage, it’s clear what really upsets Maudlin and Pinker is the paradox and the paradoxical and the ironic. His going after Bohr for his complementarity principle is a counter-attack on what Jacob Bronowski also called “the crisis of paradox” for the Mechanical Philosophy/rationalism.

              I’ll have to re-read it and point out this agenda there in detail.

            • Kellynn says :

              I’d like to think all the inordinate focus on the human head (and brain) means that humanity may be in the process of bringing its Ajna into balance.

              I agree with you, however, science is trying to start from the top-down instead of from the bottom-up. If you want to get to heaven, you have to go to Hell first.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              I don’t know. Considering that very strange “split” that occurred at the beginning of the Enlightenment, I get more the sense that “the Two Cultures” are beginning to “kiss and make up”. : )

          • Kellynn says :

            It’s been too long since I read McGilchrist actually. Will have to re-read it as I don’t remember a lot, for example that up-down bit.

            Anyway, it’s no accident that the US’s symbol is the eagle – all brain, no body/snake.

        • mikemackd says :

          Great quote. Thanks, Don; I have downloaded the book.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      consciousness is symbolically masculine and has been since the beginning of time.

      Okay, folks. Call it a weakness if you like, but I love story-telling in all its forms, including — yes — movies. And here’s the response…from Shadowlands:

      Professor Reilly: This is how I explain the otherwise puzzling differences between the sexes: where men have intellect, women have soul.

      Joy: As you say, Professor Reilly, I’m from the United States and different cultures have different modes of discourse… Are you trying to be offensive or just merely stupid?

  44. donsalmon says :

    Ulrich Mohrhoff, in his essay on Gebser, makes the point that what we call “matter” changes from age to age. At one point he seems to be only saying it changes phenomenologically – but then he almost seems to hint the change is ontological as well.

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