Last evening I read a piece from The New York Times Magazine on the revival of Hindu nationalism and communal violence in India (“The Billionaire Yogi Behind Modi’s Rise“), which serves to remind that the present wave of authoritarian nationalism and “identity politics” — ethnocentric or egocentric — is a global phenomenon — an ongoing backlash against the deficiencies and failures of neo-liberalism. But I was also reminded by that of Marshall Berman’s thesis that “everything is pregnant with its contrary” in his 1980s book All That Is Solid Melts Into Air; that is to say, everything is pregnant with its own antithesis or its own self-contradiction, and one that would eventually assert itself as self-negation, like the meeting of matter and anti-matter becoming mutually annihilate. It’s an aspect of what I call here “ironic reversal”.
But it would be a great mistake, indeed, to assume that if the excesses and extremes of neo-liberalism (or competitive hyper-individualism) are to blame for our social malaise, that it’s equally extreme antithesis or contrary — re-collectivisation — is the cure, which is what authoritarian populism or ethnocentric nationalisms amount to — whether in religious, racial, or gender terms. This is the flawed logic of a strictly dualistic mode of thinking which has become somewhat robotic, which is why I encourage reflection on the merits of a “four-value logic” if we are ever to arrive at a truly “universal way of looking at things”
There is a branch of Christian thinkers — Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy among them — that maintains that what we call “Western civilisation” is in process of transition between an Age of the Church (or Pauline Age) and an Age of the Spirit (or Johannine Age) — an age of “religionless Christianity” as Rosenstock-Huessy describes it in his book The Christian Future, or The Modern Mind Outrun. In The Christian Future, he develops further his “applied science of the soul” based on his grammatical method and four-term logic or “cross of reality” model.
So, there is an evident parallel between new Johannine thought and what I referred to earlier as our emerging “fourth cosmological age“. Moreover, this is another way of reflecting on “chaotic transition” or on Jean Gebser’s “double-movement” of disintegration and re-integration — in this case, the disintegration of the Pauline Age and it’s re-integration as the Johannine Age. And it may be said that Nietzsche’s “death of God” is the watershed event in this transition from Age of Church to Age of the Spirit.
Most of you are, I’m sure, familiar with W.B. Yeats’ ominous and enigmatic poem “The Second Coming”. I was reflecting on that and the meaning of his rough beast “slouching towards Bethlehem to be born” again this morning, and in connection with some of my recent posts about the “Shadow”. So, I want to take a few moments this morning and propose what I think might be the meaning of Yeats’ poem.
Since there seems to be some great confusion and misunderstanding of the purposes and meanings of The Chrysalis, which is primarily about the ongoing and rather turbulent shift from the cosmic number 3 to the cosmic number 4 — or from a reality construed in three dimensions to a reality construed in four dimensions along with the corresponding restructuration of consciousness that is implied in this — I’m going to reach back into The Chrysalis archives and raise once again the key issues in the transition or metamorphosis — the emergence of the quadrilateral or fourfold as it is represented in the Holling Adaptive Cycle, Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”, the native North American “Sacred Hoop”, and on to what William Blake also means by his “four Zoas” and “fourfold vision”.
Zeitgeist is a German term that translates as “spirit of the times” or the common mood or mental attitude, corresponding to what distinguishes historical epochs and eras from one another. The Zeitgeist is the milieu in which we live, move, and have our being, and which conditions our mental environment, outlook, and attitudes. Some define Zeitgeist as a civilisation’s or era’s “ruling idea” or ruling mood, or perhaps its ruling archetype.
For example, William Blake’s mad god or Zoa named “Urizen” is the Zeitgeist of the Newtonian-Cartesian worldview, or what we altogether call “modern mind” or “mental-rational consciousness” or “perspectival consciousness”. “Urizenic Man” is that mode of consciousness aligned or in communion with Urizen as Zeitgeist. But Urizen has a double aspect, too — a lucid aspect, but also a dark and deranged aspect– corresponding to what Carl Jung calls “the Shadow” — just as the Greek goddess Athena has her lucid aspect, and her deranged and shadow aspect, the Gorgon. These correspond to the life-pole and death-pole of psychic energy (or what Freud referred to as “eros” and “thanatos” instincts).
So, today I’m going to try to walk you through the present Zeitgeist, which some identify as “post-modern”, but which for others of a Jungian bent is now “the Shadow” (eg, Carolyn Baker’s Dark Gold: The Human Shadow and the Global Crisis, among others).
‘Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate. — Samuel Huntington.
Yesterday, I concluded my reading of Gary Lachman’s Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump, which I highly recommend. Lachman explores the “hidden dimension”, as it were — the occult or dark side — in current events, events which on the surface appear “surreal”, “bizarre”, “absurd” and so on (because they are).
Lachman’s thesis about the implicit “chaos magick” in the practice of power relations today is very revealing of the undercurrents that bring together concerns like Adam Curtis’s “Hypernormalisation” BBC documentary with Neal Gabler’s Life The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality, Kurt Anderson’s recently published Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, and to the more aberrant expressions of “magick” I explored in earlier posts in The Chrysalis, such as Rolf Jensen’s The Dream Society: How the Coming Shift From Information to Imagination Will Transform Your Business, or “marketing 3.0″ (or “spiritual branding”), or the exploitation of Carl Jung’s archetypal psychology for marketing and propaganda. What we often call “perception management” (or what Algis Mikunas calls “technocratic shamanism”) has this same root in Lachman’s “chaos magick” or what we shall call “the dark arts” altogether.
One of the most interesting matters brought up in Castaneda’s writings is the role of “the petty tyrant”. Surviving Trump and Trumpism — or authoritarian populism and the politics of the hoarde more generally — may well be a matter of learning to see and use Trump as this same petty tyrant in one’s practice of self-overcoming. I can almost believe that Trump, among others today, was indeed fated to serve as this same “petty tyrant” for our metamorphosis. It’s a suspicion that has been lurking around the edges of my mind for a while.