The Zeitgeist and the Shadow

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).

Everything a culture considers taboo, evil, or immoral typically ends up being proscribed or “consigned to the outer darkness” and ends up in and as the Shadow, our inner “Satan”, as it were. Repressed and inhibited, it festers and rages in the darkness of the “unconscious”, even in extreme cases taking on a quasi-autonomous existence of its own, occasionally intruding as the famous “voices in the head” or even as multiple personality. The most famous literary example of that is Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Mr. Hyde is, of course, Jekyll’s Shadow. But in many respects what we call “the unconscious” is the Shadow, and in The Ever-Present Origin, Jean Gebser, although seldom referring to the “Shadow” directly, uses the terms “unconscious” or “psyche” in the same sense.

(By strange coincidence, as I was mulling over the wording of this post yesterday I came across some research about this very matter, seeming to indicate that conservatives are more susceptible to the compulsions of the Shadow, and the Jekyll-and-Hyde syndrome, than liberals. The growing power of the Shadow in the psychic structure is one reason both Blake and Nietzsche launched their attacks on moralism and our false notions of “good and evil”. In many respects, Nietzsche’s forecast of “two centuries of nihilism” is directly connected with the “return of the repressed” as also the irruption of the Shadow, and much of what we refer to as “hidden” or “occult” is a reference to the Shadow as well. Generally, what we call “the underworld” or “hell” is the domain of the Shadow, and it is both “the valley of the shadow of death” in the Old Testament as well as “the dark night of the soul” in Christian mysticism, but also as “the treasures of darkness” or in the image of a fearsome dragon guarding its hoard of gold (hence Baker’s description of the Shadow as “dark gold”)).

With the breakdown of the mental-rational or perspectival or ego consciousness and its inhibitions and taboos, the Shadow is increasingly unbound from its confinement in “the outer darkness”. It’s this that Gebser describes as the correspondence between “the violation of the psyche by the ratio” being mutually and reciprocally a “violation of the ratio by the psyche” — “ratio” here being the principle that informs “rationality” or intellect. The meaning of this violation is essentially the meaning of the phrase “New Normal”.

Not only individuals, but entire cultures and civilisations and eras have their Shadow — what they have repressed from collective memory and consciousness and inhibited from becoming conscious. This is connected with what Lewis Mumford and Roderick Seidenberg call “post-historic man” (who is also Nietzsche’s “Last Man”). The Shadow grows increasingly powerful in the darkness until it erupts in what Rosenstock-Huessy called “the social volcano”, releasing energies that are, more often than not, chaotic and destructive, especially of the ego-consciousness seen as the cause of its repressions.

Now, most of what is today called “awakening” (especially on the right) isn’t. It’s the bestirring of the Shadow — the Kraken from the deeps. It’s really the Shadow that rages against what it perceives as “political correctness” as being the cause of its inhibition and repression — all those codes and protocols and regulations of “normal” or “civilised” conduct against which it rages and trolls. There is a peculiar and paradoxical dynamic at work here as regards post-historic man, though. The more we cast aside the obscurity and the veil on the past — in archaeology, paleontology, etc — the more we actually bestir and re-animate those legacy psychic systems in ourselves and in our own psychic structure that were associated with those times — their own Zeitgeist. This is even the intuition of movie themes like The Mummy, or Altered States, or Jurassic Park, and such — that the recovery of the past, often depicted as releasing horrors confined to the past, is connected also with the re-animation of those legacy structures that Gebser calls “the archaic”, the “magical”, and the “mythical” modes of consciousness, which altogether also belong to the Shadow. This C.S. Lewis, for example, referred to in a book as That Hideous Strength. This peculiar dynamic by which the rediscovery of the past is also a re-animation and revivification of those latent legacy potentialities in the psychic structure is also the theme of Jeremy Naydler’s book The Future of the Ancient World…. along with irruptions like neo-paganism or fascism or primitivism.

It is what some people find quite uncomfortable about Nietzsche — that he dove right into that Shadow, releasing also many of the energies bound and confined there which continue to have an impact today. This was his “stare into the abyss”. The Shadow is also known in alchemy as the Black Sun or Sol Niger, which represents the same “valley of the shadow of death” or “dark night of the soul”, and is probably an appropriate image for what we also mean by chaos and “chaotic transition”

Alchemical Black Sun — Sol Niger or Nigredo

So, this image represents Gebser’s “death-pole” or the thanatic pole of the psyche.

The irruption of the Shadow into the framework of the mental-rational is chaotic because the mental-rational does not provide an adequate framework for integrating these re-animated legacy systems or latent structures of consciousness (which correspond also to Blake’s “four Zoas” or “beasts”). So, this return of the repressed represents both great danger, because of its chaotic nature, as well as incredible opportunity for what Gebser calls “integral consciousness” and “the transparency of the world”, as long as we are not overcome by the Shadow and lose ourselves in the antiquated (the reactionary disposition), but gain insight into it and thereby successfully integrate it with the present.

This is pretty much the meaning of Gary Lachman’s Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Era of Trump. The “Dark Star” is the Black Sun, or Sol Niger, which is often a symbol of fascism and its attractions to darkness of “endarkenment”. The Dark Star is the Shadow and “the Star of Chaos”. This is made quite explicit in one of Gebser’s rare overt references to “the Shadow” in The Ever-Present Origin, which I will quote at some length

We need not be disturbed by the varied meanings inherent in the word psyche, for its meaning of “breath” does not contradict its equivalence with life, nor does it contradict its various associations in the works of Heraclitus, Democritus, and others who equated the soul with the various elements. In whatever form, sun or water, stone or air, the soul and life are the bond between these polarities. In mythical accounts, now the one, now the other aspect predominates, revealing in each instance its unspoken polar complement on the invisible reverse surface of the mirror. And the emergence of consciousness which effects its presence in these myths reminds us that not just the sun but also the darkness within man is thereby rendered visible.

This immeasurable darkness is expressed and made visible in the mythologemes and descriptions that have survived in the form of “Nekyia”: nocturnal voyages or descents into Hades or hell. We find it for example in Ishtar’s descent to hell in the Gilgamesh epic; Odysseus too had to endure such a journey, mentioned by the Orphics and alluded to by the “Y” symbol of the Pythagoreans. Later it is described by Virgil and is revealed by the Gospels; Plutarch speaks of it, Dante has furnished a description, and Don Quixote survives such an ordeal. It survives in the Nigredo of the medieval alchemists and has been rediscovered by modern science as the theory of the “shadow” in psychology. Since the Nekyia reveals the Hades in man and affords him the opportunity to become aware of his dark polar complement of the soul’s manifest light and brightness, it represents the pre-eminent expression of the integration of the soul.

A mythical saying has recorded the rise of this new capacity in man for discerning the shadowy or dark, nocturnal part of himself (today we would call it the “unconscious”). This capacity, at first a dream-like anticipation of the fundamental character of the mental structure, in all likelihood enters the gradually awakening and later fully awakened consciousness in the form of a dream, as reported in the mythologeme. The reality of the mythical dream, however, was so vivid as to be almost identical with what we today call “reality”; myth was the polar complement of life, dream the polar complement of waking consciousness. It is via the polarity that mythical man, as he became aware of dream in myth, comes to an awareness of consciousness, standing in the circle, he courses through the cycle of dream and wakefulness, a cycle of awakening.” (p. 72)

This is one of the rare passages in The Ever-Present Origin where Gebser writes explicitly about the “shadow” — the dark or nocturnal side of the psyche and psychic energy, and its quite evidently the side that Steve Bannon, for example, identifies with, by his own admission, and in practice too. It’s not coincidence either, that former Vice-President Dick Cheney relished his nickname as “Darth Vader”, and that it was Cheney who also formalised the term “New Normal” as well that normalised double-standard and double-think and self-contradiction as “normal”, or what was meant by saying “the gloves come off”. It means releasing the Shadow. But this goes back already to Stevenson’s novella and to Nietzsche’s “all higher values devalue themselves” as the dynamics of his “two centuries of nihilism”, for the “death of God” also meant the release of the Shadow from its confinement in “the outer darkness”.

One danger here for Gebser, as discussed earlier, was the reciprocal or mutual dynamic — the “violation of the psyche by the ratio” had a corresponding involutionary movement which, for Gebser, represented the “graver danger” — “the violation of the ratio by the psyche”, which is to say the ego-consciousness or “mental-rational” being overwhelmed and swallowed by the irrupting Shadow, and a failure to integrate those energies bound in the Shadow constructively with the ego consciousness. This double violation is precisely what Nietzsche meant by his famous saying,

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also back into you.”

This remark is completely in accord with Rumi’s poem “The Snake-Catcher’s Tale”, for the dragon is very often a symbol of the Shadow, or of those life energies bound up with the Shadow, as well. And Rumi and Nietzsche and Blake are quite right — you cannot fight the Shadow, because the Shadow is you. The more you try to suppress it, the stronger it gets, because the Shadow’s existence is predicated on that suppression in the first place, and this is probably the import of Jesus’s remark “resist not evil” or Rumi’s that only a “Moses” can pacify the dragon.

Hermeticism provides a template for this integration — the transmutation. So does Blake, in his Marriage of Heaven and Hell, which is a model for the enlightened transmutation and integration of the Shadow (the Shadow, here, also being represented as Blake’s “Leviathan”).

I have read some “Gebserians”, too, who are very confused about this issue, if that were even possible, and confuse it with Traditionalism. Gebser was not a “Traditionalist” and explicitly critiqued and rejected Traditionalism as a regression to the past and not a true integration as presentiation. He emphasises over and over again, that “origin” is not “beginning” in any historical or temporal sense. Origin is ever-present, and is not a return to the past. All nostalgia for a past “Golden Age” is a failure of “presentiation” — to integrate these legacy systems with presence and in the present, and not to fall under the spell of the Shadow, manifesting today as symptoms of the fascistic, for the very word “fascism” is connected with magic, too. In Latin a “fascinum” is a magic spell or “binding power”.

 

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46 responses to “The Zeitgeist and the Shadow”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    BTW, other present observations on the Shadow, besides Baker’s Dark Gold or Lachman’s Dark Star Rising include Paul Levy’s Dispelling Wetiko or Windigo, who is the demon cannibal spirit of North American indigenous lore. Windigo is the Shadow also.

    https://www.northatlanticbooks.com/shop/dispelling-wetiko/
    or
    https://www.awakeninthedream.com/dispelling-wetiko/

    Have yet to read it myself, but hope to get around to it.

  2. Scott Preston says :

    Uneasiness and fear about the past is exemplified by worries about “the mummy’s curse” or Lewis’s “hideous strength”.

    https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-thursday-edition-1.4753213/opening-ancient-egyptian-sarcophagus-an-amazing-opportunity-despite-rumours-of-a-curse-1.4753219

    But that’s not really what’s behind it. As I mentioned above, it’s about bestirring all those dark legacy psychic systems associated with those eras and epochs — including the temptations of pharaohism — that still constitute us, but which have been plunged into the “unconscious” — such matters as Lachman explores as “chaos magick” in his book Dark Star Rising or in the Kek meme of the Alt-Right (Kek being a very very old Egyptian god who is the Dark Lord or Lord of Chaos). John Michael Greer has written up something about “Kek” also on his website ecosophia.

    https://www.ecosophia.net/the-kek-wars-part-one-aristocracy-and-its-discontents/

    Another example is the popular Star Wars franchise, which, following Joseph Campbell’s work in mythology, resuscitates quite old and ancient myths that also re-activate the mythical consciousness, erstwhile consigned to the “outer darkness” called “the occult”. It’s in such phenomena as Star Wars that you begin to see clearly what Jeremy Naydler means by The Future of the Ancient World and that actually threatened to overcome our reality literally as the “Star Wars” missile system, “Evil Empires”, “Darth Vader” meme and so on, and which began to disassemble an already fragile rationality. or reason.

    You don’t have to look very far into contemporary cultural reality to realise how prescient Jean Gebser was about all this.

  3. InfiniteWarrior says :

    Before I disappear for good (tangentially hanging around to this breaking point only for the comments and the wonderful contributions therein), I’m going to go out on a limb again (and I couldn’t care less how anyone chooses to define that) and say that, while this essay is engaging and even “correct,” for the most part, this insistence that Wetiko mostly afflicts “conservatives” or “the right” is so bogus as to defy reality itself.

    Wetiko certainly doesn’t discriminate. And, speaking of true “discrimination,” neither did you (often) — back in TDAB days. In those days, we were exploring the true meaning of “narcissism,” “dis-ease,” “sin” (i.e. “to miss the mark”), “unfolding (multidemsional) reality” and so forth. We were, in other words, exploring meaning, purpose and action far more so than the Megamachine’s manufactured “split” between — frankly — past and future.

    We’re all living in the present and on the same (bleeping) planet! Get that across to anyone and you’re doing well.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Well, for one thing, I never actually said that “wetiko” mostly affllcts conservatives in the comment at all. That’s your interpolation, probably because I critiqued traditionalism and moralism as contributing to the inhibition and repression that generates the shadow in the first place — “moral majority” and so on. Neo-liberalism is as much about the shadow, as well, but for different reasons.

      It’s precisely for such reasons that Blake and Nietzsche both critiqued “moralism” or (especially) self-righteousness or “the righteous mind”, and many of the Proverbs of Hell are directed against the moralistic or self-righteous attitude.I don’t know what you think you’ve been reading here at The Chrysalis, but it’s pretty clear it wasn’t what I thought most people were reading.

      As you know, or should have realised by now, “conservative” and “liberal” are here used as moods and not as ideological positions, which Gebser critiqued himself..Therefore a man like Jordan Peterson can claim to be a “classical liberal” but still be conservative in that view. Those moods of conservative or liberal or progressive can be quite appropriate at certain times, and quite inappropriate at other times, for they correspond to Gebser’s advice — that everything hinges on “let happen” or “make happen”.

      You may also recall that I insisted we were a mixture of conservative and progressive, and that it was a big mistake to identify exclusively with one or the other because in the extreme both end up as nihilisms — one denies the relevance of the past, and another denies the relevance of the future. Both can be hyperbolic, and thus end in cognitive dissonance and complete self-contradiction, which is the meaning of the “New Normal” after all.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        Well, for one thing, I never actually said that “wetiko” mostly affllcts conservatives in the comment at all.

        Bullshit. You’ve laid it at the feet of “conservatives” this whole time, Mr. Preston.

        Now…. I think we both know the difference between “extremists” (or, shall we say — just to please you — “reactionaries”.) You know…. Those who haven’t quite mastered the art of Vulcan meditation.

        This is why I think “neo-” a very apt description of the most current “types” of just about everything. I believe I mentioned (back in TDAB days) that “neo-” means nothing to me but “extreme.” I still does.

        • Scott Preston says :

          Bullshit. You’ve laid it at the feet of “conservatives” this whole time, Mr. Preston.

          Well then, you’ve really understood nothing about why this blog is even called “The Chrysalis”. Of course I’m not going to credit conservatism when the urgency of change has become manifest. What the hell did you think you were reading, even in the masthead “for man has closed himself up until he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern”. Do you really think I’m eager to conserve THAT?!

          If you thought the Chrysalis was promoting some kind of Traditionalism, well you read wrong. Retrieving and returning are different movements, and Blake and Gebser are all for retrieving, but not returning, which is the mood of the political and social reactionary.

          The progressive often fears the return of the past, while the conservative fears the future. Both positions are shot through with fear and anxiety. Both Gebser and Blake, as well as Rosenstock-Huessy, are well beyond taking such “positions” or identities, which are temporal and time-bound in respect of past and future of backwards and forwards. .What did you think “time-freedom” amounts to anyway? It means just that — not being stuck in the backwards or forwards so much that it becomes one’s very identity, the very problem of the “point-of-view” ego-bound consciousness or “reification”. .

          Again, I don’t know what you thought you were reading here, or in the Dark Age Blog because both progressive and conservative “stances” or “positions” or “identities” have been addressed in terms of the deficient mode of the mental-rational alike.

          • InfiniteWarrior says :

            Well then, you’ve really understood nothing about why this blog is even called “The Chrysalis”.

            Actually, I have…. Especially considering I’ve placed quite the emphasis on what’s going right in this world compared to what’s going wrong.

            If you thought the Chrysalis was promoting some kind of Traditionalism, well you read wrong.

            Again. I didn’t. That’s just your…rather unlimited presumptuousness talking. (No offense. -Heh.-)

            Of course, we could keep this up all day. Or…we could reflect and see for ourselves what is true and what is not.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Declines to work with my browser (Firefox) for some reason.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Well, perhaps you see what this karfuffle about “political correctness” versus “free speech” actually pertains to — the Shadow. Political correctness is assumed as a defensive bulwark against the Shadow, to keep restrictions and constraints on the Shadow, while contrariwise extreme “Free Speech” advocates want to remove all inhibitions, constraints, or limitations on the Shadow — all the hates, fears, anxieties or denied energies that make up the Shadow in the first place. Both are, after all, expressions of the “deficient mode” of the mental-rational, as Gebser calls it.

      • Risto says :

        Hope you can watch it somehow! I think it’s perfect metafora, how problematic it is to restrain your energies or let them flow freely.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      “Spontaneous Combustion”
      This episode is currently not available at South Park Studios

      Fancy that.

      I’ve often said, that if I hear one more thing about “dichotomies” (so to speak), I may just spontaneously combust. What do you know?

      • Scott Preston says :

        Has your own shadow been poked then? How otherwise would you “combust”?

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          How do you? :p

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          You can try to evade all you like. I won’t fall for it, Mr. Preston.

          You’ve proven to me time and again that you have no control whatsoever over your emotions. None.

          You have, in fact, visited them on everyone and everything around you. Perhaps, especially me. Don’t think I don’t know it. I’ve been around enough to see the signs.

          If you think, for one moment, that I’m going to fall for your shenigans, you have another think coming.

  4. Scott Preston says :

    You have, in fact, visited them on everyone and everything around you. Perhaps, especially me. Don’t think I don’t know it. I’ve been around enough to see the signs.

    Eh? What a bizarre and humourous statement, since you don’t know me from Adam at all, and I’m sure my friends wouldn’t even recognise me in that statement. So, now who’s guilty of “unlimited presumptuousness”?

    “Fake news” I’m afraid, and instead of merely asserting what you believe about me, maybe you could point out the evidence of my ostensible chaotic emotions?

    For someone who has repeatedly declared that they are through here, you sure seem to come back a lot. Care to explain why?

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      you don’t know me from Adam at all, and I’m sure my friends wouldn’t even recognise me in that statement.

      I could say the same…a million times over.

      For someone who has repeatedly declared that they are through here, you sure seem to come back a lot. Care to explain why?

      Sure. As I said, the excellent contributions of a number of commenters here.

      The never-ending font of negativity, otoh, I no longer have the time or patience for. (Sorry,) I’m sure you can understand. The vast majority of us have been — more or less — left to “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps,” so to speak. And, our “bootstraps” are…pretty much nonexistent at this point.

      I’m sure you’ve noticed. : )

      • Scott Preston says :

        I’m not too interesting in playing a game of “he says” “she says”, but when it comes to negativity, have you even bothered reading your own comments here?

        Which reminds me of something I just saw on Twitter

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          I’m not too interesting in playing a game of “he says” “she says”, but when it comes to negativity, have you even bothered reading your own comments here?

          I’ll take that as “interested.” Me, either. And I have, indeed. And I can say with all confidence, that if I hadn’t been presumed — up one side and down the other — from the beginning, there would be no negativity to be found.

          Both our faults. I don’t give a shit what you say now.

          As for “Journalism 101:” you might want to try reading something other than The Guardian to check your own frickin’ biases.

          • Scott Preston says :

            I cite the Guardian a lot for one reason… it’s one of the few and rare speciments of the MSM that doesn’t have its head completely buried in the sand… or in other dark places.

            Simple enough reason, isn’t it? Or do you think I should cite “both sides” about matters like climate change or sixth extinction event or the disintegration of democracy and the threat of fascism, and our seeming unwillingness to do anything about it? Do you even think that’s reasonable?

            It seems that the old saying “speak of the Devil and he appears” is particularly telling in relation to this post on the Shadow. But if you had really read this post properly, you would have noted my reference to the “dark gold” — of how this gravest of dangers — the insurgency of the Shadow and attendant psychic inflation and nihilism that comes with that — is also a transitional stage, and a golden opportunity for insight and self-knowledge. Apparently, you missed that part or do you also find that “negative”?

            If you think the chrysalis stage is like “the Magic Kingdom”, you’re definitely at the wrong blog.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              But if you had really read this post properly…. Apparently, you missed that part

              Let’s review my original comment, shall we?

              this essay is engaging and even “correct,” for the most part

              And yet, you said:

              If you think the chrysalis stage is like “the Magic Kingdom”, you’re definitely at the wrong blog.

              There goes your presumptuous ass again. See what I mean?

              If you really take Nietzsche all that seriously, I’m frankly surprised you’re taking all this so personally. After all: “There are no accusers.” Or so you’ve said.

            • Scott Preston says :

              No, that’s not your original comment at all. That’s edited. In your original comment you attributed statements to me that I didn’t in fact make about conservatives and “Wetiko”. You interpolated meanings that weren’t actually there which I had to correct.

              But for all that and for complaining about my “bias” for resorting to The Guardian so often…, well.. someone isn’t really paying attention.

              https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/07/20/ny-times-wash-post-quote-more-twice-many-republicans-democrats-political-coverage/220738

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              In your original comment you attributed statements to me that I didn’t in fact make about conservatives and “Wetiko”.

              Must have something to do with the ever-present insinuation, also present in this essay, that conservatives are more susceptible to it than anyone else. The author’s opinion and not yours, I suppose you might say. I mentioned it years ago, however; have a few times since; and wasn’t a bit surprised that you actually adjusted your commentary to reflect a far more “aperspectival,” even-handed approach. In fact, no more surprised that TDAB was reborn as The Chrysalis, perhaps to reflect the “double-movement” more so than always and only disintegration and chaos?

              Further, to your credit, you have occassionally juxtaposed the “reactionary” forms of a nonconservative conservatism and an illiberal liberalism (far more descriptive than neoconservatism and neoliberalism, of course) in governments around the world, otherwise expressed as purely ideological or deficient forms. We’re also aware, however, of the burgeoning realization that such states are largely, if not entirely, due to being exclusively self-identified with one or another “arm” of the “Cross of Reality,” if not one or another set or subset of humanity…and nothing else. It’s difficult, I know, to make such subtle, but important distinctions when nearly every media outlet in existence is coming down firmly on one or another of those “arms” while painting their “enemies” with such broad strokes as to be laughable and, needless to say, particularly in politics.

              No one has described the reflection of that particular phenomenon among the public quite as well as Maria Popova, imo.

              The safety of conformity to an old-guard mainstream has been supplanted by the safety of conformity to a new-order minority predicated on some fragment of identity, so that those within each new group (and sub-group, and sub-sub-group) are as harsh to judge and as fast to exclude “outsiders” (that is, those of unlike identity-fragments) from the conversation as the old mainstream once was in judging and excluding them.

              Little wonder that so many are so quick to label anyone who disagrees with them about anything with one or another label of their own choosing so as to dismiss them outright with the most extreme prejudice. Judgmentalism is the order of the day. Now, broad swaths of the public are so painted as well, and perhaps none more so than self-identified conservatives. I believe I now understand how they feel. None of their concerns are legitimate unless expressed by someone else — someone who isn’t a self-identified conservative. Then, of course, the same concerns are perfectly acceptable.

              You can mention, for example, a concern that new influxes of immigrants often bring reactionary politics with them (as in a recent comment) without being accused of being nationalist, racist or worse. Someone can else can posit that if the conditions were created in the areas or countries from which immigrants are immigrating, there would be no need for them to leave. They could stay in their homelands. Again, without being accused of anything crass, but especially of being in some way inferior or altogether “evil.”

              At least your dismissals are a bit milder these days, e.g. “inattentive.”

              This blog is about human consciousness and, occasionally, the transformation of human consciousness, but primarily about the disintegration of the “mental-rational consciousness structure”. How’s that for inattentive?

              PS I find it’s often better to avoid, especially, the opinion columns and read the newswires. Newswires still just report the news, for the most part, before any spinmeisters jump at the chance to have their way with it.

            • Scott Preston says :

              Must have something to do with the ever-present insinuation, also present in this essay, that conservatives are more susceptible to it than anyone else.

              And what’s so controversial about that? It simply common sense that in ages of transition, the conservatively-minded would feel the most threatened and double-down on their identity. Perhaps you didn’t read that part in Rosenstock-Huessy’s essay on Grammatical Method about the disease of “lip-service” being “the conservative disease” in times of transition?

              Whether its Russian nationalists, the Mullahs of Iran or Saudi Arabia, or ultra-conservative Islamists like ISIS, or indeed MAGA people in the US, it’s the same anxieties and stresses of the conservative mood and attitude –fear of the future and the seductions and allure of a mythologised and romanticised past.

              Conservatism is little more than what UK conservative Michael Oakshott called it — “a preference for the familiar” and by the same token, a fear and suspicion of the unfamiliar and unknown. And that’s not an attitude or mood your going to find much sympathy for in Gebser’s work either — his “leap” is a very unconservative idea.

              So, again, I repeat…. I really don’t know what you thought you were reading here in the Chrysalis, but if you thought it was some kind of defence of Traditionalism, you misunderstood even why it’s called “Chrysalis”.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              It simply common sense that in ages of transition, the conservatively-minded would feel the most threatened and double-down on their identity.

              Is it now? Someone might inform every other group doubling-down on their identity (or identity-fragments) in that case. They’re obviously feeling just as threatened, and I think we know, at least, that we’re all actually facing the same existential threats as every other species on the planet.

              Perhaps you didn’t read that part in Rosenstock-Huessy’s essay on Grammatical Method about the disease of “lip-service” being “the conservative disease” in times of transition?

              I didn’t say it was “controversial” and disagree with Rosenstock-Huessy that “lip-service” is specifically “the conservative disease.” {Gasp} I think that a skewed view, all else considered.

              I really don’t know what you thought you were reading here in the Chrysalis, but if you thought it was some kind of defence of Traditionalism

              When have I ever said it was a defense of Traditionalism? Let’s see…. Never.

              This conservative “preference for the familiar”, after all, is what informs their emphasis on “family values” — at least, apparently, white middle-class family values because they don’t appear to give a shit about “family values” or the sanctity of the family when it comes to non-white families — as per example, the Mexican border issue.

              Who doesn’t give a shit? Conservatives writ large or the neoconservative politicians it’s widely presumed speak for all of them on every subject, regardless of their ehnicity? Not all conservatives are “white” (whatever that is) or “middle-class” for that matter.

              See what I mean about broad swaths and brushstrokes?

            • Scott Preston says :

              This conservative “preference for the familiar”, after all, is what informs their emphasis on “family values” — at least, apparently, white middle-class family values because they don’t appear to give a shit about “family values” or the sanctity of the family when it comes to non-white families — as per example, the Mexican border issue.

              And that’s just an example of Rosenstock-Huessy’s “conservative disease” — lip-service.

              Now, you might say then that I’m “biased” because I don’t make compromises with that symptom of decadence? But I say that’s the real bullshit here. No duplicitous and double-think “both sides” argument about family separations is going to wash

            • Scott Preston says :

              Well, IW, I see no point in carrying on this feud because I think you’ve willfully misread the Chrysalis, perhaps all along, and I think a lot of what you just posted here is bunk.

              You should understand that ages of transition, chaotic transitions, are states of disease when the proper functions of conservsative and liberal (or progressive) moods and attitudes begin to breakdown and devour themselves in self-contradiction and incoherence. And if you expect me to make compromises with diseased states, or make a “both sides” argument out of this, you haven’t understood AT ALL what the Chrysalis is about.

              The function of the conservative mood is to conserve the collective memory, while the progressive function is to prepare the future. In healthy cultures and individuals, these are complementary functions, and in unhealthy and diseased (or “deficient” in Gebser’s terms) they both become morbid and species of nihilism.

              Of course, there are people today who otherwise self-identity as conservatives who are questioning the value of conventional conservatism, just as there are progressives questioning the value of conventional progressivism, and both are looking for a way out of the morass of the post-modern condition and the chaos. But they are a minority still. “The cure for the disease is in the disease”, as Rumi put it, which is echoed in Gebser’s “double-movement”. Your suggestion that everything would be fine and return to normal if we just got ride of the “neos” of neo-conservatism or neo–liberalism isn’t even relevant to this.

              If you expect me to make compromises with disease and diseased states with some kind of BS “both sides” argument, you haven’t understood the Chrysalis at all, or what Gebser means by “the leap” or “presentiation”, which has nothing to do with ideology and which is quite meaningless to describe in terms of ‘isms” like “conservatism” or “liberalism” as “standpoints” or points-of-view, but is much more fluid than that.

              So I don’t really want to hear some BS “both sides” argument that expects the Chrysalis to make compromises with what are to me patently and obviously diseased states and conditions. And if that doesn’t satisfy you, you’re in the wrong place and should perhaps move on.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              I think you’ve willfully misread the Chrysalis, perhaps all along…. If you expect me to make compromises with disease and diseased states with some kind of BS “both sides” argument

              I haven’t and I don’t. What I’m speaking of is nuance, which we sadly find very little of these days, especially in regard to “moods” among the public.

              Of course, there are people today who otherwise self-identity as conservatives who are questioning the value of conventional conservatism, just as there are progressives questioning the value of conventional progressivism, and both are looking for a way out of the morass of the post-modern condition and the chaos. But they are a minority still.

              I’m not so sure they are a minority, but then I am judging by trends in literature, film and the art of storytelling in all its forms along with the more overt trends introduced over the years. (Don provided some excellent examples of the more overt trends specific to politics in a recent post. It’s actually quite a list. Considering the dis-ease is far more readily apparent there than anywhere else, perhaps he might be persuaded to share it?) Politics — perhaps especially in America — doesn’t strike me as the proper guage considering the stranglehold the Democratic and Republican parties have on the process nationally. Democrats in the majority? “The progressive mood won out.” Republicans in the majority? “The conservative mood won out.” Trump (supposedly) elected by the American people? “What the…?” In fact, I rather suspect that’s why…well, this.

              Your suggestion that everything would be fine and return to normal if we just got ride of the “neos” of neo-conservatism or neo–liberalism isn’t even relevant to this.

              Well, that’s certainly been misconstrued.

              The function of the conservative mood is to conserve the collective memory, while the progressive function is to prepare the future. In healthy cultures and individuals, these are complementary functions, and in unhealthy and diseased (or “deficient” in Gebser’s terms) they both become morbid and species of nihilism.

              Well put.

              You know, I sometimes lament the fact that we didn’t meet in person and under far better circumstances. I imagine if we had, we’d get along swimmingly.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              If it helps to put that “both sides” miscontrual to rest and move more toward the meaning of “the times” being “out of joint” across on a grander scale, a bit of synchronicity just graced the airwaves in a rerun of the ST:TNG episode First Contact.

              You know what they say: sometimes an artist strikes a chord without necessarily fully understanding it himself. For what it’s worth:

              Chancellor Durken: I go home each night to a loving wife, two beautiful daughters. We eat the evening meal together as a family. I think that’s important. And they always ask me if I’ve had a good day.

              Captain Jean-Luc Picard: And how will you answer them tonight, Chancellor?

              Chancellor Durken: I will have to say: This morning, I was the leader of the universe as I know it. This afternoon, I’m only a voice in a chorus. But I think it was a good day.

              Chancellor Durken: My people are not ready to accept what you represent. Everything that happened in the hospital proves that. And Krola is the best evidence of all. We must slow down, and allow those who are like him to join us in the present, before we can move into the future.

              “[A]llow those who are like him to join us in the present, before we can move into the future.” I like that.

  5. Scott Preston says :

    An interview with the author of a book by James Bridle entitled New Dark Age, which sounds like it might be interesting, and makes some important points.

    https://www.theverge.com/2018/7/16/17564174/james-bridle-new-dark-age-book-computational-thinking-interview

  6. Scott Preston says :

    The role of “dark money” also exposed in Australia. Fairly typical pattern of opacity and influence-peddling everywhere.

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jul/21/gina-rinehart-company-revealed-as-45m-donor-to-climate-sceptic-thinktank

    So, Samuel Huntington’s political formula for the post-modern exercise of power — that it remains effective as long as it is in the dark, and ineffective when exposed to the light — has been pretty much adopted as a principle of governance everywhere, and is also at the core of Lachman’s “Dark Star Rising”.

    ” ‘Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.’

  7. donsalmon says :

    Speaking of turning the world upside down and inside out, it looks like you guys up north pose a greater terrorist threat than all the “rapists’ and “general all round bad guys” coming from Mexico (…..NOT!!!)

    Well, it gave me a good smile. I remember a routine about Canada, going through all the temperature variations (40 degrees below, time to get out the sweaters).

    My only encounter with Canada was in 1965, when I visited Montreal for “Expo 65” (loved it) and stopped over at Toronto (couldn’t imagine any city could ever be so clean!).

    With that, here’s this: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/21/opinion/sunday/canada-united-states-border-immigration-drugs.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

  8. donsalmon says :

    By the way, I just looked at John Michael Greer’s article you linked to. He speaks of the “losing side’s” inability to get over their loss.

    I wonder if there is some kind of tipping point – how many conservatives, including those who supported Trump but have turned against him (the number is in the millions , by the way) it will take for people to stop saying “the Left/liberals can’t get over losing.”

    Even millions of people who “won” can’t get over winning.

    Back when I still had the patience to talk with dedicated physicalists, I used to try to come up with a way of stating my utter perplexity at saying the most obvious things and finding the retort had NOTHING to do with what I wrote.

    Here is the way I’ve put it (needless to say, the physicalists had no recognition of themselves in this)

    DON: I am standing next to the green tree, holding a red apple in my hand.

    PHYSICALIST: Even though you insist it’s the case, it’s clear that you are not sitting on top of a blue tree balancing an orange blueberry on your right foot.

    how do you have a discussion with such people!!??

    • Scott Preston says :

      When I think of the differences between the US and Canada, I’ld say that a culture of competitive individualism is less pronounced here. Consequently, less concern with simplistic binaries like “winners” and “losers”, and so not much incentive to “fake it” either. That extends to any expressions of patriotism — flashy and gushing expressions of patriotism are pretty much considered vulgar and uncouth.

      It’s not that these things don’t happen, but those who pursue such things are always considered a bit unpleasant or suspect.

      But, I’ld say the key difference is that there is quite a bit less attraction for a culture and economy of competitive individualism.

      • donsalmon says :

        I understand a lot of you folks up there are calling for a wall to be built to keep us out (just kidding but I could imagine a lot of good justifications for it)

        • Scott Preston says :

          You hear rumblings now and then. It goes back even to PM John Diefenbaker who once irritated John Kennedy by reminding him that “good fences make good neighbours”, which probably isn’t true at all but expresses the mood — today if not a physical wall or border fence, perhaps more like, using a computer analogy, a Great Canadian Firewall or an anti-virus programme.

          That’s probably the better analogy, although there’s some doubts about how well even Firewalls and AV programmes actually work.

  9. donsalmon says :

    and thank you for that comment about looking out the window. As far as where what Sri Aurobindo calls the “hostile forces” are most prevalent, while I fully agree with Scott’s apt observation that both conservative and progressive groups are deficient, there is simply not the slightest question that the asuric plutocratic forces, at least since the 1940s, have been grouping more and more on the far right – at least, in the US.

    While I believe in having an open mind about almost everything, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    And by the way, did you know that Sigmund Freud hated music?

    • Scott Preston says :

      And by the way, did you know that Sigmund Freud hated music?

      Seem to recall something about that.

      • donsalmon says :

        I discovered this about Freud in a book by Jungian analyst Anthony Storr (not sure if he’s related to Will Storr or not).

        Storr was interviewing Freud’s nephew. The nephew happened to mention that “my uncle disliked music.”

        Surely, Storr responded, that is not possible. No, the nephew responded, not only did he dislike it, he HATED IT.

        Turns out that Freud felt extremely uncomfortable with the emotions that music stirred up so he preferred not to listen.

        I read this in 1994. It was extremely liberating to me. I had read 6 books of Freud when I was 17, and I was astounded that such a man, so obviously devoid of even basic psychological insight, could have become so famous.

        Over the years, nothing Freud wrote ever got me to change my mind, but I constantly questioned myself because so many people i respected revered him.

        I was in grad school, and almost all my classmates wanted to model their therapy after Freud. I kept listening and reconsidering (this was now 24 years after first reading and dismissing Freud).

        And then I read that he hated music. Well, that was it. Anybody who hates music couldn’t possibly understand anything about human nature.

        As Louis Armstrong said, when asked about jazz, “if you have to ask, you can’t understand it.”

        • Dwig says :

          Was that nephew Edward Bernays, who focused on mind manipulation?

          • Scott Preston says :

            Yes, Bernays was an interesting fellow. His 1928 book Propaganda basically converted what was a weapon of war into a general technique of social management and control. He’s considered the father of “Public Relations”, and his book provided the framework and the foundation for “perception management” or social engineering.

            So, in that sense, he was perhaps the first modern and chief example of Algis Mikunas’s “technocratic shaman”.

            Adam Curtis’s documentary The Century of the Self documents Bernays’ career at length, and is worth watching. It’s available on YouTube.

            So, yeah, whenever I use the phrase “technocratic shamanism”, it’s Bernays who comes mostly to mind.

            • donsalmon says :

              Hi Dwig:

              It was 24 years ago I read that passage; I only recalled something about a “nephew” – but thanks to the magic of Google Books, I actually searched inside the book, and it just refers to Freud’s nephew “Harry.” He sounded like a sympathetic guy, not like the psychopath Edward!

  10. donsalmon says :

    Stil here (putting off finishing another 100 pages of psychological reports – arghhh!!)

    This article: https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/7/19/17518086/selfie-will-storr-book-psychology-west

    The problem is, the problems Storr finds with the psych studies on self esteem are characteristic of most psychological studies (i just had a conversation with a friend about TM meditation research – if it’s possible, it’s actually worse than mindfulness research, which – despite my wish for it to be otherwise – remains pretty poor.

    Here’s another example of how upside down the world is: the research in parapsychology (which psychologists more than any other branch of scientists HATE) is actually better, more readily replicable, than most areas of psychology!

    Here’s one example of trying to have a reasonable discussion with a psychologist about this.

    About a year ago (I had sworn off these kinds of conversations about 4 years ago, but once in awhile I dip my foot in, only to sorely regret it), I had a conversation about this with a psychologist from England, at the prestigious intellectual website “Aeon.”

    I started by quoting psychologist and noted debunker Richard Wiseman who observed that “Remote viewing, telepathy, psychokinesis and precognition are proven to a level equal to that of any other area of science – however, they remain unacceptable because ‘extraordinary results require extraordinary evidence.’

    The first retort was: “Well, that was published in The Daily Mail (something along the lines of The National Enquirer).”

    To which I responded, marshaling my profound intellectual abilities, “So????” (elaborating, “what difference does it make if he placed a message in a bottle and Donald Trump found it – was he misquoted, has he ever indicated he didn’t believe what he said?)

    Having nothing to respond to that, the psychologist went on to stress the point about “extraordinary proof.” Now, I should tell you, dozens of parapsychologists and interested bystanders have challenged Wiseman to come up with solid empirical evidence or at least a decent philosophic argument showing that psi is “extraordinary.” To date, all efforts in this direction have been an utter failure (yet this damnable statement is still used by debunkers, without even the slightest awareness the philosopher who formulated the statement has long ago wished he never said it because it is so obviously an empty statement).

    Now the psychologist went on to say, “Well, Wiseman may have said that but he has since renounced it.”

    To which the obvious response was, “Well, has he provided any logical reason as to why he changed his mind,”

    Along with some “uhhhs” and “ahhhhhs’ and “ummmmms” he could not come up with a reasonable response.

    Finally, after a week or so of this, with dozens of backs and forths, he admitted that, in fact, Wiseman HAD said what he said (imagine coming to a point where someone says “hi” and it takes that long for someone to admit, “well, heck, he really did say ‘hi”) and that furthermore, Wiseman and never come up with a logical reason as to why he backtracked (except, employing Occam’s Razor, the obvious reason which is, as a psychologist whose main claim to fame is as a logically challenged debunker of psi, it didn’t do much for his reputation to have basically admitted what all good parapsychology researchers already know).

    Meanwhile, the American Psychological Association has published a major book and more recently, an entire journal which both take for granted the scientific successes of parapsychology.

    What an upside down mud pie we live in!!:>))))

    • Dwig says :

      Apparently Wikipedia hasn’t gotten the memo — the entry on parapsychology still calls it a pseudoscience. (The pseudoskeptics strike again!)

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