Fourfold Vision and Integral Consciousness
There are four questions I’ll want to be pursuing for the next little while in connection with my last few posts on Rolf Jensen’s The Dream Society.
First, just how far along has this Brave New World — or “theme park world” in Jensen’s terms — of the Dream Society come to being made effectually real? (You can read a view of that here, “Welcome to the Dream Society“).
Second, how does this Dream Society relate to Howard Bloom’s concept of The Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century? That is to say, how is Bloom’s “mass mind” (or hive mind) related to Jensen’s “retribalisation” (or re-collectivisation) theme and the Dream Society “market” as being, effectively, the Jungian “collective unconscious” (or “the Shadow”)? This re-collectivisation or re-tribalisation is already evident in events like authoritarian populism, nationalism, racism, fascism, “brand cults”, etc, and the disintegration of the individual.
Thirdly, what is the meaning of “Dream Society” and “Global Brain” in relation to William Blake’s “city of the imagination”, Golgonooza — the “spiritual fourfold” city?
And fourthly, is Dream Society and Global Brain truly the “final form of society” (in Jensen’s estimation), or merely the last dying, decadent or disintegrative phase — the chrysalis stage if you will — of late capitalist society and of what Philip Slater calls “Control Culture” — therefore, something only preparatory for a metamorphosis towards “Integral Culture” or integral consciousness?
But to assess the real meaning of Dream Society or Global Brain in that sense, we need to also understand something of the meaning of Blake’s “fourfold vision” and of his “four Zoas”, who “reside in the Human Brain”, and how they might manifest also in this Global Brain/Dream Society.
Now I a fourfold vision see,
And a fourfold vision is given to me;
‘Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And threefold in soft Beulah’s night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newton’s sleep!
There is nothing essentially “mystical” about what Blake means by “fourfold vision”. It is pretty much the same as Jean Gebser’s “integral consciousness” as described in his Ever-Present Origin. If you have followed The Chrysalis for any length of time, we’ve also explored some characteristics of fourfold vision in relation to a quadrilateral or four-value logic, also as revealed in and through mandalas of all kinds, including Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” or the indigenous “Sacred Hoop” or Jung’s symbols of the integral “Self” and his “four psychological types”, and so on. Blake’s fourfold vision and his “four Zoas” is also reflected in Jean Gebser’s “four structures of consciousness” as civilisational types — the archaic, the magical, the mythical, and the mental-rational, (and the prospective fifth would be “the integral”, which is represented in Blake as the “Universal Humanity” or as his figure of the risen “Albion”).
So, we have to assess the potential and value (or lack thereof) of Global Brain and Dream Society for effecting such an integration (or “health”, which is what the word means originally), also bearing in mind the distinction between authentic and counterfeit wholes or integrations described, too, by Henri Bortoft. A counterfeit whole would be little more than a true dystopia and a new totalitarianism. This means, too, that we have to assess the value of Dream Society/Global Brain, or lack thereof, in terms, too, of Iain McGilchrist’s neurodynamics as revealed in his book The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, about which more information can be found on Iain McGilchrist’s website. This is most especially the case because it’s not the “Master” that dreams. It’s the Emissary, or ego-consciousness, that dreams. That has certain implications for estimating the value of Jensen’s “Dream Society”, too.
One of the keys to interpreting the meaning of Blake’s fourfold vision is already found in his “manifesto”, of sorts, “There is NO Natural Religion“. And in many respects, Jensen’s market religion (for that is what it is), is the same “natural religion”.
If it were not for the Poetic or Prophetic character the Philosophic & Experimental would soon be at the ratio of all things, & stand still unable to do other than repeat the same dull round over again
The “same dull round”, of course, is a reference to what Blake has famously described as “the dark Satanic Mill”, which is the mind of “Urizen”, architect of the Ulro, or shadow world which Blake also refers to as “Generation” or “Corporeality” or also “Nature”. Urizen is the same as Buddha’s “Mara”, Lord of Illusion or “the Prince of Lies”. His contemporary archetype is represented in the figure of “the Architect” in the movie The Matrix. Jensen’s “Dream Society” also bears an uncanny resemblance to “the Matrix” in those terms.
Blake has alluded to some elements of his “fourfold vision” in the quote from “There is No Natural Religion”. This is described as the Poetic, the Prophetic, the Philosophic and the Experimental modes of “vision” or modes of perception, or modes of knowing. While they are also represented as the “four Zoas” of the “divided Humanity” who have their origins in “Imagination”, they also have an affinity with Gebser’s “structures of consciousness” as civilisational types as well, and with Jung’s four psychological functions of thinking, feeling, intuiting (or sometimes “willing”), or sensing. Altogether, the Poetic, the Prophetic, the Philosophic and the Experimental comprise the Arts & Sciences of his Golgonooza, “city of imagination” and the spiritual fourfold city, which also bears some resemblance to Augustine’s “City of God”.
Blake’s own illustration of the Zoas and of the integral structure of the human form is also the structure of Golgonooza. Here it is again,
We’ve discussed this structure many times previously in The Chrysalis, especially as it pertains equally to Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy’s sociology of “grammatical method” and his “cross of reality” also, with its four fronts or directions — past, future, inner, outer (or trajective, prejective, subjective, objective orientations)
In other words, and in terms of Rosenstock-Huessy’s “speech philosophy” or grammatical method, Blake’s fourfold vision is also represented in grammar, and Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” represents the same emergent consciousness as Blake’s fourfold vision or as the shape of Golgonooza. As Rosenstock-Huessy put it also (and he probably knew nothing of Blake) we can hardly utter a single sentence without invoking poetic, prophetic, political, or philosophic elements, which are either latent or explicit in terms of lyrics, epics, dramatics, or analytics; or optatives, narratives, imperatives, and indicatives. These factors which correspond to the four fronts of a society’s cross of reality are always more or less latent or manifest, implicit or explicit, in any articulate speech. In fact, articulation is integration and is the conjoining of these elements to generate a meaning.
We can illustrated something of what Blake means by fourfold vision and his Golgonooza as the spiritual fourfold city (and by implication, too, Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”) by taking one of Blake’s Proverbs of Hell as an example
A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees
What is “tree” in its completeness or wholeness can only be answered through fourfold vision. A physicalist or experimentalist only sees the “what” — the wood, the physical and objective elements that make for wood. A biologist would also see, in addition, those energetic or bio-chemical processes that sustain the life of the tree. A philosopher would interrogate the “why” of a tree (in fact Heidegger did just that) or what is meant by the concept or abstract noun “tree”, while a poet or the prophet might see the spiritual form or mode of manifestation of the tree, as symbolic form. All these possibilities of “tree” are either latent or manifest in the meaning of “tree” or in the nature of its being, and in the human being who regards the tree in one mode or another. A strict physicalist or materialist privileges indicatives only, and must suppress in himself and in his speech, too, any supposedly “non-objective” properties of the tree — the poetic, the philosophic, the prophetic moods must be subdued, suppressed, or compelled into latency. This is what Blake decries as “Single Vision & Newton’s sleep”. The full truth of the tree as a “treeing” can only be realised through fourfold vision as it is perceived through its poetic, prophetic, philosophic, and scientific aspects, or, put in a way consistent with Rosenstock-Huessy’s grammatical method — the lyrical, dramatical, epical and analytical (or “matter of factness”) aspects. These are also the elements that Gebser associates with “structures of consciousness” — the magical, the mythical, the mental-rational especially.
What this means is that the structure of Blake’s fourfold vision, and of his Golgonooza, as well as Gebser’s integral consciousness and Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” are already latent, but as yet unrecognised, in the patterns of human speech we call “grammars”. And, in one respect, integral consciousness is simply availing ourselves of and to all these patterns or streams of speech.
This is also what it means “to speak from the centre of the voice”, as my indigenous friends call it, which is from the centre of the Sacred Hoop or “cross of reality”. To speak from the centre of the voice is integration as articulation, and belongs to fourfold vision.
The civilisations of the past were doomed when they lapsed into “Single Vision” in terms of their own overspecialised consciousness structure, or entered into what Gebser equally calls “deficient mode”. They hyper-exaggerated one mode of attention or knowing or one style of speech as “normal” at the expense of the others. When one or more fronts of Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” is neglected, too, that society enters into deficient mode of functioning. In fact, Yeats’ “things fall apart, the centre cannot hold” is true of any civilisation or consciousness structure that neglects any of its time and space fronts, which are equally the four directions of Blake’s spiritual fourfold city of Golgonooza.
The mental-rational civilisation of “Single Vision” has hyper-exaggerated the analytical and indicatival mode and style of speech as the exclusively true. And while Jensen’s “post-rational” Dream Society may merely look like a corrective to that hyper-exaggeration, it’s only an inversion of it. It merely hyper-exaggerates in another direction, one that appears completely solpsistic and narcissistic.
(There is a peculiar similarity, too, between Blake’s vision of Golgonooza and Black Elk’s vision as recounted in the book Black Elk Speaks. It’s something I’ll have to take up and explore as well).
If you can appreciate the logic of Rosenstock-Huessy’s social philosophy of grammatical method and cross of reality, you can appreciate the logic of Blake’s fourfold vision and his Golgonooza as well. And from that vantage point we can assess the meaning of Dream Society and Global Brain too, and assess their sufficiency or deficiency in terms of integrality or for the prospects for an authentic “Integral Culture”. Although Jensen’s Dream Society has an uncanny resemblance to Blake’s “city of imagination”, closer inspection reveals that it is a rather perverse and profane image of that — a kind of total virtual reality in which the mental-rational is overwhelmed and inundated by deficient forms of the mythical and magical — deficient because of their own exclusivity in denying the authenticity, too, of the objective and the reasoning faculty. Jensen’s “Dream Society” is the realised form, rather, of “irrational exuberance“, or of rationally and technocratically administered infantilism, and the work of what Blake called “fiends of Commerce”.
It’s not Golgonooza, the spiritual fourfold city of true art and science, nor Blake’s “New Jerusalem”.