Archive | December 2018

Nietzsche and Heraclitus

Surprising to me is, that the post that has garnered the most “views” on The Chrysalis, and ranks as the most commonly searched keywords that bring viewers to The Chrysalis, is a statement by the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus: ethos anthropos daimon (or ethos anthropoi daimon). These three words have very profound implications, for it might be said also that Nietzsche’s entire philosophy amounts to unwrapping the fuller meaning of this enigmatic statement, usually (but not really adequately) translated into English as “character is fate” or “character is man’s fate”. In some respects, these three words are also the key to understanding the Anthropocene.

Read More…

The Rivers of Eden

Legend has it that four rivers flowed from the Garden of Eden. The names of those four rivers were Pishon, Gishon, Chidekel, and Phirat. So debased and barbaric (one might even say “too left-brained”) have we become that many people even spend their entire lives looking for the original geophysical place called “Eden” and its four rivers, largely oblivious to the spiritual and symbolic meaning of the rivers of Eden. The same seems to be true for that “faraway land” of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

But these four rivers are the same four beasts who surround the throne of God in the Book of Revelation. They are what Blake calls “our Energies” and which he likewise represents in the image of his four Zoas of Albion divided fourfold which is, in the Upanishads, the fourfold Atman. That this is so is even demonstrable biologically, since we are, in biological terms, a composite of mechanical energy, chemical energy, thermal energy, and electrical energy — the four energies involved in the principle of homeostasis and energy balance.

Read More…

This Changes Everything

“Myth is already enlightenment, and enlightenment reverts to mythology.”

— Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer, The Dialectic of Enlightenment

This statement from Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment has always struck me as the quintessential meaning of the Frankfort School and the “New Left”, which certainly left its imprint on the counter-culture of the 60s and 70s. It was this radical openness to the mythical consciousness, or recovery of the validity of the mythical consciousness, that probably impressed Gebser, too, when, in his final years, he expressed his hopes that the new generation might be more receptive to his thesis in Ever-Present Origin. In any case, the Frankfort School incurred the wrath and enmity of reactionary forces of both the Old Left and the conservatives that continues down to this day, even after “New Left” and Critical Theory has actually now largely morphed into the “Greens”.

Read More…

Blake’s Fourfold Vision and “The Glow of Awareness”

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!

Yesterday I took some time to listen to the two podcasts of the John Cleese-Iain McGilchrist interviews hosted recently by Harper’s Magazine (November 27 and 28, I believe. The sound quality of the second podcast is quite poor, though). Although, I think, there were no new revelations not otherwise found in McGilchrist’s book The Master and His Emissary, their mention of the works of biologist Rupert Sheldrake did trigger a few recollections. And then something I read this morning in Quartz about the science of consciousness suggested to me another avenue of approach to understanding the meaning of Blake’s “fourfold vision” and the quadrilateral. 

Read More…

The Revolution Eats Its Own

Revolutions break out when an old order has already stagnated — when the social energies that we call “inspiration” have already been spent and exhausted of any further possibility of articulation or expression. What an older generation calls “the preference for the familiar” a newer generation calls, rather, “the same dull round” of merely routinised, conventional, and decadent life and being. To call an old order “degenerate” is to say that it is incapable any longer of generating any kind of creative life, and has already exceeded its shelf-life and sell-by date.

Revolutions break out, in other words, when an old order has already become a corpse, or merely mechanical and machine-like in its functions. And in a time when even many conservatives think of themselves as “revolutionaries”, it pays to clear up some of the mental fog (sometimes deliberate mental fog) that accompanies these terms “revolutionary” and “reactionary”, which also correspond to the “prejective” (future) and “trajective” (past) fronts of Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”.

Read More…

On Reading Georges Sorel’s Reflections on Violence

In between my reading and re-reading of Aurobindo’s The Human Cycle, I’ve also been reading George Sorel’s Reflections on Violence. Given the events of the day, this early 20th century theoretician of what we might call “the romance of violence” (or “apocalyptic” violence) and of the utility of the political myth seems rather current again, and much of the current violence in social affairs descends from the influence of Sorel’s book. 

(Sorel is mentioned also in one or two places in Rosenstock-Huessy’s social philosophy).

Read More…

Karma, The Human Cycle, and the “Crisis of Paradox”

We would have much more secure footing in our chaotic times if we were to understand and appreciate the meaning of the paradox. Jacob Bronowski, in his lectures collected in The Origins of Knowledge and Imagination, really defined the spirit of our times in three small words (but with big consequences): “crisis of paradox”. In fact, paradox and paranoia are quite related issues. That we have actually entered upon a new and different Age is the meaning of this insurrection of the paradoxical. This is what Jean Gebser refers to as “the double-movement” of our times in his book The Ever-Present Origin (the title itself being a paradox).

Read More…