Archive | April 2019

The Seer, II

Occasionally, in reading the ancient literature one comes across peculiar passages that suggest that the eye, in days of yore, wasn’t considered a passive receptor as today but more like a projector. The eye didn’t so much suffer the light but actively illuminated what it saw. There is still an echo of this ancient view when we speak of “the light of the eyes” — the eye as an emitter of light. There is still something of this in Jesus’ remark to his disciples, “why hide your light under a bushel basket?”. This “light”, of course, is Gebser’s “diaphainon“.

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The Seer

Some of you may be familiar with the works of Carlos Castaneda, although they are controversial and many find them incredible (in the sense of unbelievable). Some of you may also be familiar with the corpus of works broadly referred to as “The Seth Material” (and about that material I’ll have more to say in future posts). Both have been frequently dismissed as “hoaxes”, although on occasion even Ken Wilber has taken the risk of citing Castaneda’s works. I have even heard both described by religious fundamentalists as being “works of the Devil” or “the Antichrist”.

Such judgements, though, is a reflection of how difficult the mental-rational/perspectival consciousness structure has in comprehendding the “mutation” of which Gebser also writes. But in actuality, they have stood “the test of time” pretty well, and both are quite consonant with what we find in Jean Gebser’s works also.

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Velation and Revelation at Our “End of History”

There are multiple and manifold aspects to what Jean Gebser calls “the double-movement” that characterises a chaotic transition between Ages (and consciousness structures), and which is reflected in the processes we refer to as “polarisation” or “crisis of paradox” (as Jacob Bronowski calls it). Although Gebser’s “double-movement” is most represented chiefly as the twin processes of disintegration and a corresponding re-integration of culture and consciousness, it may also be described as the simultaneous processes of velation and revelation. When Marshall Berman, for example, declares that today “everything is pregnant with its opposite” (in his book All That Is Solid Melts Into Air) this also describes processes that we might call “revelatory”.

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The Magical Structure of Consciousness

If you have become familiar with Jean Gebser’s cultural philosophy and his history of civilisations as “consciousness structures” — the archaic, the magical, the mythical, the mental-rational, the prospective integral — you will know by now that Gebser considers the human form as being a composite of these structures in various degrees of latency (or dormancy) or manifestation. A human being is a multiformity in those terms, and that multiformity is described as a tetramorph. A tetramorph is, in turn, commonly represented in a mandala.

You can learn a great deal about the magical structure of consciousness (and it is important we do so) from reading Gebser’s The Ever-Present Origin, but he also left unstated some matters we will discuss today, since the revival of the magical is also implicated in the contemporary “return of the repressed”.

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Demise of the Clockwork

A large component of the post-modern condition and the end of the Grand Narrative is the winding down of the Clockwork Universe. This is also connected with Jean Gebser’s idea of “time-freedom” — the emancipation of consciousness from the Clockwork and is thralldom to the Clockwork metaphor and paradigm. This is very much at the heart of Lewis Mumford’s writings about “the Megamachine”, too.

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The Psychistic and the Spiritual

We should dwell for a moment on the distinction between the psychistic and the spiritual, as Jean Gebser understands this, and this also in relation to Ken Wilber’s “pre/trans fallacy” (an issue that also came up this morning in a comment to the previous post on Wilber’s pre/trans fallacy), and also how these, in turn, pertain to the issues of Being and Having. There are many aspects to this and to the pre/trans fallacy that are especially important to understand in the current climate.

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Trajective and Prejective in Rosenstock-Huessy’s “Cross of Reality”

As we’ve noted in earlier postings, Rosenstock-Huessy’s social philosophy and grammatical method introduced the terms “traject” and “preject” as the polarities of time to supplement the all-too familiar spatial ones of “subject” and “object”. As such, our predilections or moods fall within a quadrilateral or fourfold matrix formed by these spatial and temporal orientations called “the cross of reality” — subjective and objective as regards the spaces inner or outer, and trajective or prejective as regards the times past or future.

As such, what we call “integral consciousness” would be to take one’s stance at the very centre of this quadrilateral structure, and to be cognisant of, and to dispose over, all the moods or orientations as appropriate to sustaining or reconstituting this “cross of reality”.

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