Archive | June 2019

Revaluation of Values: A New Heaven and a New Earth

A million things occur to me this morning, all clamouring for me to write something up about them. I have to disappoint most of them and tell them “later, later. Not now. It’s not yet the time.”

You see, any true restructuration of consciousness — of the Gestalt of consciousness and reality — is total, not piecemeal. This is exactly what is meant by the phrase “a new Heaven and a new Earth” that we find in Revelation. Reality is a very big place, consequently any complete or total restructuration or (Nietzsche’s “revaluation of values”) of what we call “reality” means there is never any end to things we might observe and write about. This is after all, the double-meaning of the word “apocalypse”, which actually means “disclose” or “dis-cover” or “reveal”, while to others it means catastrophe and destruction. At the same time, in the transitional period or zone everything is so ambiguous and paradoxical (and in rapid flux) that it is sometimes difficult to say what’s what before it isn’t.

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What is Vital? Part II

What Gebser diagnosed decades ago as “the loss of the vital centre” in his book The Ever-Present Origin is intimately connected with what is now referred to as the post-modern “loss of self”. And we must certainly ask what happens to the ideal of the “sovereign self” and the liberal idea of “self-determination” under conditions of this “loss of self”?

In our attempts to gain insight into, and come to terms with, many contemporary crises in society, we need to appreciate in what way the loss of the vital centre (or crucial centre) is identical with this “loss of self” which erupts today as the “identity crisis”.

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What is Vital?

In the previous post, we touched on the “three discoveries”, at least in recorded history, that have moved heaven and earth — the discovery of the soul, the discovery of the mind, and the discovery of the unconscious.

Before this, there was probably also a “discovery of the will” that informed the magical structure of consciousness, although we have only tales and legends about this by which to go. These discoveries seem to correspond to the emergence of four kinds of “religion”, we might say — animism, vitalism, psychism, and mentalism, each of which represents a “revaluation of values”, and a correlation between these and Gebser’s identification of “four structures of consciousness” that have marked different Ages of Man — the archaic, the magical, the mythical, and the mental-rational. There is, correspondingly, a relation of this to Walter Wiora’s discovery of “The Four Ages of Music“.

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Gebser, Glass, and The Crisis of Paradox

Bear with me, I’m on a bit of a roll this morning.

Some of you may have read Marty Glass’s Yuga: The Anatomy of Our Fate, and may have also read Jean Gebser’s The Ever-Present Origin, and come away perplexed or bewildered about these seemingly contradictory and antithetical views of the times we live in. Addressing this apparent contradiction between Glass’s description of our “fall into time” (and the Kaliyuga or Dark Age) and Gebser’s promotion of “time-freedom” would be an excellent way of approaching the issue of what the physicist Jacob Bronowski calls “the crisis of paradox” (in The Origins of Knowledge and Imagination) and why this matters in terms of the emergence of “the Mind behind the mind” or what Aurobindo calls “the Age of Subjectivism”.

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Enantiodromia and the Emergence of “Mind behind the mind”.

I quite like this simple descriptive phrase “the Mind behind the mind“. It is so suggestive, (and the Aurobindo Studies website hasn’t been the only one to use it, apparently). “The Mind behind the mind” is another way of speaking of what Aurobindo calls “Supramental Consciousness” or “Supermind”.

And for the record, that is what the term “metanoia” (also used by Rosenstock-Huessy) refers to, for it translates, actually, as “aftermind”. It’s this “after” that often comes to be interpreted as “beyond”. The term “metaphysics”, for example, originally referred to Aristotle’s corpus of writings which were composed after he wrote his book on Physics and were only called “the metaphysics” by others. (Aristotle doesn’t use the word “metaphysics” but rather “first philosophy”). So, the terms “meta-” or “trans-” actually refer to processes in time not to some abstract or “higher” space of the Ideals.

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Conscious and Unconscious: A Clarification of Terms

I want to continue with this subject of the self-revelation or self-disclosure in our times of the “Mind behind the mind”, but feel it is somewhat pressing to clarify some terms first — especially “conscious” and “unconscious”, and how these terms came about at all.

Freud’s “discovery of the unconscious” is an especially problematic phrase, although not without meaning. But it has also left a mistaken impression that “the unconscious” is some kind of object or place like “the New World” just waiting around to be discovered. Before there could be a term like “the unconscious”, there first had to be a term “conscious” or “consciousness”, and this was of relatively recent vintage, in fact — the 15th or 16th century. So where the hell was “consciousness” before the 15th or 16th century?

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The Self-Manifestation of “the Mind behind the mind”

Lately, the Aurobindo Studies website has posted a couple of things about Aurobindo’s idea of “the Mind behind the mind”, which he otherwise refers to as the “supramental consciousness”. I have not read these as yet, but I am quite smitten by his use of the phrase “Mind behind the mind”, since it speaks so simply to what I have been trying to convey about our times here in The Chrysalis.

So, let’s take some time today to try to describe this “Mind behind the mind” and why so many thinkers, today, feel that it is in the process of manifestation in our transitional age with attendant disruptive or chaotic effects on the little “m” mind called “the ego-consciousness”.

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