Archive | December 2019

Propaganda and the Mind

“Right discernment” is an important aspect of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. Training and educating the mind in discernment is a crucial function of reason, and it usually formally begins in elementary school with the familiar “compare and contrast”. How are the same things different? And how are different things the same? Discernment is, functionally, critical to individual and collective survival — to discern what belongs to life and what does not, what is real and what is not (or is only the shadow of the real), what is true and what is not, what is dangerous and what is not, etc.

Yet, despite this, the propaganda system works, at the same time, to cripple, maim, and defeat this faculty of discernment, undermining thereby the basis for collective and individual survival. So, the whole condition of life in Late Modernity is to place the mind in a double-bind. Under the circumstances, I am not surprised by the problem of “21st Century Schizoid Man”

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Culture War: Apollo Against Dionysus

In the Orphic tradition, a saying was supposedly given by an oracle of Apollo that stated “Zeus, Hades, [and] Helios-Dionysus” were “three gods in one godhead.”

Hades and Dionysus are one and the same, for whom they rage and celebrate their Lenaea

Heraclitus

As you may know, I have a hard time taking Jordan Peterson (or Steven Pinker for that matter) at all seriously. Both seemingly completely misconstrue Nietzsche, what Nietzsche means by “the death of God” and the meaning of Dionysus and the god’s entourage (which includes Pan). The god that died to Nietzsche was Jehovah (who is also Blake’s “Urizen”), but who died and rose as Dionysus.

The Orphic tradition of the triune godhead of Zeus, Hades, Helios-Dionysus not only seems to presage the Christian Trinity, but also to reflect the Hindu Trimurti (Trinity) of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. This helps account for why some early Greek Christians apparently associated Christ with Dionysus, and not just the equivalent association of Christ with the grapes, wine, and the vine. It’s another one of those many ironies of Nietzsche. He could not have been unaware that Hades and Dionysus were the same, as something too that informed his notion of living “beyond good and evil” and describing himself as the disciple of Dionysus.

For Nietzsche, a tension and conflict existed between Apollo and Dionysus (which seems to have developed only later in the mythic cycle). This Dionysian — Apollonian conflict runs parallel to the Master-Emissary conflict – the two modes of perception of Iain McGilchrist’s “divided brain”. Nietzsche associates the “intuitive man” with the Dionysian and the intellectual man with the Apollonian consciousness, which also runs parallel to the tension between the wild and the tame.

Peterson seems not to understand at all this tension (which shows in his apparent misconstrual, too, of McGilchrist’s meaning about the two modes of perception of the divided brain). Nietzsche, too, saw that with his “death of God” (Jehovah, that is) there would occur also a return of the repressed (the Dionysian) that had been forced by the moral god (or Blake’s “Urizen”) into Hades. Dionysus is the life force. But life is paradoxical as Dionysus is paradoxical.

It seems clear to me that both Peterson and Pinker have chosen the side of Apollo against Dionysus, and the tame against the wild and in consequence, therefore, would have no understanding either of William Blake or his “four Zoas” of “Albion divided fourfold”. The name “Zoa” means both “beast” and “life” (Greek Zoe). Peterson and Pinker both hate post-modernism (McGilchrist has a more generous view of this matter), although a good deal of this “post-modernism” is the Dionysian irruption and the antagonistic response of the Apollonian intellect.

Nietzsche did hope for an eventual reconciliation of Dionysus and Apollo, showing that he as already thinking about what we would call “integral consciousness”. But, of course, the path of reconciliation must pass first pass through that of conflict. This conflict between Apollo and Dionysus also resembles the conflict between Blake’s Zoas named “Los” and “Urizen”.

These conflicts resemble what McGichrist discovered about the different modes of perception of the divided brain — the Master and the Emissary modes. (And if you have a couple of bucks to spare, I recommend you invest them in watching the online documentary called “The Divided Brain” at http://thedividedbrain.com/ . It will give you, I think, a very good grasp of what is going on in the world today)

The Dionysian entourage seems wild and chaotic, although it has a logic of its own. Dionysus himself is androgynous befitting also his double-nature as also Hades and Dionysus, or the complementarity of thanatos and eros — the death-pole and life-pole of psychic energy. Pan himself is a member of Dionysus’ entourage, and, of course, Pan became the very image of the Devil in later Christianity. Today, we’re actually seeing manifested some of that same entourage in various kinds of strange parades and carnivals.

Dionysus also represents embodiedness, earthiness, vitality as distinct from Apollo who is a sky-god as befits his association with the mental-nature. There is that connection, then, between Dionysus and Nietzsche’s “Be true to the Earth!”.

This is another way of looking at what we presently call “culture war”.

Age of the Double-Bind

Christmas Day is, perhaps, an odd time to reflect on the meaning of “the New Normal”. Or perhaps it is the most appropriate day to reflect on that. As you already know also from reading The Chrysalis, I consider the double-bind situation one of the major symptoms of the New Normal, along with Double-Think, Double-Talk, and Double-Standard — diseases of speech and the mind that attest to the fact of “21st Century Schizoid Man” (or, put optionally, the disintegration of the personality and character structure of the Modern Self and the Modern consciousness structure).

If you know something about the Double-Bind Theory of Schizophrenia, the current situation makes perfect sense. The fact of the matter is, though, that our socio-cultural milieu pretty much compels us all to live with this double-bind all the time. It’s very much connected with what Jacob Bronowski calls “the crisis of paradox”. I’m sure you’ve experienced it yourselves, especially if you are honest (although honesty is in short supply these dark days of the Kaliyuga). The popular way of expressing that double-bind is “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t”.

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Reality Turned Inside Out

Some people have noted that our sense of the real has become “inverted”, which gives the present time its Alice-Through-The-Looking-Glass sense of irreality. As noted earlier, we should make a distinction between the “irreal” and the “unreal”. What counts now is less our thoughts about the real than the feelings we have for it, and this presents us with something of a problem, given what Gebser describes as “chaotic emotion”.

So, this is, in a sense, reality turned inside out in which thought about things is made subordinate to feelings about things, which are in constant flux. This inversion of the real is quite consistent with what Aurobindo anticipated as a coming “Age of Subjectivism”, but which is actually coincident with the “discovery of the unconscious”.

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A Short Review

If it feels like you’re hearing about a lot of seemingly obscure ideologies associated with acts of mass violence (e.g., Asatru Folk Assembly; Nordic racial paganism; Black Hebrew Israelites; Esoteric Hitlerism, etc), you’re not imagining things and it’s not a coincidence.

Caroline Orr

Right. Not surprising if you’re familiar with Jean Gebser’s Ever-Present Origin and his works on the history of consciousness structures and their breakdown. But I thought I would take Caroline Orr’s remarks here as an opportunity to review what I once described as “the most haunting words in all literature” — a portend of things to come that have now arrived as “the New Normal”.

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