Metanoia: The Modern Mind Outrun

The people you encounter in everyday life may or may not be your contemporaries. Simply because they occupy what seems to you the same space, and may be companions or compatriots or neighbours, still you may not be contemporaries at all. Time is not homogenous and uniform throughout as space seems to us to be continuous, homogenous, and uniform. This is the problem that Rosenstock-Huessy addresses as a “time-thinker” — the problem of making people contemporaries. Friends are your contemporaries.

For Rosenstock-Huessy, for example, Old World and New World now pertained to time and not, as formerly, to space, and he was already in whole or in part an émigré in spirit from this Age. That’s what he meant by his “metanoia” or “the modern mind outrun”. The looked upon what we think of as “present civilisation” as if it were already behind him, as in Marshall McLuhan’s “rear view mirror”. He already lived in the New World he thought of as “Johannine” — an age of the spirit; an age of “religionless Christianity”. He felt he had settled his accounts with the Modern Era upon conclusion of his book Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man and was then free to move on, which he did with his book The Christian Future, or the modern mind outrun. And so he could speak of “metanoia” or “new mind”. He had, then, few that could be called his “contemporaries” in that sense.

Nietzsche was like that too. He felt he had settled accounts not only with the Modern Age, but with the entirety of Western history and was free to move on, to also become an émigré. This he did also with his Zarathustra. And after settling his accounts with all previous history, and concluding with his Zarathustra he really felt the exhilaration of emancipation of the “free spirit” so intensely that he though he would become the new caesura of history, and that thereafter people would speak of a “Before Nietzsche” and an “After Nietzsche”.

There are many other examples of such, and already many who are contemporaries in and through this “metanoia” but who are not necessarily contemporaries of the majority of people. That is perhaps why you don’t hear much about them, because the media, among others, really doesn’t know what to make of them yet. So, they are in that sense distemporaries as well. They have already settled accounts with the Late Modern Age and have emigrated, in whole or in part, consciously or half-consciously. And for them, what we call “the present” is already history. This includes also Jean Gebser and David Bohm and others, and so they remain baffling figures to those who have not yet themselves settled their accounts with the Late Modern Era, and so have not yet themselves experienced this “metanoia” as the emigration of the spirit.


24 responses to “Metanoia: The Modern Mind Outrun”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    It is ironic, that there are some so-called “primitive” cultures that look upon the human being of the Modern type and conclude that the type is bewitched. They aren’t wrong to conclude that either.

    Algis Mikunas, one of Gebser’s translators, wrote and essay entitled “Magic and Technological Culture”, sadly not available online. In that, though, he describes what he calls “technocratic shamanism”, which is spell-casting as it is practiced in the context of technological culture.

    In other words, it is bewitching.

  2. Charles says :

    Metanoia is the dynamic yes.

    A good book years ago was entitled When Society Becomes An Addict, Anne Wilson Schaef. This society is addicted to those dynamics that create its reality. I can suggest that the human condition is fraught with the need for love and proper attachment. Is this doesn’t happen various degrees of narcissism results. The need for power and scapegoating comes to play a major role.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    I would have thought people’s minds would have been inoculated against being taken in by charlatans like Trump from The Wizard of Oz story. Apparently that is not so.

    For those who know and understand: Trump reminds of the sorcerer Klingsor i the Parsifal legend — the same kind of “magical thinking” that draws similarly minded people into his illusion. He was rejected by the Grail Knights and then took his revenge by becoming a sorcerer and blocking all their attempts to find the Holy Grail by sorcery.

  4. TheOakofNormal says :

    Do you think viewed properly each age/stage has something particular to offer like the Integral including the healthy aspects of the previous four stages or are these different and became deficient and need to be outgrown?

    • Scott Preston says :

      The reasons they are abandoned and even suppressed is that they had become deficient and aberrant and had to be outgrown. The hostility of the mythological to the magical is expressed in the Old Testament “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” was the deep hostility of the mythical to the magical structure, and in turn the mythical, when it reached its deficient stage, was scorned by the new mental and mental-rational consciousness structure.

      The scorn was for the deficient mode, rather than the effective mode. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle all emerged at the time when the mythical culture of Greece was already decadent and in its disintegrative phase and reason sought to rescue what it could from the decay. Same with the early Renaissance and Reformation. These only emerged when the old civilisation was already deficient and decadent and sundered apart by sect and schism and “heresies” galore, as they though of them.

      the integral mode will rescue from the abyss of history what was valuable in them all, but correct for their deficient modes because they weren’t integral to begin with — they were specialised structures that did not constitute a truly “universal way of looking at things”.

      • TheOakofNormal says :

        That brings to mind both Spengler’s The Decline of the West and Tarnas’ The Passion of the Western Mind. Makes me think history is of course about events happening, but maybe more a story of consciousness expansion. The individuals you’ve mentioned in the post certainly speak to that.

  5. Scott Preston says :

    “Metanoia” at the individual scale is very similar if not identical. Many people who have a “metanoia” look back upon their former selves as almost alien beings and always speak of their former selves in the 3rd person — he, or she or even “it” (as Helen Keller did). As if that former self was never part of them.

    In Castaneda’s books that is referred to as “dropping personal history”.

  6. Scott Preston says :

    This is not a great essay. It reveals very little understanding of shamanism. But I thought I would bring it to your attention in any case because of how it brings to mind Algis Mikunas’s comments about “technocratic shamanism” in his essay “Magic and Technological Culture”. But it’s not entirely for the same reasons as Mr. Singh’s “Shamanification of the Tech CEO”

  7. Scott Preston says :

    The way out of our quagmire and spiritual impasse is to learn to be comfortable with the paradox and the paradoxical, and not to fly apart into extremities of schizoid dualistic consciousness, which is neurosis and psychosis.

    This is the most essential lesson too of Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” and why he makes paradox central to his quadrilateral logic.

  8. Scott Preston says :

    Well, here I am in Communist Canada (as that bombastic fool Joe Rogan would have it) posting in my communist blog a whole lot of Canadian communist propaganda while I drink my communist coffee and between working in my communist garden to make myself some delicious communist food.

    Well, what am I to think? I think Rogan was miffed, resentful and spiteful about Canada and Canadians when Neil Young and Joni Mitchell pulled their catalogue from Spotify in protest against Rogan’s disinformation.

    • TheOakofNormal says :

      It’s just a symptom of the times. The court jesters being mistaken as philosophers perfectly encapsulates how silly and absurd most everything is in our culture right now.

  9. Scott Preston says :

    Pretty ironic example of the kinds of intractable double-binds Late Modern civilisation has landed itself in — and, of course, the attempt to resolve it through another techno-fix

  10. Scott Preston says :

    There is a very thin line between the Pied Piper libertarian and the total nihilist, which is frequently crossed. I never met a libertarian who wasn’t a nihilist in disguise.

    • Smitty's Gelato: A Film Blog says :

      What exactly do you mean by nihilist?

      • Scott Preston says :

        Simply put (although nothing is purely simple with nihilism) is a nihilist is someone who knows how to destroy but not how to create. Nietzsche and Dostoevsky were the great psychologists of nihilism. Nietzsche already saw that this civilisation harboured a latent death wish that would work itself out as a fate and called that death wish “nihilism” and forecast “two centuries of nihilism”. We are will into that.

        • Smitty's Gelato: A Film Blog says :

          Understandable. Destruction is easier than creation. I’m assuming that which they do not know how to create, but know how to destroy is a new way of being

        • steve says :

          I don’t know about you Scott but I’m starting to feel a little depressed by what I’m seeing in the world. Civilization does seems to me to be harboring a latent death wish. What did Heidegger say? Only a god can save us now.

          • InfiniteWarrior says :

            Depression is not acceptable. (No offense.)

            Think about it this way: this world wants you to be depressed. It thrives on despression (and oppression). So…what’s your response to that?

          • Scott Preston says :

            Depression is not all that uncommon during transitional ages. During the Renaissance, it was called “melancholia” or “the black bile” and it was something of an epidemic. Duerer even had a famous work called “Melancholia” which captured that mood of the times. It passes.

            It was something of a paradox — a kind of bipolar condition where great depression accompanied also great exuberance of spirit.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Sure, it passes. But not without effort. Let’s get real, shall wel?

            • Scott Preston says :

              What kind of “effort” did you have in mind, because I’m sure a good many chronic depressives would like to know. Be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater, as they say. A good many people who are very creative are also depressive.

            • Scott Preston says :

              Actually, a good many of the breakthrough artists and poets (including Jung himself) that Gebser discusses in EPO also had severe bouts of depression between exuberant creative episodes. Alchemists knew the mood well enough and gave it the name “the Black Sun” (sol nigredo).

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