Archive by Author | Scott Preston

Narcissism, Myopia and the Mentality of Late Modernity

Let’s return today to some of the fundamental issues underlying the current crisis (or malaise) of consciousness and culture, or what Jean Gebser describes as the mental-rational or perspectival consciousness structure now functioning in “deficient” mode. (“Deficient”, as we have previously pointed out, is just another term for “decadent” or “corrupt”). We have also noted that this is essentially the definition of what we call “the New Normal”, in which this kind of deficiency or corruption of the mode of consciousness has become systemic and is manifesting as very widespread deceit and duplicity. It’s the systemic nature of “the New Normal” that led Pope Francis to declare, rightly, that “duplicity is the currency of the day”.

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John Vervaeke: Continuous Cosmos And Modern World Grammar

Alright! Here’s someone I just discovered online who is addressing the kinds of issues we deal with here in The Chrysalis. This is part 3 of a series (I haven’t listened yet to the first two parts) that was given a few days ago. You can easily relate some of what Vervaeke has to say here to our ongoing discussion of Gebser, Rosenstock-Huessy, and David Bohm.

The Mystery of the Integral Principle

A couple of years ago, I read Erich Fromm’s The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness to try to better understand some of the more pernicious and malicious aspects of “the New Normal”. Fromm happened to mention something I found quite interesting, that while neurologists generally concur that four fundamental primitive drives characterise human behaviour at the level of the Lizard Brain (the so-called “Four Fs” of feeding, fighting, fleeing, and fucking, as it were), they were at a loss of explain what it is that integrates these activities — that is, what synchronises and coordinates the four Fs.

This recurrence of the now familiar fourfold pattern or tetramorph even at this basic level of our animal nature or physical functioning is, of course, of great interest for a student of William Blake because the “four Fs” are also an expression of what Blake refers to as “our Energies” — the four Zoas. But of even greater interest is the riddle of the integral principle, the fifth element or what is called “the quintessence” which actually performs the synchronisation and coordination of these behaviours.

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In The Beginning Is the Word

The “Word” cannot be heard except in the silence before the beginning of time.

That may seem like an enigmatic statement. We tend to think of the beginning of time as a cosmological event that occurred some 13 or 14 billion years ago with the “Big Bang” and the cosmic inflation event. But this “silence before the beginning of time” is what Jean Gebser calls “the ever-present origin” or what we refer to as “eternity”. This is of interest to us because of its affinity with physicist David Bohm’s idea of “the holomovement” as described in his book Wholeness and the Implicate Order. The holomovement is described as “undivided wholeness in flowing movement” as fundamental reality which, for Bohm, is completely “immeasurable and unanalysable” — that which, we might say, lies on the other side of Planck’s Wall.

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“All work, the genuine work which we must achieve, is that which is most difficult and painful: the work on ourselves. If we do not freely take upon ourselves this pre-acceptance of the pain and torment, they will be visited upon us in an otherwise necessary individual and universal collapse. Anyone disassociated from his origin and his spiritually sensed task acts against origin. Anyone who acts against it has neither a today nor a tomorrow.”

Jean Gebser, The Ever-Present Origin

Let’s spare a word or two about this issue of “dukkha“, since I am so recently again made familiar with it. It is the first Noble Truth of Buddhism and of the Life of the Christ as well. There is a tremendous amount of both Buddhism and Christology also in Jean Gebser’s The Ever-Present Origin and in the writings of William Blake, if not also Nietzsche. It is also most probably Kierkegaard’s “the sickness unto death”. So, let us put the question, which is Nietzsche’s question as well: what is the value of dukkha? What is its value for life? These are the questions that Gebser attempts to give answer to in the citation that introduces this post.

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Patient C-3E/008-01

Call me Patient C-3E/008-01, late of the Village of the Damned. I was released from hospital yesterday afternoon, and believe me, dear readers, I did a little Snoopy Dance of Joy inside when they finally discharged me. Thanks also for all your kind thoughts while I was ill. I have to say, though, that a great deal of the pain and suffering I endured over the last week was iatrogenic (or what might be called “collateral damage”). Still, I would also like to thank the medical staff that pulled me back from the edge of the precipice that was crumbling beneath my feet.

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Fourfold Vision and The Global Soul

Before they trundle me off to hospital, we should perhaps discuss the implications of Gebser’s “aperspectival consciousness” (or integral consciousness) for the fate of capitalist society.

Capitalist society is rooted in the primacy of the self-interest principle, i.e, “the rational pursuit of self-interest”. This emphasis on the self and its interest as the keystone (which also gave birth to the ethos of utilitarianism) emerged from the invention of perspective and the perspectival “point-of-view” in the Renaissance. The self-interest principle has become so much the expected norm of thought and behaviour that anything not motivated by the self-interest and for gaining personal advantage has come to be suspect, and it has now decayed into “the culture of narcissism”.

What, then, are the implications for social relations that may arise from “aperspectival/arational” mode of consciousness and perception?

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