I may have hit a wall of incomprehension — or perhaps even incredulity — in my previous posts and commentaries on the meaning of “The Dream Society”, and how the logic of this Dream Society is now playing out in all the strange and surreal events of the present, inclusive of the Trump phenomenon. So, I’ll redouble my efforts here to try to clarify what I mean in saying that the “market”, as now presently imagined, has become the manifest domain of the Jungian “collective unconscious”, and that this “Dream Society” can’t even be comprehended except in those terms. If, in the past, the so-called “real economy” trafficked in “real estate”, we might say that the market of the Dream Society trafficks in “irreal estate”. And if some indigenous cultures sometimes speak of “the White Man’s Dreaming”, then that dreaming is what is now made explicit and manifest in The Dream Society.
One of the most interesting matters brought up in Castaneda’s writings is the role of “the petty tyrant”. Surviving Trump and Trumpism — or authoritarian populism and the politics of the hoarde more generally — may well be a matter of learning to see and use Trump as this same petty tyrant in one’s practice of self-overcoming. I can almost believe that Trump, among others today, was indeed fated to serve as this same “petty tyrant” for our metamorphosis. It’s a suspicion that has been lurking around the edges of my mind for a while.
This morning I want to make a bit of a digression from the theme of the last couple of postings and speak to a rather strange and arcane subject — that of the “assemblage point”. “The assemblage point” comes from Carlos Castaneda’s writings, which are about his apprenticeship to the Yaqui Indian brujo (sorcerer and teacher) he calls “don Juan Matus”.
It is a very intriguing and quite plausible idea, which I will try to describe here. I’ve not come across a description of anything like it in other “esoteric” accounts except possibly in one other place — William Blake — and a possible elliptical reference to it in Jill Bolte-Taylor’s “stroke of insight” TED talk.
Turning and turning in the widening gyreThe falcon cannot hear the falconer;Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhereThe ceremony of innocence is drowned;The best lack all conviction, while the worstAre full of passionate intensity.— WB Yeats, “The Second Coming“
“One must have chaos within oneself to give birth to a dancing star…” Nietzsche“If it were not for the Poetic or Prophetic character the Philosophic & Experimental would soon be at the ratio of all things, & stand still unable to do other than repeat the same dull round over again” — William Blake, “There is NO Natural Religion“
Dwig, a couple of posts back, issued something of a challenge for me to unfold the meaning of the shamanic consciousness, or what Jean Gebser calls “the magical structure of consciousness”. This I will attempt to do today, although my first impulse was to comment on an article that appeared in The Atlantic on the limits to scientific understanding. I can work some of that into today’s post also. It is often the case that the limits to scientific understanding are also the beginnings of the mythical or the magical and shamanic one.
You may recall the Hermetic principle of epistemology — empathetic epistemics: “to know the thing, you must become the thing you want to know”. This, naturally, requires great fluidity and flexibility of consciousness and identity and a readiness to forego the mere “point-of-view” and “line-of-thought” approach associated with what is called “the objective attitude”. This is sometimes represented as “the descent into the Underworld”. This is possible for any one of us, as Gebser, Jung, and Blake also demonstrate. Since these “structures of consciousness” or modes of perception are latent within us still, we can access them. In fact, we frequently do without really being conscious of doing so. The boundaries between the consciousness structures/modes of perception are rather porous and permeable.
Reading Daniel Bell’s The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism is a very rewarding experience. It is more rewarding, though, if one also knows something of the cultural philosophy of Jean Gebser. It’s a peculiar experience to read and compare them. Bell and Gebser see the exact same malignancies and pathologies in the culture of Late Modernity — many of which we’ve discussed here in The Chrysalis — but they seem them in entirely different ways reminiscent of the paradox of the half-full or half-empty glass that recalls also Gebser’s notion of “the double-movement” of our times.
In some respects, the relation between Daniel Bell and Jean Gebser is an example of the emissary and master relationship of the “divided brain” described by Iain McGilchrist in The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. Not a dualism or a dialectic, but a polarity of Reason and Revelation. Bell and Gebser are so similar. Bell and Gebser are so different. And the only way I can think of what finally distinguishes them is this polarity of Reason and Revelation which they represent. I think it was Bell’s commitment to “cultural conservatism” that inhibited him finally from making that “leap” or “mutation” that Gebser felt was necessary to overcome the now manifest malignancies and pathologies of Late Modernity by a metamorphosis: embracing a new consciousness structure — the aperspectival, arational, or integral.
So, let’s explore that polarity here. Let’s explore Daniel Bell as representative of Reason, and Jean Gebser as representative of Revelation, and in so doing I think we’ll get a relatively good idea of the difference between perspectival and aperspectival modes of consciousness.