The word “desire” has a peculiar origin and etymology. It means, quite literally, “from the stars” or “down from the stars” — de sidere. It comes from a time, evidently — a time that was, a time that is, a time that will be — when there was no separation of the “in here” from the “out there”. The still weak human ego consciousness experienced its own desires and passions as being outside or external to itself. To be in the grip of strong passions and desires was to be possessed by a god.
This is still registered in related meanings of words like “influence” (in-flowing) or “enthusiasm” (en-theos, or “a god within”). This is quite characteristic of both the magical and mythical structures of consciousness, and it is returning again with the disintegration of the ego consciousness, or breakdown of the mental-rational consciousness and “the return of the repressed”. So, it’s something that needs to be understood, especially for understanding Jean Gebser’s concerns expressed in The Ever-Present Origin.
The contraction of the personal consciousness into this fixture — this fixed point called “point-of-view”, or what is known as egoism — is, quite evidently, connected to both the “empathy deficit” as well as the crisis of identity. This contraction into the point is implicated, too, in both Lewis Mumford’s and Roderick Seidenberg’s thoughts on “post-historic man”, who is, in those terms, post-conscious too. This contraction — one might almost describe it as an implosion — by the same token contributes to the problem of “symbolic belief” and the loss of fluidity of awareness, so that one is unable to “switch perspectives” — say between background and foreground effects, or the context and the text (consequently, the whole and the totality). That is to say, there comes with this contraction an almost complete loss of discernment and discerning reason that begins to look a lot like mass derangement.
I wanted, this morning, to register some thoughts on Iain McGilchrist’s use of the term “Emissary” — in his book The Master and His Emissary — and the implications of this term for what we would otherwise call “the ego consciousness”.
McGilchrist states that he took the metaphor for the divided brain from a passage in Nietzsche about the master and his emissary. Some students of Nietzsche have, however, disputed that Nietzsche ever wrote such a parable. I certainly don’t recall it from Nietzsche, but that’s a small matter since, as I’ve noted in past postings, the chapter called “The Despisers of the Body” from his Zarathustra is pretty much consistent with the master-emissary metaphor. So, I can well imagine that Nietzsche may have employed the parable of the Master and his Emissary someplace.