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.
Just a quick follow-up to the previous post on the carrying capacity of a consciousness structure by drawing on an analogy sometimes described as “Russian fatalism” — a phenomenon that engaged Nietzsche, and which illustrates something of his technique of “revaluation of values”.
As mentioned earlier, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on the German websites following social, political, and cultural developments there. (I have a particular interest in Germany because I studied there.) One of the great advantages of knowing another language is that you come to see how spatial and temporal relations — reality in other words — are configured differently. These configurations (or “Gestalts“) are what Owen Barfield calls “the collective representations”, or what we would call “images”, social or mental representations or symbolic forms. These symbolic forms or collective representations are governed by a grammar, which specifies who they are to relate to one another. A grammar imposes coherence on the symbolic forms or collective representations. This sea of symbolic forms in which we live is sometimes referred to as “the social imaginary” or “the social construction of reality”. Rudolf Steiner refers to these collective representations or symbolic forms as “mental pictures”.
“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” — George Orwell, “1984”.
“Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.” — Samuel Huntington
These two statements are related, of course, in terms of what we might call “Reality Control”. What underlies both formulas, though, is a metaphysical principle: “perception is reality”. I really want to emphasise and highlight this, because it lies at the root of almost everything today that seems absurd, surreal, dream-like, or chaotic, especially the apparent breakdown of discernment between the subjective and objective aspects of existence, and, consequently, fact and fiction, fantasy and reality, or the representations (images) and that which is represented. This lack of discernment, which we are calling “chaos”, attests to the disintegration of the ego-consciousness or what Jean Gebser describes as “the breakdown of the mental-rational” (or “perspectival”) consciousness structure, also known as “the Modern Mind”.
I’ve been absent from The Chrysalis for some time. What time I’ve had lately has been spent glued to the German news websites, as I follow political and social developments there (and also found, to my chagrin, that I have unlearned much of my German — or else the German language has changed). There has been, once again, an ominous upsurge of nativism and tribalism in that country as there has been in other jurisdictions, representing a serious challenge to principles of universality.
Still, I have also been pursuing this question of the post-modern “the Dream Society”, as previously discussed in the pages of The Chrysalis, and which, by happy coincidence, has been the ongoing theme, too, of the “subjectivity of nations” on the Aurobindo website. In fact, one posting on “the rise of the subjective age” and the role of Germany in that was published there even as I was immersed in the news from Deutsche Welle.
So, today I want to discuss such matters of nativism or retribalisation, their connection to “the Dream Society”, and altogether in the context of Jean Gebser’s “irruption” and the correlative breakdown of the mental-rational (or perspectival) consciousness structure, as well as Aurobindo’s musings on the “subjectivity of nations”