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Kobold im Keller

One of my favourite German expressions is “ein Kobold im Keller”, which roughly translates as “a goblin in the cellar” or basement. It means something similar to the English phrase “a skeleton in the closet”, although goblin in the basement seems much more expressive, much more animate. Ein Kobold im Keller would be like Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll.

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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Nature abhors a vacuum. So does human nature. Vacuum and “the soul shuddr’ing Vacuum” is a frequent theme in Blake’s poetry. Pascal, likewise, shrunk back terrified before “the silence of the Infinite Void”. In Blake’s poetry, Chaos, Vacuum, Void, and Nonentity are pretty much treated as one and the same.

The disintegration of the modern ego-consciousness, (which has also been described as “crisis of the individual” or “malaise of modernity” or “the crisis of the Modern self” or “deficiency” of the mental-rational consciousness structure, and so on), also results in a “soul shuddr’ing Vacuum” — Nietzsche’s “stare into the Abyss”, modern “emptiness” that we generally refer to as “nihilism”. Into this psychical vacuum attending the disintegration of the ego-consciousness (and the consequent “return of the repressed”) flow all sorts of monsters from the deeps, either from deep space or the depths of the sea: ghouls, demons, goblins, aliens, krakens, ancient chthonic forces from the Underworld. This has been referred to as “opening the gates of Hell”.

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Peterson versus McGilchrist, II

I think of the Peterson-McGilchrist encounter as one of the seminal debates (if debate it was) of our time, so I’ld like to continue my discussion of that which I began with the previous post on the subject (“Peterson versus McGilchrist I“). It was, in fact, more akin to a Socratic dialogue, and given my preference for McGilchrist, I, of course, see McGilchrist in the role of a new Socrates. I think he fits that role very well.

So, it we re-imagine the “Peterson versus McGilchrist” debate as a Socratic dialogue, some things about it become very revealing also about the difference between dialogical process and dialectics, as well as being an encounter between the perspectival and the aperspectival.

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Truth, Fact, and Chaotic Transition

Just following up on my previous comments on the Peterson-McGilchrist encounter, I’ld also like to touch once again upon a recurring theme in The Chrysalis in respect of that encounter — that is, the proper relationship between “the facts of the matter” and “the truth that sets free”. That relationship also strikes me as an umderlying issue in the “Peterson versus McGilchrist” issue.

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The Dissolution of the Sensate Consciousness

“Sensate consciousness” is a term used by the sociologist Pitrim Sorokin (in The Crisis of Our Age) to describe what Jean Gebser refers to as “the mental-rational” or “perspectival” consciousness structure. Sensate consciousness is a form of consciousness beholden for its sense of reality and order to the empirical senses (the physical senses), and the evidence of the empirical senses. Sorokin’s “sensate consciousness” is, in those terms, an optional name for what Iain McGilchrist calls “the Emissary” (in The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World). “Seeing is believing” might be taken as even the motto of sensate consciousness, although it must be pointed out that “seeing” is quite ambiguous, since the Seer — the man or woman of insight and visionary experience — also sees, but in a quite different sense than understood by the sensate consciousness. There is a difference between sightedness and insight, after all.

But for sensate consciousness, there is no other reality than that disclosed and revealed via the empirical senses, and this is usually the only understanding of the word “perception”. In other words, what we call “materialism” and “sensate consciousness” are interchangeable terms, and this is what Blake means in saying that “man has closed himself up till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern”. In other words, too, “sensate consciousness” is equivalent to Christopher Lasch’s “culture of narcissism”.

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The Chrysalis: A Review

“Our concern iw with a new reality — a reality functioning and effectual integrally, in which intensity and action, the effective and the effect co-exist; one where origin, by virtue of ‘presentiation,’ blossoms forth anew; and one in which the present is all-encompassing and entire. Integral reality is the world’s transparency, a perceiving of the world as truth; a mutual perceiving and imparting of truth of the world and of man and of all that transluces both.” — Jean Gebser, The Ever-Present Origin.

The whole universe is a form of truth — Rumi.

As is my custom when there has been a surge of subscribers to The Chrysalis (now at 334 subscribers), I do a retrospective and summation of the road that has been travelled thus far. This has become a little unwieldy after all these years. So, instead of yet another review and retrospective, I would like to direct you to the sources of the original inspiration for The Chrysalis. And why they really, really matter.

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“Everything Is Pregnant With Its Contrary”

I’ld like to follow up on a comment I posted earlier to the previous post on “The Great Irony of Our Times” after having come across a review of Marshall Berman’s book All That is Solid Melts Into Air. The review in The New York Times cites a passage from Berman’s book that I find very meaningful as the central theme of The Chrysalis as well: “everything is pregnant with its contrary”.

This is the great insight of our times — in fact, it even is the reason why we speak of “times” in the plural at all, or why we refer to this as an Age of Paradox or why I describe it as an age of great ironies and of “ironic reversals” (or what some call “the Great Unravelling”). It is even essential to understanding “chaotic transition” and the meaning of Jean Gebser’s “double-movement”. “Everything is pregnant with its contrary” is just another way of understanding the Hermetic principle of the coincidence of opposites (coincidentia oppositorum) or the conjunction of the contraries (conjunctio oppositorum), or even the meaning of Blake’s “marriage of Heaven and Hell”.

If also offers a way to understanding what Gebser means in saying that everything — the fate of the Earth and of life —  hinges on our knowing when to let happen, and when to make happen, for that is the expertise of mid-wifery. That is, in a sense, what Gebser is summoning us to become during chaotic transition.

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