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Crisis and the Cross of Reality

Chaos Theory describes states in relative equilibrium and states “far from equilibrium” (or “chaotic”). Basically, “far from equilibrium” means crisis or critical, a word which is related to “cross” and “crucial” (and “crucible” and “crucifix”) because a crisis is a crossroads, and traditionally crossroads were sensed as being places of evil or evil-doing, mainly because they are associated with life and death decisions. When Francis Fukuyama penned his ridiculous “End of History” thesis, he almost immediately followed that up with America at the Crossroads, apparently without even noticing the self-contradiction. But that kind of double-think — thought descending into self-negation and self-contradiction — is very characteristic of the state of mind of post-modernity, which we might describe as a consciousness structure now in a state “far from equilibrium”.

But to be in a state “far from equilibrium” (which is death by another name, also described as “homeostatic failure”) means that the cross of reality is broken or disintegrate, and along with this decay or disintegration of the cross of reality come symptoms of nihilism, morbidity, and what Erich Fromm calls a “necrophilous” or a thanatic dynamic (destructivness). So, today we want to carry on with the exploration of the meaning of “the Guardians of the Four Directions” at peace and at war (or integrate and disintegrate states) as these pertain to the quadrilateral of the cross of reality and the meaning of equilibrium and “far from equilibrium” as life and death states of the cross or reality.

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Imaginal Cells and The Chrysalis

Every so often I do a summary or recap of the former Dark Age Blog and the present Chrysalis for new subscribers — of which there have been quite a few lately — as orientation to the history of the blog. With the passing of time, those summations kept getting longer and longer. I want to keep this one blessedly short.

Needless to say, perhaps, the reason for the earlier Dark Age Blog and the present Chrysalis is declared in the blog’s masthead, in the quote from William Blake: “For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern”. That is the problem of “contraction”, and is the problem of a purely sensate consciousness that is pretty much synonymous with “dark age” (the Kali Yuga) and with “post-historic man” (Seidenberg, Mumford) — this “post-historic man” (or “Urizenic Man” or “Prosaic Man“) being also Nietzsche’s decadent “Last Man” as described in his Zarathustra.  It is the de-souling of man via his own mechanisation through submission to mechanism, and what this actually signifies for the further possibilities for all life on this planet. This submission to mechanism is obedience to the Great Clockwork now embodied on Earth as Mumford’s “Megamachine” (or “Death Economy”) and as the shape of the Anthropocene as well. It is W.B. Yeats’ “rough beast” from his poem “The Second Coming“, and is the return of the ancient “Moloch” of Alan Ginsberg’s “Howl“.

And yet,  this situation of “contraction” into purely sensate consciousness (which Jean Gebser also calls “disintegration” or the “deficient mode” of a consciousness structure) is strangely ambiguous and paradoxical, for the social isolation, “culture of narcissism”, and “cocooning” that it describes is also the chrysalis stage — the passage through the crucible — that precedes the birth of the butterfly, which is the ancient significance of the word psyche or “soul“.

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Scientism, Mysticism, and Reality

There are diseases of consciousness. That is the meaning, after all, of what Charles Taylor calls “the malaise of modernity” and what Buddhism calls “dukkha“. Malaise and dukkha are the same. The phenomenon of “projection” is a symptom of a disease of consciousness. The healing of consciousness from disease is called “integration” (integrare means “to heal” or “to mend”), and this is essentially what is meant by “purification” of awareness or achieving clarity and the clarification of perception and experience. “Purity” isn’t what most people make of it, nor is it a moral issue at all, nor is the ideal of “perfection”. These matters pertain to healing the diseases of consciousness and perception.

So, this post is about such diseases of consciousness, among which I include scientism (or reductionism) or its apparent antitheses such as “New Age mysticism”. We will explore these issues as diseases of consciousness with the aid of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy’s grammatical method and “cross of reality”.

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Identity Politics and The Soul

As Mark Lilla frames things, the Pilgrims “did not speak in terms of personal identities; they had souls back then” — (from a review in The Guardian)

Yes, indeed. The identity crisis and identity politics is about the eclipse of the soul, which is the meaning of the symbolism of the Sol Niger or Black Sun. It’s for that reason, too, that restoring the meaning and integrity of the soul — reviving the soul as Jean Gebser’s “diaphainon” — is one of the main objectives of the writings of Jean Gebser and Rosenstock-Huessy, among others. It is correct to say that “identity” is only the soul which has shriveled up and has shrunk into a mere “point” — the “point of view”. The zombie image — the living dead — is really identity minus soul.

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Energy, Creativity, and Consciousness

Most dystopian literature depicts a future society in which humanity has ceased to be effectively creative. “Expect poison from the standing water”, as Blake put it in one of his Proverbs of Hell in his The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.  Another one of Blake’s very wise Proverbs of Hell, related to this, is especially poignant today: “The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind”. Indeed, “reptiles of the mind” is pretty much an accurate description of contemporary man’s state of mind, as we witness it daily — the irruption of the so-called “Lizard Brain” (which is probably what the alt-right’s adopted mascot “Pepe the Frog” signifies — the Lizard Brain associated with the Shadow). You may take these proverbs about the standing water as even the essential problem of the “point-of-view” consciousness structure now functioning, in Gebser’s terms, in “deficient mode”.

This effectively gives us another way of understanding Gebser’s distinction between the “effective” and “deficient” modes of a consciousness structure or civilisational type. Effective means creative; deficient means destructive. “Effective” means “generative”; deficient means “degenerative” or decadent. The one is associated with “Genesis” and the other with the Nihil, or Ens and Non-Ens.

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A Truly “Universal Way of Looking At Things”

A few moments ago, I posted a quotation from the artist Maurice Grosser’s The Painter’s Eye to the comments section of the previous post on Holonic Awareness. The quote is excerpted from Edward T. Hall’s The Hidden Dimension, which is also a book I highly recommend to students of Jean Gebser’s cultural philosophy. I found the quote so deeply meaningful, significant, and revealing in relation to what Gebser calls “the mental-rational” or “perspectival” consciousness structure that I have decided to comment on it at even greater length than could be done in a short comment.

The passage appears on pages 77 and 78 or Hall’s The Hidden Dimension. Here, Grosser is describing the proper distance — not just physical but psychological — for the proper visual rendering and representation of a subject or model in perspective space, just as the Renaissance artists would have approached the problem.

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Gebser’s Empathetic Epistemics

“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” — Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins” — translated from an indigenous proverb

Today, I’ld like to spend a little time speaking to cultural philosopher Jean Gebser’s approach to knowledge, which will facilitate understanding and appreciating his major work, The Ever-Present Origin and what he means by the “aperspectival” or “integral” consciousness which he himself practiced. Gebser’s hermeneutics, or “method”, has nothing essentially “mystical” about it. That’s a judgement from the confines, or perspectivism, of mere rationalism. Aperspectival or integral consciousness is an eminently pragmatic and practical matter, manifestly so in Gebser’s own case. I would prefer to describe Gebser’s approach as “empathetic epistemics” rather than “hermeneutics” for various reasons. I hope to demonstrate here why I believe Gebser is an archetype or prototype of the aperspectival or integral consciousness structure that he believed was already in the process of “irrupting” more generally.

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