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”.
For the last few posts, we’ve been probing for the meaning of the phrase “the collapse of reality”, and how this “collapse of reality” might also relate to Rolf Jensen’s influential bestseller The Dream Society: How The Coming Shift From Information to Imagination Will Transform Your Business, (and to an apparent spin-off of that called “marketing 3.0” or “spiritual branding”). We’ve also made note of the paradox and ambiguity in the phrase “collapse of reality” (and attendant “chaos” or “chaotic transition”), for in many respects it could be equally said of what is happening in quantum physics and even history.
So before I continue with my critique of The Dream Society and its contribution to the collapse of reality, I want to speak to this other aspect of the collapse of reality, as also being an aspect of what Jean Gebser called the paradoxical “double-movement” of our times — a time of disintegration coincident with a new integration. Therein lies the paradox and the double-meaning of the phrase “collapse of reality” or the irony and ambiguity resident in Karl Marx’s observation (explored by Marshall Berman in a book by that title available online) that “all that is solid melts into air”.
The phrase “collapse of reality” is a very strange and startling one. I’ve been coming across it more frequently lately and, as mentioned, there seems to have been a progression in a very short period of time from “post-rational” to “post-truth” to this “collapse of reality”. But just what does it all mean?
It’s not as though I might be driving along a highway in my Jeep and my reality breaks down rather than my Jeep. Perhaps if I were to have a psychotic episode that might be the case. I might truly believe I’m driving along a highway when, in fact, I’m barrelling through some farmer’s wheat field. Here, normal distinction between the subjective and objective breaks down and dream and reality exchange places. And we may say that something akin to this is mirrored in the phrase “collapse of reality”. It wouldn’t be the first time in history that something akin to an epidemic collective psychosis has occurred.
“All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind”. — Karl Marx
The quote from Marx’s Communist Manifesto suggested itself as I read further into Rolf Jensen’s The Dream Society and what I call his “market mysticism” or “mystique of the market”. And in this post — part III of my review of that strange book — we plunge into some pretty bizarre and surreal stuff (one might even say demonic) about the Dream Society as something deeply profane in conception, but one that seems perhaps set to all-too-soon overtake us.
Let’s segue from the previous post on “Fractured Paradigms” to the manifestation of that fragmentation in the dissolution and increasing incoherence of what Philip Slater calls “Control Culture” (in his book The Chrysalis Effect), which is, after all, the very meaning of “chaotic transition”. In fact, I would say that the present theme of “the collapse of reality” very much attests to the accuracy of Jean Gebser’s anticipation of the turbulent breakdown of the mental-rational consciousness structure (or “perspectivising” consciousness) associated with Control Culture.
Both Slater’s “Control Culture” and Jean Gebser’s “mental-rational consciousness” are conjoined in Iain McGilchrist’s “Emissary”, and these are also the meaning of “the matrix” in the famous movie by that name. The “matrix” of the movie is not just this Control Culture, but also the consciousness structure and mode of perception of which it is a manifestation. That manifestation is called, by William Blake, “Ulro” — the shadow world — and the architect of the Ulro is his mad god or demiurgos named Urizen, who is also McGilchrist’s “Emissary” as described in his great book The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.
This must be understood: Nietzsche’s “death of God” is only Blake’s death of Urizen as described in his Prophetic Books. And that means, too, that the death of Urizen is coincident with the “disintegration of the ego” (Rosenstock-Huessy) or “the Emissary”, and so to with the fragmentation and dissolution of the mental-rational and its “Control Culture”.
The phrase “paradigm shift” employed to describe relatively big changes in configurations or patterns of thought and perception (theory) originated in Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It’s a very good book (I’ve read it already five times myself). The term hasn’t always been understood or used appropriately as Kuhn intended, but the term is useful and relevant for describing what we mean by “chaotic transition”, and for understanding the seeming epidemic of the crazies that appears presently to afflict much of the globe.