It strikes me that the word “frenzy” best describes the current situation — frenzy being the marker of our “chaotic transition”, or of Jean Gebser’s “maelstrom of blind anxiety”, or of Peter Pogany’s “havoc”, or of Nietzsche’s anticipation of the “madness” that would attend his anticipated “two centuries of nihilism”. The contemporary terms being used for this frenzy are, of course, “irrational exuberance” or “animal spirits”.
It’s in respect of this “frenzy” (which some describe as “the Crazies”) that I want to return to something I posted some time back, and entitled “The Most Haunting Words in All Literature”, because for me the words were, and remain, daunting and haunting.
A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees
If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.
Folly is the cloak of knavery. — William Blake, The Proverbs of Hell
Following close upon Meghan O’Gieblyn’s article on “transhumanism” as a contemporary theology of the Megamachine (“God in the machine“), yet another article — this one by Andrew Anthony — appeared in today’s Guardian also in a quite similar vein. “What if we’re living in a computer simulation?” describes what we might call, after Lewis Mumford, the contemporary “Myth of the Machine”, or the mysticism (or mystique) of megatechnics.
This is, indeed, an Age of Irony, because this new “myth of the machine” is also an example of the “return of the repressed” — for it is, in fact, the resurrection of the old doctrines of the Gnostics. Even students of Jean Gebser’s cultural philosophy must find this contemporary insurgency (or “irruption”) of the “irrational” factors of magic, myth, and mysticism within the “logical” mental-rational structure of consciousness to be quite unnerving (and a most appropriate word that is, too. The meaning of “unnerving” is worth a post in itself).
I’ld like to return, today, to an earlier theme of The Chrysalis and develop it further — and that is the idea of the Convivium, which should be the real end and aim of the process we call “globalisation” and the meaning of “globalism”. We would be better off talking about the Convivium and convivialism rather than globalism and globalisation. The choice of the right name for things makes all the difference, and the difference here, again, bears on our seeming inability to distinguish between higher and lower things, and our continuing confusion of the Whole with the mere Totality (which is but the shadow of the Whole) — therefore, the fatal confusion of the processes which belong to life with those processes which belong to death.
It is my contention, as you may know, that the confusion of the totality with the whole lies at root of our decadence and our nihilism, for it is a prime example of how “all higher values devalue themselves” — Nietzsche’s succinct definition of nihilism (and particularly that form of nihilism called “decadence”). Therefore, I want to speak to convivialism as life process and of the Convivium as the Community of the Whole Living Earth, for that is what the word means.
The mouse-soul is nothing but a nibbler.
To the mouse is given a mind
proportionate to its need,
for without need, the All-Powerful doesn’t give anything to anyone.
Need, then, is the net for all things that exist:
A person has tools in proportion to his need.
So quickly, increase your need, needy one,
that the sea of abundance
may surge up in loving-kindness — Rumi, “Increase Your Need”
I once considered naming this blog “Shockwave Rider” rather than The Chrysalis. Shockwave Rider (1975) was the title of a seemingly prescient science fiction novel by the British catastrophist writer John Brunner (along with other dystopian novels of economic, ecological and environmental disaster like The Sheep Look Up (1972) and Stand on Zanzibar (1968)).
I actually don’t recall if I ever read Shockwave Rider, but the title of the book has always struck me as an appropriate description of our situation, reminiscent, as it is too, of The Doors song “Riders on the Storm”.
“The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.” – Gary Kasparov
I cribbed that quote by Gary Kasparov from Xraymike’s blog The Collapse of Industrial Civilization, from a recent post entitled “The Trumpocene: Darkness Gathers”. It is true that this short-circuiting of reason is the aim of propaganda. But in broader terms, what we are witnessing in the absurdities of the present period of history, which we find so “surreal” with its self-negating and self-devouring logic we call “chaos”, is better described as the self-immolation of the Modern Mind.
I know we all feel a certain sense of anguish about this. We would like to intercede and intervene in this process of self-immolation and attenuate that process before it completes its logic in total self-annihilation, which seems to be where we are headed presently. Spaceship Earth appears to be falling apart at the seams, which is the echo in physical terms of the disintegration of modern man’s consciousness structure.
While we have been focused on partisan divides over government policy and personnel, an almost invisible erosion of the foundations of our political system has been taking place. Public support for the rule of law and democracy can no longer be taken for granted.– Austin Sarat, The Guardian, 11. February, 2017.
It’s not a very comfortable place to be, between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea — or, between Scylla and Charybdis. It’s the situation we call “Double-Bind”, and we know from R.D. Laing’s clinical psychiatric studies the role of the double-bind as seeding the conditions for mental illness or “cognitive dissonance”, which we suffer today as “Double-Talk”, “Double-Think”, and “Double-Standard”. These are the factors making for “the New Normal”, which, translated, means “Dead End”. This Dead End has the potential, also, to be more than a metaphor.
I know that the so-called “alt-right” thinks of itself as a global “rising tide” — a rising tide of “Universal Fascism” — and not as the final ebbing away of the Modern Era (which is what they actually are: symptoms of the degeneracy and decadence of the Modern Era now negating itself). I’m pretty sure they have mistaken themselves as being something they are not — not the avant-garde of a global ethno-nationalist “awakening” that is, in reality, only a species of collective narcissism and the logical end result of a “culture of narcissism” — but a species of ignorance and of the arrogance of ignorance. This arrogance of ignorance is, in time, going to be their undoing.
Frankly, after over a dozen years blogging about the strange, the ominous, the forbidding through The Dark Age Blog and the present Chrysalis — and now watching all that come to pass and come to a head — I’m not sure whether I have much more to say about things and events. Current events have overtaken me, and have also taken the breath out of me and the wind out of my sails…. with the worst of it yet to come.