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The New Normal is the Gorgon

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
— WB Yeats, “The Second Coming
Last evening, I had a very long talk with my ex- about the state of the world. She’s in a blue funk about it and world-weary. She doesn’t even use social media. And although you could delete your social media accounts, or ignore the newspapers, television, and radio, you won’t escape the New Normal, because many of the people you will encounter in daily life will have become vectors for it themselves. The New Normal has very rapidly become our very milieu — the sea we swim in. We had best learn to understand it if we hope to stop being fish and become birds…. or eagles. That is to say, to learn to “unfold the wings of perception”.

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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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National Icons, Patron Saints, and Tribal Deities

For some reason I awoke this morning reflecting on the fact that, unlike many other nation states today, Canada does not have a national “persona”. Britain has it’s John Bull (or Britannia); France has Marianne; the United States has Uncle Sam; Germany has Germannia; Russia has Mother Russia, and so on. Past attempts by Canadian nationalists or conservatives to create a collective national identity for Canada in the same way (images like “Johnny Canuck” or “Mother Canada”) have been met with suspicion, or outright mockery and derision. That’s probably owing to Canada’s pluralistic and multi-cultural constitution. If there were a national icon, it would have to be a mosaic rather than a persona.

These national personae are collectivist and collectivising icons, and in some ways also major or minor secular deities in their own right, symbolisations of the national “wego” — the corporate personhood as the national identity and values. And they are often depicted in finger-pointing and accusatory poses because they are supposed to be the image and model of right conduct and right thinking. In that respect, they are the visible images of what I refer to as “the foreign installation” governing the mind, or what Freud called “the superego”.

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The Fall (and Madness) of Urizen

“There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in” — Leonard Cohen

….also described as “the crack in the cosmic egg” (Joseph Chilton Pearce).

For those unfamiliar with William Blake’s psycho-mythology of the “four Zoas” (who “reside in the Human Brain”),  Urizen is the rational part of the fourfold human. The name “Urizen” is supposed to be a contraction of “Your Reason”. I prefer to think of it as a contraction of the phrase “Universal Reason”. But whether “Your Reason” or “Universal Reason” the name Urizen amounts to the same thing. Urizen is what Jean Gebser calls “the mental-rational structure of consciousness” or “the perspectival” mode of perception. Urizen, for Blake, was a tyrant in the psychic household economy, or what might be described as “the God Emperor” of the soul. But Blake also in his time prophesied the downfall of Urizen (and the onset of a “New Age”) in a number of horrific visions he cast into poetry and myth.

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The Neuromancer

“What Cambridge Analytica has tried to sell is magic.” — Aleksandr Kogan in The Guardian.

Carleton University in Ottawa is recruiting for a “resident magician”, someone with deep and practical knowledge of “perception and deception” or illusionism.

Rationalists, of course, would scoff at this. But it’s the great vulnerability of the mental-rational consciousness that it denies the efficacy of magic as mere superstition, even when we acknowledge matters like placebo and nocebo effects as real. “Perception management” implies magic. Even the words “fascism” and “grammar” have ancient meanings associated with spell-casting or web-spinning (“fascination” and “glamour” are related words respectively). The Latin word “fascinum”, besides referring to binds or the binding power, also meant an “enchantment” or “spell”. Kogan’s error here is assuming that magic is ineffective or superstition, and that Cambridge Analytica was peddling snake oil, when the only real question is whether perception management is effective.

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Critical Thinking and Moderation

There’s a certain irony in the fact that not enough critical thinking is applied to phrase “critical thinking” (one of my complaints against Steven Pinker’s views). Likewise the term “moderate”, let alone the term “radical”. It’s all blind mechanism and automaticity inasmuch as such terms have become merely “hot button” or “trigger words”. It’s a measure of the mind’s sickness and loss of balance that these values have been so badly mauled and distorted. There’s either too much or too little.

So, I will execute here a kind of “revaluation of values” (or “transvaluation of values” perhaps). It is a measure of the decay and decadence of the mental-rational structure of consciousness that these terms have been emptied of real meaning, or have been expropriated and deformed by partisan propagandas. Let’s try and free our minds from these false meanings and narratives.

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