I’m not sure who should be credited with the phrase “the shock of the real” (but it is, apparently, the American environmentalist Edward Abbey from his book Desert Solitaire). It’s a very good phrase. It’s basically the meaning of the word “apocalypse” and has been borrowed extensively by others too to describe the bursting of bubbles of all kinds. “Shock” has become something of a theme of Late Modernity or the post-modern condition — Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, or, indeed, “Shock and Awe”. Shock might even be said to be the essence of “the New Normal”.
The phrase “shock of the real” brings to mind the Tarot card called “The Fool”.
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.
One of the things that grabbed me while I was reading one of the Seth books was a simple statement Seth made during a particularly stormy night while beginning one of his “sessions” with Jane Roberts and Robert Butts. Of all the things that should stick with me after reading the Seth material it is, oddly enough, “storms to the stormy”. The phrase recurs to me every time I reflect on problems of climate change or of chaotic transition.
“Storms to the stormy” brings to mind Heraclitus and his admonition that “character is fate”. In the original Greek, though, character is “ethos” and “character is fate” is only a very rough translation of “ethos anthropos daimon“. Heraclitus, the “Greek Buddha” as he has been described, meant by this “daimon” something more akin to the Buddhist “Mara”, Lord of Illusions and “the Architect”. Greek “daimon” is often adequately translated by the Latin “genius“. But neither “demon” nor “genius” mean, today, what they meant then.
After viewing Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee’s video on “Spiritual Ecology“, which Don linked to in the comments to the last post, in which Vaughan-Lee reflects on the need for new energy as new inspiration, I felt moved to comment further on the serpent power, which is also called kundalini, “ancient force”, “libido”, “psychic energy”, the “vitality”, “personal power” and so on and so forth. In relation to the upsurge of energy as serpent power, I previously drew attention to Blake’s prophecy in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell about the “cherubim with the flaming sword” being commanded to leave his station and guard at the root of the Tree of Life, from which will follow the onset of the “New Age”. As Blake put’s it there also, “Energy is Eternal Delight”.
Let’s look at this matter of energy, so to speak, further.
Robert O. Paxton, author of The Anatomy of Fascism and an authority on fascist movements, thinks we shouldn’t be too hasty in calling the negative or nihilistic aspects of the “new normal” by the name “fascism”. But while it is true that too many people bandy the word “fascist” about far too loosely and without comprehension, we don’t have to wait until fascism becomes full blown, mainstream, established fact and “objective reality”, or wait for it to strip away “the mask of sanity” and declare itself explicitly as “new normal”, to recognise fascism. How long do you wait until you call the negative and nihilistic aspects of “post-truth society”, “the culture of narcissism”, “post-Enlightenment” or “end of history” by its name — fascism?
The earth seems to be in the grips of a wave and contagion of madness, presently, perversely meeting Nietzsche’s prophecy for it of “two centuries of nihilism”. Social scientists and philosophers — at least, those who haven’t been themselves drawn into the maelstrom and contribute to the wave of nihilism themselves — have busied themselves attempting to find a cause and a rationale for it — alienation, anomie, malaise of modernity, massification of society, culture of narcissism, crisis of confidence, propaganda, materialism, technological culture, ennui, identity crisis, Angst, the stresses and strains of neoliberal globalisation, death of God, end of the Grand Narrative, disenchantment of the world, death of Nature, and also “return of the repressed”.
It’s quite a list of ostensible causes, isn’t it? Great cause for confusion, also. And there’s a degree of merit to each, although most of them are describing the symptoms rather than root causes. Even what passes today as sanity and as rational is only a “mask of sanity“, Hervey Cleckley insists. It’s not entirely clear, even from Jean Gebser, what has brought about the fracture and disintegration of the mental-rational structure of consciousness. But it’s quite evident that “return of the repressed” plays a big role in it in Gebser’s view.
For the sake of the numerous new subscribers to The Chrysalis, I want tell the backstory for the blog — the reason why I launched the blog, (as well as the late and now retired Dark Age Blog), and why I pursue the issues that I do in The Chrysalis. Older readers of The Chrysalis, (and indeed some who have been around since The Dark Age Blog) will remember it as my “Dream of the Fish”. It bears repeating on occasion, if only to remind myself why I’m doing the things I do. Besides, with the retelling of the story I always seem to discover new and intriguing aspects to it.