Until the recent death of “Joannie” (Eran Morin) from the TV series “Happy Days“, I didn’t really make the connection between Scott Baio’s appearances as a Trump stalwart and the TV series he’s most associated with that depicted America in the 50s as a time of happy innocence.
Do people really associate the slogan “Make America Great Again” with “Happy Days“? That would be bizarre. That would definitely be surreal. The 50s were, in reality, nothing like the idyllic time portrayed in the TV show. It was probably more like what was depicted in the movie Revolutionary Road, judging from my reading of the history of that decade. If people get their ideas of actual history from a TV sitcom, isn’t that the meaning of “post-historic man”?
Trapped in the Mirror was the title of a book on narcissism by Elan Golomb. It’s a very good title. Unfortunately, as I recall it, the book never really fulfilled the potential suggested by its title, largely because of its limited clinical and psychological focus on the individual where it could have broadened into the historical, sociological, or cultural context. Christopher Lasch attempted to do this with The Culture of Narcissism. Even then, I think, Lasch, despite the excellence of his sociological insights, erred in thinking that this, too narrowly, was a problem peculiar to “American Life in An Age of Diminishing Expectations”, as the subtitle has it.
Narcissism is the state of being “trapped in the mirror” and is the human, all-too-human condition. It has been that since human beings became self-conscious. It was just what was formerly called “idolatry”, which is the same state of being “trapped in the mirror”. If it were not the human condition, the ancient myth of Narcissus and Echo would not have been composed, and an event like the “Axial Age” of the prophets would never have occurred. It is narcissism that lies behind the legendary “Fall of Man”, and the Fall of Man was to become trapped in the mirror. This is also referred to as “the Fall into Time”, or “The Kali Yuga“.
Can the Megamchine stop? That was the question David Ehrenfeld put in a notable essay a few years ago in Tikkun Magazine entitled “The Coming Collapse of the Age of Technology“. I’ve referred to it a few times in The Chrysalis.
Writing in today’s Guardian, the paper’s economics editor Larry Elliott foresees a similar scenario unfolding — Peak Everything. And particularly peak anger.
Those of you who have studied Gebser, and know how he relates the issues anger, Angst, and his “maelstrom of blind anxiety” to the meaning of angle, and its significance of “narrowing” and the seeming contraction of all horizons, (but which is also the nature of birthing), will probably recognise the significance in that. It was also related to that “Age of Diminishing Expectations” (at least, for most) that Christopher Lasch saw as problematic in the context of “the culture of narcissism“.
Very significant article appeared in yesterday’s Financial Post (a reprint from The Telegraph) on the waning prospects for “Big Oil” (“Down forever, no last hoorah: Why the market for fossil fuels is all burnt out“).
Although Big Oil may be finished along with further prospects for Industrialism, “Big Data” and “The Cult of Information” might prove to be even greater challenge. The demise of Big Oil and the fossil fuel economy may simply be a metamorphosis of the Megamachine into something even more sinister and dystopian.
Bill McKibben has an interesting take-down article in today’s Guardian on Canada’s Sunshine Boy (and his “Sunny Ways” politics), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (“Stop swooning over Justin Trudeau. The man is a disaster for the planet.”)
It’s worth taking note of (though perhaps for other reasons than Mr. McKibben makes note of — the self-contradictions of Mr. Trudeau’s government and the Liberal Party). The article highlights the quandary within which all of us are presently embedded and the fumbling, muddling and quite ineffective attempts to reconcile those contradictions; contradictions which, in Wolfgang Streeck’s estimation, already presage the breakdown and demise of the Megamachine ( “How Will Capitalism End?“), which corresponds, equally, to Jean Gebser’s disintegration of the mental-rational consciousness structure. Trudeau’s quandary and dilemma — which is the quandary and dilemma not just of Liberalism, but of all ideology today — is exemplary of that.
Or, as documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis calls it “hypernormalisation” where things stop making sense, or when nonsense becomes the new common sense which we are calling “the New Normal” — the absurd, the surreal, the “post-rational”, “post-truth” and so on.
It’s not something that has happened quite suddenly. It’s been creeping up on us for the last few decades. Plenty of writers, starting around the late 50s, have been firing warning shots across our bow. But the “post-modern condition” — whose central theme is the “end of the Grand Narrative” or “end of the Master Narrative” (which follows upon Nietzsche’s “death of God”) — is certainly implicated.
In The Ever-Present Origin, Jean Gebser writes quite a bit about “the concretion of the spiritual” as a hallmark of emergent integral consciousness. In point of fact, though, the concretion of the spiritual occurs all the time without our taking particular note of it. Jungian “synchronicity” is just another way of saying “concretion of the spiritual”, and synchronous effects (which are related to the intentionality of consciousness) are connected with Seth’s constant reminder to us that “you create the reality you know” and, therewith, with the Hindu principle Tat Tvam Asi, or “Thou art That”.
Although the concretion of the spiritual happens all the time (which I’ll discuss below) it’s in connection with “diaphaneity” or “the transparency of the world” (and in those terms with integral consciousness), that Gebser’s “concretion of the spiritual” is to be understood, and as something that also involves the awakening of inner senses other than the purely physical, senses we might refer to also as “metaphysical” senses.