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Nihilism: The Dynamics of Self-Negation

I’ve frequently suggested that what I refer to as “ironic reversal” is one of the chief characteristics of the post-modern condition (or “chaotic transition” if you prefer), and that ironic reversal is otherwise known in phrases like “unintended consequence”, “revenge effect”, “blowback”, “perverse outcome”, “reversal of fortune”, and so on. Another way to describing ironic reversal is in terms of a dynamics of self-negation or self-discrediting — the dynamics of an era and its civilisation that is now in process of discrediting itself and negating itself, which we summarily describe by the term “nihilism”. What is being referred to as “New Normal” is this process.

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The Field Concept in Jung’s “Collective Unconscious”

To continue from the previous post: the emergence of the Field concept in physics, in biology, in psychology, in sociology is, in all likelihood, the fundamental phenomenon behind what we are calling “paradigm shift”, and we can begin to appreciate the meaning of Jean Gebser’s consciousness “mutations” or his “irruption” of a new consciousness structure in those terms, ie, that the growing interest and concern with holism or integrality is also a reflection of the Field, or that the Field is the truly subsistent reality. The Field is also energy and corresponds to the Heraclitean “flux”, which can only be described in terms of patterns or Gestalts, and so you see a corresponding interest in the issue of “pattern recognition” or pattern cognition, which belongs to the more intuitive faculties.

But today I want to speak, briefly, to how Jung’s Archetypal Psychology also relates to the emergence of the Field into consciousness, in terms of the so-called “Collective Unconscious” and his doctrine of “synchronicity” which does parallel issues of non-locality (or transluminal effect) in quantum physics, or what Einstein himself once dismissed as “spooky action at a distance”, although it was, ironically enough, already implied in Einstein’s view that time was a “stubborn illusion”.

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The Field is the Ever-Present Origin

The “Field” concept is quickly becoming the basis for new, more holistic thinking about reality — a metanoia, as it were. It is quite true, in my experience, It is a much different way of reflecting on reality and, moreover, provides an integral framework for interpreting and understanding the various anomalies of our contemporary reality — the wave-particle paradox or non-locality (or transluminal effect), and so on.

So today I’m going to discuss this “Field” concept as it has developed over the last century or so and why it is the basis for any new insights into the real, for the Field is also synonymous with Gebser’s “ever-present” and “ever-present origin”. The Field is not a “point” of origin (and therefore a “beginning”) but the field of origination which provides the basis for the emergent into spatio-temporal existence. In turning our attention to the Field, which explains so much in fact, we will also see what is deficient in the present mental-rational consciousness structure.

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The Colony

I’m quite fond of watching dystopian, post-apocalyptic films. Some people, I suppose, find that morbid and depressing and pessimistic and avoid such things, but I’m quite interested in this artistic exploration of probable/possible futures which try to anticipate the outcomes of present trends and tendencies — or what Gebser refers to as the latency of the future in the present. This latency of the future in the present is why science fiction and fantasy is always about what is latently present and is happening now, and not in the future.

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Peterson versus McGilchrist

I woke up this morning to find that someone had linked from an article in Medium on the Jordan Peterson–Iain McGilchrist dialogue/debate to The Chrysalis, although I find no evident link to The Chrysalis anywhere in the Medium article. Perhaps someone wanted to flag the article for my attention, given that I’ve been quite critical of Jordan Peterson in previous posts.

Well, if so, I’ll rise to the bait.

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The Left Behinds

When I worked in tech, the typical pitch to get people comfortable with computer technology was that it was unlike conventional machinery that required you to adapt to them and their tempo, like the assembly line or having to respond to them as “the cog in the machine”. No sirree! The computer would patiently wait for you, and you would reclaim your time and your rhythm from the machine. It was liberation! It was often the favoured pitch of the pitchmen in the marketing departments. You are in control. No doubt, many even believed this guff.

At individual scale, this is no doubt plausible. I can take my blessed time responding to an email or other matters. The computer will wait while I pace the floor or decide to wash the dishes first. But at scale, it is a different matter altogether, and I learned soon enough that the pitch to get ahead of the curve and computerise now was bullshit.

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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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