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The Inscrutable Dark

“Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate.” — Samuel Huntington

We are warned today, from many quarters, that unless the human race now changes its ways and transcends itself it will become unviable as a species owing to a failure to meet the existential challenges and proliferating crises it has largely created for itself. The human must become a new being or perish.

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Aperspectivity and Proprioception, II

We have been exploring what Heraclitus may have meant by the term “ethos” (and particularly ethos as fate), and in yesterday’s post I suggested that the ethos of modernity has its roots in the invention of perspectivism in the Renaissance. Perspectivism suggested a whole new metaphysics and a new attitude towards our reality that we may fairly say represented a complete restructuration of consciousness and perception — the structure we refer to as the “mental-rational” or “perspectival” consciousness which is now (in our “post-modern condition”) under great stress and in great distress. This is coincident with the “Anthropocene”.

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Aperspectivity and Proprioception

Apologies (if apologies are necessary) for my recent absence. As some may recall, I have stage 5 kidney disease and I had a bit of a relapse lately that has required ongoing medical attention.

I left off our discussion of Heraclitus and his “ethos anthropos daimon” (usually translated as “character is fate”) with the suggestion that what Heraclitus means by “ethos” could be interpreted, rather, as a “structure of consciousness” in Jean Gebser’s terms, or what we might call a “species of consciousness”, which pretty much means the same thing as “form” or “structure”. And, as you may recall, Gebser has identified four such species or structures in the history of consciousness — the archaic, the magical, the mythical, and the mental-rational — as well as a potential and prospective fifth development he calls “integral consciousness”. This potential and prospective new species of consciousness is also the theme of others such as William Blake (“fourfold vision”), Sri Aurobindo (“supramental consciousness”), and is quite probably the meaning of what Nietzsche anticipated as the “overman” or “transhuman”.

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Nietzsche and Heraclitus

Surprising to me is, that the post that has garnered the most “views” on The Chrysalis, and ranks as the most commonly searched keywords that bring viewers to The Chrysalis, is a statement by the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus: ethos anthropos daimon (or ethos anthropoi daimon). These three words have very profound implications, for it might be said also that Nietzsche’s entire philosophy amounts to unwrapping the fuller meaning of this enigmatic statement, usually (but not really adequately) translated into English as “character is fate” or “character is man’s fate”. In some respects, these three words are also the key to understanding the Anthropocene.

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The Rivers of Eden

Legend has it that four rivers flowed from the Garden of Eden. The names of those four rivers were Pishon, Gishon, Chidekel, and Phirat. So debased and barbaric (one might even say “too left-brained”) have we become that many people even spend their entire lives looking for the original geophysical place called “Eden” and its four rivers, largely oblivious to the spiritual and symbolic meaning of the rivers of Eden. The same seems to be true for that “faraway land” of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

But these four rivers are the same four beasts who surround the throne of God in the Book of Revelation. They are what Blake calls “our Energies” and which he likewise represents in the image of his four Zoas of Albion divided fourfold which is, in the Upanishads, the fourfold Atman. That this is so is even demonstrable biologically, since we are, in biological terms, a composite of mechanical energy, chemical energy, thermal energy, and electrical energy — the four energies involved in the principle of homeostasis and energy balance.

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This Changes Everything

“Myth is already enlightenment, and enlightenment reverts to mythology.”

— Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer, The Dialectic of Enlightenment

This statement from Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment has always struck me as the quintessential meaning of the Frankfort School and the “New Left”, which certainly left its imprint on the counter-culture of the 60s and 70s. It was this radical openness to the mythical consciousness, or recovery of the validity of the mythical consciousness, that probably impressed Gebser, too, when, in his final years, he expressed his hopes that the new generation might be more receptive to his thesis in Ever-Present Origin. In any case, the Frankfort School incurred the wrath and enmity of reactionary forces of both the Old Left and the conservatives that continues down to this day, even after “New Left” and Critical Theory has actually now largely morphed into the “Greens”.

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Blake’s Fourfold Vision and “The Glow of Awareness”

Now I a fourfold vision see,
And a fourfold vision is given to me;
‘Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And threefold in soft Beulah’s night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newton’s sleep!

Yesterday I took some time to listen to the two podcasts of the John Cleese-Iain McGilchrist interviews hosted recently by Harper’s Magazine (November 27 and 28, I believe. The sound quality of the second podcast is quite poor, though). Although, I think, there were no new revelations not otherwise found in McGilchrist’s book The Master and His Emissary, their mention of the works of biologist Rupert Sheldrake did trigger a few recollections. And then something I read this morning in Quartz about the science of consciousness suggested to me another avenue of approach to understanding the meaning of Blake’s “fourfold vision” and the quadrilateral. 

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