As an undergraduate at university, my chief area of interest was the history of propaganda. I was particularly interested in how propaganda affected, or interfered with, consciousness and perception such that “false consciousness” (ie delusion) could become a social problem.
Even after I graduated, I continued in my studies of propaganda. Around 1999, though, I began to feel I had taken my studies about as far as I could and felt I wasn’t making any further progress in my understanding. I came to the conclusion that I needed to expand my horizons and deepen my understanding of the matter by situating the phenomenon of propaganda, as a technology of social and psychological manipulation and control, within the broader historical context of the history and philosophy of science and technology. So, in 2000, I returned to university to further my studies in the history and philosophy of science and technology as these pertained to culture and consciousness.
“We stand, I believe, with a clearing ahead of us. The exhaustion of Modernism, the aridity of Communist life, the tedium of the unrestrained self, and the meaninglessness of the monolithic political chants, all indicate that a long era is coming to a slow close. The impulse of Modernism was to leap beyond: beyond nature, beyond culture, beyond tragedy — to explore the apeiron, the boundless, driven by the self-infinitizing spirit of the radical self.
We are groping for a new vocabulary whose keyword seems to be limits: a limit to growth, a limit to the spoilation of the environment, a limit to arms, a limit to the tampering with biological nature. Yet, if we seek to establish a set of limits in the economy and technology, will we also set a limit to the exploration of those cultural experiences which go beyond moral norms and embrace the demonic in the delusion that all experience is ‘creative’? Can we set a limit to hubris? ” (Daniel Bell, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, Foreword 1978, p. xxix)
Owing to my distressed kidneys, I’m periodically required to have lab work performed by the local hospital, which I did today. The nurses’ station there also regularly posts “fun facts” about this or that subject. Today’s “fun facts” were about dreams, and so while the nurse was draining me of my precious bodily fluids we engaged in some banter about their posted “fun facts” and dreaming.
Afterwards, it occurred to me that I might also share that conversation with the readers of The Chrysalis, as it just might also aid you in gaining insight into your own dreams, and perhaps even why you dream at all.
Man is a paradoxical creature. Ultimately, it is what distinguishes the human from the machine. The machine cannot handle paradox. It is paralysed by paradox. That is why the Mechanical Philosophy and its logic had to deny and suppress the paradox in favour of “clear and distinct ideas” (as Descartes put it). But in doing so, it also had to deny and suppress Man in everything but Man’s mechanical aspects. In fact, dialectics and dialectical rationality breakdown in the face of paradox, which is connected, in logic, with what is called “the ears of the wolf dilemma”. When thesis and antithesis become one and the same, thinking dialectically collapses into perplexity, bewilderment, and confusion. The dialectic becomes a self-devouring, self-negating, self-contradictory process.
In earlier posts, I suggested that paradox and paranoia were intimately connected. Today, I want to explore that further as it pertains to the meaning of “chaotic transition”, and how paradox and paranoia can be transcended in Rosenstock-Huessy’s “metanoia“, or Jean Gebser’s “integral consciousness”.
The Inquisition has become symbolic of the irrationalities, disproportionalities, and reactionary paranoias of decaying regimes. The Inquisition was the form of that self-negating, self-devouring logic of the Age of the Church that is revisiting our time as well. It is the shape of the so-called “New Normal”.
In his book The Ever-Present Origin, Jean Gebser described what he called “the double-movement” of our times. Indeed, we call it “times” in the plural because it evinces this double-movement. This double-movement accounts for the paradoxes and ironies of the present, but also underlies the situation of predicament and dilemma. “Double-movement” is just an optional way of describing crisis, and a crisis is a parting of the ways, being a word related to cross, crossroads, crucial, and also crucible.
During times of rapid change, there is always a lag between events and our perception and understanding of those events. “Thought” is past tense. Reflection is always after the fact. Someone once said that “time makes hypocrites of us all”, but what that really means is that there is a dissonance between change and the adequacy of our responses to that change. We are already living in the future, but our thinking is still in the past, so that we live divided between the past and the future.
I call that “the Horseless Carriage Syndrome”, because the emergence of the automobile in its time could only be understood for many be reference to the past and precedent, in much that same way that indigenous people could only understand the locomotive as “Iron Horse”.