Recently, I voraciously devoured Gary Lachman’s book, The Secret History of Consciousness, where I learned quite a lot about Jean Gebser. I had seen the name bandied about in philosophy and psychology books, but never took the time to investigate him for myself. I was surprised that such an important thinker was not covered in my undergraduate degree work in philosophy, but I suppose Gebser is more popular in graduate school. Lachman certainly did a great job of introducing Gebser because, immediately, I became very, very intrigued and ordered Gebser’s major work, The Ever-Present Origin, straightaway. This evening, I cracked it and began reading. These words are my initial reactions.
From the introduction I’ve been given to Gebser, I am anticipating this work to be just as influential to me as was Heidegger’s Being and Time, Jung’s The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, and Hillman’s Re-visioning Psychology. These books have been watershed events in my life and work. The Ever-Present Origin will most likely take its place alongside these classics.
For years, I and many others have railed against the materialistic, scientistic Zeitgeist our world finds itself enmeshed in. I have despaired many times because I thought no one was listening. I was wrong. Many are listening, and have been listening for some time. The post-Enlightenment period, which began in the aftermath of World War I, was the wake-up call. But, even before this, Friedrich Nietzsche, with amazing prescience, warned humanity that the current consciousness structure, what Gebser calls the “mental-rational,” would be disintegrated. The coming apart of this consciousness structure began after the world suffered through World War I. The mental-rational, which Gebser claims began around 1225 B.C., has been gradually eaten away by developments throughout the twentieth century, and into this century. These include the discoveries of quantum physics; the rise of fascism and another world war; the Holocaust; the rise of the corporate state and its involvement in the global war economy, which parallels the rise of fascism; the many discoveries of science and technology; the emergence of the Internet; and the post-911 national security state. There are many factors that are contributing to the dismantling of the mental-rational structure, and the eventual transformation (mutation) to what Gebser deems an “aperspectival,” or “integral structure” of consciousness. As I understand it, this structure is similar to other teachings of elevated consciousness, where ego and its self-interested, narcissistic demands are transcended.
I am of the opinion, too, that Gebser’s theory will correspond very well with my Jungian and archetypal inclinations. That will make for some interesting thinking and discussion.
We live in exciting times, folks. Until next time…
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