The World Soul Needs Us

Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826 – 1900 ), Niagara, 1857, oil on canvas, Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase, Gallery Fund) 2014.79.10

 

My practice tells me that I can no longer distinguish clearly between neurosis of self and neurosis of world, psychopathology of self and psychopathology of world. Moreover, it tells me that to place neurosis and psychopathology solely in personal reality is a delusional repression of what is actually, realistically, being experienced (James HillmanThe Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World, page 93).

James Hillman’s statement, here, is very profound in light of our current world crises. The psychopathology of self was the focus of twentieth century depth psychology. This was needed to direct the gaze inward, to slow the practices of scientism and materialism that would have us ignore our inner states. Many great teachers arose that led us to better understanding of the soul, our neuroses, our suffering, and our inner beauty. The popularity of depth psychology and other holistic practices in the twentieth century initiated us into a “care of the soul,” as Thomas Moore called it, instead of just gazing out into a world composed of dead matter. Yes, we needed to be brought through that stage of our development in order that, in this century, we could confront the psychopathology of our world. We gazed inward for many years. Now, we must again gaze outward, recognizing that inward and outward are obsolete viewpoints, relics of a past state of consciousness.

If we are to deal with our world’s psychopathology, we must not remain in a state of subjectivity, where we pray, meditate, and seek only our own personal psychological development. The Anima Mundi needs our prayers, our meditations, our imaginations, for She too must develop and individuate.

We have lost the notion that our world is divine. This occurred because of the extreme slant toward the scientific method. We have split off the world from our consciousness. If we want our world to be healthy and to flourish, this must be rectified. One way to do this is for all of us to acknowledge the reality of the Anima Mundi, the World Soul. This includes acknowledging that matter is alive and full of energy. I’m not just referring to atomic energy, but the kind of energy that atomic energy shadows. We have mostly only seen the destructive force of matter’s energy, atomic weapons and atomic meltdowns, but there is a more profound energy that permeates every particle of matter in our universe. Every particle is divine, and is designed to work together with all others, and with human consciousness. Dichotomized human thinking has only split the particles, but what would occur if we learned how to bring them together with our own consciousness? 

There are energies, sparks of divinity, in all material phenomena. Alchemists know that the inner transformative process, which Jung called individuation, reveals the hidden energy within matter. We have concentrated on the inner work that reveals matter’s divine light, but there is also an outer work we must do if this light energy is to be used to heal our world. The great physician, Paracelsus tells us,

That of which we now tell is called lumen naturae and is eternal. God hath given it to the inner body, that it may be ruled by the inner body and in accordance with reason. Therefore all that Man does and should do, should be done from the light of nature. For the light of nature is reason and nothing else (This translation was partly based on the translation in C.G. Jung, On the nature of the psyche, Coll. Works, vol. IX, paragraph 390).

Paracelsus refers to the light of Nature as “reason,” but, according to Jungian analyst, Jolande Jacobi, he means

Intuitive knowledge gained by the experience of nature and implicit in all beings at their birth, in contrast to the knowledge given by revelation [i.e., the light of the Holy Ghost]…In a cosmological sense, it is a secret radiation of nature and makes possible the discovery of the natural mysteries ( (Paracelsus: selected writings, edited with an introduction by Jolande Jacobi, translated by Norbert Guterman, Bollingen Series XXVII, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 289 pp (hereafter called Jacobi, Paracelsus). This quote is from page 255). 

The first step in healing our world, then, is recognizing that our soul’s path is not simply about improving ourselves, but our world, as well. Healing our world is why we need a developed soul. Then, recognize that all matter is divine and contains enormous energy. There is destructive energy, yes, but there is also a constructive energy, which we have not yet tapped. Alchemists, including all the great teachers from previous centuries, have only scratched the surface in releasing it. Now, at this critical juncture, Nature needs our help.

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World Alchemy

Fantasy, by Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz – 1921-1922

 

…a mood of world destruction and world renewal…has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically, socially, and philosophically. We are living in what the Greeks called the Kairos,–the right time–for a “metamorphosis of the gods,” i.e., of the fundamental principles and symbols. This peculiarity of our time, which is certainly not of our conscious choosing, is the expression of the unconscious man within us who is changing. Coming generations will have to take account of this momen­tous transformation if humanity is not to destroy itself through the might of its own technology and science. (Jung 123).

There is a great transmutation occurring in our world. We are living in what Karl Jaspers called an Axial period of history. In this era the World Soul is engulfed in alchemical fire in the Hermetic vessel. The image of this sealed furnace is analogous to my image from 2012 of Soul’s Maelstrom. The alchemical vessel was usually shaped round to draw the influences of our spiral cosmos. But instead of water, she is now being purged by a roaring conflagration, where the process of Calcinatio will, hopefully, purge away the dross of the former age. This will take an indeterminate number of years to accomplish.

I am not of the opinion that our current human species will be able to bring about the sort of change our world needs. I believe a new human species will take our place, just as we replaced Neanderthals. The new species may already exist and may already be interbreeding with homo sapiens sapiens. It is too soon to say. I see this new species as possessing a more expanded consciousness. They will have the ability to solve the social, political, and economic problems that we could not.

Even though our species may not be the one to bring about peace on earth, we should not abandon our quest for greater consciousness, for it is this striving on our part which will provide the impetus for a brighter future for humanity.

 

Works Cited

Jung, C. G., The Undiscovered Self. tr. R.F.C. Hull. Mentor: New York, 1957.

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The Revelatory Power of the World Soul

Delphic Oracle, by Heinrich Leutemann

 

In his amazing essay, Anima Mundi: The Return of the Soul to the World, James Hillman reminds us that the World Soul is “that particular soul-spark, that seminal image, which offers itself through each thing in its visible form” (Thought 101). Because of our tendency toward anthropomorphism, we think of the World Soul as some sort of super-entity “above the world encircling it as a divine and remote emanation of spirit, a world of powers, archetypes, and principles transcendent to things” (ibid.), but this is not the case at all. The World Soul presents herself through every animaterial entity as “animated possibility,” her “sensuous presentation as a face bespeaking its interior image” (ibid.). In this manner, the World Soul presents herself  to the imagination, her “presence as psychic reality” (ibid.). Everything we experience empirically is filled with soul. “Not only animals and plants ensouled as in the Romantic vision, but soul is given with each thing, God-given things of nature and man-made things of the street” (ibid.).

This is phenomenology on a grand scale, a cosmic “display of self-presenting forms” (Thought 102). But this is beyond phenomenology. This is what Hillman calls “archetypal psychologizing” (Re-visioning 138).

All things show faces, the world not only a coded signature to be read for meaning, but a physiognomy to be faced. As expressive forms, things speak; they show the shape they are in. They announce themselves, bear witness to their presence: “Look, here we are.” They regard us beyond what we may regard them, our perspectives, what we intend with them, and how we dispose of them. This imaginative claim on attention bespeaks a world ensouled. More–our imaginative recognition, the childlike act of imagining the world, animates the world and returns it to soul (Thought 102).

This method of inquiry, archetypal psychologizing, concentrates on the question of “what”, while philosophy would ask “why.” Of course, the scientific method would focus on the question of “how.” Even though the “what” has been asked by thinkers from Aristotle to Husserl, archetypal psychologizing is different in that it goes much further, plumbing the depths of the thing. Hillman says “phenomenology stops short in its examination of consciousness, failing to realize that the essence of consciousness is fantasy images” (Re-Visioning 138).  Archetypal psychologizing transposes “the entire operation of phenomenology,” changing it “into the irrational, personified, and psychopathological domain,” taking the question “from the logical to the imaginal” (Re-Visioning 138-139).

In my essay, Images are Prior to Experience, I make the case that “our consciousness is totally dependent upon this vast storehouse of images we call Soul.” Instead of beginning with sensory experience, we should start our search for the elusive “what,” the quiddity of a thing, by allowing the imaginal element of the thing to manifest its chosen image via the World Soul. Initially, there is nothing conceptual about this. Seeing into things is quite different than dissecting them logically. The Anima Mundi, if allowed, will animate the thing with an imaginal presence that can be examined archetypally, eventually resulting in, according to Hillman, the question of “who” (Re-Visioning 139).

By dissolving what into who, we follow one of the main styles of questioning used with the oracles at Delphi and Dodona…Once we know at whose altar the question belongs, then we know better the manner of proceeding (Re-Visioning 139).

This is what Hillman calls “archetypal reversion.” Reversion “connects an event to its image, a psychic process to its myth, a suffering of the soul to the imaginal mystery expressed therein” (Dream 4). This is a phenomenological process where one asks the image to reveal its archetypal foundations, to which god or goddess it belongs. One need not necessarily be an expert in Greek mythology. The archetypes arise in most world mythologies, as Joseph Campbell so aptly demonstrated. As a prerequisite, one should, however, be schooled in the manner in which the archetypes manifest themselves, be it in Greek mythology, Norse mythology, or any other foundational mythology. It just so happens that Greek mythology is very well suited to our Western mindset, since it is the substructural mythology of all Western culture (see my article, Archetypal Psychology and Reversion).

 

Works Cited

Hillman, James. Dream and the Underworld. New York: Harper, 1979.

—. Re-Visioning Psychology. New York: Harper Collins, 1975.

—. The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World. Putnam: Spring, 1992.

 

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The Pathologizing of the World Soul

Sick Maria, Joaquín Sorolla, 1907

 

The world, because of its breakdown, is entering a new moment of consciousness: by drawing attention to itself by means of its symptoms, it is becoming aware of itself as a psychic reality (Hillman, Thought, 97).

Does this statement  resonate with you? Do you feel that sense of assent deep within that Hillman is absolutely right? Even though he penned these words in the early Eighties, he is right on the money. He saw it happening even then.

The world is in trouble, just as an individual in Jung’s heyday might have been plagued with symptoms of schizophrenia. And Jung, in his wisdom, would have pointed that person back to health with his amazing therapeutic ideas. In his day, the world was considered isolated from our concerns, something to be ruled over and dominated. In our day, however, the world is no longer separate from us, cold, dead, and material. It is just as much part of us as our organs or senses. But the world is breaking down. Although it has been occurring for some time, last year, 2016, brought us the stark realization that we may be living in the last days. Or, are we?

James Hillman has made the pathologization of the soul one of the main tenets of his archetypal psychology. The evil and ugliness we see in our world are psychopathologizations of the Anima Mundi, symptoms that provide clues as to her psychic state of affairs. According to Hillman, pathologization is “the psyche’s autonomous ability to create illness, morbidity, disorder, abnormality, and suffering in any aspect of its behavior and to experience and imagine life through this deformed and afflicted perspective” (Hillman, Revisioning, 57). If the Soul of the World desires to engage in metamorphosis, and we know she does, then, according to Hillman, she will autonomously create abnormal and disordered situations that will ultimately further her transformation. Isn’t that what we’ve been witnessing for many years now? These scenarios seem to be accelerating in their frequency, as well. Does this mean the World Soul is drawing closer to departing from the cosmic chrysalis?

Considering all of this, are the afflictions of the World Soul necessary for her individuation? Again, referring to Hillman, “without psychopathology, there is no wholeness; in fact, psychopathology is a differentiation of that wholeness” (Hillman, Revisioning 108). I think it is safe to say, then, without pathologization, there is no soul-making.

So, all the turmoil we are seeing, especially in the United States, today, will lead to the further metamorphosis of the Anima Mundi, something we are in desperate need of. At some point in the history of the world this may lead to an evolutionary leap in consciousness. That, in turn, may provide the means for establishing Utopia, which American progressives so eagerly crave, although I very much doubt whether that will ever be accomplished. As long the World Soul has a need for individuation, there will be a need for pathologization.

Works Cited
Hillman, James. Re-Visioning Psychology. New York: Harper Collins, 1975.

Hillman, James. The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World. Putnam: Spring, 1992.

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Globalism as the Counterfeit World Individuation

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Lotus, by Joseph Lee (2012)

 

The term, globalism, is one of those words in the English language that is very vague and confusing for most. We hear much about it in our age, mostly because it has been the dominant ideology of both Republican and Democratic parties in the United States for many years now. It has also dominated European politics, having led to the formation of the European Union. Globalism, in this context, is also known as market globalism, and has the ideology of Neoliberalism as its driving force. One hallmark of Neoliberalism is that the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer. Globalism, in the guise of the World Bank, loans money to needy nations. Then, when they can’t pay it back, the neoliberal elites rob them of their resources, sell them to private investors, and force the needy nations to impose austerity measures, usually by cutting social services. It is an insidious ideology that has absolutely raped many a nation of it’s pride, it’s sovereignty, and it’s culture. It is a dehumanizing, de-souling process that eats away at everything of value within a nation.

The World Soul rebels against such an ideology. The goal of this nightmarish plan is world government, hence the loss of independence, freedom, and national sovereignty. Movements like Euroscepticism,  which encompasses Brexit, and the presidential election of Donald Trump in America, reveal strong opposition against the globalist agenda in the collective psyche. At bottom, the World Soul does not want a unified world government run by the neoliberal elites. It is a deception to think so.

Let me tell you how I was deceived. About a year ago, I penned an article called Borders, where I lamented about the refugee crisis in Europe. I was appalled that Hungary would close its borders with razor wire and armed troops to keep them out. I was unaware of why the Hungarians were doing this. I thought they were being racist and xenophobic. I was wrong. They were trying to keep their people safe from the horrors of terrorism we have seen in Germany, France, and other European countries this past year. I was deceived into thinking this movement of globalism was a genuine example of world individuation. I was wrong. It was an attempt to force world individuation by human construction, by elites like George Soros, who has a lifelong dream of open borders, and will do anything to bring it about. This is the same George Soros who is currently funding anti-Trump protesters and rioters in American cities. Soros has been financing and fomenting revolutions around the globe the past few years, thinking he can forcibly bring about a world without borders. This is a counterfeit of the true evolution of the Anima Mundi.

I’d like to look into the archetypal dimensions of true world individuation. One of the hallmarks of James Hillman’s archetypal psychology is that the soul is multifarious, composed of many persons. He disagreed with Jung’s attempt to unify all the aspects of the soul into one undifferentiated whole. In Hillman’s view, each of the the many persons of the soul have distinctions that set them apart from the whole, even though, in a healthy psyche, there may be cooperation and goodwill between all of them. This is the gist of real world individuation.

Now, let’s elevate this to the macroscopic level. The world is composed of many different peoples, very different cultures, different norms, mores, and folkways. Neoliberal globalists only want a world where moronic, unquestioning slaves work for them, making them richer and richer. They are not concerned with the well-being of the masses. An authentic globalism would recognize that nation-states are essential for human diversity, freedom, and liberty. The idea of the nation-state retains a nation’s individual culture, laws, etc. These elements compose a nation’s soul. Learning about and cooperating with other cultures is wonderful too, as long as the various individual cultures are retained intact.

Legal immigration has been a boon to America. We have many wonderful people here that make our nation great. But some try to circumvent our laws to enter America. With what we now know about terrorism, we must insist that our immigration laws be adhered to. To not do so invites trouble.

There is a deep connection between a people and their home on the earth. It is a connection of body and the land, but also the sky above them. Much cultural tradition also stems from the constellations viewed from a nation’s particular vantage point on the planet. It is a mystery how these are connected, but connected they are, indeed. My family came from England to America in the 1600’s, but I still feel a pronounced attachment to the English countryside. It is somehow in my genes, perhaps genetic memory. 

Finally, instead of thinking of the nation-state as xenophobic and racist, think of the multiplicity of the soul, and how we are many, even though we can all be in agreement and cooperation. We could come close to world peace if we can remember to respect other nations for their individuality and culture. We will probably never get to total world peace, but I think we could come close if our leaders can learn to foster goodwill among all nations, however different we may be.

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A Deepening of Soul

doro_breger_on_local_ground
On Local Ground, by Doro Breger (1956)

One of the most crucial things we can do to further and deepen consciousness is to experience the world from different points on the circle of life. The whirling vortex of the maelstrom of soul requires that, if we are interested in inner development, we be willing to be spun in every direction until we reach the bottom. That is where transformation lies. Poe believed the bottom of his maelstrom was death.

I began to reflect how magnificent a thing it was to die in such a manner, and how foolish it was in me to think of so paltry a consideration as my own individual life, in view of so wonderful a manifestation of God’s power (A Descent Into the Maelstrom, by Edgar Allan Poe).

Death is the classic, archetypal symbol of transformation. We must be willing to die to our egos, to take on different viewpoints, according to the requirements of life. Remember, we are not simply ego personalities. There are many persons living within us. If we are willing to leap into the vortex of life, to spin faster and faster as we descend, we will draw closer to those inner selves. In them, we will find our true selves.

For me, this election year has been a harrowing ride in the maelstrom of soul. I began the year as a Bernie Sanders supporter. I have always been quite progressive. I liked his ideas. They concerned issues I had thought about for years. As the Spring wore on toward Summer, I began to realize that Sanders was just being used as a pawn in Clinton’s diabolical political strategy, just a candidate to play counterpoint to her, as she connived and lied her way to the Democratic nomination. From the Wikileaks, it was very evident how crooked the whole campaign had been. Sanders apparently made a deal with the Democrats to campaign against Hillary, drawing a contrast between a progressive agenda, and a more right-to-moderate strategy. She thought this would win her the presidency. Sanders apparently promised not to comment on her scandals, such as the email controversy, and the Clinton Foundation mess. He didn’t even complain when she stole the California primary from him. He was playing his part. And, of course, he wholeheartedly endorsed her after that.

Enter Donald Trump. Of course, Trump had been winning all over the country before I really took notice. After Bernie’s endorsement fiasco, I began listening to what Trump had to say, and I found that I liked it – a lot! All I had heard up to that point was what the mainstream media had to say about him. That was mostly lies. But as I listened to speech after speech, I found that he was concerned for working class people, of which I am rooted in. My father was a GM union man. Our city became just another casualty of Neoliberalism and joined the Rust Belt in the 1980’s. I liked what Trump had to say about destroying the Neoliberal agenda, TPP, and renegotiating NAFTA. Granted, there are issues I still disagree with, but, for the most part, I believe Donald Trump will put us back on the right track.

I allowed myself to begin thinking like a conservative, something I had despised for decades. I leaped into the maelstrom, took the contrasting view, and lived with it all these months. It has changed me. I still see the need for some progressive values, but I am also now adapted to the conservative point of view. I feel that I am more balanced now, more deepened. I can see needs where I once saw opposition and anger. I believe I have grown as a human being because of this election cycle. I have contacted persons within me I had no prior knowledge of. This is a very good thing for the psyche.

I highly recommend looking at issues from both sides of the fence. It is medicine for the soul, in my opinion. I believe my teachers, Jung and Hillman would wholeheartedly agree.

I have also been thinking about this experience from a collective point of view. I have written much about the World Soul. What is her place in this tumultuous year? She is maturing too. The level of corruption we’ve seen from the current political establishment in Washington may be unprecedented in our history. Or it may be that we have just now discovered how deep it all goes. Nevertheless, the collective Soul uses all experiences, both good and evil, to continue moving toward individuation. Now, this will never translate to Utopia, however hard we try to force it. It will, however, mean freedom and liberty for future humans (at least I pray it does). Our age is just another chapter in the long story of the Anima Mundi’s apotheosis.

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Mass Movement

800px-Ernst_Ludwig_Kirchner_Zwei_Brüder_M._(Mardersteig)_1921-1
Two Brothers, by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1921

 

The value and importance of the individual are rapidly decreasing and the chances of his being heard will vanish more and more.

This process of deterioration will be long and painful, but I fear it is inevitable. Yet in the long run it will prove to be the only way by which man’s lamentable unconsciousness, his childishness and individual weakness, can be replaced by a future man, that knows that he himself is the maker of his fate and that the State is his servant and not his master (Jung 4).

In this passage, Carl Jung is describing the state of things before, during, and after the beginning of World Wars I and II. This long process of decay is still ongoing, which is very troubling to me, for I fear for the future of my children and grandson. My generation has continued to deny goodness and love for their fellow humans, but there is arising a people who see the world in a different light. The hope of my generation is with them.

Jung says the first World War “released the hidden power of evil” (Jung 5) into the world. Prior to 1914, intellectuals believed the evils of war had been overcome after the Enlightenment, that we were rational beings who had learned more logical and reasonable ways of living. According to Jung, however, this war was “released by the accumulation of unconscious masses and their blind desires” (ibid.). 

In the years prior to 1914, the conscious mind of mankind became severed from what Jung calls “the natural laws of human existence” (ibid.). With the rise of capitalism, the masses became dehumanized slaves of industrialization. To live and work, they were herded together into large urban areas, and paid less than living wages, allowing the fruits of their labors to flow into the hands of rich elites. In the 1920’s, so-called “public relations,” which consisted of depth psychology converted into slick advertising to deceive the masses into spending what little they did earn on products they didn’t need. Lies, deception, and dehumanization led Westerners to discard the inner life of imagination, emotion, contemplation, otherwise known as the things of the soul. They centered their lives so much on materialism and capitalism, they were unaware of the pressures building within their unconscious minds. For the German people, and the world, in the 1920’s and 1930’s, this would be cataclysmic. They had no knowledge of how to integrate the awful eruption when it did flood their consciousness. The old ways of the soul were gone, superseded by scientism and capitalism. These left the soul of Western humanity destitute. Nietzsche had declared God to be dead, so there was no help from religion. The West was thrown into a maelstrom of evil. The social processes that once mitigated the ravenous unconscious drives of power, greed, and destruction had been obliterated.

Things have changed little in our era. Greed, war, racism, and just general malevolence still rule the day. But there is a mass movement that is just beginning to arise. A group of younger citizens are speaking out against tyrannical forces that work night and day to keep our world enslaved. They are becoming more aware of mankind’s Shadow and desire to meet it head on. The dark nature of humanity will need to be integrated somehow. These younger ones have seen the evil and revolted against it. If this continues, there is great hope for our planet.

 

 

Works Cited

Jung, C.G. Essays on Contemporary Events, the Psychology of Nazism. trans. R.F.C.Hull. Princeton: Bollingen, 1954.

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America’s Wotan

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Odin´s throne with Huginn and Munnin, by Wolfgang Sauber

 

In 1936, C.G. Jung wrote a very important and very timely essay for that particular period of German history, simply called Wotan. At the end of World War I, Germany was left destitute after the Treaty of Versailles. Thousands were left unemployed, inflation was out of control, and people were starving. Germany was forced to pay reparations for the war, as well as hand over territories that contained important economic resources. Jung watched from Switzerland as these conditions brought about, in his estimation, a dark eruption of the German unconscious. The “ancient god of storm and frenzy, the long quiescent Wotan” awoke from his slumber. Jung likened it to the eruption of an extinct volcano that had lay dormant for millennia. There is no need to go into the ensuing dark details. We are well aware, if we have studied twentieth century history at all, what malevolence occurred.

In his essay, Jung calls Wotan

a restless wanderer who creates unrest and stirs up strife, now here, now there, and works magic. He was soon changed by Christianity into the devil, and only lived on in fading local traditions as a ghostly hunter who was seen with his retinue, flickering like a will o’ the wisp through the stormy night.

Wotan is really the Germanic Hermes, but more his darker nature. Hermes is the wanderer, the traveler between worlds, flitting back and forth “through the stormy night,” leading souls from the Upper World to the Underworld. Hermes is a trickster, whether in male or female form. Hermes is a thief and and a cunning liar, even able to fool the great Zeus. We see another skillful deceiver in our culture right now that is just as cunning, and exemplifies Hermes’ trickery to a tee. She is one who continually toys with the truth. She is as sly as a serpent, and is never punished.

Jung mentions in his essay that

The Romans identified Wotan with Mercury, but his character does not really correspond to any Roman or Greek god, although there are certain resemblances. He is a wanderer like Mercury, for instance, he rules over the dead like Pluto and Kronos, and is connected with Dionysus by his emotional frenzy, particularly in its mantic aspect.

Mercury, of course, is the Roman Hermes. Jung interprets Wotan/Hermes as an Ergreifer, one who seizes or possesses. Ergriffenheit is “the state of being seized or possessed.” Ergriffenheit was on full display during the Nazi regime. Millions of Germans were seized by the power of Wotan, according to Jung.

Even today, millions have been seized by an unexplained force, where masses follow politicians even though they have unabashedly lied and committed crimes. Is this the same kind of power that mesmerized the Germans in the 1930’s?

Currently, in America, there are phenomena occurring that may indicate that we are experiencing some degree of this state of possession, trickery, and the eruption of a brooding darkness. Can Hermes be making his presence known once again? Immediately, one would think to connect this idea to the alleged danger of Donald Trump, but I see a darker, even more malevolent force stirring within the chaotic maelstrom of American culture. It is possible there is even a concerted effort involved. One thing is certain, there is a volcanic fury that has just begun to erupt that could be devastating, unless it can be channeled in some way for the good of our society.

I have identified Hermes as what I call the World Daimon, and that Hermes and the World Soul are mirror images of one another. This is a macrocosmic notion based on a microcosmic relationship. As above, so below.

According to Henry Corbin, the human soul is individuated not through the union with a physical body (as in Aristotle) but by becoming a perfectly polished mirror of its angel in a strictly one-to-one relationship. We realize our virtual angelicity through a progressive illumination attained on earth; we are called, by right of our origin and if we consent, to an angelomorphosis (Robert Avens, The Subtle Realm: Corbin, Sufism, Swedenborg).

Following this idea, the World Soul and the World Daimon are images of each other. Also, both have their dark aspects, which we are beginning to experience right now. Just as a human being can be seized or possessed by a malevolent force, say in the case of a megalomaniacal personality, so too can the World Soul become seized or possessed. This has occurred many times throughout history, most recently during the dark days of the Third Reich.

In my estimation, the Anima Mundi is Aphrodite. I say this because, from the union of Hermes and Aphrodite emerged Hermaphrodite, the mythical androgyne who holds such an important place in ancient mythology, religion, and alchemy. It symbolizes the culmination of the magnum opus in alchemy, the creation of the lapis philosophorum. Jung claimed the crowned hermaphrodite symbolized the Self that has transcended ego-consciousness. It is the perfect symbol for the relationship of the Anima Mundi and the Daemon Mundi

I realize this sounds fantastic, but we are dealing with ancient psychological forces, not metaphysical entities off in some other realm. These forces are very real and dwell within the human psyche. We attempt to think of them imaginatively and mythologically.

As things continue to transpire, we can only wait and hope that the dark aspects of Hermes can be moderated in some way. Hopefully, the red tide of mass destruction can be quelled.

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Everything is Out of Order

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Photograph by Evelyn Simak

 

This evening, while perusing the pages of Jean Geber’s classic, The Ever Present Origin, I ran across a passage that speaks profoundly to our current historical period:

The tendency toward chaos, decay, decline, disruption; the loss and renunciation of once legitimate values; and the rise of the devalued and worthless, which are all prominent expressions of our epoch, present major obstacles to the interpretation of manifestations of the new consciousness. Everything is out of order; even so-called “positive” attempts undertaken here and there to “save” humanity or Europe should be viewed for the most part with no less skepticism than the equally undeniable attempts to destroy mankind (Gebser 295-296, italics mine).

First of all, Jean Gebser possessed a keen ability to foresee what our world would become when the current consciousness structure, the mental-rational, would start unraveling with breakneck pace. Just this year, we’ve seen developments occur which shake the very foundations of Western society. Our time seems to be out of joint. As Hamlet said,

The time is out of joint—O cursèd spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
Nay, come, let’s go together (Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 186–190)

It is only together that we will be able to set things right in this world. The cesspool of corruption is very deep. We will have to endure much hardship in order to clean things up. 

We are living in, what Gebser called, the deficient mental-rational, which is the most decrepit era of this particular focus of consciousness, this consciousness structure. The use of ratio to fashion a device that could destroy the earth signaled that the end of this phase was at hand. Since then, society has been unraveling at the seams. This election year, we have seen things we have never seen before.

There is hope, though. We are ripe for the transcendence of the mental-rational mode of consciousness. This will take a goodly number of humans willing to lay aside the old ways of egomaniacal and irrational actions and thoughts, and embrace a new integral consciousness.

Works Cited

Gebser, Jean. The Ever-Present Origin. Trans. by Noel Barstad and Algis Mickunas. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985.

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The Deluded Idea of Manifest Destiny

In the nineteenth century, the idea of Manifest Destiny led many Americans to believe they were chosen by God to expand this “experiment in democracy” across the North American continent, with a notion they were spreading freedom, egalitarianism, and individualism to all people. I am certain many Native Americans would beg to differ.

At the end of the nineteenth century, having brutally conquered all Native American cultures and extending the boundaries of the country to the Pacific Ocean, the United States desired to spread their exceptional brand of liberty to other parts of the globe. In 1892, the Republican Party, in a quest for the White House, put forth this statement in its platform:

We reaffirm our approval of the Monroe Doctrine and believe in the achievement of the manifest destiny of the Republic in its broadest sense.

This may have been left purposefully vague so that it could be loosely interpreted later, under the McKinley administration, as the US began seizing other lands overseas. The Territory of Hawaii was appropriated in 1898.

On the evening of February 15 1898, the U.S.S Maine suddenly exploded and sank while harbored in Havana, Cuba. Historians debate the cause to this day. American forces sided with Cuban rebels against the Spanish, and thus began the Spanish-American War. It lasted about ten weeks and was fought, not only in the Caribbean, but also in Pacific regions, as well. After Spain sued for peace, the US took control of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.

Having first assisted the Filipino rebels, the Katipunan, in their fight against Spain, the US entered into a war with the rebels. The conflict was long and bloody, lasting several years. Loss of life in the Philippines, at the hands of the United States, between the years 1899-1905, has been estimated at around 1.4 million people, including many who died from a cholera outbreak. Filipino historian, E. San Juan, Jr. has contended that the US committed acts of genocide during the conflict. Many of the dead were civilians.

As with the American Indians, U.S. colonization involved, among others, the “destruction of the specific character of a persecuted group by forced transfer of children, forced exile, prohibition of the use of the national language, destruction of books, documents, monuments, and objects of historical, artistic or religious value.” The goal of all colonialism is the cultural and social death of the conquered natives, in effect, genocide (E. San Juan, Jr.).

On January 9, 1900, American imperialist, Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana, provided the real reasons for America’s brutality in the scourge of the Filipino people:

Mr. President, the times call for candor. The Philippines are ours forever… . And just beyond the Philippines are China’s illimitable markets. We will not retreat from either… . We will not renounce our part in the mission of our race, trustee, under God, of the civilization of the world… .

The Pacific is our ocean… . Where shall we turn for consumers of our surplus? Geography answers the question. China is our natural customer. … The Philippines give us a base at the door of all the East… .

No land in America surpasses in fertility the plains and valleys of Luzon. Rice and coffee, sugar and cocoanuts, hemp and tobacco… . The wood of the Philippines can supply the furniture of the world for a century to come. At Cebu the best informed man on the island told me that 40 miles of Cebu’s mountain chain are practically mountains of coal… .

I have a nugget of pure gold picked up in its present form on the banks of a Philippine creek… .

My own belief is that there are not 100 men among them who comprehend what Anglo-Saxon self-government even means, and there are over 5,000,000 people to be governed.

It has been charged that our conduct of the war has been cruel. Senators, it has been the reverse… . Senators must remember that we are not dealing with Americans or Europeans. We are dealing with Orientals (Quoted in A People’s History Of The United States, by Howard Zinn, pages 313-314.

This is American imperialism in a nutshell; profit before the lives of human beings. The abandonment of morality in exchange for yet another dollar, while innocent men, women, and children are wiped from the Earth. Nothing has changed to this day.

Just prior to the Philippine-American War, President McKinley came to a fateful decision, taking the lives of millions into his hands:

When I next realized that the Philippines had dropped into our laps I confess I did not know what to do with them. I sought counsel from all sides—Democrats as well as Republicans—but got little help. I thought first we would take only Manila; then Luzon; then other islands perhaps also. I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight; and I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed Almighty God for light and guidance more than one night. And one night late it came to me this way—I don’t know how it was, but it came: (1) That we could not give them back to Spain—that would be cowardly and dishonorable; (2) that we could not turn them over to France and Germany—our commercial rivals in the Orient—that would be bad business and discreditable; (3) that we could not leave them to themselves—they were unfit for self-government—and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain’s was; and (4) that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died. And then I went to bed, and went to sleep, and slept soundly, and the next morning I sent for the chief engineer of the War Department (our map-maker), and I told him to put the Philippines on the map of the United States (pointing to a large map on the wall of his office), and there they are, and there they will stay while I am President!

Source: General James Rusling, “Interview with President William McKinley,” The Christian Advocate 22 January 1903, 17. Reprinted in Daniel Schirmer and Stephen Rosskamm Shalom, eds., The Philippines Reader (Boston: South End Press, 1987), 22–23.

These words reveal the state of mind of our 25th President, just after the psychopathic despoilment  of the Filipino people and their country. The effrontery of these statements is contemptible. These words demonstrate the avaricious attitude of American imperialism and racism at this time in our history. The theory of “manifest destiny” had been reinterpreted as license to slay millions of people in order to provide profits for American companies and expand American territory. The manner in which religious zealots spew hatred in the name of Christianity, or any other religion for that matter, is morally repugnant.

Instead of saying he wanted to educate, uplift, civilize, and Christianize the Filipino people, why didn’t McKinley just tell the truth? America saw the natural resources of the Philippines and coveted them. American companies wanted to exploit the richness of the Philippines to line the pockets of corporate shareholders and executives. The US had already been doing the same thing for decades. Historian Sydney Lens postulates that “the urge for expansion – at the expense of other peoples – goes back to the beginnings of the United States itself” (The Forging of the American Empire).

Thus begins the story of America in the twentieth century.

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The State of Things

Mountain Sunrise, by Thomas Cole (1826)

I realize it has been quite awhile since I posted to this blog. As I’ve said in the past, the Muse, at times, departs for reasons unknown. I can say, however, that I’ve been quite troubled recently by the current state of things, not only in the political world this election year, but in the general malaise that seems to have enwrapped us in a black cloak of darkness. It is not easy to remain motivated in such an atmosphere of racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and perpetual war. The World Soul has a very dark Shadow, indeed. These feelings, among other things, have brought about a dismal winter of soul these past few months. Sol, however, has arisen. Wonderful days lie ahead for all who cherish truth and honesty.

You may have noticed on my Twitter feed that I am a big fan of Bernie Sanders. I am usually not one to get excited about a politician, but I feel Bernie is the real deal. Due to the corruption of our political system, he may not get the Democratic nomination, but, just the fact that he has come so far in his campaign is evidence of great hope for the future. There are tectonic shifts occurring. The inhabitants of our nation (and the world) have had enough corruption. As the old guard right-wingers fade away, there is a new generation arising who will not accept the brainwashing of mass media news agencies and loudmouth radio talk-show hosts. These new advocates for fairness and human rights refuse to listen to establishments types who have sold them down the river for their own personal gain. Along with Bernie Sanders, this new generation are ready to tackle the future with courage. The ideas Bernie espouses might sound like pie-in-the-sky to some Americans, but many of the same concepts have been implemented successfully in other nations.

I like Bernie because he has soul. He has a heart. He cares for his constituents enough that he refuses to accept Wall Street money, unlike his opponent. He has impressed me more than any presidential candidate in my lifetime. I wish him the best this year.

Now, I plan on doing some soul spelunking in the next few days. Hopefully, this meets with your approval. 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Mark

 

 

 

 

 

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The Imagination as Emissary

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Leaves on Ground (2012), by Joseph Lee

One must be careful not to confuse the primary images, or archetypes, as existing on another plane in the same way as Plato’s Forms. They are not otherworldly, but part of our animaterial universe. They abide in our bodies and in our souls, these being one and the same. Biology and psychology should not be separate disciplines. The universe in itself is not dualistic.

Does the imagination lie in the brain? It doesn’t matter. We are composed of animaterial particles through and through, as is the entire universe. All is soul. The imagination is an emissary of images. Images are received via the imagination and flow to our conscious minds. They originate in unconscious depths and rise to our awareness through the emissary. Unconscious depth is not otherworldly, but part of the animaterial universe.

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Thoughts On the Eve of a New Year

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This has been a very troubling year in many ways. The American presidential politicking has been nauseating. I don’t believe I’ve seen anything like it in my lifetime. Xenophobia and racism seem to be rearing their atrocious heads in an entirely new way. Not to mention those who refuse to accept the facts concerning global warming, world hunger, homelessness, and the health-care crisis. I think I have come to the realization that homo sapiens sapiens may not be able to extricate itself from the destruction it has caused on this precious planet. Right now, there is nothing more important to our leaders than corporate profit. I see no signs this will change in the near future. In the past, I have been optimistic. I have written extensively on this blog of the Anima Mundi and her quest for individuation, but that still continues. It’s just that we may not be the human species that assists her in bringing it to pass.

What if evolution needs to provide an entirely new species of human to solve the issues that threaten our survival? Scary thought, I must say, but isn’t this the way evolution works? What give us the right to think we are the final, perfected human species? The new human species will receive a widening of consciousness. The folly of our mindset will appear as obvious to them as the Neanderthals’ consciousness does to us. Utopia has never been possible with our species due to our selfishness, and war-like nature. But the new human will have overcome these, and may be able to bring about a new paradise on earth.

Am I just dreaming, or this possible? Nietzsche called this new human Ubermensch, or Overman. Jean Gebser’s integrative vision calls it the “integral” mode of consciousness, or homo integralis.

Research from the Neanderthal Genome Project has found that Neanderthals and modern humans share DNA, meaning they were contemporaneous and interbred about 50,000 years ago. Are there examples of homo integralis on the earth right now? If so, this is very positive for the future of our planet.

As each day passes, we see more and more evidence that mankind has come to the end of its rope. Mass shootings, the police shooting unarmed people, insatiable greed, government corruption, the loss of civil rights, etc. My fellow-blogger, Scott Preston, puts it this way:

…the present crisis is a crisis of consciousness. It’s a crisis of homo sapiens. The human species is in the process of negating itself, whether it understands this dynamic or not. And the abyss or precipice is that this “deconstruction” may indeed become a literal self-annihilation, a self-extinction (Planetary Man, Global Soul, by Scott Preston).

Scott is describing our current age as one in which ego-consciousness is being broken down and deconstructed. The overinflated ego of homo sapiens sapiens is an evolutionary mistake that must be corrected. The natural selective “choice” that inclined man down the path of an unbound ego will be rejected as being too dangerous to man’s survival.

Now, as the new year unfolds before us, I am asking myself, “What can I do here and now to improve our world?”

Happy New Year to you all!

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Truth and Lies, Part II

Yesterday, I discussed Nietzsche’s idea of truth and lie, the latter being the subversion of mankind’s conventional naming system. Unconsciously, we lie to ourselves and to each other because we have forgotten that the names of things are not the same as the original experience of the things themselves. The meaning of liar, of course, is relative, according to one’s perception. From the point of view of the masses, a liar is one who breaks with the accepted convention of not believing that language really describes reality. From Nietzsche’s perspective, we are all liars, since, to exist socially, we all use language.

To reiterate, what exactly is truth? From the perspective of the usual conceptual framework, Nietzsche believes it to be

A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and; anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding.

The experience of the “mass of images” originally flowing from the human imagination, like lava from an erupting volcano, was replaced at some point in the history of consciousness with the cushy “firmness” and “security” of an “invincible faith,” the lie that these images are the things themselves. Mankind has even forgotten “that he himself is an artistically creating subject.” In this sentence, Nietzsche has in mind an authentic sense of truth. Since “the drive toward the formation of metaphors is the fundamental human drive,” the practice of science and mathematics (take heed, all you STEM supporters) will not vanquish and satisfy it. The closest we will come to authentic truth is to engage in myth and art. Even if some of us are scientists, take time for these magical areas of your life. Otherwise, we really are living a lie, and denying that we are creators. The drive to form metaphors

continually confuses the conceptual categories and cells by bringing forward new transferences, metaphors, and metonymies. It continually manifests an ardent desire to refashion the world which presents itself to waking man, so that it will be as colorful, irregular, lacking in results and coherence, charming, and eternally new as the world of dreams. Indeed, it is only by means of the rigid and regular web of concepts that the waking man clearly sees that he is awake; and it is precisely because of this that he sometimes thinks that he must be dreaming when this web of concepts is torn by art.

Life should not be ruled by ratiocination, quantification, and cool logic. To be replete with meaning, life should be experienced as a dream, as a myth, with all the wonders and miracles that occur in dreams and myths. And please don’t take this literally, friends. We are discussing the drive to create metaphors.

…because of the way that myth takes it for granted that miracles are always happening, the waking life of a mythically inspired people, the ancient Greeks, for instance, more closely resembles a dream than it does the waking world of a scientifically disenchanted thinker. When every tree can suddenly speak as a nymph, when a god in the shape of a bull can drag away maidens, when even the goddess Athena herself is suddenly seen in the company of Peisastratus driving through the market place of Athens with a beautiful team of horses-and this is what the honest Athenian believed- then, as in a dream, anything is possible at each moment, and all of nature swarms around man as if it were nothing but a masquerade of the gods, who were merely amusing themselves by deceiving men in all these shapes.

Such a life sets up a constant stream of creation and possibilities. Anything is possible. I think this is the kind of life we have discussed before, in the work of Jung, and Hillman. It is the dynamic flow of soul. It is what Gebser calls the “new consciousness.”

When engaged in art and myth-making, “that master of deception, the intellect, is free; it is released from its former slavery and celebrates its Saturnalia.” Now, guided by intuitions, the free intellect smashes the “framework and planking of concepts,” and then creatively reconstructs it in strange, new ways.  Think of a few of the creative movements that erupted not too long after Nietzsche’s death: Expressionism, Surrealism, and Dada. These are examples of ways the old conceptual framework was smashed and reconstructed, as if reality were so much clay we may fashion using our imaginations.

This is the life I want to live. I hope you choose to, as well. Happy Saturnalia!

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Truth and Lies, Part I

What is Truth, by Nikolai Ge

 

This is a continuation of thoughts related to Nietzsche’s watershed essay, On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense.

I left off yesterday discussing Nietzsche’s assertion that man invented language as a “binding designation,” to bring us as close to “pure truth” as we can get.

…a uniformly valid and binding designation is invented for things, and this legislation of language likewise establishes the first laws of truth. For the contrast between truth and lie arises here for the first time. The liar is a person who uses the valid designations, the words, in order to make something which is unreal appear to be real (Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense).

Man invented the words of languages as “valid designations” of truth. By accepting these,

…we believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things–metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities .

The words we use have originated by equating things that are different. Take snowflakes, for example. Every snowflake is unique, yet we designate all snowflakes by the word, snowflake. This word is not the true thing, but merely a designator of similarities. The similarities of all snowflakes leads to the invention of forms, as in Plato’s philosophy, where, in a separate world somewhere, there exists a perfect snowflake. Of course, this sort of mental meandering sets up a state of dualism, and brings about a plethora of other philosophical problems, which this short article cannot deal with.

When words are created to designate “truths,” there arises a necessary contrast between truth and lie. But a liar is not defined in the manner in which we are accustomed to. Nietzsche tells us that a liar is someone “who uses the valid designations, the words, in order to make something which is unreal appear to be real.” Therefore, we are all liars, by necessity, since all of us use the valid designations. We “lie according to a fixed convention, to lie with the herd and in a manner binding upon everyone” So, we perform our “duty which society imposes in order to exist: to be truthful means to employ the usual metaphors.” Furthermore, mankind

…forgets that this is the way things stand for him. Thus he lies in the manner indicated, unconsciously and in accordance with habits which are centuries’ old; and precisely by means of this unconsciousness and forgetfulness he arrives at his sense of truth.

The ramifications of Nietzsche’s thought in this essay are staggering. His ideas, here, were revolutionary in his day. It was a total break with the epistemologies presented prior to 1873. We arrive at our sense of truth via unconscious mendacity, because we have forgotten that this is simply the way things are. When humans begin to use language, they lay aside all intuitions and immediate impressions of the world around him, placing “his behavior under the control of abstractions.” The reducing of images into concepts now creates a totally new world of knowledge:

Everything which distinguishes man from the animals depends upon this ability to volatilize perceptual metaphors in a schema, and thus to dissolve an image into a concept. For something is possible in the realm of these schemata which could never be achieved with the vivid first impressions: the construction of a pyramidal order according to castes and degrees, the creation of a new world of laws, privileges, subordinations, and clearly marked boundaries-a new world, one which now confronts that other vivid world of first impressions as more solid, more universal, better known, and more human than the immediately perceived world, and thus as the regulative and imperative world.

By this order, we have landed on the shores of this new world of cool logic, mathematics, the rational, and, finally, Gebser’s deficient mode of rational consciousness, of which we are now reaping the whirlwind. The descent of rational man began when we accepted the methodology of arriving at truth by lying. It is lying because we accept, as absolutely true, things which are not absolutely true. Nietzsche uses the example of the word, mammal:

If I make up the definition of a mammal, and then, after inspecting a camel, declare “look, a mammal’ I have indeed brought a truth to light in this way, but it is a truth of limited value. That is to say, it is a thoroughly anthropomorphic truth which contains not a single point which would be “true in itself” or really and universally valid apart from man.

Such mendacity arises from viewing man as the center of the universe, as if nature were meant to serve us. Nietzsche says, “what the investigator of such truths is seeking is only the metamorphosis of the world into man.” The primary error we make is believing that the designated metaphors are true in themselves.

Due to this sort of dissimulation, we are now enmeshed in a

…conceptual crap game [where] “truth” means using every die in the designated manner, counting its spots accurately, fashioning the right categories, and never violating the order of caste and class rank.

More later………..

 

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Clever Beasts, Part II

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My previous article discussed the initial paragraphs of Nietzsche’s essay, On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense. I left off with his conclusion that man is “deeply immersed in illusions and in dream images…” The manner in which the intellect operates is characterized by deception, both of others and of ourselves. We perceive things and think we are seeing them as they are in themselves, but this is a lie fashioned by our minds. It is a mechanism of self-preservation, according to Nietzsche. Since nature has chosen to fashion mankind such that we do not wage the battle for existence with horns or with the sharp teeth of beasts of prey,” dissimulation, as an art, has become highly acute in us. With this in mind, Nietzsche concludes that “there is almost nothing which is less comprehensible than how an honest and pure drive for truth could have arisen among” us. But it did somehow arise, for there are those among us who possess this drive, or else I would not be penning this short article. Therefore,

What does man actually know about himself? Is he, indeed, ever able to perceive himself completely, as if laid out in a lighted display case? Does nature not conceal most things from him-even concerning his own body-in order to confine and lock him within a proud, deceptive consciousness, aloof from the coils of the bowels, the rapid flow of the blood stream, and the intricate quivering of the fibers! She threw away the key. And woe to that fatal curiosity which might one day have the power to peer out and down through a crack in the chamber of consciousness and then suspect that man is sustained in the indifference of his ignorance by that which is pitiless, greedy, insatiable, and murderous-as if hanging in dreams on the back of a tiger. Given this situation, where in the world could the drive for truth have come from?

So, what do we really know about ourselves? Can we know ourselves completely? It was Heraclitus who first said, Nature loves to hide (Fragment 10, trans, by G.W.T. Patrick). Nature does, indeed, conceal most things from us, but not all things. Even though it seems nature confines us “within a proud, deceptive consciousness,” this does not mean we must remain in this state. Remember what Heraclitus said, “Into the same river you could not step twice” (ibid.). Yes, nature does conceal itself, but it also changes constantly. This infers we are not locked within a deceptive consciousness. In the end, it may mean we cannot completely know ourselves, but we might be able “to peer out and down through a crack in the chamber of consciousness.” There is a drive for truth. We know this beyond all doubt. This is not one of our self-deceptions.

There is an initial step toward the “truth drive” we must understand. Since we cannot know truth in and of itself, something must be invented that represents truth: “That is to say, a uniformly valid and binding designation is invented for things, and this legislation of language likewise establishes the first laws of truth.” In other words, truth can be conveyed, albeit in a limited fashion, through language. The thing-in-itself, which Nietzsche calls “pure truth,” is incomprehensible, and “not in the least worth striving for” (Nietzsche, at this point in his career, was still adhering to the Kantian distinction of phenomenon and noumenon; he later rejected it and overcame metaphysical dualism). The creator of languages only desires to demonstrate “the relations of things to men, and for expressing these relations he lays hold of the boldest metaphors.” And now we come to a fascinating passage:

…we believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things–metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities. In the same way that the sound appears as a sand figure, so the mysterious X of the thing in itself first appears as a nerve stimulus, then as an image, and finally as a sound. Thus the genesis of language does not proceed logically in any case, and all the material within and with which the man of truth, the scientist, and the philosopher later work and build, if not derived from never-never land, is a least not derived from the essence of things.

If you think about this, Nietzsche is exactly correct. The initial entity we deal with in our process of knowing is the image. Jung also believed this, as did James Hillman:

In the beginning is the image; first imagination then perception; first fantasy then reality…Man is primarily an image-maker and our psychic substance consists of images; our being is imaginal being, an existence in imagination. We are indeed such stuff as dreams are made on (James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology, p. 23).

Prior to our perceiving anything in this world, there are images that create our reality. Jung said, “The psyche creates reality every day.” Our consciousness is totally dependent upon this vast storehouse of images we call soul. Soul is image and image is soul. The only way we experience anything in this world is because of our ability to imagine. We imagine and create constantly. Our consciousness would not exist without images. Images are the irreducible elements inherent in all things.

Nietzsche is referring to the metaphors of language, i.e. words. A metaphor begins, perhaps, as a nerve stimulus, then as a picture in the mind, then as a sound. These sounds become words in many different forms, according to one’s language and culture. I find it interesting that Carl Jung likened the archetypes to instincts. Images originate in the body, in human Being (in the Heideggerian sense). They come from the instincts/archetypes. These are the sources of all knowledge, in my opinion.

I will continue with this line of inquiry in my next article.

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Clever Beasts, Part I

elmyr7-644x662

Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of “world history,” but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die. One might invent such a fable, and yet he still would not have adequately illustrated how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature. There were eternities during which it did not exist. And when it is all over with the human intellect, nothing will have happened. For this intellect has no additional mission which would lead it beyond human life. Rather, it is human, and only its possessor and begetter takes it so solemnly-as though the world’s axis turned within it. But if we could communicate with the gnat, we would learn that he likewise flies through the air with the same solemnity, that he feels the flying center of the universe within himself. There is nothing so reprehensible and unimportant in nature that it would not immediately swell up like a balloon at the slightest puff of this power of knowing. And just as every porter wants to have an admirer, so even the proudest of men, the philosopher, supposes that he sees on all sides the eyes of the universe telescopically focused upon his action and thought (F. Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense, 1873).

This is quite an humbling statement from our friend, Nietzsche; it sets the seemingly all-knowing scientist and philosopher in his or her proper place. That “mendacious minute of world history,” in which the clever beast invents the art of knowing, may be temporal, even though we pompously view it as the beginning of something unending. The believer in Platonic Idealism will violently rail against these statements, for this violates every precept of that doctrine. Likewise, Christians will hurl accusations of heresy at the mere mention that the art of knowing will dissipate with the death of that great star. Since it created the gathering of knowledge, humanity believes itself to be the center and master of the universe. This is, of course, the rankest form of hubris.

If you read on in the essay, Nietzsche goes on to tell us, “The pride connected with knowing and sensing lies like a blinding fog over the eyes and senses of men, thus deceiving them concerning the value of existence” (ibid.). An extreme pretentiousness has begotten a form of deception that blinds us entirely to the nature of existence and truth. “As a means for the preserving of the individual, the intellect unfolds its principle powers in dissimulation” (ibid.). Man is the master of dissimulation. This is without a doubt, symptomatic of the deficient form of the mental-rational mode of consciousness, spoken of by Jean Gebser.

Deception, flattering, lying, deluding, talking behind the back, putting up a false front, living in borrowed splendor, wearing a mask, hiding behind convention, playing a role for others and for oneself-in short, a continuous fluttering around the solitary flame of vanity-is so much the rule and the law among men that there is almost nothing which is less comprehensible than how an honest and pure drive for truth could have arisen among them (ibid.). 

This is our culture in a nutshell. These are the impediments that prevent any form of individuation, any form of deepening consciousness. We will not profit by a return to a purer, more enlightened era; mankind has been like this since the birth of the intellect. Some future Utopia will not solve our problems either.

They are deeply immersed in illusions and in dream images; their eyes merely glide over the surface of things and see “forms.” Their senses nowhere lead to truth; on the contrary, they are content to receive stimuli and, as it were, to engage in a groping game on the backs of things (ibid).

Empirical data and the quantifiable will not be our saviors. While beneficial to humanity in some ways, science is still living in that deep, dense fog that causes it to blindly grope in the darkness.

Politicians are the most deceived, and most deceiving, group of all humans. While “normal” people engage daily in dissimulation to a certain extent, according to their natures, politicians are absolute masters of deception, possessing finely honed words of rhetoric designed to cause the bleating sheep who follow them to do their bidding, while they look on approvingly. The most mendacious among them move to the head of the herd. These have the ability to deceive the most sheep into voting for them. One of their primary tactics is demagoguery. By preaching xenophobia and racism, and thereby inflaming the passions of the masses, their agenda is furthered.

But this begs the question, Who, among us, knows? If mankind is blinded by hubris because we possess intellect, of what good is the quest for truth, and where did the desire even originate in the first place?

More to come…

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The Emergent Awareness of Soul

Procession of Carpenters, Fresco from the Bottega del Profumiere (Perfumer's Workshop) (VI, 7, 8), Pompeii.
Procession of Carpenters, Fresco from the Bottega del Profumiere (Perfumer’s Workshop) (VI, 7, 8), Pompeii.

…the essential characteristic of the mythical structure is the emergent awareness of soul (Gebser 61).

In the schema of Jean Gebser, the mythical structure is the mode of awareness that appears prior to the mental-rational structure of consciousness. It is characterized by a two-dimensional, unperspectival level of awareness. There is no real awareness of space, and only a natural awareness of time. This means an awareness of the movements of time through natural events, such as the changing of seasons, the moon cycles, the movement of planets, etc. This all occurs in a world without spatial awareness. The cyclical movement of nature is the predominant human point of view at this time. It is cyclical, so there is no movement forward in space. It is only circular movement from pole to pole; it doesn’t go anywhere. It is an endless circularity. The shifting between poles seems to create a unique energy that initiates the emergence of a new consciousness.  Thus, from this experience mankind creates symbols and myths. The emerging of imaginative thinking signals the emergence of the individual soul.

Such is the world of humans around 40,000 years ago, the era of late Cro-Magnon man, or “European early modern humans” (EEMH), as scientists now call the humans of that age, and his descendants. They begin to form a symbolic and mythological worldview, bringing about the emergence of the soul, and begin to distinguish themselves as individuals. The Ego, at this point, is certainly not yet developed, but it is starting to form. This is the advent of the road to self-consciousness.

Prior to the mythical structure, the soul is not regarded as being that important. In the fully mature mythical mode of consciousness, however, soul becomes very crucial, indeed, to the human experience. Gebser explains that

Myth is the closing of mouth and eyes; since it is a silent, inward-directed contemplation, it renders the soul visible so that it may be visualized, represented, heard, and made audible (Gebser 67).

And,

what is viewed inwardly, as in a dream, has its conscious emergence and polar complement in poetically shaped utterance (ibid.).

This is the advent of imagination. Prior to the mythical structure, “vital connections reach awareness and are manifested in emotional forms” (ibid.), whereas the mythical has “an imaginatory consciousness, reflected in the imagistic nature of myth and responsive to the soul and sky of the ancient cosmos” (ibid.).

Some very important archetypal motifs become evident in mythology in the period from about 20,000 B.C.E to the point when consciousness mutates to the mental structure around 500 B.C.E: stories about the cosmos, especially the Sun and Moon; the genesis of the earth and of mankind; myths of sea voyages, such as that of Odysseus; all other Greek myths, especially those of Hades, Narcissus, and Athena. This is not to mention the comparative myths of humans around the world. Joseph Campbell aptly demonstrates the importance of these.

On the importance to us today of this form, and all other forms, of consciousness that have emerged, or are emerging, Gebser sums up succinctly in this statement:

Everyone who is intent upon surviving–not only the earth but also life–with worth and dignity, and living rather than passively accepting life, must sooner or later pass through the agonies of emergent consciousness (Gebser 73).

This agrees with James Hillman’s position that the nature of the soul is to pathologize.

 

Works Cited

Gebser, Jean. The Ever-Present Origin. Trans. by Noel Barstad and Algis Mickunas. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985.

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Dreams of a Planetary Society

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Die gefrorene Stadt, by Matthias Zimmermann (Künstler)

The task of constructing a global commonwealth  — a planetary civilisation — which still preserves the integrity and dignity of different human experiences of the Earth, and one in which all kinds of different people can still feel at home in the Earth, is the Great Work of our time. It requires a different and more adequate consciousness structure — an integrating consciousness. That means, largely, a switch from an “either/or” type of logic to a “both/and” type of logic. This really isn’t a simple matter for those who have been schooled from birth in the former, and who everywhere think in terms of dualisms (Scott Preston, Person and Planet, The Chrysalis).

I suppose you’ve realized by now I am a huge fan of blogger, Scott Preston. His website contains some of the best writing on the Internet.

I’ve been thinking of this paragraph all day, contemplating how far we are from realizing a truly planetary society, where all people of the world can feel comfortable being a global citizen, where they “can feel at home in the Earth.” It would probably be easier to colonize Mars, but what good will that do for the billions of souls who yearn for true freedom? The obstacles seem insurmountable. But just imagine being one of the early humans who, many, many thousands of years ago, trudged out of Africa and migrated to lands all over the world. Think of the difficulties these people faced for generations upon generations, to finally come to where we are now. We all trace our lineage back to those stalwart souls (this is a starting point of commonality for a new global society). At that point in the human journey, they had no idea what lay ahead for them. The thought of traveling to the moon would have blown their minds. Is the thought of a global commonwealth such an impossible idea?

Scott is right. It will take a transformation of consciousness (or mutation, according to Jean Gebser) to get there. Those of us who love peace, who eschew greed and malice, who desire that our world be a good home for all peoples, we will dream big dreams that require an equally big consciousness, a kind that humans have never experienced before. The more we reach for the big dreams, the easier it will be to get there. Gradually, by stretching our minds, by properly caring for our souls, human consciousness will evolve. Then, we will have the world we dream of.

What prevents this from occurring now? It seems to be in large part due to the desire to roll back the clock to some distant point in the past, where many believe society was better. Sadly, it also has much to do with religion. Religious belief structures are inextricably ingrained in the current consciousness structure of the world, so getting everyone to agree, even to “agree to disagree,” will be extremely difficult. That may be the most difficult task of all. But there are others. Agreement on a form of government that is fair to all seems impossible. But, again, think about those early humans who trekked around the planet. Sure, it was over a great period of time, but they did it. If we survive, it may take an equal number of years to achieve our dreams. The important point is that it can be done, eventually.

It is hard to imagine such a world with our current perspective. The entire point of view of human thinking will need to change. The current deficient mental-rational funk simply will not do. Dualistic thinking will not suffice. Forget Descartes. He had his day in the limelight. Glean what is useful from him and move on. The same with Newton. Learn his ideas and move on. Don’t build a city in his name. It is the same with all thinkers. Let them teach us what is useful for the mutation of our consciousness, what can open our minds to new possibilities, then move on down the road. As Preston suggests, mankind requires a switch from either-or thinking to both-and thinking. There is no other way to transform ourselves into what Nietzsche envisioned, the Overman, or the Transhuman, as Preston likes to call the self-realized, individuated Human.

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The Umpqua Community College Shootings

The Nightmare, by John Henry Fuseli, 1781
The Nightmare, by John Henry Fuseli, 1781

Another gun rampage, another massacre today, this time on the campus of Umpqua Community College in southwestern Oregon. Add thirteen to the many senselessly killed in the past several decades at the hands of those seemingly possessed by what Scott Preston calls “ultimate self-contradiction leading to self-annihilation (A Tsunami of Unreason II, The Chrysalis). We are living in the midst of what Nietzsche predicted well over a century ago, and what came after his pronouncement of the death of God:

What I relate is the history of the next two centuries. I describe what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism (Nietzsche, The Will to Power, pg. 3).

Nietzsche knew the forces that had become manifest in the earth. He recognized the deficiencies of rational thought that transformed the minds of the people and Western culture. But he also knew that nihilism has two faces: a destructive side, which we usually see, and a creative side.

In January of 2014, I wrote these words concerning nihilism:

Nihilism is a transitional stage in the process of overcoming oneself. Many times, the thinker will arrive at the edge of the Maelstrom (my metaphor, not Nietzsche’s) after deciding that all is meaningless. The Maelstrom makes one giddy, its potency is overwhelming, its possibility incomprehensible. Frightened by the roaring, gyrating turmoil, most turn away, commit suicide, or live the remainder of their lives in torment (Nihilism as a Precursor to Transformation).

This turning away is what I suspect most of these shooter-killers are doing. In this era of what Gebser calls the deficient mental-rational mode of consciousness, we all daily face degrees of nihilism. The good thing is that some of us can deal with it and remain on the path to emergent consciousness and the coming era of integration. On the other hand, some us can’t deal with it. Many of these persons turn to the destruction of others and themselves.

Nihilism is an extremely powerful force which has the ability to wreak utter havoc. We have seen its decadent side during most of the twentieth century, especially since the beginning of The Great War in 1917, as well as what we have experienced so far in this century. Nietzsche believed in an “active” and “passive” nihilism.” Passive nihilism is a decaying, depraved perversion. The active nihilist actively seeks to overcome this state of decay. It is a revolutionary mindset, the philosophizing with a hammer, if necessary, to break down old, decrepit values, transforming oneself into the Self one is meant to be.

The decrepit side of nihilism is self-contradictory and disintegrative. These are characteristics of the deficient mental-rational mode of consciousness. The shooter-killers are souls divided against themselves. Instead of seeking harmony within themselves, they have, whether consciously or unconsciously, thoroughly embraced a meaningless and irrational existence. Their souls have been annihilated.

We hear much about gun control when these massacres occur. I am of the opinion that guns are definitely too easily procured these days, but this is not the answer. It is the reply of the knee-jerk reactionary. Scott Preston does a good job of describing this type of person:

The reactionary, however, isn’t really given to honest reflection, self-evaluation, sincere self-appraisal, or self-knowledge. Instead, rather than honestly face one’s own self-contradictions and duplicities,  ideological reconstruction, revisionism, lip-service paid to “principle”, and rationalisation (and failing that, violence) are the usual resorts of the reactionary mentality and attitude, regardless of how irrational, absurd, or untruthful these may be (The Reactionary, The Chrysalis).

In the case of gun control, the advocates would be reactionaries of the political left. There are also reactionaries of the political right, such as Kim Davis, who refuse to grant marriage licenses to gay couples. Both these types are prisoners of the deficient mental-rational type of consciousness. These two types have a stranglehold on our culture. No, gun control will not suffice to stop these killings. We must learn about soul, about consciousness, and most of all about our true selves. We must learn to harmonize with the earth instead of fighting against it. Let us lay down the repudiated thinking of The Enlightenment and embrace the future.

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Consciousness and Water

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Sea Witch, by Frank Frazetta, 1967

 

Go visit the Prairies in June, when for scores on scores of miles you wade knee-deep among Tiger-lilies—what is the one charm wanting?—Water—there is not a drop of water there! Were Niagara but a cataract of sand, would you travel your thousand miles to see it? Why did the poor poet of Tennessee, upon suddenly receiving two handfuls of silver, deliberate whether to buy him a coat, which he sadly needed, or invest his money in a pedestrian trip to Rockaway Beach? Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, at some time or other crazy to go to sea? Why upon your first voyage as a passenger, did you yourself feel such a mystical vibration, when first told that you and your ship were now out of sight of land? Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity, and own brother of Jove? Surely all this is not without meaning. And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable phantom of life; and this is the key to it all (Melville ).

What is this mysterious attraction we have to the sea? Melville calls it “the ungraspable phantom of life…the key to it all.” Since the dawning of human consciousness, the importance of water has been paramount. Civilizations were usually created near great bodies of water. Was it simply convenience, economics, or was the lure of the sea, lakes, and rivers something deeper, more primal? 

It is not surprising that the human body and the physical earth are both about 75% water, thus asserting once again the validity of the Hermetic principle, As above, So below. It seems to apply universally, especially in the relationship between the earth and mankind.

The beginning of humanity lies in the seas and oceans. The image of the deep ocean is seared like a brand in our consciousness. It symbolizes the most primordial aspects of human being. It is no surprise that Melville would turn to this image to symbolize Ishmael’s quest for self-realization. Heraclitus tells us, “Water comes into existence out of earth, and soul out of water.” Soul, earth, and water are very closely intermingled. The ocean has been considered for millennia to be a symbol of the unfathomable and limitless, but also of potentiality, for all creation proceeds from it, the fons et origo. Jung considered the ocean to be a prime symbol for the collective unconscious. This tells me that soul is this ocean, although no one symbol can encompass it’s depth. Marcel Proust profoundly comments, “It is said that the saline fluid in our blood is merely the survival of the primordial sea element in us” (qtd. in Gebser 218).

Of the four classic elements of antiquity, water is perhaps the most transitional. It is an intermediary between life and death because it brings forth life in abundance, but it is also a destroyer par excellence. Just think of the disastrous Japanese tsunami in 2011, or Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  I am also reminded of the Greek conception of death as having to pay Charon to cross the river Styx, prior to entering Hades. Soul is connected, yes, deeply connected to death and the Underworld.

The myth of Narcissus is mentioned by Melville in the above passage. What he says is quite interesting and mysterious: “because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned.” We know Narcissus fell in love with his own image in the water. He was not conscious of the fact that the image was his own. Eventually realizing his love would never be reciprocated, he killed himself. Because the soul has always been connected with water, and thus the deepest mysteries of human life, Narcissus died never realizing this beauty to be his own. There are enigmatic and deadly things in the soul/water/ocean. But it is also the font of all life and being. This is why the ocean is such a profound symbol. This “ungraspable phantom of life” is our soul, that which “we ourselves see in all rivers and oceans.” If Narcissus could have somehow become conscious of his own image, he would have experienced what Gebser calls the integral; what Jung calls individuation; and what Nietzsche calls the Ubermensch.

 

Works Cited

Gebser, Jean. The Ever-Present Origin. Trans. by Noel Barstad and Algis Mickunas. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985.

Melville, Herman. Moby Dick. Project Gutenberg: 2008   <https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2701/2701-h/2701-h.htm>.

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The Unveiling of Origin

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Magic Garden, by Paul Klee, 1926

In the consciousness mutations, there is a process of rearrangement in a discontinuous and intermittent (sprunghaft) form apart from spatially and temporally dependent events. These processes of relocation make it possible for the intensified spiritual origin to be assimilated into human consciousness. Origin itself comes to awareness in a discontinuous mutation: consciousness mutations are completions of integration (Gebser 39).

In my article, Origin and Beginning, I have attempted to say a few words about what the idea of “Origin” means to Jean Gebser. You might want to peruse that prior to reading this installment. 

Basically, I see Gebser’s Origin as similar to what Hermeticism calls The All. Speculating further, one also finds similarity between Origin and Giordano Bruno’s idea of God. Bruno’s theological thought stemmed from an anti-Neoplatonic cosmology, but seemed to embrace a Neoplatonic theology. He agrees with Nicholas of Cusa and Plotinus that God was totally beyond every concept and knowledge. In fact, as Plotinus asserted, God is even beyond ‘being,’ understood as ‘being something specific and determinable’  (Mendoza 140). Gebser views Origin as the ground from which all things spring forth. But this originary presence is not to be viewed as a telos, or as some origin in the past. Origin is non-temporal and non-spatial in every way. It is ever-present.

Now, in the above passage, Gebser is describing the mutations of consciousness as processes that do not follow any regular pattern, and that irrupt chaotically. They are “rearrangements” of consciousness, and they are completely free of any temporal and spatial dependencies. Intermittently and discontinuously, consciousness becomes rearranged by means of mutation in order to further integrate and assimilate what Gebser refers to as “the intensified spiritual origin.” This is the intermingling of the divine (for want of a better word to describe God) with our humanity. It is a complete reacquaintance with Origin, the true spiritual essence. Our true Self is this integration of God and man. It is what William Blake called the Poetic Genius, and it is what Jesus meant when he said, “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” (John 10:34, KJV). The entire enterprise of Gebser (and of Jesus, for that matter) was one of bringing to awareness the nature of our True selves, that we are destined to be god-humans. Furthermore, this destiny is probably programmed into our DNA, but there are many ways to reject one’s destiny. If we choose complacency over action, the integral mode of consciousness cannot revolutionize our lives.

Now, soul is said to be the bridge between spirit and matter. Plato referred to this as metaxy, the state of in-between-ness. It is the middle way between all polarities. As Nietzsche said, “Man is a rope fastened between animal and Superman–a rope over an abyss” (Nietzsche 43). Soul is the via regia to the integral mode of consciousness, to Origin, to the intermingling of God and man. It is up to us to actually place ourselves on this road and begin traveling. In other words, there is a volitional element involved.

Physicist David Bohm describes how the man’s Weltanschauung can be changed:,

Man’s general way of thinking of the totality, i.e. his general world view, is crucial for overall order of the human mind itself. If he thinks of the totality as constituted of independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken and without border (for every border is a division or break) then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this will flow an orderly action within the whole (Bohm ix).

To remain in our current state of consciousness, the deficient mental-rational, means utter and complete fragmentation. This is what we see all around us everyday. Whenever a nation refuses to allow refugees safe passage across their borders, it is evidence that said nation is enmeshed in the deficient mental-rational mode of thought. Whenever any of these refugees commit acts of terror against those nations that do offer them shelter, it is an example of the deficient mental-rational structure of consciousness. But, as Bohm says, if we can see things in a holistic manner, the rearrangement of consciousness will occur and humans will intermingle with the gods. We have a very long way to travel.

 

Works Cited

Bohm, David. Wholeness and the Implicate Order. New York: Routledge, 1980.

Gebser, Jean. The Ever-Present Origin. Trans. by Noel Barstad and Algis Mickunas. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985.

Mendoza, Ramon G. The Acentric Labyrinth. Rockport: Element, 1995.

Friedrich Nietzsche. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Trans. Walter Kauffman and R.J. Hollingdale. New York: Penguin, 1969.

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Borders

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Refugee Children, by Majsiej Sliapian

We have been hearing much in the news recently concerning thousands of refugees fleeing   from their homes in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan only to be met with closed borders. The Hungarian borders have even been lined with razor wire, along with many police and military personnel. They attempt to deter the refugees with teargas, pepper spray, and water cannons. This is the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. What we are seeing everyday in the headlines is the gradual disintegration of the predominant consciousness structure, which Jean Gebser called the mental-rational, in its deficient mode. The people want peace. They crave true freedom and safety from crazed psychopaths who want to murder them and their families. The people are crying out for what integration and world individuation will bring.

The daily news is replete with evidence for the ongoing fragmentation of this so-called rational society. The more of this we see, the closer we come to the Integral, the next mutation of consciousness, which will encompass all other modes and will transform us from a three-dimensional paradigm to a four-dimensional paradigm. I look at this as individuation on a cosmic scale, the individuation of the World Soul.

It is said that it is darkest before the dawn; we may see more darkness, more totalitarianism, more fascism before we fully experience the world as it is meant to be. Remember what James Hillman taught us: pathologization is the nature of the soul, even on a world scale. In that day when the World Soul overcomes herself, as Nietzsche would say, there will be no nation-states, and no borders to close; as a matter of fact, there will be no borders! Humans will move freely where they choose. It is the current deficient mode of human consciousness that brings about situations where human freedom is impaired. Hierarchical authorities, with apparently no regard for human lives, attempt to rule with economics as their prime directive.  I know it sounds Utopian to think that there will come a day when there will be no nation-states, no wars, no borders, but I choose to imagine it will come to pass. To choose otherwise is total nihilism.

The perspective of Late Modernity, which Wikipedia describes as being “marked by the global capitalist economies with their increasing privatisation of services,” along with the continuation of extreme rationality, to the exclusion of all other modes of thought that might offer succor to the suffering masses, is the driving force behind our current society. The global capitalist market is paramount in the minds of those who have brought us to this state of affairs. Things are melting down. We have seen war upon war, especially in the last twenty-five years. There is a crisis occurring, a turning point. As Gebser puts it,

…weapons and nuclear fission are not the only realities to be dealt with; spiritual reality in its intensified form is also becoming effectual and real. The new spiritual reality is without question our only security that the threat of material destruction can be averted. Its realization alone seems able to guarantee man’s continuing existence in the face of the powers of technology, rationality, and chaotic emotion. If our consciousness, that is, the individual person’s awareness, vigilance, and clarity of vision, cannot master the new reality and make possible its realization, then the prophets of doom will have been correct. Our alternatives are an illusion; consequently, great demands are placed on us, and each one of us have been given a grave responsibility, not merely to survey but to actually traverse the path opening before us (Gebser 5).

God help us choose the right path.

 

Works Cited

Gebser, Jean. The Ever-Present Origin. Trans. by Noel Barstad and Algis Mickunas. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985

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The Concept of the Unconscious Revisited

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Tidings of the Eagle, by Nicholas Roerich (1927)

There is a deceptive idea that many followers of depth psychology seem to adhere to. It is the perception that what depth psychologists call “the unconscious” is some sort of objective reality, or compartment of the mind that stores the thoughts, ideas, images we repress, things we forget, etc. Basically, anything we are not consciously aware of is supposedly “stored” in the unconscious. This is inaccurate. The word simply means, “not aware.” We treat “the unconscious,” as a place or thing when, in reality, there is much we are simply unaware of. Not very hard to understand, but lots of people who are interested in the human mind, and especially Freudian, Jungian and post-Jungian psychology, make this mistake. In fact, some seem to speak of the unconscious as a divine entity, even capitalizing the word and attributing all sorts of powers to it. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this, myself.

Again, unconsciousness is simply a lack of awareness. For example, I am trying to remember the name of someone I went to school with when I was a child. I can see her face clearly in the imagination, but I am unconscious of what her name is. I don’t remember her name. But, if I think of her face for awhile, the name usually comes to me. Does this mean that lost memories are stored in a compartment of the mind called the unconscious? No, it simply means I was momentarily unaware of the name.

Jung proposed a model, a revision of Freud’s picture of the mind, that divided the unconscious into two layers, “personal unconscious,” and “collective unconscious,” the latter being the “storehouse” of what Freud had previously called “archaic remnants.” In retrospect, we see this dichotomizing as being a product of the extreme adherence to Cartesian dualism. Both men were still in the grip of, what Jean Gebser calls, the decaying mental-rational mode of consciousness. It is true that Jung’s view evolved over the years to an understanding closer to Gebser’s, but many of his followers still hold to this bifurcated idea. Yes, there is a collective and a personal aspect to the mind, but they are not compartmentalized. They work in unison.

Furthermore, consciousness and unconsciousness are not oppositional areas of the mind. In everyday experience, they walk hand-in-hand. In reality, they are one. In his classic work, The Ever-Present Origin, Gebser declares

There is no so-called unconscious. There are only various modalities (or intensities) of consciousness: a one-dimensional magical, a two-dimensional mythical, a three-dimensional mental consciousness. And there will also be an integral four-dimensional consciousness of the whole (Gebser 204).

Gebser does make allowance for using the term to describe lesser intensifications of consciousness. In our day, we would speak of the archaic, the magical, and the mythical modes of consciousness as less intense, since we are currently dominated by the mental-rational modality. Unconsciousness would also relate to the respective dimensionality of the less intense modes (archaic, magical, and mythical) than what we currently experience. The archaic has zero dimensionality, the magical is one-dimensional, the mythical is two-dimensional, and of course, the mental-rational has access to three dimensions. According to Gebser, there will be a four-dimensional consciousness. This is known as the integral mode. It will amalgamate all previous modes.

James Hillman makes some very pertinent and interesting observations concerning “the unconscious” in his work, The Myth of Analysis:

How does this term help us now? Already in Jung’s usage the term was becoming inadequate. He had to speak of a consciousness in the unconscious, and he ascribed to the unconscious a superior, guiding intentionality–which is more fitting to divinities than to subliminal mental processes.

By questioning the term, we do not doubt the existence of unwilled and unreasonable psychic states, of dreaming and of subliminal creative activities, or of any of the disturbances that are called the psychopathology of everyday life, nor do we question their “inferiority” as “sub” forms of consciousness, as we now conceive consciousness… (Hillman 174).

And also,

The term, “unconscious” is suitable for describing states where consciousness is not present–coma, for instance; but to use the word for the imaginal region, for morally inferior or culturally ignorant behavior, for instinctual release reactions, and for a causal agent who “sends” dreams and to which one can turn to ask an opinion, is an erosion of categories. To personify it and regard it as one’s inhibitory daimonic voice, or totem animal, or familiaris is not merely superstitious. Such habits are sacrilegious, because they deprive the Gods of their due. The unconscious is a concept, not a metaphor, even if what it represents is indeed the metaphorical and the source of metaphors. Thus we seem unable to avoid speaking in this peculiar, superstitious manner. But it is not good psychology to make a theology of the psyche or to psychologize the divine (Hillman 175).

Language in our current mode of consciousness does not sufficiently deal with the difficult realities of the human mind. I think, however, that both Gebser and Hillman are are on the right track.

Hillman, in another place in The Myth of Analysis, likens the term, unconscious, to what the ancients called memoria. I find this quite fascinating. The human ability to memorize vast amounts of information is a fascinating topic. Hillman thinks it is closely connected to the soul and what Henry Corbin called the mundus imaginalis, the imaginal world.

Regarding Gebser, I think he might say that memoria is the modality of consciousness holding all four modes of consciousness, preserving all of mankind’s experiences with consciousness throughout the history of the human race. The soul is timeless. Because of that, the four modes are presently accessible to us. Our origin, as living creatures, is “ever-originating,” an eternal presence. We have forgotten this. Our true selves have been disconnected from eternity. We have wandered far from our origin. Our task here is to re-member, to re-collect that which has disintegrated. It’s not a remembering in the sense of memory, but a re-integration of what has been torn asunder. It is difficult to say what the origin is, but it seems similar to what Hermetists calls The All. It is certainly non-spatial and non-temporal. All the various modes of consciousness emerge from the origin. In fact, I would go so far as to say that all things in the universe share in this ever-present reality. It is not an external reality. The very roots of our being lie within us, connected rhizomally to the origin, and, in turn, to each other.

Works Cited

Gebser, Jean. The Ever-Present Origin. Trans. by Noel Barstad and Algis Mickunas. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985.

Hillman, James. The Myth of Analysis: Three Essays in Archetypal Psychology. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1972.

 

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Portents of Doom

The Great Day of His Wrath, by John Martin

Strange irruptions from the depths of unconsciousness began to burst forth in the late nineteenth century, up to the beginning of World War I. It was evident that a disintegration was occurring, one that would ultimately lead to two world wars, the invention and detonation of several nuclear weapons, the rise of fascism, and the death of nearly one hundred million people.

Several important events occurred in 1912. C.G. Jung published Psychology of the Unconscious (Wandlugen und Symbole der Libido). It signaled the split with Freud, and would usher in a new revolution in psychology. Alfred Wegener formulated his theory of continental drift, which I have connected to Gebser’s theory here. On the morning of April 15, RMS Titanic was swallowed by the sea, plunging over two miles to the bottom of the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg the previous evening. The death of the Titanic sounds a powerfully dissonant chord in the increasing cacophony of the earth. It is a harbinger of things to come. Almost fifteen-hundred lives were lost that night because of a very freakish convergence of rare natural occurrences (irruptions from the collective unconscious, perhaps?). On June 6, the mighty Alaskan volcano, Novarupta, erupted spewing thirty times more material into the earth’s atmosphere than Mount St. Helen in 1980. Was this also evidence that something was amiss? Was it a dark outpouring of collective unconscious content from the depths of the Anima Mundi?

The World Soul has a shadow side, just as we do. It is the collective shadow of humanity. The fall toward darkness we have been experiencing for a little over one hundred years is the result of an ongoing mutation of the consciousness of mankind. We are in what fellow blogger, Scott Preston, calls a time of “dehiscence,” which is “a term used in botany to describe the last stages in the life of a plant or flower. It is when the plant, upon reaching maturity, dies, but in the process bursts or otherwise broadcasts its seeds” (Preston). This idea eloquently describes what has occurred, and what is occurring. The so-called Modern Age met its demise around the beginning of World War I, which began in August of 1914, just two years after the events described above. The ancients would call these “evil omens,” portents of future calamity and malaise. But, even though an age has been destroyed, and is still in the process of being destroyed, another is being birthed. The so-called New Age is on the horizon, that is if chaos doesn’t overtake us first. The collective World Soul must make peace with her Shadow prior to a new holistic and rhizomal mode of consciousness taking root. This means we must make peace with the dark energies within us. The over-inflated ego must be put to death. Like the Apostle Paul, we must “die daily” to the deceit of the narcissistic ego. A harmonious Soul is our only hope as a species. In conclusion, a warning from Jean Gebser:

…weapons and nuclear fission are not the only realities to be dealt with; spiritual reality in its intensified form is also becoming effectual and real. The new spiritual reality is without question our only security that the threat of material destruction can be averted. Its realization alone seems able to guarantee man’s continuing existence in the face of the powers of technology, rationality, and chaotic emotion. If our consciousness, that is, the individual person’s awareness, vigilance, and clarity of vision, cannot master the new reality and make possible its realization, then the prophets of doom will have been correct. Our alternatives are an illusion; consequently, great demands are placed on us, and each one of us have been given a grave responsibility, not merely to survey but to actually traverse the path opening before us (Gebser 5).

 

Works Cited

Gebser, Jean. The Ever-Present Origin. Trans. by Noel Barstad and Algis Mickunas. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985.

Preston, Scott. Dehiscence and “Golden Age”. The Chrysalis. 26 Aug. 2015.

 

 

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