Sunday, 29 May 2016

Christ as a cosmic event

Naturally and rightly, we tend to focus on Salvation and Eternal Resurrected Life as being the main consequences of Christ's incarnation - but there is a further sense in which Christ brought-about a transformation of human consciousness.

This happened because the possibility of salvation and the advent of resurrection introduce new potentialities - which therefore transform the current actuality of consciousness. When Men became creatures capable of repentance, then this changed us - whether or not we actually repented.

Even though we regard these as a gift from God, the fact we have been given these gifts changed us irreversibly - even if we choose to deny or reject the gifts; these gifts have, nonetheless, been-given. When Man became a being destined for resurrection then, involuntarily, Man was changed here-and-now, whether or not Man knew about what had happened in any explicit fashion.

However, because agency (or free will) is real, then the cosmic significance of Christ is not that Men were brought closer to divinity - rather, the change was and is in terms of possibility rather than attainment. But that possibility changes the meaning and significance of everything.

The change may be understood in terms of our inmost and real Self. With the prospect of resurrection the self was given the eternal destiny of focused autonomy in a physical body; and with the possibility of repentance the Self was given control over the divine destiny.

A reasonable analogy is that the effect of Christ's incarnation was the end of man's childhood and the beginning of his adolescence - with potential for greater maturity and complexity and responsibility for Good, but also with potential for things to go very wrong in the direction of selfish short-termism and impulsivity. If we learn from adolescence the right things and move-on to maturity we are stronger as a consequence and move closer to God - but there is also the possibility of getting stuck in adolescence and of learning the wrong things and rejecting the Good.

In childhood we are substantially shaped by our innate nature and the surrounding environment. Adolescence is about Self-consciousness, consciousness of the Self, and detachment from that environment.

We reach a point of complete self-consciousness and separation from the outer world - at this point we perceive the choice as being total subjectivism (in which our own current feelings are the only reality and trump all considerations) and/or total extinction of subjectivity in which the external world of Things is the only reality and the Self a transient illusion (the world, more-or-less, of rationalism and science, of public discourse and bureaucracy). Neither of these conclusions is coherent or sustainable - so adolescents usually oscillate between them, or else simply despair.

At the adolescent stage, the Self is cut-off from the world - but the destiny of Christ as a cosmic event is that this is a transient developmental stage: Man is meant to bounce-off this transitional state of total Self-consciousness and alienation, return to full engagement wit the external world - but this time with the autonomous Self in charge.

In sum, man begins as engaged but hardly-a-Self and can only achieve his (adult) destiny as a fully an agent who is fully engaged with the world by going via the (adolescent) state of being a disengaged Self.

The next stage of being a participating agent can easily be described and foretold; but what is required is that it actually be experienced. And indeed, this experience already happens, at least for many people some of the time - but is not generally recognised. The reason that the experience is missed is that it is a transient dynamic state of being, and not a category: it is the state of being conscious of our own thinking as a living and happening phenomenon. It is Me Thinking of This-Thinking.

In other words the Self and the World are unified in our real experience, in the ongoing process of thinking and the simultaneous awareness of this as an ongoing-reality - as a fact.

But this is not widely appreciated because of several things - we may not regard it as a fact because the state cannot be sustained, but instead we regard it as a temporary illusion; we may find ourselves unable to communicate what we have experienced; we may regard the adolescent state of alienation as the ultimate reality and the adult state (of being a participating agent) as deluded wishful-thinking... and so on.

In other words, we are trapped in the stage of adolescent alienation, because we have trapped-ourselves. And ultimately this is our choice - we are self-trapped because (ultimately) we have chosen to be self-trapped. We have, of course, the agency (a gift of Christ) not to be self-trapped - but have chosen for whatever reason to deny this agency, to claim that we cannot (or should not) use this agency.

In sum - the incarnation of Christ was a cosmic event, the world was changed, the universe was changed - and the consequences unfold. If we find that consequences are bad and we don't like them, then that has been our own individual choice.

James Galway really was the best flautist

In the 1970s James Galway became the first classical flautist ever to reach mass public consciousness in the UK - to be invited onto chat shows, to have his own TV programme and concerts based around him. He was a household name.

At first I wondered whether this was mostly due to his engaging personality and his man-of-the-people Ulster accent; but as I explored his performances I realized that it was based on the fact that he really was the best flute player of the era - and by some considerable margin.

By 'best' I mean quite simply that he made by far the richest and fullest sound of any flute player (ever?), and also that his phrasing was extremely fluid and lyrical - and these are the qualities most valued by the general, music loving public at large (leaving aside the more various views of expert critics).

In other words, people like Galway for the same reason they like a great singer such as Wunderlich, Sutherland or Pavarotti - because they make the loveliest sound and also 'phrase' the music in a way that brings-out its beauty above all else. So by 'great' I mean 'middlebrow great' in the same way that Austen, Dickens and Frost are regarded as great, and not in the way that Joseph Conrad, Henry James or TS Eliot are regarded as great.

Anyway, if you haven't yet listened to Galway, then perhaps you should. Here he is playing JS Bach 'chamber music' - the Trio Sonatas. Although great favourites of mine, these pieces can seem quite dry and intellectual, the way most performers play them - but not Galway/ Chung!

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Brexit and Remain - the latest, distracting, pseudo-important spectacle

US readers may be aware that there will soon be a referendum about whether Britain Exits ('Brexit') or 'Remain's in the European Union.

Even if we did not already have decades of evidence of the evil agenda of destruction of (real) Christianity and of The Good (Truth, Beauty and Virtue) that is the foundational and in-built strategy of the EU; the nature of Remain's support would be conclusive. The entire intellectual establishment (the neoreactionaries 'Cathedral') support Remain (except for a few token populist careerists) - plus the idealist ultra-extreme Leftists.

For instance, a leaflet has just dropped through my letter slot from the Labour Party (i.e. official Opposition) Leader Jeremy Corbyn - a man whose life has been and remains devoted to revolutionary Communism on the Soviet model - and he says that he 'believes' that the UK should 'remain and reform' the EU.

(By 'reform' he means make all its many existing faults more extreme - and this is indeed readily do-able - which is why he supports Remain; whereas actual reform in the sense of 'making better' is obviously ridiculously impossible.)

Yet the Referendum is merely a distracting spectacle - because, whatever people think (as distortedly reflected by how they fill-out their ballots, as distortedly reflected by the actual ballots submitted for counting, which are distortedly-counted and distortedly-averaged, distortedly-interpreted and reported with extreme secular Leftist bias) --- it is extremely unlikely that our ruling elites in the mass media, government, public administration, law, education, the police and military, the mainstream churches, and the public services workforce and management (leave aside, the actual demons and their servants of the international micro-ultra ruling-elite, who of course also support Remain)... will allow Britain to leave the EU*.

(The EU has, after all - and for decades, been the major excuse for everything bad imposed on British life that the elites also covertly want --- most especially uncontrolled and open-ended and subsidized mass immigration, and the comprehensive destruction -> inversion of Law, public morality and prudent social regulation.) 

But even if - by some implausible chance - the UK did leave the EU as a consequence of this referendum; we would still be stuck with ourselves: that is, with our evil elite and the cowardly, corrupt, decadent, short-termist and hedonistic population that the UK has become; and decisively since from fifty years ago we became dominantly secular and Leftist in both the mass media and official public life.

It is a case of Garbage In - Garbage Out; and in terms of religion and spirituality, the UK is and has for a long time been 'garbage'; meaning that what we actually want from our lives is no better than, indeed inferior to, the ethics of the farmyard: we want merely comfort, convenience, distractions, excitement, intoxication and feeling good about ourselves - underpinned (and undermined) by a sub-animal self-hatred and covert desire for self-annihilation.

Good governance cannot come from bad people - and in Christian terms (indeed in terms of any coherent religion) we are a bad people; so very bad that we do not even want to be good - and so much so that our ideas of good and bad are officially inverted in many and vital respects (especially in that most important area of sexuality, marriage and family).

I do not vote (about anything); and while I regard voting to Remain as an active-embrace of explicit evil - I also regard a vote for Brexit as at best deluded but mostly merely tactical selfishness.

And the whole idea of 'deciding' these crucial moral issues by a faked-up process of pseudo-vote buying and intimidating, counting and averaging, is perhaps the most ridiculous and corrupting thing of all...

There is no short term and comfortable secular or common-sense solution to Britain's terminal problems - because we would not be where we are (actively committing national suicide, by multiple means, not just in the long term, but the medium term) except we are in a terrible state as people.

This is not despair but hard-nosed realism

First there must be a religious, spiritual, and moral regeneration of a critical mass of people; and then... well, only then would we be able to see what to do.

As things stand, the EU referendum is like asking the inmates of a prison/ hospital for the criminally insane to come up with a plan for a better world...

First we need to cure the inmates; but even before that, the inmates must want to be cured.


[* I mean, that leaving the EU - in the face of evil-elite opposition - requires a stronger, more sustained and unified motivation than the British population are capable of. Mere common sense and socio-economic long-termism do not suffice. To motivate such a strategic change requires either hatred (which would lead to bad outcomes, as well as being intrinsically evil) or else something a positive and constructive as a religious motivation. Nationalism was, briefly, capable of redirecting religiousness in a secular cause, but only briefly and in the past - modern nationalism, in secular societies, is feeble. The point must always be remembered that the Left have it 'easy' in political terms - because it is easier to destroy than to create, and the Left are able to use envy, resentment, hatred, short-term selfishness and all the other vices - or indeed selected virtues - in order to pursue their strategic goal of destroying the Good. But the Christian perspective knows that motivations must be Good for outcomes to be Good; and that bad motivations - as well as actions - need to be repented. In sum, to leave the EU against vast opposition and for the outcome to be net Good requires, that the motivation be Good; or else it would merely serve to aid the cause of evil. At present the UK population are religiously indifferent or anti-religious; and do not have any Good and Strong reason for leaving the EU, or staying, or indeed doing anything in particular about anyting at all - except what seems expedient.]

Thought and Think-ing: the gap between theory and practice - aspiration and achievement

We create the world (more specifically, we participate in creating the world - in interaction-with the real phenomena of the world) through our thinking ; and the -ing of thinking is what requires special attention. Thinking it is not the abstract category of 'thought' but the active process of think-ing, by which we co-create the world. 

The world is real, but its reality is inextricably bound up with our thinking - it is the active process of thinking that is primary (and we must not kill it in our attempt to comprehend it).

We change our thinking, and it is-changed by the experiences of our lives (and often for the worse - often in ways which sabotage our lives, and prevent their spiritual progression - induce spiritual corruption instead. Look around!). So, thinking can be changed and is changed - and we ourselves might want to take-over this process rather than being passive recipients of changes imposed by our environment... what do we do?

The answer is: Thinking-about-Thinking - that is, we need to think about, become aware of, our own Thinking and its assumptions and characteristic (habitual) processes. Another word for this activity is Metaphysics.

Why is Metaphysics so difficult? Why is it blocked by external distractions and internal incapacities and obstacles? These seem legion - and the worst is that, to some degree and sometimes very completely - our selves (who are trying to do the Thinking about Thinking) are actually false selves; mere personae that have developed to do automatically the business of interacting with the world in ways that are short-term expedient.

There is a tendency (at times almost irresistible - because habitual) to make the seeking of understanding into a static and deadly analysis - we distinguish, divide, organise and kill the concepts we need. Like subjective and objective - we distinguish them, divide them and separate them - and then they both die.

What is needed is to be able to analyse without killing - which means that instead of laying-out reality before us, inert, on a dissecting slab - reality must have at its heart and as its prime term, a thing which is dynamic, alive and existing through time (with a past and future - not seen as a timeless 'present').

Analysis must not be allowed to kill the livingness of the central phenomenon. Rather, analysis must go-on around the livingness of the central phenomenon. In other words, the central pheonomenon can be delineated - but cannot itself be analysed (or else it will be killed). If the central phenomenon is Consciousness, or Quality, or Reality - then it cannot be dissected without killing it and thereby making it no longer the central phenomenon.  

*

When think-ing changes, the world changes - and not just 'my' world: but the actual world. There is, indeed, no division between 'my'-world, and the-world (if there was, the world would not be my world). To change the world requires changing our think-ing (it is a fallacy to talk about the outer-realities as if they could be divided from our think-ing); and the difficulty of changing our think-ing is a measure of the difficulty in changing the world.

(As usual, it is far easier to change things for the worse: to destroy --- than it is to change things for the better: to create.)

On the other hand, if - by thinking about thinking - we can gain metaphysical understanding and can cure/ improve the mainstream metaphysical corruptions as they operate in our minds - can improve our habits-of-think-ing to make the process more Christian, loving, creative... then by this we have improved the world (not just for ourselves, but for everyone). 

Metaphysics is therefore a prime task for everybody now, not just intelectuals (although they need it more than most). And since metaphysics is intrinsically difficult, and being made ever more difficult by modern culture, and deliberately so - we need to enable it in our lives by ceasing to crave distraction, intoxication, and passive absorption: by seeking to make our thinking active, awake, aware and concentrated on what needs to be done.

*

And what is it that does the thinking about thinking? And how is it able to do it?

Ah - there's the crux of the matter! It is our eternal and (embryonically) divine selves that are what does real metaphysics. And it is its eternal position and and divine nature which makes possible the detachment required for thinking about thinking.

Metaphysics is our eternal self contemplating our mortal self - but actively: that is eternal think-ing contemplating the mortal personae which have been built by experience and expediency, and which now do so much of our thinking and being, that we have often lost or encapsulated the eternal self...

Friday, 27 May 2016

Owen Barfield's most radical metaphysical idea: There is always and everywhere a being that is conscious - reality is consciousness in communication

The most radical aspect of Owen Barfield's metaphysical thinking, which he shares with (and probably got from) Rudolf Steiner, is that all knowledge entails consciousness.

Reality is partly-produced-by consciousness; because everything we know or might know involves us knowing it, which entails consciousness part-creating everything.

Or, there is nothing we know of, in which consciousness does not have some role: we are never able actually to separate consciousness from the 'outer' world of 'objective' phenomena and access any supposed objective-reality independent of consciousness.

Consciousness participates in reality.

Negatively, this means that many of our normal, everyday ways of thinking are invalid and necessarily untrue; because they model 'reality' without our own participating consciousness. In other words, all of normal science is necessarily untrue - and actually, merely therefore, rules-of-thumb that seem to work at present and in the conditions we have used them... because they exclude the participating consciousness.

This is a really deep-cutting idea. I first came across it in Worlds Apart - which is Barfield's somewhat Inklings-like Platonic dialogue published in 1963 (and re-read by CS Lewis multiple times in the last few months of his life). I was confused and brought-up short by the relevant passages; I could hardly believe that Barfield was serious, and thought I must have misunderstood.

But I have gradually come to feel compelled to share this basic metaphysical assumption. Because it is a metaphysical assumption - however it is probably not genuinely weird, and instead probably the most natural and spontaneous human assumption we make about reality.

We begin life assuming that everything in the world relates to us and our knowledge of it; but by adulthood this attitude has become regarded as a 'paranoid delusion of self-reference'; and we assume that all true descriptions of reality leave-out the human - including leaving-out the observing/ participating consciousness.

Barfield's example is the evolution of the earth and biological-life upon it - typically, modern science regards this as autonomous of human consciousness, and indeed the story has to explain how human consciousness arose towards the end of the planetary period under consideration. But the Barfield/ Steiner metaphysics refuses to talk about a time or place when there was no consciousness, because this is metaphysical nonsense - instead there is a focus on how consciousness has changed (for example, changing from something diffuse and interpenetrating, to something focused and discrete).

What is actually spontaneous and built-in to Men has now become extremely difficult and strange for modern Man: thinking in a way that is coherent with the fact of Man's own thinking has become unnatural to us. Even in theology, it is normal to discuss God without any reference to Man's participating consciousness - yet everything we think or say or write about God involves Man's consciousness.

I could not say I have done more than very partially assimilate the profundity of such a change in metaphysical perspective - the rationale for which was sketched out by Coleridge, Steiner (especially in his earliest and purely philosophical books) and Barfield; but it is just something very hard to grasp and believe for a Modern Man (perhaps especially for an evolutionary scientist such as myself?).

But it is something which I think must be correct. Which means that almost all of our current ways of thinking and reasoning, almost all that we think we know, is necessarily wrong, misleadng, error-generating --- And so I need to continue to develop new habits of thinking in-line with the participation of consciousness, which would enable me to work-from this metaphysical assumption in as many ways as possible.   

Thursday, 26 May 2016

William Arkle on Original Sin

Excerpted from A Geography of Consciousness by William Arkle (1974)

Chapter 3 - The Self

It must be expected at the preliminary part of our evolution will be full of mistakes concerning values and identities for the reason that we simply do not as yet possess the understanding to cope with the situation.

The result of these mistakes will be some form of pain and suffering and this seems inevitable unless some direct conditioning was supervision is received. This raises the most fundamental point which concerns are autonomy.

Commonsense and intelligence tells as that are real value lies in a separate unique identity, even if this is still only at the stage of potentiality. If the scheme of things was not concerned with this individuality, then the ordering of the human world would be much simpler for we would all be puppets or automatons and do precisely as we were ordered.

If God of the absolute cause did not choose this way, then it is either because our uniqueness is important to him; or because he enjoys our suffering which is the result of our autonomy. The latter proposition cannot be held seriously.

Our intelligence and actually assumes that the attitude we have towards our own physical world, families and children, is not just a chance for fire, but stems from some supreme attitude on the part of our creator. It can be imagined, therefore, that our relationship and value is to our absolute parents something like that of our children to ourselves, but since that occurs at a much higher level, it must be more ideal and detached from space/time considerations.

The process suggested, whereby responsive abilities are built into identity at the absolute level, which can be called the true self, will enable us to understand and accept more easily the concept of sin.

Whether we admit it or not, the sensation of sin affects us all profoundly and if we are to accept the teaching of original sin which the Western churches give out then we are in danger of putting ourselves in a very wrong and a negative position.

The process of learning by mistakes, which in science and engineering is called the process of trial and error, is confused with the notion of sin and wickedness. This presupposes that we are either put into the world as perfect beings who should know better; or we are put into the world by a sadistic God who knows we are in perfect but who punishes us for being so.

In the first case there would seem little point in going through the process if there is nothing to learn. In the second case one is confronted with a dichotomy which is so absurd that it could only be the result of human aberration.

Instead of the teaching of original sin, it might be well to substitute the teaching of original fallibility. The difference between fallibility and sin is that the first is expected to be indicated by suffering imposed by our surroundings, but the second is expected to be indicated by suffering imposed by God.

Obviously the two are liable to be confused and if the second is chosen, the person concerned is it a most difficult and hopeless position, for he is confronted with a divine example on a cosmic scale of his own immature understanding and development. We cling to the idea that God is concerned with us as individuals who are responsible for their own actions; and yet we also cling to the idea that we are not perfect but are in the process of attaining perfection. Yet we cannot bring ourselves to conceive of the fact that we were born with shortcomings instead of sense.

This idea of sin is perhaps applicable to those of us who deliberately repeat actions which we know are wrong, and which we know will harm other people, and which we are in a position to prevent. But if we have reached the stage of knowing and action is wrong it may not be realised how it is harmful to others and even if so, we may not be in a position to prevent it.

If on the other hand we do something harmful and wrong because we know no better and are unable to respond with absolute awareness to the situation, we can hardly be blamed and we would certainly not have opened ourselves to something akin to divine wrath.

The main trouble with the idea of original sin is that it consciously or unconsciously causes us to associate the very core of our being with something rotten, and this is something in turn unavoidably associated with the act of creation on the part of God. Since the core of our being is where our absolute potentialities lie and sense and since this highest and truest part of our nature is the source and mainspring of our effort and 'salvation', the idea of original sin replaces that part of our nature which should be looked for look to for the solution of all our problems, with some negative and evil presence.

If this doctrine is seen from such a point of view, it becomes apparent that instead of influencing us to become humble and repentant and aware of a natural shortcomings. All the teaching of original sin does is to make us bitterly aware of the unjust and hostile attitude of the source of being. Since it is realised now that the unconscious and deeper consciousness of our nature as a profound and overriding effect on all our conscious deliberations; and since it is also discovered that this unconscious part of our nature has a very strong sense of justice, right and wrong, sin and punishment, virtue and reward; one can see that this fundamental conditioning aspect of our awareness is thrown into a hopeless and distorted state by prevalent religious ideas.

Until the idea of sin is replaced by the idea of shortcoming, we will be destroying effectively the very purpose of religious and spiritual effort, which is to become trustful-of and acquainted-with, first of all the divine qualities of God, and secondarily the divine qualities of our own real nature. It is quite obvious why God is described as forgiving our sins before we commit them; it is because he realises only too clearly that we must continually make such mistakes before we can be of any value to him or to ourselves.

It is not God who has suggested to us the idea of original sin and the necessity of being punished for the results of such sin, it is our own superstitious and unintelligent interpretation of the world around us that has led to this state of affairs. It is our own lack of forgiveness and our own inability to feel responsible for our actions and efforts that have led us to this point of view.

Death and the Dead

One of the very biggest blind-spots caused by the stunted materialism of modern thinking relates to death and the dead. So narrow and circumscribed are the thought processes of modern Man that it has become almost impossible even to think about these subjects.

Modern Man is obsessed and terrified by the process of dying - so much so that he wants to be killed humanely as soon as his quality of life dips below a certain thresholed; but what happens after death and the nature of our relationship with those who are dead is a matter given no more than a few seconds of facile thought (if that).

Yet most cultures in human history, and indeed many in the world today, have a great focus on death and the dead. Presumably modern Man regards this as no more than a total delusion (probably one that was, somehow, inclucated universally via 'priests' for reasons of social control).

If we are wrong, however - as I am sure we are wrong - then a massive and vital area of life has simply been deleted from human consciousness.

And that can't be a good thing, can it?

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Your personal choice of five living geniuses?

Mine are living people whose genius I have 'felt' for myself (rather than going by other people's evaluations).

In no particular order:

1. James D Watson (DNA)
2. Freeman Dyson (Theoretical Physicist etc)
3. David Healy (Psychiatry)
4. JK Rowling (for the Harry Potter saga, nothing else!)
5. Susanna Clark (for Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell)

(Note: no living poets, playwrights, artists or composers (that I know of) are geniuses by my estimation.)

And yours are?...

NOTE: This particular blog post is a 'Safe Space'! - This means I won't publish comments critical of other people's choices - Here, I am simply interested to see who other people regard as living geniuses; not to defend or attack or debate these choices.

The world of creation experienced as alive, conscious, purposive - so that Christ may likewise be experienced

1. It is not that everything should be categorized as alive, conscious, purposive; but that everything is experienced as such.

 2. Not only that - but the experience must be consciously regarded as reality.

3. Not only that - but the different qualities and degrees of aliveness etc. should be experienced in relation to specific things (e.g. Stones as more alive than concrete, some stones as living a tormented life while others are radiantly happy etc.)

4. Not only that - but the experience must be explicit and conscious (not only a thing of children, the naïve and simpleminded; not only a thing of trances or altered conscious states - but happening in clearness, awakeness, awareness, adulthood and in people of high intelligence and education).

But why?


So that by experiencing the aliveness of creation we may experience the aliveness of Christ. (Christ without this awareness is merely something material, historical, read about; or the facts of tradition, authority structures, rules and regulations.)

The state aimed-at is Christ as perceptible as a living presence which is only sustainable and serious if all the wealth of Creation is a living presence.

Or, to put it the other way about; The suppression of our natural experience of reality as alive, conscious and purposive also (and inevitably) suppresses our ability to experience the living Christ. (And this is no accident, but part of the plan of evil.) And since this has-been suppressed in adult Westerners - we should go forward in our mode of thinking to the (more mature, more intelligent, and more divine) self-aware and fully-real experience of Creation and Christ as being-alive.


With one bound, Jack was free! Why Christian repentance is the most powerful political weapon

Christianity is true; and it is desirable to be a Christian because it is true and not because practising a Christian life is socially expedient --- but Christianity is also political, because a faith-full Christian can never be corrupted unless he himself chooses to become corrupted. By contrast, non-Christians can be corrupted merely by compromising them: that is, by persuading or coercing them to do something against their beliefs. And that is easy to achieve: it is almost certain to succeed.

This is the main strategy of the current evil world elite - they are creating, incrementally, a society of inversion: good is bad and bad is good, ugly is beautiful, dishonesty is truth - truth is hate... and so forth. Inversion is encouraged by propaganda and implicit messages embedded in most of the arts and entertainments; Goodness is prosecuted and inversion is subsidized, rewarded and - increasingly - compelled.

Living in such a world, amidst the confusions and pressures, every individual is sooner or late (and usually sooner) compromised. (He is nearly-always compromised in a public fashion: but he is always compromised in his private mind, by his own knowledge.)

That is he does or says something, many things, in-line with the mainstream system of secular Leftism and therefore against whatever positive moral system he believes (because inverted morality works against all forms of morality). Indeed, he builds, brick by brick, an edifice of lies; he finds himself first defending then promoting sin; he denigrates good people and good ideas; and of course he engages in one or many of the prevalent sins of our age, which are sexual.

By adulthood, the typical modern person is loaded with a baggage of subliminal guilt and shame, and deeply confused by the harshly enforced but incoherent and constantly changing morality of political correctness.

If that person is secular or non-Christian then he is always and inevitably painted into a corner, he is hedged by thorns, he is crushed by his own conscience; he is not wanted by anyone except, of course, as a slave to the evil masters of The West - and he therefore spends his life in an attempt (usually mostly successful) not to think or be aware, to live in a state of distraction and intoxication, until overwhelmed by death (conceptualized as extinction of consciousness).

In such an impossible situation, the non-Christian does not merely give-up and go-along-with the dominant system of evil; he actually embraces it - and this is the whole and necessary purpose.

Because ultimately, evil can only win when it is invited into the hearts of men.

Merely getting people to go-along-with evil is all-but useless in an eternal perspective (and the evil rulers have exactly that perspective - they are deadly serious about their work); individuals, groups, nations and ultimately the world must be induced to want evil, to volunteer for evil, to demand evil and to complain and protest when evil is not supplied (evil freely available, for all, equally...).

But if that trapped and suffocated person is, or becomes, a Christian; it is a case of 'With one bound, Jack was free!'*

By repentance, any individual is forgiven; forgiven anything and everything. And repentance is unbounded, it is infinite.

No matter how much the individual is compromised, no matter how often he is compromised or in what way he is compromised; no matter how deeply he is surrounded and smothered by his own sins - he can instantly and completely free himself by repentance. And he can do so again and again, without any limit.

And he knows it.

So the whole international interlocking system of corruption and inversion is in vain. The individual Christian can defy it all, and win.

Small wonder that real Christianity is the arch-enemy of the evil ruling elites. No matter how small and weak are the organized churches, how few and powerless are individual Christian - real Christians are indomitable, because although they can be tormented and killed, they cannot be defeated.


*Signifying the way that the hero of a boys adventure series would immediately and implausibly escape the impossible predicament of the previous week's 'cliff-hanger' ending. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The destiny of the English and the failure of Romanticism

The English people have a destiny - that much seems clear; and the English diaspora in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa presumably inherit it.

England has been recognized as a favoured nation since at least the Roman era - this fact is extensively recorded. But why? Presumably because of that destiny - which became manifest with the Industrial Revolution, beginning to wind-up from around the middle of the 1700s and leading to the biggest change in the human condition since the invention of agriculture which is lost in pre-history.

So there was the industrial revolution and at the same time there was Romanticism - which is usually seen as a reaction against the associated materialism, scientism, rationalism, urbanization and the rest of it. But Romanticism was not a reaction - it was part of the same movement of thought - the same evolution of consciousness.

What was meant to happen was that Romanticism was supposed to be the future, not a reaction; was supposed to be made possible by the Industrial Revolution - not fight against it. The English were favoured not for their own good but because they had a job to do - a job not for themselves, or for their own benefit, but for Mankind.

Because Romanticism was - or should have been - the healing of the alienation of Man from nature, of mind from matter, the reunification of the inner life with the outer world, of subjective and objective - which had reached completeness with the Age of Reason and the agonies of the French revolution.

The way that this could be done was perceived, - albeit dimly and in fragments, by the genius of Samuel Taylor Coleridge in collaboration with his great friend Wordsworth - and was enacted in the life of Goethe. But the English failed in their destiny.

Romanticism broke up into fragments in opposition to Enlightenment, Reason, Industry and the like - so from the late 18th through the 19th century England hosted the pacifism of the Quakers, the abolitionism of the Clapham Sect, the sexual liberation/ license epitomized by the glamorous figure of Byron, the atheism of Shelley, the revolutionary communism of Marx and Engels, the scientistic metaphysics of Darwin, the reactionary revolution of the Anglican Tractarians, and nationally the glories of invention, technology, conquest and Empire and so forth...

In sum, a hotbed of innovation and exploration and achievement - of revolution - in multiple fields but not the one thing needful. That was steadfastly, repeatedly refused.

After a century came payback - with the decline of Christian faith. the horrors of World War One, then Two - loss of Empire, loss of vitality and confidence, loss of fertility, a mood of self-hatred and now the national suicide of reverse colonization.

What to do? The answer is - what should have been done 200 years ago - to restore Christianity as the focus and frame of life and immediately move ahead with the project of transforming consciousness that was set out by Coleridge and most recently revived and reiterated by Owen Barfield: to move beyond the split between purposeless rationality and pointless instinct into making conscious of everything, sensory and supersensible, the synthesis of all aspects of life and the world in a human thinking which uses all the resources of Man: including imagination, inspiration and intuition.

The task is for everyone, but perhaps most of all for the English - whose historical destiny it was to pioneer this metamorphosis of mind. We have been refusing repeatedly and vehemently this destiny for two centuries and doing anything-but what must be done - but anyone may choose to embrace the task today. 

Purcell smut

Henry Purcell, England's greatest composer, wrote a lot of lovely music for smutty 17th century tavern songs or 'catches' (a complex type of 'round') - here is an example (and there are several even smuttier).

Matter is communication; is responsive and purposive (from William Arkle)

From Chapter 1 - The Fields of Consciousness

There is some connection between our scale of attitudes (or ‘filters’) and the scale of conditions of matter.

The structure of matter stems from some sub atomic level to that of the atom, then the molecule, the cell, the group of cells, to mineral, vegetable and animal structures. From the animal it leads onto the human, and we must be to discover that it goes on beyond the human.

While all matter is a living in "substance" the substantial part of it is, in fact, non-substantial in the old meaning of the word. Instead of substance we find only organisation of energy. The value of such structure lies in the fact that energy is not pure force, but a composition of force and behaviour patterns.

However, the behaviour pattern is not a mechanical function unless we are dealing with a pure machine. If we are dealing with living structures, then we must accept behaviour patterns as being the result of some form of consciousness and purpose.

Therefore we must describe matter from henceforth as matter-consciousness, to remind ourselves of the fact that the old idea of substance has been superseded and that the mechanical idea of function has little or no ground left for it, and that it must shortly give way to a theory which allows for elementary occurrences to be a result of consciousness, perception and response to perception.

This is an extraordinary situation for us to grasp, since we have been used to the idea that matter is a part of the living scheme of things we call nature but, at the same time, governed by mechanical forces in a purely mechanical situation. Yet it is possible to describe the consciousness of matter as being very different to our own. To get used to this, we have to get used to the special proportions of the universe as compared with the special proportions of the atom and electron.

We must get used to the idea that we have not yet established a definition of the upper and lower limits of consciousness any more than we have established the meaning of largeness and small nest in space. Unconsciously, we all like to feel that the electron is small enough and that's nothing could possibly be organised on an even more minute scale. We also like think that there is nothing larger than a galaxy or are universe. This is all a part of our conditioning as human beings, through which we like to establish the limits of our territory and the exact spot which we call home.

When, however, we begin to sense that we are individuals who exist purely in consciousness, we shall be far more objective about our observations of the physical universe and we shall no longer look for a place in it which we call home. Our home will be our basic attitude. This can be a comfortable and happy one - or otherwise.


From Chapter 2 Bodies of communication 

One of our major conditionings is the idea that there is solid substance on which our physical world is built.

It used to be considered that the atom was an indivisible unit of substance which was built up into more complex structures to create the mineral and vegetable worlds. It is now realised that this atom is itself a complex conformation of images whose paths constitute its size but whose interior is largely space to which various energies into relate.

Today substance is not a solid but a temporary structure of energy which gives the impression of solidity because it communicates to us something of its nature. If it was not within the boundaries of our perception of communication, then we should say it did not exist.

This sort of communication must not be confused with our own human ones, for these communications are in terms of elemental qualities and of energy and it is in these terms that atoms are communicating to us and to one another.

We are also conditioned to consider that communications which are not in terms that have meaning for us as humans are not valid communications and do not arise from anything we can class as consciousness. But this again is one of the things that has to be adjusted if we wish to understand the background to human activity.

We must be more objective and open-minded about conditions of consciousness other than our own, and we must be more aware of the possibility that categories of matter which we used to class as non-living on not only living but retain their nature and function through very efficient forms of communication.

As far as said previously, we must not only be prepared to consider that an atom is an entity but we must also be prepared for the fact that it is an entity with a purpose and a responsive awareness.

The position reached when reality is looked at from the point of view of this theory, is that what is normally referred to as a matter is first of all essentially communication and only second there really a structure of energies. This is to say that the value of any particle of matter is the quality which it is communicating.

This quality is not only the important aspect of the situation to us as conscious individuals, but also to the particles of matter as an entity in its own right. It follows from this that we will be in a much better position to understand the significance of matter and the general ground of the experience we are in if we study and classify occurrences in terms of the possible communication content, rather than in terms of their structure and apparently mechanical function.

It may be found that all matter is communication as far as we are concerned. For we are essentially receivers, valuers, and transmitters of information and our true nature is awareness itself; and in no way directly involved with that part of manifestation which we think of as matter.

As far as our true significance and reality are concerned, matter is synonymous with communication.

So here we can also say that when we are conscious of matter as such, there is something wrong, for we are not observing the reality of the situation; we have got the wrong set of filters in circuit. When however we observe events in terms of their real content, then we shall not be aware of matter but only communication.

This means that we are employing reasonably suitable filters for that situation. The universe of matter-consciousness which is thought of as the universe of non-living matter is therefore more accurately a universe of communication. However, the subject cannot be left there, since the fact that communication is the chief reality of each individual structure of matter at each level of formation implies consciousness, which in turn implies purposive response and rudimentary desire.

But this is what would be expected and looked for if the premise of the theory is near the truth, for it proposes an evolution of consciousness which starts from the point of zero consciousness and progresses from there to what is termed absolute consciousness. We know that human consciousness is well above the zero position. We must expect that animal conscious that will be closer to it, then vegetable consciousness, and then mineral consciousness. It would be arbitrary to stop there simply because we are approaching the limits of our observation.

Therefore it is necessary to visualise a type of consciousness related to the sub-atomic level of matter and all levels more minute and fundamental than this again.

From A Geography of Consciousness by William Arkle (1974)

Monday, 23 May 2016

The City Waites - a favourite group of the 'seventies

I am pleased to discover some tracks on YouTube by one of my favourite early music groups - The City Waites. I went to see them perform in Bristol in 1976 or 77 (New Vic Theatre?), and it was a superb evening.

They were four terrific, extravert musicians. Each sang solo and in ensemble (covering between them soprano, alto, tenor and bass), each played several instruments - and together they performed a programme of music (and some playlets) - happy, sad, beautiful, funny and smutty - from medieval times up to the seventeenth century - all with tremendous improvisatory verve.

I have this as a treasured vinyl LP; now you too can enjoy...

"Atheism is an actual physical defect, a physical sickness, a physical flaw in the body" - Rudolf Steiner speaking in 1918

There is in man an inclination, a proclivity, to know what may be called in a general sense, the Divine. The second inclination in him — that is, in the man of today — is to know the Christ. The third inclination in man is to know what is usually called the Spirit or also the Holy Spirit.

As we have said, there are men who deny all these inclinations. There has been abundant evidence of this, particularly in the course of the nineteenth century, when in European culture at any rate, things reached such a climax that men have denied the existence of anything Divine in the world. In Spiritual Science — where the existence of the Divine in the realm of the super-sensible cannot be a matter of doubt — the question may be asked : What is it that makes a man deny the existence of the Divine — the Father God in the Trinity?

Spiritual Science shows us that in every case where a man denies the Father God — that is to say, a Divine Principle in the world such as is acknowledged, for example, in the Hebrew religion — in every such case there is an actual physical defect, a physical sickness, a physical flaw in the body.

To be an atheist means to the spiritual scientist to be sick in some respect. It is not, of course, a sickness which doctors cure — indeed they themselves very often suffer from it — neither is it recognised by modern medicine ... but Spiritual Science finds that there is an actual sickness in a man who denies what he should be able to feel, in this case, not through his soul-nature but through his actual bodily constitution. If he denies that which gives him a healthy bodily feeling, namely that the world is pervaded by Divinity, then, according to Spiritual Science, he is a sick man, sick in body.

There are also many who deny the Christ. Spiritual Science regards the denial of the Christ as something that is essentially a matter of destiny and concerns man's soul-life. To deny God is a sickness; to deny the Christ is a calamity.

This must inevitably be the view of Spiritual Science. To be able to find Christ is a matter of destiny, a factor that must inevitably play into the karma of a man. To have no relationship with Christ is a calamity.

To deny the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, signifies dullness, obtuseness, of a man's own spirit.

The human being consists of body, soul and spirit; in all three there may be a defect. Atheism — denial of the Divine — denotes an actual pathological defect. Failure to find in life that link with the world which enables us to recognise the Christ, is a calamity for the soul. To be unable to find the Spirit in one's own inmost being denotes obtuseness, a kind of spiritual mental deficiency, though in a subtle and unacknowledged form.

http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/FndChr_index.html#sthash.ddQ5kd7d.dpuf

Consciousness and the nervous system - From A Geography of Consciousness by William Arkle

A Geography of Consciousness by William Arkle - some selected highlights

Chapter 1 – Fields of consciousness - consciousness and the nervous system 

It was said previously that we have a good deal of knowledge about the function of our nervous system is and the way in which brain cells communicate information to our physical brain. However unless we identify the physical brain with thought, feeling and consciousness, it is necessary to propose that our true being resides somewhere other than in the physical function of the physical body.

One reason why we tend to identify our consciousness in the head is because our most valuable organs of communication are situated there. If our eyes were placed in our left arm, no doubt we would tend to sense that we were behind them, and therefore in our left arm also. As the ears and mouth are also in the head we feel comfortably placed between them all and at the centre of our reception and transmission of information.

When the nature of the communication processes associated with the human consciousness is examined, a system which is basically an electronic one is found. This, in its courser stages, is associated with physical and chemical changes.

Unfortunately, because men have not as yet succeeded in understanding much about the function of matter beyond the electronic stage, they are inclined to say that the electronic level of experience is the end of the road. The scientific type of study of these matters is so successful up to this point, that it has acquired an authority greater than that of the theologist, philosopher, psychologist or intelligent human being. When the scientist suddenly stops short in his description of the universe and of man, the temptation to stop short with him is very great.

This, however, is most unfortunate, since there is good reason to believe that the level to which science has attained will be found to be very much on the perimeter of our true nature and are true reality. It must be said, therefore, that something passes beyond the electronic level of function of the human brain and so must pass into a condition of matter which as yet science does not recognise and which pretends to be sceptical about.

The scientist, having the authority which we have given him, tends to make fools of us all when it comes to the understanding of consciousness itself. The scientist is not to blame for this, however. We are ourselves to blame, for the simple reason that we gave our filters to the scientist as soon as we noticed that he was uncommonly successful and full of 'magic and witchcraft'.

We were indeed only too pleased to find someone to give our filters to, since we knew they were very important but that they were a great deal of trouble to the owners.

We must now face up to this situation and endeavour to create some sort of structure in our understanding, which will bridge the gap between the level of matter which the scientific instruments of our age have succeeded in examining and the staff of consciousness itself which is the stuff we actually exist in.

We must break with the temptation to allow our attitudes or filters to be governed by scientific facts and return to a position in which we remain fully responsible for our own attitudes so that they are the result of our own experiences, valuations and intelligence.

The facts which scientists give us are still of great value to us, so long as we do not see ourselves as identified with the world which they are taken from, for this world is the world of time and space which is of no concern to our consciousness as such, but is only a means of communication. We must no more identify ourselves with these physical modes of communication than we should identify ourselves with a telephone!

It will probably be a very long time before instruments are able to observe the stuff of consciousness and discover the seat of it. But we cannot afford to wait until they do. We must therefore use are intelligent imagination to extend the processes which we have examined, towards that awareness which each of us knows exists. So long as we keep this in terms of a broad and tentative vary it cannot do any harm and may help us a good deal.

Joining the dots on the evil ruling elite's sexual proclivities

I noticed the headline recently that erstwhile child actor Elijah Wood had confirmed that the Hollywood upper echelons are rife with sexual depravity directed at children - drawing parallels with the revelations concerning Jimmy Savile as the focus of the same kind elite network/ conspiracy among the British Establishment at the BBC and other mass media, Government, the Royal Family, and apparently the legal system and senior police. There are also sporadic revelations of the same kind of thing scattered around the world elites more generally - enough to make a pattern - and a much more pervasive tendency among the dominant powers to excuse, de-prioritize, minimize, cover-up and forget this type of thing.

We have to join the dots here; and notice that the focus of activity seems to be on the means of mass communication - those jobs where people have influence on public opinion both directly (the hard sell via laws, regulations and advocacy) and (more insidiously) implicitly and covertly via subtle messages and denigration of the opposition and resistance (especially among serious Christians).

It looks very much as if 'the world' is being run by a small and powerful and extremely-strange group of people who are distinguished from 'normal' people by their positive and active attitude to what is regarded among the mass of ordinary and even wicked people as beyond-the-pale and the most depraved activity of all. For example, even among the most hardened and horrendous British criminal prisoners, such people are regarded as the lowest of the low. (Leading to the apparent-paradox that the highest-of-the high are morally the lowest-of-the-low; as was the situation with the Roman Emperor's court under Tiberius when Jesus was born - and even more so with his successors Caligula, Claudius-Messalina and Nero.) Indeed, so rare and peculiar is this type of depravity that it appears to be substantially a calculated act of ultimate self-degradation and celebration of absolute evil: the kind of thing which seems to be a deliberate strategy of corruption of one's own soul.

If so, we would be very wrong to regard the international elites as well-meaning but misguided/ incompetent - or indeed as being motivated by any of the 'normal' types of sinful human appetite such as greed and lust; we seem to be up against a group that are altogether more purely evil than this.

The obvious rejoinder is that if the world is ruled by such grossly wicked people, then why aren't things much worse, and more obviously worse, than they are - given their power, why don't they just implement evil by diktat?

My understanding is that it is the nature of the human condition that Men must invite evil into their hearts for evil to gain dominion. For evil to triumph, making people do evil things by coercion or incentives is not enough - people must be made to want evil. They need to be induced to embrace 'moral inversion'; embrace evil as good. And this is altogether a trickier and more long-termist project than mere destruction of The Good- which will often induce a powerful opposite reaction.

And if it is desired to create a situation in which people choose to regard evil as Good - then clearly the means of mass communication are precisely where you most want to work - to make it such that the very imagination is subverted then inverted. It all makes a horrible kind of sense that the BBC and Hollywood have emerged as foci of this depraved sexual cultus - albeit the tip of an iceberg extending to embrace so many of the Western and Westernized ruling elite.

Correcting Robert Frost's nature notes

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

This is one of Frost's loveliest, most perfect and most memorable poems - once of those that spring into the mind unbidden, especially in spring.

And late spring has been especially lovely around here - the bluebells in particular are better than I can remember, and the unfolding of leaves on the trees since the beginning of May has been greatly enhanced by the backdrop of blue skies.

This is when we can see for ourselves what Frost brought to general attention: that nature's first green is indeed gold - first in the neighbour's beeches, then later the lime and oak which we have in our garden.

But we can also see that they are gold for considerably more than 'an hour' - the leaves are distinctly golden against the blue sky for at least a week after they emerge (and counting, I've just been outside to check...) which is about 100 times longer than stated by the poet!

But of course 'hour' was needed for the rhyme, and symbolically-speaking the point is truthfully made: in mortal life 'nothing gold can stay' - nor, indeed, anything green.

If I lived to a Biblical span, I would have about a dozen more springs to experience - which is, on the one hand, an extraordinary abundance of beauty; and, on the other hand, also means that each season from now is special, one of a small set, to be treasured (but, I hope, not clung-onto).


Note: An allegorical un-packing of this poem is at: 
http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/four-levels-of-allegory-applied-to.html

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Some highlights from William Arkle's A Geography of Consciousness

[Because there is no online text; I have decided to make available some of my favourite excerpts from the whole of William Arkle's A Geography of Consciousness (1974) - which is a book of great spiritual value. I will start at the beginning, and go through chapter by chapter...]

A Geography of Consciousness by William Arkle 
- some selected highlights 

Preface 

We like to be loved and admired but we also like to love and admire other people. When we love and admire other people, we are able to believe in the joy and merit of their nature. When we are loved and admired we are able to believe in the joy and the merit of our Self. 

When we receive and give love and adoration we are in either case gaining something wholly delightful and desirable. But we do not take the trouble to look more closely at this situation, for the situation seems to be an end in itself. 

If it is examined, however, the sensation in question reveals that it is not so much the giving and receiving of love which matters, but that the love and admiration helps to liberate an aspect of our nature which is joy and is happiness and is a sort of virtuous affectionate delight. 

The trouble with life as we ordinarily experience it is that this part of our nature is always being suppressed and not liberated. But not only do other people continually restrict it, but we find that we are restricting it ourselves. 

The problem however is not as simple as it looks. The difficulty is not simply liberating our Selves but the fact that in trying to do this we liberate our not-Selves. 

When we liberate a not-Self we are not freeing ourselves for an experience of great affection want to light, but rather for an experience of misery, frustration and disappointment.The pain of this makes us think twice about any further attempts at liberation. We are inclined to leave liberation alone for we are not sure if we are going to liberate a God or a Devil. 

The purpose of this book is therefore to help towards our understanding of these processes which are essential to life, if that life is not to remain static. The theories involved are both old and new. Those that are not new have been found in the general literature of mysticism, religion and philosophy, and no attempt has been made to identify the sources.

The attempt has been rather to integrate them into some unified structure and to re-express them in another form. Not only will there be an attempt to map out the geography of the psyche and consciousness in general, but also to describe the principles which are necessary for a journey and the best way to understand the ‘gods’ and ‘devils’ that we might meet on the way.


Chapter 1  - The Fields of Consciousness

We will consider the physical personality and body as a factory and compare our consciousness to the manager of that factory.

We know that normally the manager goes into the office of his factory to collect the latest facts about sales and production in order to control the activity of the factory. But we also know that if he is ill and cannot visit his office, he can telephone his assistant and by asking him for certain facts control the activities of the factory as though the weather himself.

And if the manager had to go on a trip to America or Australia, you could still get in touch with his office and control the factory. In other words, if he were able to possess all the information he required, the manager would never have to visit his factory at all.

He does visit the factory, however, because it enables him to communicate more easily to more people on his stuff. His connection with the factory therefore can be described in terms of communication, whether he is at the factory or at the other side of the world. 

His success as a manager depends to a very large extent on the effectiveness of the communication system he has built up between all the parts of his concern and himself. If one aspect of his business is in bad communication with him, this is the part that he would expect to cause him trouble. 

This is true of his production programs and also of his human relationships among management and workers. The manager of a factory goes to the factory himself, not to improve production, but to make sure that his channels of communication have been feeding him efficiently with accurate information. If he could rely on the effectiveness of his communication systems and the efficiency of the people involved in them, their honesty and so on, he would never have to visit the factory at all. 

The effectiveness of his management therefore would not depend upon any special relationship with the factory. It would depend upon his ability to observe all the information given him in comparison to all the information he already possessed. 

If the manager identified himself with the factory it is very likely that some aspects of production will appear out of proportion to him. This will cause him to form a distorted picture of the situation in his mind and we can then say that he has become aberrated and less efficient. 

His best position as manager, as far as we can understand, is to be in a detached position to the production activity in order to see it all objectively and see it in relation to what the rest of the commercial world is doing. 

Now we ourselves are like the manager in relation to our physical body and personality. We are in fact not connected to this personality function unless we choose to be. We can best observe and direct the function of the personality by being detached from it and by observing the situation it is in, objectively. So long as we are identified with the personality we must expect to experience its values in a distorted way. 

We will also get a distorted picture of our nature if our communication channels are inefficient or inaccurate. We will, in other words, only understand what we are and what we are trying to do, if we experience ourselves as managers and other physical personality as a factory. 

However even the manager is in a subtle sense conditioned by an inner consciousness which dictates to him how he will behave in ethical and other ways. And so with ourselves; we are detached from our physical body whether we like it or not, and we also possess an inner essential awareness within this detached consciousness which we may describe as a first order attitude or filter. The detached consciousness is thus a second order filter and the physical personality is a third order filter. The majority of people are identified with the third order filter, with occasional sensations of the second order. 

But the time has come when we can only solve the outstanding problems of our civilisation by many of us achieving a permanent second order attitude with occasional sensations of the first order.

Locked-in adolescence syndrome: individually and collectively

One reason that there is no possibility of significant socio-political improvement until after a mass religious-spiritual regeneration; is that nearly all modern individuals are stuck in adolescence (varied by regressions to childhood, or intoxicated insensibility) and almost nobody gets through this state to reach psychological (and spiritual) maturity.

Adolescence is, or ought to be, a phase - and ideally a phase lasting a very short period of time, perhaps a moment, or a day or two. Spiritually, adolescence should be seen as a state merely touched-upon, or bounced-off, in the business of growing from dependently-immersed childhood to autonomous loving adult marriage and parenthood: necessary but bad-in-itself. 

By contrast, our mass culture has for fifty years (and elite culture for more than 200 years) perpetually celebrated adolescence as a state, not a phase; and encouraged people to remain stuck in this state; and done its best to mock, hide or destroy the means by which people can go through and beyond adolescence.

The psychological problem goes far beyond the decline of marriage and parenthood; and involves 'getting stuck' - that is, a phase becoming a state - poised between the two legitimate situations of child- and adult-hood.

A way of thinking about this regards life as properly (or destined to be) a growth from the demands of the physical world towards the ideal word; and adolescence as the point where these two sets of demands are balanced.

The intention is that an individual passes-through this point of balance, as swiftly as possible; but if this does not happen (e.g. because there is a whole positive culture of adolescence-as-ideal, so people try to stay in the phase to enjoy this state), if momentum is lost, then the individual becomes stuck between two equally balanced pulls: one pull towards the physical and the other towards the spiritual.

The perpetual adolescent is cynical, because he is trying to get the best of these two worlds of the physical and the spiritual ('the world' and the ideal), without making a commitment to either; indeed, if he is an intellectual then he may spend his life comparing and contrasting the two poles of physical and spiritual. And because the emotional pull of each is balanced by the other, his emotions may atrophy and his mind become cut-off (alienated) - focused on analysis and abstracted from action: paralysed by indecision and unable to move forward (or back) for fear of losing something of what he wants. 

Once established, this phase-become-state is indeed difficult to move through, difficult to get-out-of - and this is reinforced by a society which trivializes and disbelieves realistic religion-spirituality; and therefore (for lack of anything conceivably-better) idealizes 'youth' on the one hand (with a nod towards childhood, from time to time), and depicts maturity as dull, boring, a decline into failure and a defeat - and indeed an evil, repressive, reactionary, state.

(The only 'good' adult or elderly person is, for modern culture, a progressive whose 'vitality' is demonstrated by their deference to the hegemony of youth; and their embrace of the sexual revolution, diversity, the mass media culture of narcissism, distraction and intoxication - and all the other nihilistic and ephemeral current fashions.)   

The only constructive way-out from 'locked-in adolescence' is upward into an ever-more spiritual life, which can only happen within a frame of religion-as-reality. But of course, the forces of evil are dominant in the Western cultural leadership; and they certainly do not want this escape; but are absolutely delighted by a society of hope-less, continually ageing and corrupting, would-be youths.

So it is up-to each individual to plan and execute his own escape from what needs to be recognized as the prison of idealized perpetual adolescence.


(Note: the above is based-on the chapter 'Levels of Consciousness' in William Arkle's A Geography of Consciousness, 1974.)

Friday, 20 May 2016

Two books that were massive disappointments: Tolkien's 1977 Silmarillion and Robert M Pirsig's Lila (1991)

When The Silmarillion was published in 1977, I had been utterly immersed in Tolkien's work for five years with an intensity that only teenaged fans can muster. To say I was 'looking forward to' its publication is a gross understatement - I had even exchanged letters with Tolkien just before he died asking when the book was coming.

Then it arrived in the bookshops, and I bought it (in hardback - expensive when relying on pocket money) immediately... and yet I found (to my own astonishment, and indeed embarrassment) that despite expectations - I enjoyed it so little that I could not even finish it.

I have since read it through, and also listened twice to the whole thing on audiobook; but I still find The Silmarillion Tolkien's worst book - and the only one I don't spontaneously love; deeply flawed in many ways - although with some excellent sections (such as the account of Numenor - which is wonderful in its way).

But then the 1977 Silmarillion is not really JRR Tolkien's work, but a compilation and edited mosaic of his unpublished texts made by Christopher Tolkien and Guy Gavriel Kay; who were primarily trying to remove inconsistencies (internal and between the Silmarillion text and the Lord of the Rings) - and literary quality was the main casualty. Christopher has since expressed regret at having published the 1977 Silmarillion in the way he did - and has since produced the wonderful 12 volume History of Middle Earth (with all of the Silmarillion texts and more - but in better versions) preceded by the marvellous Unfinished Tales.

*

My other great disappointment was Robert M Pirsig's Lila: an enquiry into morals - which was also a long-awaited follow-up; to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: an enquiry into values (1974). I had really loved ZAMM, re-read it multiple times, and had also exchanged letters with its author - in relation to my publishing one of the earlier scholarly essays on the subject.

ZAMM did not change my life as much or as deeply as Lord of the Rings, because no book ever has - but it did change my life, and was certainly one of the main books of my early adult life (perhaps a dubious distinction?) - and it is a book I still find very enjoyable and valuable; although now I find its 'message' (being ultimately atheistic, un-Christian) to be actually rather dangerous in the sense of getting what feels like quite close to a satisfactory philosophy of life but not getting to the necessary destination. This means it is easy to 'get stuck' on the book; holding an incomplete, unsatisfying and ultimately nihilistic world view. At any rate, this happened to me.  

But no other philosophical text had made anything like the sustained impact of ZAMM; and in 1991 my life was extremely unsatisfactory and I was really seeking some guidance - so as soon as I saw Lila and bought it; and as soon as I bought it I cleared space in my life to read it straight through.

It is not a good book. While ZAMM is close to novelistic perfection in terms of its writing, structure, pacing, and the intrinsic interest of its parts; Lila is not - it is clunky, preachy, contrived - and has a general atmosphere of seediness and malaise which I find very unappealing (especially in comparison to the freshness and 'innocence' of ZAMM).

The book gives every indication of being squeezed-out of an unwilling and uninspired Pirsig with the 'help' of an editor - it is asif written by a different author than ZAMM.

I don't like the philosophical aspects of Lila any better. While accepting that the implicit premise that the William James-esque Pragmatism of ZAMM is incomplete and unsatisfactory, the proposed Metaphysics of Quality is equally ungrounded and untheistic; but dull and pedantic.

I picked Lila up a couple of days ago to check my reaction - and it has not changed: I have no inclination to re-read. What I loved about ZAMM is almost entirely absent from Lila.

*

With both The Silmarillion of 1977 and Lila of 1991; it was not merely a case of the books failing to live up to the supreme standards of their illustrious predecessors (a matter of 'regression to the mean', if you like); but of being books of a different kind altogether, and books lacking (almost entirely) exactly what it was that I most valued in the earlier work by the same author.

From my perspective, I would prefer that these two books had never been published.