Last Days of the Dark Age Blog
by longsword on Mon 07 Dec 2009 09:57 AM CST
Time to retire the blog. more » Comments (13) Permanent Link Cosmos I have received notice from the service provider that the domain darkage.ca is due for renewal. After much pondering, I have decided that I will not be renewing The Dark Age Blog.
After five years, it's time I minded my own shop for a while. Hopefully, TDAB has dispelled more fog (and smog) about the times than it has generated. I am at least gratified to learn from correspondents and commentors that it has helped them gain some degree of orientation amidst the current "sound and fury signifying nothing" -- nothing here being the contemporary plague of nihilism -- the anatomy of human destructiveness, to borrow a phrase from Erich Fromm.
But this nihilism is also, potentially, a clearing of the deck -- a kind of return to the tabula rasa as the Dance of the Nataraj. Everything today called "loss of self", "post-history", "post-Enlightenment", "culture of narcissism", "infantilisation" (and which is known by a hundred other names as well), can also be appreciated as the work of the hand of the tillerman who ploughs the field and prepares the soil for another season's sowing and harvest. Nihilism is like a plough wind that flattens everything.
The consistent message of The Dark Age Blog is that The Modern Era is over and with it, the modern ethos, which I have described as essentially perspectivist. We should, as they say, truly "get over it", for it has now become a patch of weeds and an obstacle to the realisation of the Planetary Era -- the holistic or integral era that is now in formation and which has been in formation since the First World War announced the creation of the world, so to speak. Whether we realise it or no, we are the posterity of that event in the sense that "the sins of the fathers shall be visited down to the third and fourth generations".
But that also implies that it is the fourth or fifth generation that redeems the meaning of the past and absolves it (frees it and liberates it) from its generational chain of fateful consequences. It will do so when it realises the implicit meaning of the World War as birth of the Global Era as the Integral Era. It was no accident that the man who invented the science of ecology -- the web of inter-being or inter-connectedness -- was also the first to give The Great European War its true name -- World War. While others only saw the event from their narrow nationalistic perspectives, Ernst Haeckel perceived the event in the context of the entire field -- the planet as a whole. It is also no accident, too, that at the same time, quantum field theory was emerging, followed by Chaos Theory for climatology, Picasso in art and, belatedly, the recognition of the fact that we now lived in a "postmodern" era -- an era of the maximum confusion of values.
That confusion, I am persuaded, is the current clash between past and future forms of society, between the old narrowly perspectivising consciousness of the modern ethos, now become reactionary (change from Promethean to Epimethean Man), and the emerging field (or integral) consciousness of the still embryonic Planetary civilisation. But the word "integral" and "whole" mean "healthy" and "health". As such, health, which is the meaning of integrity, has become the central value and organising principle of the emerging holisitic consciousness.
The core message of The Dark Age Blog has been that narcissism is the human condition, whether we call this narcissism by its true older name "idolatory", or by more current terms like "the anthropocentric attitude". Christopher Lasch coined the phrase "culture of narcissism" to describe the perspectivising consciousness become diseased, but even Lasch did not completely understand the meaning of this narcissism and the present "epidemic of narcissism". It is essentially the fuller meaning of Nietzsche's "all-too-human" as something which informs his judgement that "man is the sick animal" -- the estranged animal, the alienated animal now become, as nihilist, the suicidally self-destructive animal. William Blake also knew this narcissism in other terms as "single vision and Newton's sleep" and "the sleep of reason". What Blake referred to as "man closed up within the narrow chinks of his own cavern" -- a characterisation of diseased perspectivism now become the cultural norm, he described more extensively in his poem Jerusalem,
Ah weak & wide astray! Ah shut in narrow doleful formCreeping in reptile flesh upon the bosom of the groundThe Eye of Man a little narrow orb closed up & darkScarcely beholding the great light conversing with the VoidThe Ear, a little shell in small volutions shutting outAll melodies & comprehending only Discord and HarmonyThe Tongue a little moisture fills, a little food it cloysA little sound it utters & its cries are faintly heardThen brings forth Moral Virtue the cruel Virgin BabylonCan such an Eye judge of the stars? & looking thro’ its tubesMeasure the sunny rays that point their spears on UdanadanCan such an Ear fill’d with the vapours of the yawning pit.Judge of the pure melodious harp struck by a hand divine?Can such closed Nostrils feel a joy? or tell of autumn fruitsWhen grapes & figs burst their covering to the joyful airCan such a Tongue boast of the living waters? or take inOught but the Vegetable Ratio & loathe the faint delightCan such gross Lips perceive? alas! folded within themselvesThey touch not ought but pallid turn & tremble at every wind…But in the wine presses the human grapes sing not nor dance:They howl & writhe in shoals of torment, in fierce flames consuming,In chains of iron & in dungeons circled with ceaseless fires,In pits & dens & shades of death, in shapes of torment & woe –The plates & screws & racks & saws & cords & fires & cisterns,The cruel joys of Luvah’s daughters, lacerating with knivesAnd whips their victims, & the deadly sport of Luvah’s sons…
The other insistent message of The Dark Age Blog is that it is possible to "get over it" -- as Nietzsche's "self-overcoming". And since TDAB has taken much inspiration from William Blake, too, I will allow Blake also to speak to this possibility of self-overcoming of the merely perspectival and limiting mind of the Cartesian cogito,
Awake! awake O sleeper of the land of shadows, wake! expand!I am in you and you in me, mutual in love divine:Fibres of love from man to man thro’ Albion’s pleasant land.In all the dark Atlantic vale down from the hills of SurreyA black water accumulates, return Albion! return!Thy brethren call thee, and thy fathers, and thy sons,Thy nurses and thy mothers, thy sisters and thy daughtersWeep at thy souls disease, and the Divine Vision is darken’d:Thy Emanation that was wont to play before thy face,Beaming forth with her daughters into the Divine bosomWhere hast thou hidden thy Emanation lovely JerusalemFrom the vision and fruition of the Holy-one?I am not a God afar off, I am a brother and friend;Within your bosoms I reside, and you reside in me:Lo! we are One; forgiving all Evil; Not seeking recompense!Ye are my members O ye sleepers of Beulah, land of shades!…Trembling I sit day and night, my friends are astonish’d at me.Yet they forgive my wanderings, I rest not from my great task!To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal EyesOf Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought: into EternityEver expanding in the Bosom of God, the Human ImaginationO Saviour pour upon me thy Spirit of meekness & love:Annihilate the Selfhood in me, be thou all my life!Guide thou my hand which trembles exceedingly upon the rock of ages…
"Become what you are", therefore. I still marvel, in fact, that no one, to the best of my knowledge, has done a comparison of William Blake's vision with Nietzsche's Life Philosophy.
Transmodernism, then, restores the temporal dimension to thought. It is the spirit of emigration renewed in the form of a new aspiration, as the desire to overcome modernity and transcend it altogether. If anything, its goal is more akin to Blake's New Jerusalem (as opposed to the "dark satanic mill"), and not as some social utopia (all "utopias" are now suspect) but as the consciously integral human being and cosmos. The themes of holism, fulfillment, authenticity, and integration dominate transmodernism throughout precisely because they have absented Modernism. Both words, "holistic" and "integral", descend from words meaning "health", and so personal, social, environmental, cultural health necessarily become thematic to its concerns.
Although I am not a Buddhist per se (or leastwise as men understand the name "Buddhist") I am intrigued by the possibilities of Buddhism as a social critique and theory. I am also intrigued by the possibilities of Islam, particularly its Sufi branch, for the same reason. I can also say the same for Nietzsche's philosophy and for the intriguing possibilities of the "shamanism" described by Carlos Castaneda and his confederates, Taisha Abelar and Florinda Donner-Grau. So, while I am none of these things really, there is also a sense in which I feel I am also all of them and more besides. I am also attracted by "the Eastern Nietzsche" Sri Aurobindo's "Integral Yoga". 9:47 AM