Nathaniel — Toward another civilization
Sunday, December 24, 2017
6:10 a.m. I thought, let’s see if we can have a session this morning, since obviously we won’t be doing it tomorrow at my daughter’s. Two sessions in three days is hardly a lot, given that we have gone months when we did it almost every day.
So where are we in your syllabus?
We are still in the process of tying together concepts that have become so widely disassociated in your lives as to remove the center Yeats was talking about.
[I insert the very well known poem:]
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
THE SECOND COMING
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. That is what happens when a civilization’s central stabilizing tenets lose their ability to compel people’s belief. We don’t mean “compel” by force, obviously (at least, it ought to be “obviously”); no one can compel belief, only external pretense at belief.
No society will be founded on “the” truth, given that no “the” truth can be found by 3D minds conditioned by 3D circumstances. But you can find things that are true enough, and that will do. Indeed, it must do, because that is the best that can be done. It isn’t a question of whether what a society believes is the truth; it is whether its truths hold together. Without coherence, things fall apart, and the center cannot hold.
Just to be clear, you aren’t saying it doesn’t matter what a society believes, as long as it hangs together. A society based entirely upon consistent lies and errors isn’t more viable than one that is less consistent but closer to reality.
Way too many assumptions and definitions there. but it does remind us to go a little bit slow.
In the first place, all societies may be said to be based upon errors, whether or not upon lies as well. Yet, all societies will be based upon some values, conscious or unconsciously held, so in effect every society will be based upon at least some potential truths. Nazi Germany, which is in your mind, still drew upon powerful constructive beliefs held by the German people.
And perverted them.
It did, but that isn’t the point. Beliefs in one’s duty to the state and to the society around one; willingness to sacrifice personal interests for the sake of the greater whole; pride in race and culture; defiance of fate and circumstance – all these values were there to be exploited. It is not the fault of the people that they were no match for malevolent manipulation that in short order called forth the dark side of those same values.
I might have argued against you, in my youth. But I have spent my adult life watching the same process turn my own country into the dark counter-figure of what it was before the coup of November, 1963.
Yes, but the issue is much deeper than you know, certainly deeper than they know who attribute motives and causes to ideology and politics. America’s sins come from the very defects of its qualities; people can only hijack what is there to be hijacked. And they can’t do that until a people’s grip on their central myth has been loosened. Until then, they may be misgoverned and cheated and lied to and manipulated, but the unifying myth will hold things together. It is only when the myth decays, as with Communist Russia, or is shattered, as with the defeat of Nazi Germany, that a social order based on certain shared perceptions and beliefs may be destroyed. Yet so far we are still speaking on a superficial abstract level. Countries, societies, civilizations, do not fall or fundamentally transmute themselves merely from internal causes however serious. What you are participating in – you’ve been told this for decades, Frank, and it has had to sink in to increasingly profound levels of awareness – is the fundamental transformation of human society. It won’t happen uniformly, and its effects will appear very different in different societies, for the impact of any given present moment’s circumstances always interact with that society’s past. That is what is there to be interacted with!
I have seen us at a point between two ways of seeing the world at least since reading [in the 1970s] Koestler’s The Sleepwalkers, describing the transition between mindsets that led from the medieval mind to the rational / scientific / materialist mind of what is called modern times. And, there is Toynbee’s Study of History. And Bob Monroe’s description of “the gathering.”
As we say, it has taken time for the concept to broaden, deepen, and transform your mindset – your conscious mindset and your underlying assumptions – from what you began with in 1946.
The process we are describing – or are hinting at, I suppose you might say – is that of loosening the existing web of beliefs so that it may be tightened again in a new configuration.
Okay, I get that. Let’s see if I can put it into words. This ties into another thing I’ve been watching and have been told to watch, globalization of culture. Let’s put it this way: There is no getting away from anybody else any more. Geography, linguistic differences, all the barriers that have kept human societies divided, no longer do so. The only thing that does so now is fear and misunderstanding. The internet, radio, TV, a thousand forms of what we might call inadvertent cultural exchange are continually battering at the walls dividing human societies. The process shakes old certainties. It draws members of one society to aspects of other societies. It lets Japanese talk to Peruvians, so to speak. So, it loosens the net of any one given civilization. Even if you want to – try to – exert every effort to maintain your old beliefs, they no longer exist in the isolation they once did, and so there is a continuous below-conscious-level counter-pressure undermining them. At some point a new global civilization will self-construct, and that will be the retightening of the net.
Not that the new society will embody “the” truth, nor even that everything it will believe will be truer than other things it rejects, perhaps. But it will again embody a set of truths, and therefore of values, capable of playing a constructive co-creating role with us in the non-3D world. And if you don’t realize that that means, with your own beyond-3D self, we have been wasting our time!
Societies rest upon shared beliefs about what is real, because values are chosen in light of those beliefs, and a society orders itself around those values. It isn’t a conscious choice – that would be a very fragile and tentative support – but upon conclusions that seem to follow inescapably from the accepted premises. So, if you can help a society see deeper constructive truths, you will have a far more profound (if hidden) effect than those who manipulate daily situations, overtly or covertly.
These are clear statements, but I get the feeling that what you want to say this time hasn’t yet been said clearly.
The difficulty is less in expressing truths than in expressing relationships between truths. We are trying to show you how to read negative space.
Hmm. Negative space, for those who don’t know, is a visual concept. If you have a picture of a beach ball, say, then relative to the ball as center of interest, the part of the picture that is not beach ball is its negative space. The trick behind those drawings where you can see either a vase or two faces, depending upon which you focus on, is in alternating which set of lines you see as negative space.
As you like to quote from Kerouac.
“What can’t be said, can’t be said, and it can’t be whistled, either.” So –?
So, your explorations – you, and anyone reading this who is of the same mindset – in effect redefine negative space. You are working alone, each of you, and yet you are working together with others and with forces that of course are far beyond you. And this work does have an effect. It’s just that the effect is delayed. By your measurement, decades go by and nothing moves. But the transformation of civilization does not take place on human-life schedules, nor at human-life pace. Much of what appears to you to be chaos is merely counterpoint seen too close up.
Mixed metaphor, there.
Good, that will remind people that it is metaphor. And your hour is up.
But have you made your point?
Remember, words are to inspire exploration by resonances they set up. They are not hammers to nail things down. Therefore it makes less difference than you might think where we stop and resume.
Okay. Well, our thanks for this and all your efforts.