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tentative title:

SONGS OF OUR SELF AND THE VOICE OF THE OTHER: THE SHAPE OF THOUGHT TO COME

tentative contents:

Prologue: Songs of Our Self

Introduction: New Age or Post-Everything?

Chapters:

  1. AIDS, AETHER, and Minor science
  2. The metaphors of Cancer
  3. The medium’s message
  4. Movies, Mystics and Magic
  5. Heterodynes and Heteronyms
  6. Psychosymmetry and the Organized Field
  7. Tantra and Tension
  8. Scale and substance; Identity and inspiration
  9. Cosmic Structure and the Politics of phase space and time

Epilogue: The Voice of the Other

 

PROLOGUE: SONGS OF OUR SELF:

 

‘To be understood is to prostitute oneself’

-Fernando Pessoa

 

I have wanted to write a book my whole life.  But as often happens with restless minds, I never quite worked out a convincing reason to do such an indulgent thing.  A professor in college was adamant that I should write for my audience, which, for a youth wrestling with a muse it did not understand, was hardly possible even if I had a real audience, and definitely not desirable. Immersed in James Joyce, whom my professor found to be misguided, I thought only of following my vision, and cared not to pander to the tastes of would be readers, even if they were only my confused classmates, forced to read my psychedelic scribbles.  Yet the nature of that vision was a mystery even to me until it was called forth through the context of relationship.

Thus followed years of annoying my friends with long-winded emails, since within dialog, the spirits of relationship could be my guide—just as in reading, where the cacophony of possible voices becomes the intimate dance of two selves within a shared context, however separated in time and space.  As far back as I can remember, I always had the feeling that life and art, communication and manifestation, were not ends in themselves, but symbolic extensions of larger events taking place through us and in some sense, by us, at levels hidden from our everyday focus.  And though I revelled in the magic of that feeling, I also had the sense that my passion for understanding it was about more than explanation or justification.  Making sense out of the magic wasn’t really about a reduction of the mystery to a rational system.  It was about making that higher reality part of this world, and this world, its people and our systems, part of that more real than real reality.  “Reality” didn’t need to be explained or contained.  Furthermore, as I came to believe, it is our conflation of coherence with consistency that cuts off our consensus reality from all the others.  A larger reality demands a coherence that is always in motion and a logic that moves with its metaphors.  While metaphors have always been the best way into other realities, if one doesn’t ignore the vehicle, the repressed carrier wave, the medium and its message, one develops a feeling for the possibility of a greater journey.  The passion for transcendence becomes the will to evolve the vehicle, the instrument, to a level where it may carry a more harmonious tune.  The passion for unity, for me became a need to listen to difference and find the universal in each possibility.

As that need for me grew, the mystery of inspiration and the struggle for meaning dissolved into the realization that meaning was inevitable.  We all are producing great meaning whether we are aware of it or not.  This meaning isn’t just personal, or the mere aggregate of effects we all have on the historical process—which is discussed in modern philosophy as a “dialectic”, a working through of contradictions, which in recent times is often reduced to little more than a passage through to some ideal, whether material or spiritual.  On the contrary, we are part of a grand experiment in value fulfilment where even our most intimate experience is already a full embodiment of something universal.

Yet to us, the world appears in pieces—meaning is dispersed among symbols that seldom connect.  We attempt to cover the gaps or associate what we sense must be connected, and in our spiritual moments we might honor the mystery and symbolize the feeling of unity that transcends understanding.  Yet our bodies or vitality fail us before whatever it was we were struggling to realise reaches any kind of fulfillment.  We do sense something carries on, and whether we are convinced this is merely our effects on the world or some subtler spiritual process, something in us knows that somewhere, somehow, our values will find fulfilment.  But what we sense is actually a narrative thread that only has continuity on a level that far exceeds the personal value and provincial meaning we ascribe to it.    

If one can begin to sense the universal, one may see more clearly the threads of development criss-crossing through our life and world—stopping short here,  reemerging there in some other form, giving an impression that cannot help but compel the desire to follow those lines or give them a coherent field through which to manifest fully to our awareness.  But as one follows the spirit of any value long enough, one sees how deeply it is tied up with so many others—how much the fulfilment of any one ultimately depends on the fulfilment of all.  If we learn to cohere the scattered fragments of value we usually build our world around, and find the larger arcs which our short lives only stumble through here and there, we can begin to glimpse these larger themes and hear the deathless murmurs that haunt the stunted staccato rhythms of our musings with the hopes of a pattern that can match those of the inroads to the infinite.

To bring the scattered cross-purposed lines of life into phase with the heart of the cosmos, we need a coherent culture.  While traditional cultures may have organized their small portions of the cosmic narratives to resonate coherently as a microcosm, civilization has been the sign of a larger arc riding on the smaller cultural arcs as they have come and gone.  That larger spirit has, in its own peaks and troughs, its dead ends and false starts, been striving to be more than a resonating microcosm of a cosmos whose main currents we are but tributaries.  Civilization has been forging an instrument to penetrate further into the nerve center of the cosmic web, and while technology might be the most obvious manifestation of this development, the technological achievements can also lead to a further entrenchment of humanity in ignorance.  The most important potential boon of the progress of civilization is the possibility for a democratized knowledge and power. Such a civilization depends on its cultures not only having their form-languages in tune with the rhythms of the world as ancient cultures tended to be through their intuitive, fluid and creative coherence, but also an understanding of the cosmos that transcends the idiosyncratic systems and languages of culture and allows a more universal knowledge.

This book hopes to be a contribution to this kind of civilization—where through a dialog of diverse metaphors and knowledge traditions we can better understand the principles of a universal syntax which could make, not a universal language that erases cultural difference or reduces them to any archetype, but a general knowledge of a shared medium whose processes structure all form.  This book is just a gesture in that direction—a seemingly singular gesture that I hope hints at the infinity of context riding on and sliding by, forming and frequenting the forces of our amazing world.  As our restless hearts finds rest in the infinite, the mind finds its purpose as a partner in the dance of selves growing out of endless improvisations upon the themes of existence.

So it is that I write, as I live, to further perspectives that will live on after me, not through a dialectic of history, not through any expectation of effect from these ephemeral projections into the mediasphere, but through the beings that live through me and of which my life is just a small portion, a working out of conditions that will be used in developments that cannot be measured in the terms of this world.  For the world, all worlds, are conversations; their purpose is not so much to communicate or define a world as it is the joy of creative play with them, with worlds and words; with the beings we are, have been, and will be; with the variegated delight of relationship.  

Concordantly in this book, I will speak to you as a friend: as a fellow inmate in the asylum of Earth as we plan its liberation, as a partner in the dance of theory and practice, and if nothing else, as a lover of wisdom even if you find none here.  For while I may not be writing for you, I certainly don’t want to waste your time repeating the arguments with the friends of my youth, which Yeats once suggested was the source of the writer’s musings.  I will advance an argument of sorts, but only as a means to an end that transcend us. I hope to speak to you, to the other that exists as an alien to us all, to the unknown calling us beyond the cycles of reaction.  May these traces carry through a being, may they connect old friends, may they be more than me.  The impossible dream of all inspiration, but to which all sincere work is an offering.  An offering that carries a real hope of a wider circle of embrace, or, as we shall see, a pattern of connection that defies formal measures of force or influence.  Simply put, may this work have meaning.  For I know now why I write, why I think, why I am.  My mind is no longer restless.  Yet it does not announce from on high to the masses, nor from any fixed abode.  It moves within the context and conversation of philosophy, by which Pythagoras—the first to call himself a philosopher— meant a love of wisdom.

 Yet who in our times dares call themselves by such a name?  Have we indeed fallen into the dark age when men spurn wisdom as predicted in tradition?  Or has the context of traditional wisdom so changed that anyone posturing its tenets be taken as a charlatan?  Who can blame us for developing a skeptical stance or an ironic smile when the label of wisdom—or love for that matter—is invoked.  Love we may speak of in all seriousness, but its gravity comes more from its emotional weight, seldom from devotion to a principle—the very thing we have lost faith in.

Of course the principles of scientific inquiry still secure devotion in those willing to stretch its character into a value sphere quite alien to its professed intent.  Most of us end up supplementing the valueless data of an increasingly muddled scientific cosmology with some metaphorical abduction of traditional symbols and meaning, however disguised as new and revelatory.  In any case, meaningful engagement is nearly impossible, as the individual is left to merely choose what combination of floating signifiers they will fashion into an identity.  The result is less a coherent subjectivity resonating in a world of meaning than an ideological covering over an abyss of incoherent systems and principles that prevent us from feeling the connection and truth a powerful metaphor should bring. The depth we do feel is no longer the spiritual relevance of religious metaphor, but the black hole of 20th century cosmology, now superseded by a host of competing interpretations of singularity that merely mirror our uneasy view of the void.  Thus we are forced to take science literally and become cogs in its lifeless machinery, or risk facing the monumental task of bearing the weight of its metaphors and feeling through the incoherence to a distant harmony.

But is this not always the choice between the passions and true love?  In one case we are fastened to our object of compulsion, and in the other we become that object, we enter into its nature, and by doing so, we free subject and object from their slavish reflection, setting us on our mutual way towards greater coherence, opening lover and beloved up to the greater cosmic activity.  

Yet loving wisdom in our age can feel like an unhealthy relationship.  It can become difficult to fully resonate with a beloved so mired in uncertainty.  Is it any wonder people embrace simpler paths, taking up devotion to principles no longer in phase with our own times? What principle can guide us in a world of such wonderfully heterogeneous yet basically incoherent connectivity? It seems like any principle that can free us from the weight of our compulsions, (yet lend us a soulful gravity that is less a weight or fall than the current of our chosen path—the wind we catch to navigate our relations with the cosmos), is lost in the frivolous and solemn ventures of a soul unmoored from meaning.  Not that there is any shortage of meanings around; we are awash in information offered as meaning commodities.  But wisdom is scorned and love considered merely personal precisely because we recognize the traps of a life dictated by a single tradition, by a principle that doesn’t acknowledge the already wide span of worlds active in the field of Earth at this time.  And despite all attempts at universality and integrality, the coherence just isn’t there, and we have come to respect difference, and are rightly in no hurry to totalize the field of diversity into another grand metanarrative, no matter how inclusive.  We have won a kind of individual freedom that seems to be one of the primary achievements and more or less successful products of civilization.  Yet in our liberation from the collective dogma we seem to have merely landed ourselves squarely back in the inescapable problems of interdependence.  The virtues of a life lived on one’s own terms have been revealed as a primordial responsibility for the making of a world.  

And so the timeless questions arise again, with the same old metaphors of reciprocal relation reemerging in the contemporary study of complex systems as that which has inspired many versions of the so-called “golden rule”—dating back to another important era, what Jaspers called the axial age, when we first seemed to glimpse the problems of a rational, individual consciousness.  Far from revealing an argument for a perennial tradition of stock answers to universal questions, it should be seen by now that we have been set adrift for a reason, that we are struggling to formulate a way of achieving harmony without succumbing to a fixed ideology.

But what “way” could there be beyond the dangers of fanatical devotion that nonetheless can inspire a civilization to believe in truth once again? What principle can guarantee smooth sailing within any context we may find ourselves without sacrificing critical reflection? And even if such purpose be found, to what ultimate end do our most meaningful acts contribute?  Relationships seemingly end.  Great achievements are forgotten.  And in the realm of knowledge, how relative and provisional it all seems at first glance.

A deep reflection on ultimate causes, deep enough to reach the realm where such things may be found, seems to bring an answer that differs from our age’s paltry offerings in the way of purpose, bound as they all are to fleeting material developments.  And yet, no matter what the culture or age, human beings find reasons for acts of devotion and sacrifice to a process and project that transcends their own life and pleasure, one that defies their ability to rationalize to themselves or anyone else.  

While countless cultures and people have labored on, for the good of the Gods, for their family, nation or planet, or the evolution of consciousness (their own or some broader cosmic drama); the impulse to understand and formalize a more universal knowledge base for a greater purpose to and enjoyment of life and society has evolved from a primordial sense of responsibility for others and the future, into a humanistic faith in the great potential of our species that persists despite and partly because of our awareness of the possibilities for messing it all up.  People everywhere seem to sense they are part of some process of development that outlasts their death, no matter what the terms they use to justify the meaning of their life.  Whether this development is actually reflected in the process of civilization is another question, but the impulse to make human civilization some kind of materialization of whatever deeper process of learning is happening on some, at least tacitly felt ultimate realm or cause, emerges as the explicit symbol of conscious purpose in those more awake to the conditions that define humanity.  While individual cultures have come and gone, the seeds of their cultural fruits have been sown into a patchy wilderness of planetary civilization.  Now more than ever must we see the forest through the trees and fashion a garden of theory that can nourish us for generations to come.

While “theory” and philosophy have for the average Westerner come to mean idle speculation, especially in the States where our selective distrust of authority is making for quite the culture war, attempts at freeing ourselves from the tyranny of theory have only gotten us a terribly unconscious civilization, beholden to theories it doesn’t acknowledge or examine.  But such a reaction was bound to happen against an academy with a long history of abuses and rationalizations of abuses by the powerful.  Academic philosophy has had its radical moments and heroes, and in the last several decades much has been made out of deconstructing and challenging power, at least by those worth reading.  But by the standards of the wisdom traditions, these intelligent writers are seldom more than critics. The times demand more, and people are tired of hearing what is wrong with the world when there seems to be nothing anyone can do about it.  

Sure, there are many counter-cultural visions, and it is within these we will find the seeds of the future, but how can any of these alternative cultures become a new dominant world view?  And in this age of inescapable global interconnectedness, is not more required than another alternative, another iteration of difference for Capital to turn into a lifestyle commodity?  Have we not learned a deeper game—one that transcends the form of its gesture and embraces an occult economy of cultural and consciousness evolution? Without an understanding of deeper principles that escape specific formalizations, any new idea just gets lost in the noise of information overload—another fetish to be tried and tossed aside like any other cultural product in our market society.  And if all cultures have their day and there is no greater plan past the circle of life and death, who can forgive a general public for living for the moment’s fleeting pleasures.  

Sure there is much to celebrate, many victories to acknowledge within the terms of our system.  Much has been won in the way of rights for instance, and more to be won. There is much passion working along many other promising paths as environmental and social justice issues become more pressing.  But the sheer scope of the disaster in slow motion that is global society gives most forms of protest and activism an ecstatic “dionysian” quality so characteristic of our age’s separation of its vitality from its “apollonian” structure building.  Our structural problems are just too great for most people to come to terms with in any vital affirmative way.  So on we fight with each other, struggling for recognition and identity, for one cause or another, or for just access to enough power to guarantee a place at the table when the winners of globalization are decided, before the walls of class are decided more concretely and possibly more permanently than they have in recent memory.  

Of course one could argue that the real work is done by the many people working to alleviate suffering and that focus on such big problems is the cause of the apathy that allows such problems to accumulate—that micropolitics of the everyday and the groundwork of community building and transformation is what is needed and what is working and having effects that trickle upscale and across the lines of segmentation in society through the liberatory aspects of new media.  One could indeed argue that, or more fairly, one could argue that thinking globally and acting locally go hand in hand, and usually do in this hyper-connected world.  But of course one could guess that being aware of global issues is not what I had in mind as a vital engagement with structure of our world.  There is a big difference between being informed and being educated.  And of course there is an even bigger difference between knowledge— especially as it is in our present culture—and wisdom.  For that we need philosophy.  We need a love of wisdom that can create a new world.

Yet the etymology of the word suggests something different than what people today think of when they speak of love or wisdom.  In our times, love seems somewhat restricted to what the Greeks called eros, the restless desire of a subject for an object, rather than philein, which suggests an amicable harmony.  Wisdom is hardly believed in anymore, except as perhaps an exceptional state of factual impersonal knowledge, an object held by a subject.  To the Greek minds that planted and tended the early seeds of Western civilization, wisdom was about harmony.  Wisdom, throughout time and cultural history, when pondered by those who love it, has always been about creating and navigating a world of meaning that depends on our perspectives and the connections we make between them—a world that becomes more Divine the more we understand it, the more we find the analogical connections that allow its beings to constructively interfere, to find the music in the patterns, the order in the chaos.  The love of wisdom must be a truly spiritual love, or as Rumi might have characterized it, a love without an object.  That isn’t to say a love that rejects the object, that turns its back upon the relationships that so desperately need healing, but a love that finds with its beloved a sympathetic resonance that transforms love’s annihilating gravity into an organizing field pulling all values towards fulfilment.  We then easily surrender attachment to our knowledge forms and find the connections between perspectives.  A true love of wisdom does not speculate about any object of knowledge, just as a true lover doesn’t wonder at his beloved’s nature.  Love unites him with her, and through love they create a home in which to grow.

For philosophy, that home is language, Heidegger’s “house of being”.  It is not built of precarious truths that may or may not be “true”.  Even the shakiest of structures may concentrate and conjugate the flows of life, may become a seed of knowledge that grows into a world of evolving forms.  But to do so one must build the right environment, the right context for each seed to grow beyond itself.  To build a garden of civilization, we must embed life into the structures towards which it longingly reaches, by learning life’s own formal language—by connecting and transforming flows and forms through the process and experience of life and the building and changing of context.

If our cultural forms do not grow into the field of knowledge, they become mere life forms, doomed to follow the cycle of growth and decay, as all metaphors and cultures have done so far.  Yet nothing is ever really lost, and the ideals of knowledge could be seen to be a way of reassembling the pieces of life that have been scattered to the wind.  In this sense organized knowledge need not be about ossifying the complex dynamic of life into the rigid structure of an abstract universal as in some versions of idealism; nor should it be merely a chaotic mirroring of the “rhizome”-like connections of life’s less vertically inspired groping, in an abstract virtual network, as is popular in our digitized post-modern world, but may instead, allow that skyward longing of the organism to achieve its fulfillment in immortality—allowing that long lost memory and meaning to find coherence in the continuity of greater context.  In the debate between the life and mind, their integration depends on mind helping life embed coherently within the rhythms of the cosmos at large, matching the Earth’s rhythms to a path of greater cosmic destiny.  

Ideal knowledge structures need not integrate disparate forms so much as reform and recontextualize to reveal a deeper universality—and they certainly should not presume to create any final universal system.  Wisdom sees the universal in every form and weaves its symbols into paths of further development to be embodied by the communities, which in our time so desperately need a democratized, living fabric of knowledge we can all contribute to.  

At least that is what I will attempt to do here in this book by revealing the wisdom so many people have discovered that is being obfuscated by the incoherence of our culture.  I cannot do otherwise than ponder the questions addressed in this text.  They are the thoughts of our culture taking place all around and within me, across the ages of countless authors I have read and many more that I have not—phantom traces of boundless conversations that have never been written down or even said out loud in the world I seem to wake up in every day.  To sense the immensity of ideas and yet circle around the cliches and tropes of the times may be the struggle of every creative act, but as this process becomes more conscious with practice, the difficulties only grow, and it is easy to see why the ascetic chooses to turn from the world of action into a direct union with higher consciousness and forgoes the endless and ultimately inadequate task of translation and worldly contextualization.  

But this discord between worlds is not a necessity of life.  It is up to people of every age to evolve the form-language of their culture to meet the demands of the time.  Technological innovation has in recent times, so outpaced the creative mind’s ability to meaningfully contextualize these changes, that creativity has become merely a romantic reaction to a total “enframing” by technology.  The creative mind has few options, given the complete impracticality of understanding enough of modern science and technology to creatively determine it.  It therefore retreats into a search for novel experiences or unique expressions that may be richly textured enough to splash some color on the walls of an increasingly mechanized world.  

The individual in our times, no matter what their bent of character cannot help but feel deep down that their life, in some crucial aspect, is not their own.  And so we assert our character ever more forcefully—maybe in the process fighting for others’ right to do so as well, but in the end, feeling all the more dissatisfied with the chaos of personalized reactions to niche aspects of an immense problem that escapes comprehension.  Most of us concede the impossibility and rest content identifying with a subjectivity that has lost any grounding coherence, and finds its most meaningful symbols in creative media it considers mere fantasy or fiction—displaced projections from contemporary confusions that may intuit the greater cosmic drama behind the dull daydream of our conditioned reality, but in the end are considered merely idle entertainment.  

There is something old and tired looming over the 21st century imagination.  There is much energy being expended as each new medium offers new life to our dying symbols, but it all somehow misses the mark—as if we are too weary or defeated to make our art do more than comment on a reality we have left for science to create for us.  But while this kind of tired desperation haunts Western cultural production, within a view that sees “civilization” not as a decadent phase of culture, but as a discontinuous groping towards a more universal and sustainable structure, this arc of Western civilization takes on a more quaint color of a struggling youth.  Our weariness is more of a frustration with the limits of our body (of knowledge).  We sense we are capable of great things, that we are just getting started on some greater path, yet either the body we are used to is worn out or it is changing in ways we haven’t yet understood or adjusted to.  

There is nothing more sad than an old man trying to act young, but it isn’t because he should accept his ineptitude; it is, like all tragedy a confusion in the boundaries of archetypal principles, a mismeasure of the ratio of complementary forces, of the Gods, on whose proportional relationship, man’s destiny depends.  Man keeps chasing the pleasure of Dionysus, keeps trying to play on the structures he was born into, long after they have lost their vitality.  He needs to grow up and embrace the structure building of Apollonian creativity, that is, he must learn to build and tune his instrument if he truly wants to learn to play a different song, and especially if he wants to play a sustainable one.  For technological science seems to have replaced any truly creative system building.  It is a mechanical prosthesis to a social body that could through a more philosophical science and integrated society, use nature to carry our meaning into the higher dimensions of experience.  

Instead we are harvesting nature to shore up our corpse, enjoying every last drop of the life lived for our increasingly boring concepts and images.  Though we have not lost our love for form building, our zest for structure.  But that zest is disconnected from its roots in Dionysus, from the earth, from any sense of the realities of time and challenges of death.  We have, much like late Classical culture, turned the transformative, destructive power of Dionysian ecstasy into the mere pleasure of civilization.  We have, like the Romans did by destroying the Dionysian cults, muted the revolutionary ecstasy of the counterculture through finding a structure that could provide the mere pleasure of spectacle. Oswald Spengler was right to see the West as in decline, for we are certainly past our prime, though still chasing pleasure and building structures to shore up our failing vitality.  The American Empire is indeed crumbling, and indeed the collapse of civilization is possible in its wake (or perhaps another setback to previous modes of living).  But there are greater forces at work and things need not follow the same pattern.  We are only dying if we cling to our culture and our cultural selves.  The greater spirit that has been forming through civilization is still a struggling adolescent.  Science—in the sense of organized knowledge— is still discovering its medium and its destiny as caretaker of the forms of the spirit’s song.

Western culture has always been possessed with this spirit of civilization.  If we can learn to stop straining to suck the last life out of a used up culture and start putting our creative minds to the building of structures more sensitive to the worlds our structures repress (and through inversion express), then the dialectic of culture and counterculture, Apollo and Dionysus, the arts and sciences, and every other antagonism can give way to an innovation that displaces any single dialectic of history, what Nietzsche considered a process of reactionary negativity.  Rudolf Steiner, explaining a spiritual metaphor no doubt influenced by his reading of  Nietzsche’s aesthetic ideal of a formal poise between Dionysian and Apollonian powers spoke of two types of spiritual beings relating to the vowels and consonants of language.  This is different than a mere peaceful balance of opposites that has been the main trope of the commercialized counterculture known pejoratively as the “New Age”, but which can perhaps, as this work will argue, be developed from those aspects of the esoteric tradition that have been active all along in our history as a kind of “spiritual science” as Steiner often called it.  Here he describes what we have been discussing—what New Age thinking often trivializes, but which it sometimes rightly perceives in its metaphors as a greater destiny of civilization as Divine instrument, a language evolving to be a fitter vehicle for a greater being:

 

“From the consonant element extracted from the human being, the form arises, which we must shape sculpturally. From the vowel element extracted from the human being arises the musical, the song element, which we must sing. Man, as he stands before us, on earth, is really the result of two cosmic arts. From one direction derives a cosmic art of sculpturing, from the other comes a musical and song-like cosmic art. Two types of spiritual beings fuse their activities. One brings forth and shapes the instrument, the other plays on the instrument.

No wonder that in ancient times, when people were still aware of such things, the greatest artist was called Orpheus. He actually possessed such mastery over the soul element that not only was he able to use the already formed human body as an instrument, but with his tones he could even mold unformed matter into forms that corresponded to the tones.”

 

The great artist at the mythical origins of Western culture, Orpheus was also the prototype for Pythagoras, our great seeder of Western science and philosophy.  In this book we will explore the paths that the West and the East have taken in their development from the seeds sown in history, but fashioned in realms and by beings previously relegated to myth, but which and whom are beginning to take on a new light as science penetrates into what we usually dismiss as imagination.  While the challenges imposed on us by our already alienating technological society will only become more challenging with these new realms to consider, it is precisely by considering these seemingly alien dimensions of our experience that we can begin to meaningfully frame our world in any terms we choose, and thereby level the playing field with that which always transcends our view.   

As for final ends and ultimate causes, I hope this book will shed some light of meaning on what we all know to be true.  Despite surface doubts, we all live our lives because we know it matters in the end.  What confuses us are the forms.  We know nothing lasts, memory is fleeting, and learning is provisional and context-bound.  But we sense there is something in us, that is all of us, that is gaining something valuable and universal.  We sense a being in us that puts everything to use— where no act is a waste, and all gestures feed into a greater meaningful activity.  But in the meantime we see a world of entropy and a culture that cannot connect the signs we see before us with the world within that gives it meaning.  What becomes clear through a true love of wisdom is that while no form may last forever, there are threads of continuity that run through everything that only appear discrete and disparate in our attempts to contain and master an infinite field.  

While the mind of man has dreamt of tempering this field as he does with musical instruments, there are prices to pay as there are in music when we commit to one system of tuning.  The answer is not to give up our desire for knowledge and power as so many have done when this truth of incommensurability is realized, since there will always be those who have no problem creating a closed system to contain us all.  Nor should we rest content with a utilitarian pluralism that has no deeper vision of metaphysical unity.  Instead we must imbue our civilization with a learning that goes deeper than that which depends on the language or forms we use by illuminating those very forms with the light of a deeper experience.

This won’t be an argument for a reliably privileged mystic sense as much as it is an exploration of how a deeper meditative approach to our knowledge traditions and cultural forms is creating the best hope for our future.  This deeper inner experience doesn’t guarantee wisdom, but wisdom cannot manifest without it.  If you let me, I will be your guide as we look deep into the wisdom traditions, the technological civilization they gave birth to, and the contemporary scene of cutting edge science where they are meeting once again.  What will guide us are the important moral and contextual considerations that academic philosophy has explored fruitfully since the postmodern turn.

If you stick with me, I think you will see that philosophy is not dead, but rather its powers have been dispersed into so many directions which, as we stand today, are poised to converge in a “new age”.  What type of new age depends on the proportions of the elements of this convergence.  I hope those reading this of a more skeptical mind will bear with the rather alternative subject matter and those of a more spiritual bent, will be open to some critical thinking.  If we can’t elevate our critical faculties from a shallow disregard of or insincere respect for the radically different ideas of our time and our history, to a sincere engagement with the rather bizarre elements of this world that are emerging before us, we will miss the opportunity we have to join the cosmic game as real players.  Let us take a closer look…

 

 

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