Archive for March, 2012

In the course of doing the previous entry, I stumbled on a surprising realization — that the first tentative seeds of each new vision are generated a full cycle before they take shape as a distinct entity. This has undercut some of my long-held assumptions about the dynamics of countercultural periods, but it promises to replace them with a subtler and more fruitful paradigm.

When I initially developed my ideas about the cycle of visions, I assumed that the central narrative of every counterculture involved the loss of faith in a dominant partnership and the coalescing of opposition around the next vision in the sequence. I derived this template from the 1960’s, which I perceived as a heroic struggle by the forces of chaos against the increasingly repressive tendencies of scientific-materialism-and-democracy.

That remained my working model when I started this blog. I soon added an additional level of complexity, however, as I concluded that the explosive burst of cultural energy which marks the onset of every counterculture must be a by-product of the liberation of the countercultural vision from the influence of the dominant partnership and its realignment towards the vision one junior to itself.

In this revised model, I identified the foundations of the 60’s counterculture as having been established between about 1958 and 1962, when a few visionary writers and musicians began to associate chaos with holism rather than scientific materialism. This new way of thinking then swept through the culture at large when the dominant partnership was discredited in 1964-65.

I still believed, however, that holism had played a merely catalytic role and that chaos had provided the energy source for the counterculture and had produced its most radical new ideas, some of which coalesced as the creative imagination vision when chaos narrowed down in the 1970’s and became more conventional

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I finished the previous entry feeling confident that I was about to beat my way out of the 19th century — but then Alexei remarked that he’d found it hard to follow. I took that as a sign that I’d gotten too abstract and needed to provide more detail on the core assumptions of both scientific materialism and holism before I could move ahead.

As I’ve stated repeatedly, every new vision is rooted in insights that derive from a particular area of human experience but also offer intimations of higher knowledge. This combination provides the vision with its psychic center of gravity, and though it gets tugged off base at times by its associations with other visions, it always tends to revert to that original moment of inspiration

In the case of scientific materialism, its founding insights were sparked by the proliferation of mechanical devices during the early Middle Ages. In an era of extreme other-worldliness, the only people who did not regard the material world as fallen and corrupt were the unknown tech geeks of the time — the builders of cathedrals, designers of siege engines, and tinkerers with the inner workings of windmills and mechanical clocks.

The first intimations of the mysteries inherent in machines must go back to the medieval counterculture of the late 1100’s — the period of Arthurian romance, the troubadours, and Gothic architecture. The new vision took on shape, however, only as it accepted the mentorship of the reason vision over the following century.

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