Archive for February, 2014

I thought when I finished the previous entry that I’d said as much as was necessary to embark on a discussion of Henry Kuttner’s role in laying the groundwork for the birth of the creative imagination vision. But it turns out that it’s not that simple, and I can’t get to Kuttner without first exploring the tensions within the chaos vision that made the birth of its own successor inevitable.

Every vision starts off extremely pure and self-contained. It begins with a few simple premises out of which an entire structure of belief is constructed, and it presents a single coherent way of engaging with reality. But as a vision matures, it becomes a kind of clearinghouse for all sorts of related materials. That broadens its scope and enables it to aspire to being a general philosophy of life, but it also takes the vision outside its original belief system and self-image.

I’ve previously described how this process played out for the scientific materialism vision in the 1700s, when it expanded beyond a narrow emphasis on machines and ballistics and laws of motion and turned to the study of Nature. This created internal contradictions which were only resolved in the 1840s, when scientific materialism reverted to its original focus on purely physical interactions and the holism vision was born to pursue those elements of complexity and design in living things that could not easily be reduced to matter in motion.

The chaos vision went through a similar period of expansion starting around 1915 — when the failure of the reason vision left the unconscious mind as the only generally accepted model for explaining human thought and behavior — and ending with the birth of the creative imagination vision in the early 1970s.

During that period, chaos was getting more novel ideas tacked onto its premises than it was ultimately able to assimilate — yet that alone doesn’t account for the degree of tension that would require the birth of a new vision. There was one additional factor that did more than anything else to push chaos beyond its natural limits, and that was the legacy of 19th century occultism.

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