Archive for August, 2014

I’ve been trying for several years to come up with a comprehensive explanation of the sequence of visions that has formed the backbone of human history. I’ve never felt entirely satisfied with any of my attempts, but my recent exploration of the interaction between the visions and the romantic and occult materials that I’ve described as the “underground stream” has given me some fresh ideas.

The excavations at Qesem Cave which I mentioned in the previous entry provide a useful starting point. They indicate that as early as 400,000 years ago, the cave’s inhabitants had developed an ability to orient themselves in both space and time. They divided up their living space according to various functions and they had established a production line for making stone blades that reduced the process to a maximally efficient series of steps.

These capacities correspond to what I identified some while back as a uniquely human ability to construct mental maps of the world around us and share those maps with others through a sophisticated use of language.

I further suggested at that time that the visions through which we make sense of existence arise out of those same mental maps, but with an added element of mystery and imagination. The maps are limited to factual knowledge, but the visions go beyond those limits. They combine known and unknown, the familiar places of everyday and the distant realms of story, the world as it is and the world as it might be.

And I concluded that the dual nature of the visions represents our best attempt to reconcile the intellectual approach of ordinary knowledge with the intuitive flashes and mystical intimations of higher knowledge by granting each its own separate domain of applicability.

That conclusion was fine as far as it went, but it never accounted for all the pieces of the puzzle — and now I’m starting to believe the visions must involve not two but three different modes of awareness.

Read the rest of this entry »