Posts Tagged ‘Occupy’

Pagan Anarchism

on December 21, 2013 in Emerging Visions | Comments Off on Pagan Anarchism

In between my forays into the remoter reaches of prehistory, I like to keep an eye on current events for signs of significant transitions. It seems that one such transition is upon us now, as indicated by the fact that “economic populism” — or “economic justice” or “social justice” — has become the hot new buzzword of the moment.

Four years ago, the issue of inequality was not even on the table. Two years ago, it was being pushed only by those noisy folk down at Occupy Wall Street. But now it is something that even the elites and makers of opinion are having to recognize.

That’s not just a switch in the zeitgeist. It’s a sign that we’re at a crucial turning point in the cycle of visions where the horizontalism vision starts to attract mainstream attention.

If the pattern that I worked out last spring holds true, we’re about to see horizontalism — like holism in the late 60s and early 70s — become the focus of a tug of war between established interests looking for practical solutions and the wild romantics and radicals who have been nurturing the vision for the last several decades.

The ultimate outcome of that struggle will be a split between a “safe” version of the vision on one hand and a more dangerous and mystical version on the other. However, that split will remain latent for the next dozen years or so. In the meantime, I see nothing wrong with getting as many tangible benefits as we can out of this window of opportunity when the elite are running scared and willing to make concessions.

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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’m not done with my survey of wacky 1940’s science fiction, but I’m finding that I can’t proceed without taking a break to define more clearly what I mean by “higher knowledge.”

I’ve made a variety of assertions about higher knowledge in the course of these entries. Each of them is true within its own frame of reference, but they come at the subject from different angles and have different implications, and I suspect that even my own thinking on the subject has gotten a bit fuzzy and could use some sorting out.

I suggested two years ago that from a scientific viewpoint, higher knowledge can be understood in terms of a theory that the human brain generates sudden “neuronal avalanches,” which spark intuitive insights by creating novel connections among scattered bits of information.

When I first mentioned this idea, I associated it with recent speculation that an evolutionary leap to a new form of brain organization around 80,000 years ago might have distinguished us modern humans from our equally intelligent but less creative forebears. I still believe that, but I’m now convinced that the change must go back fully 200,000 years, to the very dawn of our species, and that we humans have from the start been the people of higher knowledge.

The theory of neuronal avalanches, however, can only take us so far — because our sudden intuitive flashes lead not only to the recognition of new relationships among existing information, but also to what appear to be profound insights into the nature of reality itself.

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