A Call to DIVE VI – The Storm

This week I’m presenting a piece which is an apex work in the narrative. It’s a piece in which Fides’ full vocal power and prowess gets to really let loose in a transcendent expression of extreme rage and grief, swept along by a sonic storm of multiple layers of analog synth, wind, waves and wolves.

Homeostasis, Change, Addiction & Love

This IGNITE Talk (5 mins, 15 secs per slide – GO!) was presented at the Web of Change Conference Sept. 2013, at Balcones Springs just outside of Austin, TX. Huge thanks to the WOCMob for welcoming this errant pitch!

In response to my opening statement “I’m curious why orgs and people fiercely protect outrageous poisonous bullshit that will kill them, while resisting change that is blatantly obviously healthy and liberating.”, I trace an origin of ‘Things’ – conceptual, biological, then psychological – asserting that ego is a ‘homeostatic’ entity. I propose that ego is built up by ‘habits’ cycling around core desires, and that addiction reifies into a ‘cyclostatic’ resistance to change. Addiction is self-generating and delusional, both of which are relatively good descriptions of many orgs resistant to, for example, climate change science. Addictive structures, functioning in denial, are also exceedingly resistant to love, whose nature is revelatory. Situations where love directly encounters addiction are typically ‘apocalyptic’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Call to Dive II – The Pastry Shop, Lighea’s Lovers, and Bar Hades

Greetings encore, diverse divers and lovers of dives.

It was a thrill to send the last missive off, and it’s been an even greater thrill to have so many amazingly cool responses from friends far and near, and new and old. Honoured indeed to have such great folks having a listen!

But the story’s just begun!

In this email I’ll present three more works: The Pastry Shop, Lighea’s Lovers, and Bar Hades.

A Call to DIVE I – The Prelude & The Pearls

Dear most excellent friends and family, compdramour, compadres, marvelous musicians, clever composers, miscellaneous accomplices, possibly interested acquaintances, and almost total strangers whom I thought just might be interested… I’d like to share a music project with you.

An Aria sung over a bed track of waves, gulls, Crystal Baschet, and a buoy bell run through a Line 6 delay modeler.
Mussolini’s ‘Vincere’ speech (in which he declared war on the Allies) slowed down
and stretched out so that it screams and moans.
Jack boots and Leni Riefenstahl samples.
Dulcimers, pan delay and Array Mbiras.
An ambient composition for microtonal instrument creator Harry Partch’s ‘Cloud Chamber Bowls’.
Layers and layers of fat classic analog synth (PolySix) layered in with howling wolves as a bed track for an astonishing vocal storm by the truly and terribly astonishing voice of our muse and main protaganist, mermaid and siren, Fides Krucker.

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Learning to Dance with an Absolute: Treeplanting, Disappointment, Grind & Bliss

Me, planting in N Ontario...

Me, planting in N Ontario…

There is something of a tradition amongst some Canadian youth to go north in the summer months to replant large areas of land previously logged.

Requiring long days of straight piece-work labour in all weather, in very remote areas of Canada’s north, it is considered by many to be the most physically demanding work in the country.  Some time ago, over nine seasons, I planted more than a million trees in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

Treeplanting as Dance

Treeplanting can be dance. Admittedly, the sight of a swearing, stinking, grunting human, picking its way across a terminal landscape of splintered wood, churned up dirt, and waist high vegetation, straining against the weight of a cumbersome bag of  seedlings, shovel plunging, is a far cry from, say, ballet. But if you broaden a description of dance into any form of communication that is achieved through physicality, then treeplanting can surely be included.

The communication is not from an expressive performer to an audience through symbolic gestures: there is no performer, no audience and no symbolism. The communication is between the planter and the earth through direct contact.  The dance is improvisational in that every planter is unique, and has their own unique way of proceeding through a landscape, and every inch of that landscape is unique, and every tree that is planted is unique, and every occurrence of a tree being planted is a unique and unrepeatable event.

The dance is, however, improvisational with the provision that the terrain ultimately dictates the context and ambience with which and in which the treeplanter improvises. The terrain doesn’t improvise. The terrain doesn’t accommodate the planter. The treeplanter improvises to the absolute of the terrain. The terrain rules.

The macro-geography of a region and the logging and reforestation practices of the local contractor will dictate in a general way the kind of landscape that planters find themselves in. In Revelstoke, you’ll be choppered onto a mind numbingly steep mountainside covered in rubble and huge splintered stumps, in north Alberta you might end up pounding a big flat bed of hard clay, in North Ontario you could follow machined trenches across rock and through swamp, and on Vancouver Island you’ll carefully and deliberately pick your way through a selectively logged rainforest.

A planter may stay in one section of land, areas of between maybe a hectare to ten hectares, anywhere from a couple of hours to days and days.

And during the time you’re in that piece of land it’s your world.

It’s truly, truly astonishing the degree to which that world, that little piece of land—a fragment of a clear-cut, which is a dot on a map of the region, a region which can’t even be found on a map of the province, a province which is a little block in a map of the world, a world which is a little dot on a map of its solar system, a system which disappears completely in the immensity of the universe—becomes your entire universe.

That little piece of land, your universe and dancing partner, can take you to an utterly enchanting, ecstatic, dopamine buzzed bliss, or to the most miserable, wretched, defeated low that you’ve ever experienced. That little piece of land—be it a way overpriced glorious clean clear loamy cream patch of joy,  or the most gnarly, bristling, skin ripping, stinging nettle, wrist zapping rock pile, slash heap of pain—that little piece of land can change your life.

I’ve seen people laughing uncontrollably, hysterically singing in utter gay abandonment, blissed out until years of worry drip off their glowing faces. I’ve seen people weeping inconsolably, screaming in uncontrollable rage, throwing their shovels into the bush, attacking other planters, foremen, supervisors… all over a little patch of land. 

Rhythm, Endorphins and Solitude: Ingredients for Bliss

An aerial view taken over a recent clearcut located within the last 4percent of valley bottom old-growth that remains on southern Vancouver Island. Photo by: T.J. Watt, Utopia Photo.Trance states rely heavily on rhythm as a means of regulating breathing, motion, and thought patterns. Rhythm is, as Tom Robbins once wrote, “everything pertaining to the duration of energy”, and so it is an absolutely essential component of a treeplanter’s daily performance. Any long distance athlete knows that significant changes in speed require way more energy than keeping your performance steady at the maximum speed kept up for the duration of the event. Go the same speed, keep the same rhythm from start to finish, and you save energy.

In treeplanting you have to climb over stuff, and under stuff, and push stuff out of the way, and find where the next tree should go. One tree might take you 30 seconds to plant or the next three minutes, so any rhythm is considerably influenced by the nature of the terrain. But overriding the nature of the terrain is the planter’s level of intensity: how hard are you pushing. Remember, it’s piece-work, you’re paid for how much you plant. Treeplanters will maintain a pulse rate of 120 all day, day after day, for months. It’s truly an ultimate marathon sport. The great piston of the planter’s heart is beating and beating and beating, insistently pulsing through the whole body. The body is stressed and, as any distance athlete knows, enough pain equals – god bless them, the gain of pain—endorphins: nothing better than a little home brewed morphine to get you through the night.

There’s also solitude. Whether you plant with someone else or by yourself (solo was more common), planting is something you do on your own. You don’t have to dig a hole for anyone else, or put the tree in for anyone else, or kick the hole shut for anyone else. You do it all by yourself and for yourself. Your quality is your quality, and the number of trees you put in, and how much bread you make, and how many cigarettes you take, and how long your breaks are, is, beyond a relatively minimal level, up to you. You’re alone, on your piece of land, with your own private thoughts, in your own private universe, for hours and hours for days and days.

It’s so quiet, all you’re hearing is the sound of your body and your shovel and the birds and the weather. You haven’t spoken a sentence in hours. No one and nothing has significantly distracted you from the wide ranging of your mind. Your heart rate’s been pounding away at a steady 120, stressing your body to a degree that the old endorphins are kicking in…

Rhythm, endorphins and solitude, for days and days, can certainly set the stage for moments of bliss.

The Dance: Blissful Communion vs. Circuits, and Expectations

There’s another factor that has to occur for the bliss to happen. It’s this factor which makes ‘bliss’—a really joyous feeling of hyper-energized unity—so rare: the dance has to be good. You’re always in contact with the terrain, always in a physical communication with it, and ‘bliss’ occurs where this communication between planter and earth becomes, even if only fleetingly, communion.

Engaging in good dance with terrain is not actually easy. It’s definitely easier in easy ground, but the nature of the terrain isn’t really the decisive factor in good dance. The decisive factor is what’s going on inside your head.

Hours and hours of solitude doesn’t necessarily result in mental relaxation or ease.  For a lot of us, it means that our poor little brains, unhinged from the normal conditions and limitations of other people, syntax and reality checks, go on lengthy and unbridled gallops through the future, the past, the possible, the impossible, the what ifs and the if-onlys of an entire lifetime and a life to come. The time you threw up in class, the girl you wished, the woman you miss, the book you’re writing, the land someone else has, why did he say, what did she mean by that, if only I could the time you threw up in class the girl that you wished… ad infinitum…

These little ‘reels’ have a kind of a circuit. On a good day, it is fairly expansive and on a bad day it is about as long as a breath of air—returning over and over and over to the same goddam problem that it didn’t resolve yesterday, or an hour ago, or a few minutes ago, or every second second for the last three hours. Such brain blathering, which can seem impossible to control, is hardly conducive to beautiful ‘blissful communion’ with the terrain… or with anything else for that matter.

Another thing that is not conducive to ‘blissful communion’ is expectation.

Every piece of land is different, and within one piece of land there can be a wide variety of terrain. Every place you step is like no other place. But what tends to happen is the old brain, while it’s haphazardly journeying around, accustoms itself to a certain kind of terrain.

The most extreme example of this is to send somebody who has been in a bit of a cream patch (really easy terrain where it’s easy to make really good coin) for a while into a pile of slash (extremely difficult terrain covered in piled up debris), or somebody whose accustomed to clear scarification—land prepared by machinery— into unscarified land. You end up bringing where you were, popping in trees at high speed, into where you are, which, as it turns out, is a place you can’t do that.

So there’s this conflict between what’s in your body and your head, and your desire and expectation for success, and the actual conditions you’re faced with. Fighting conditions through fits of expletives, or trashing your body in a rage against rocks, wood and dirt, has no effect on the terrain.

Expectations also play a huge role regardless of the terrain a planter’s been in. Everyone deserves to make decent coin for hard work. And everyone wants to feel that, if they’re working pretty hard, they should be able to plant roughly as much as everyone else, and most folks are a little competitive (and some are very competitive). You walk onto your turf with what may be a fairly fixed set of expectations in your head and in your body: a goal for the day, for the week, for the next few hours. But the terrain couldn’t give a shit what’s in your head, what hopes you have, or what desires you wish to realize. It’s just there, being what it is, wholly oblivious to your hyper-conscious machinations. And, to repeat, the terrain rules.

Disappointment and the Ground

Disappointment is the best chariot on the road of the dharma.”  So said Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan Buddhist poet-scholar and artist and general crazy person now six-feet under. It’s a phrase which has recurred to me in planting probably more than any other phrase besides certain combinations of profanities.

Disappointment brings you down, in the most certain and concrete way, to where you really are. It’s the place where your expectations and desires get thoroughly trounced by the reality of your situation. In treeplanting, the terrain is the reality of your situation and the degree to which you adjust to it, maneuvering your own limitations into a relationship with it.

When you quit wishing the ground was something different—easier, faster—when you quit hoping for something else, when you accept the terrain for just what it is, then your feet, and your whole body, can touch and feel and make full contact with the ground. And when your feet are on the ground, loving gravity, the chattering and hoping anxiety evaporates. Then you’re really making contact and moving with the terrain, making no judgements of it, making no demands on it, just finding the best possible path through what’s there, moment to moment. And your body just knows what to do, flowing from plantable spot to plantable spot in a perfect fluid economy of movement that feels… fantastic!

You’re a wild thing, a mobile attribute of the terrain itself, inseparable from it, conforming perfectly to it…

And you know, when the dance is good, it’s really good: it’s not only a dance, it’s sex. After all, there you are, penetrating the good and great ground, rhythmically pumping your shovel into the earth, plunging your hands deep into its loins with freshly incubated seedlings. Day after day, grinding the ground, spreading seeds by the thousands, into the soil, into the clay, amongst the rocks, through the woods, into the slash, and deep into the primal, moist, wet swamp.

The Casa Dentata

casa dentataThere was once a village where no one ever fought.
Conflict was outlawed.

When angry the villagers counted to 10,
or 20,
or 30,
or as long as it took,
for their anger to pass.

In this silent village
the silent children roamed
with sticks and stones,
switch, switch,
swack, swack,
annhilating every living thing in their paths.

At the top of the hill
overlooking the town
was the Casa Dentata:
a castle in the shape of a molar,
the courtyard of which was a huge cavity,
an open pit mine,
drilling out enamel to supply
the silent town
whose teeth were all ground down.

Climate change science, Joe Oliver and the pathologies of petro states

Climate change science, Joe Oliver and the pathologies of petro states

“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'” -Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

All major scientific bodies whose expertise bears directly on the issue of catastrophic climate change concur with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that “the current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.” This quote is from the website of that notorious left-wing think-tank, NASA.

The Economist ran an editorial which opens with, “A hundred years from now, looking back, the only question that will appear important about the historical moment in which we now live is the question of whether or not we did anything to arrest climate change.” Meanwhile Joe Oliver, Canada’s Natural Resource Minister, has decided that this is an opportune moment to launch a broadside against one of the world’s foremost climate scientists, James Hansen.

CO2 levels and NASA

There are obviously those who simply don’t buy the science. Many of these will now, after a couple of decades of denying that the climate is warming, agree that climate change is actually happening. They do not, however, accept evidence that it’s humans that are making the planet into a greenhouse for rising sea levels and growing droughts, or that we really need to act on it. The evidence isn’t ‘incontrovertible.’

But as George Craven so elegantly points out in What’s the Worst That Could Happen, given the possible catastrophic consequences — devastation to life on earth for generations to come — the onus is not on the climate scientists, but on the deniers to provide incontrovertible evidence that humans are not having a catastrophic effect on the climate.

If they are wrong, if there is any uncertainty, the price to be paid by future generations is far, far too high. To quote The Economist again, “Everything else — the financial crisis, the life or death of the euro, authoritarianism or democracy in China and Russia, the Great Stagnation or the innovation renaissance, democratisation and/or political Islam in the Arab world, Newt or Mitt or another four years of Barack — all this will fade into insignificance beside the question of whether we managed to do anything about human industrial civilisation changing the climate of Planet Earth.”

In disagreeing with every major serious scientific institution of our era by attributing global warming to sun flares or the agit-prop of environmental radicals, eco-terrorists and socialists, and by building an ‘energy powerhouse’ based on fossil-fuels, the Canadian government is behaving like the first of the three little pigs. We’re going to build our house of fossil fuels, we’re going to toot our flute and not give a hoot, and just hope upon dope that the wolf of global warming doesn’t huff and puff and blow our house of oil up in smouldering droughts.

‘Ethical oil’

 The Canadian government’s current rationale for foisting millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere via the tar sands is that Canada’s oil is ‘ethical’; more ‘ethical’ than other sellers of oil like Pakistan, or Iraq or Libya.

This premise of ‘ethical oil’ wove its way into the Canadian government’s energy and foreign policy a whole lot faster than tar sands bitumen (the vast majority of which is mined by foreign states or multinationals whose human rights’ records are not always pretty) makes its way along a pipeline without being diluted by light oil (which is frequently purchased from places like … Pakistan). Once the Canadian government decided that tar sands oil was ‘ethical,’ it wasted no time in paving the way to roll out the barrels.

It bailed on the Kyoto Protocol. It barred the passing of Bill C-300 which would have codified rules ensuring Canadian mining companies live up to international human rights and environmental standards. It tarred opponents of global warming as ‘radical ideologues‘ and, ominously, poured billions into the prison system. Dissenting orgs had their funding cutscientists were muzzled, and CIDA funds were funneled from grassroots NGOs to, you guessed it, mining companies.

The Canadian Revenue Agency was given a steroid boost to watch over charitable orgs to ensure that they did not engage in ‘political activity’ (read, environmental advocacy) for which they would lose their charitable status. And now, in a flourish which has given rise to the Idle No More movement, it’s passed Bill C-45 drawing back protection from 90 per cent of lakes and rivers previously protected demonstrating, categorically, that it sees oil as more important than water or the rights of Canadian Indigenous peoples.

Now here’s an irony: while Team Canada busily brands itself as the ‘ethical’ alternative to a dozen other corrupt, violent or regressive petrostates around the world, it is simultaneously beginning to engage in the very practises it claims to so deplore in them.

This is one bad little pig.

The petro state vs renewables

While Canada, in increasing isolation, abandons its global and domestic ecological responsibilities in compliance with the fossil fuel industry, other countries around the world are transforming their energy systems away from the very product that Canada has banked the next couple of generations on selling.

The EU, against an extremely vigorous (and expensive) lobbying campaign from the Canadian government, has upheld the classification of bitumen as ‘dirty oil.’ Germany is reconstructing its energy sector on a scale equal to reconstruction after World War II, and China and India have leaped ahead with massive investments in renewable energy. Norway, in a climate similar to Canada’s, already acquires 61.1 per cent of its energy from renewables while Sweden is at 47.9 per cent.

While other nations move beyond the fossil fuel bubble, diversifying their energy sources, and the technological and employment strategies that follow on that diversification, Canada slogs away in the fossil fuel sludge in an increasingly unlikely gamble — a gamble that is genuinely hostile to its own Indigenous peoples who have opposed pipelines across their territories, to many of its own citizens who believe in future generations and renewable energy, and to the atmosphere of the sole known planet capable of supporting life.

One might fairly ask, as this little pig stands increasingly alone against the world community (willingly collecting its yearly slop of ‘fossil of the year’ awards), the global tide of energy consumption and innovation and, according to all serious climate scientists, life on this planet… has this little pig lost its marbles?

Addiction to oil

Maybe the reason that the little pig appears to have lost his marbles is that little pig is a junky. The actions of addicts, aligned as they are with acquiring their fix by any means necessary, can appear extremely self-destructive, irrational and paranoid.  But their actions, once the addiction is discovered, can be seen to have an irrefutable, albeit self-destructive, logic.

Addiction is, in the words of addiction psychologist and theologian Gerald May, “a state of compulsion, obsession or preoccupation that enslaves a person’s will and desire.” North America is, as former U.S. President George ‘Dubya’ Bush so magnificently declared in his 2006 State of the Union Address, “addicted to oil,” and the tar sands are Canada’s opium fields. Canada is a tar pushing wannabe petro state and its banking its wad that there are still going to be enough junkies out there willing to pay a little extra for its ethical fix.

Addiction is a form of enslavement within a dictatorial system, with the object of the addiction (in this case oil) as dictator. Its relentless modus operandi and inevitable logic is to clear the ways and means of acquiring the object of its addiction. Everything and everyone is simply reduced to an object which either enables, or is an obstacle to, acquisition. It has a highly developed and motile propoganda department which can flood cracks in resistance with a tidal wave of messaging, actively undermining the will towards choices enabling greater freedom. As with any tyranny it becomes increasingly isolated and paranoid, distrustful even of those with the very best intentions.

Within an addictive society values become reversed, doublespeak burgeons, and democracy becomes a tool to be exploited rather than a means of discovering the will of the people. Folks proposing a vision and plan for a sustainable future and who are dedicated to ensuring the well-being of future generations are, to the degree that they threatens the object of the addiction, seen as ‘hijackers’ and ‘radical ideologues.’  The tar sands, globally viewed as a carbon pariah and singled out by ‘Eradicating Ecocide’ as a model to stage a mock ‘ecocide’ trial in the Supreme Court of England (the Tar Sands were found guilty), is seen as the flagship of ‘Ethical Oil.’

When pushing an oil addiction to a planet in the midst of catastrophic climate change is called ‘ethical,’ we have indeed entered a very Orwellian world, where words come to mean their opposites. Calling Canada’s oil more ‘ethical’ is precisely as logical as saying my crack dealer is more ‘ethical’ than yours.  If I was buying crack I might buy Canada’s ethical crack but crack addiction is, not uncommonly, a terminal affair.

Canada needs to kick being the most savvy fossil fuel pusher in the world. It needs to start pulling its weight on limiting its carbon output. If it wants to live up to its claim of being ‘ethical’ in its resource extraction industry it needs binding legislation to ensure that Canadian mining companies live up to international human rights and environmental standards. It needs to accept opponents of global warming as concerned and decent citizens of our democracy. It needs to offer renewables the same kind of subsidies that the fossil fuel industry receives so that they can compete in a fair market.

Canada needs to affirm that dissent is healthy in a democracy, that federal scientists require free speech, and that mining companies don’t need to supplement their profits with federal funding previously targeted to development aid. The steroid boost given to the Canadian Revenue Agency needs to be directed to offshore tax evasion and a financial transaction tax, not towards promoting the controversial ideological agenda of a single political party.  It needs to respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which it signed in 2010, affirming the need for the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous peoples with regard to the use of their land and resources.

Most of all our first little pig needs to get it’s rump into rehab. But our first little pig is a fossil fuel junky; as myopic, paranoid and self-destructive as any other addict. I think we know what it will say to that suggestion: “No, No , No.” I think we know how that sad that story goes.

So, a final question: what does a Canadian fossil fuel intervention look like?

God & Science

GodEvolutionConsciousnessIf God is defined as the most fruitful relationship possible between consciousness and evolution:
Science is God’s sandbox.
Science is God’s workshop.
Science is God’s kitchen.

A Theo-Poetic Essay on Consciousness and Addiction

The essay below was the sub-text (literally, the essay ran beneath the lyrics as a kind of philosophical discourse on their origins) to the liner notes to an ‘indie-rock’ album called ‘NOD’ that I wrote and produced (but never released) in 1996.

 

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Before the beginning
there is
no womb nor tomb
nor life nor way
no thing nor nothing
neither dual nor One
nor heaven nor earth
nor moon nor sun
Before the beginning.

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Buried in the earth
the potential packed shell
the seed
awakens.
Enwrapped within,
confined walled in,
its expanding begins to crack and heave.
Kept and restricted,
trapped and constricted,
stretching and pushing,
shoving cleaving
wrenching groaning,
the racked need of the stored seed
at last bursts
blasts forth
potential freed
into kinetic force
into form.

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Form being the perpetual kindling of creation,
the language of creation manifested to sensation.
The mortal shell of immortal possibility.
The positions between which arises tension.

The form that is consciousness is the ultimate manipulator of forms.
The pattern that is consciousness is the ultimate manipulator of patterns.
Consciousness is the particularly human strategy of survival, the eco-niche of humanity.
It’s the mediator of the human immune system with its environment.
It’s the locus of personal identity.

 

Crothers Bridge - Lower Don River

 

The etymological roots of consciousness are from the French conscience (con + science) which traces back to the Latin con, meaning ‘with’, and scire, ‘to know’. The roots of scire are related to the idea of ‘cutting through’, of ‘distinguishing and separating’, and of ‘deciding’. Scire may have originated from the Sanskrit chyati, ‘he cuts’, and the Iranian scian, ‘a knife’.
The process of transformation and development described by Creation myths the world over (Brihadarinyaka Upanisad, Enuma Elish, Genesis, etc.), traced by psychoanalysts and child psychologists and termed “individuation” (Freud, Jung, Piaget, Kohlberg, etc.) and followed by the birth and rise of civilizations and technology (Toynbee, Sorokin, McLuhan, etc.) are parallel descriptions of the birth and intensification of consciousness. In every case there is a sense of primordial unity which is subsequently split or separated. Adam and Eve “decide” to eat from the tree of knowledge and are immediately barred, separated from the unity of Paradise (Paradise: Iranian para, around, and daeza, wall [Mary Daly: “Gyn-Ecology”]). Piaget argues that in the infant there is “no definite differentiation between the self and the external world” (Piaget, “Six Psychological Studies”) while Freud, Jung and Kohlberg describe an increasing level of “individuation” (individuation, in the most general way, is understood to be the development of the ego and personality. The delineation of a sense of self and identity, a coherent and integrated pattern and a way of life) and “autonomy” as the sine qua non of healthy ego development. Toynbee and McLuhan refer to the collapse of the unity of tribal societies as they move into the fragmented, specialist, analytical modes of civilized societies.

This journey from “innocence” into “experience” has been crucial for the survival of the human species in that humans, more than other organisms, are dependent on the separation, abstraction, of the psyche from the “here and now” as a means of developing strategies, techniques and tools for survival. However, in a seemingly insurmountable exponentially intensifying feedback loop these strategies, tools and techniques are increasingly developed to adapt to human constructions and extensions – culture and technology – and to the real or imagined threats of other conscious persons, nation-states or organizations. Thus consciousness – individuation, autonomy, fragmentation and analysis – spins, gyrates in an ever increasing build-up, identical to an arms race. Consciousness is, after all, a “winner.” The greater the consciousness, the greater to degree of power to manipulate, the greater the degree of security and control.

This degree of security and control is, naturally, bought at a certain price. This price is an equally exponentially increasing feeling of separation, alienation and isolation from that “primal unity” which can now be called “Being.” In fact, at a certain point, consciousness comes to definitively dread “Being” because it has become so foreign, and because experiencing it requires the relaxation of all the skills that consciousness has so arduously acquired. As the 14th century mystic Meister Eckhart wrote, “For the more helpless and destitute the mind that turns to God for support can be, the deeper the person penetrates God and the more sensitive he is to God’s most valuable gifts.” (Eckhart, Talks of Instruction.)* The last thing that consciousness is or wishes to be is “helpless.”

It can be understood, then, that consciousness is in conflict with Being. The development and evolution of consciousness is precisely “original sin;” “the fall” and the guilt associated with it is precisely the separation from, and dread of, Being. As Chuang Tzu, one of the very earliest Taoists, wrote:

The knowledge of the ancients was perfect. How
perfect? At first they did not know that there were
things. This is the most perfect knowledge, nothing
can be added. Next they knew that there were
things, but they did not yet make distinctions
between them. Next they made distinctions between
them, but they did not yet pass judgments upon them.
When judgments were passed, Tao was destroyed.

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The fall outs of the fall are manifold, as are the attributes of consciousness – individuation, a nostalgia for order and symmetry, the differentiation between good and evil, increasing strategic competence, abstraction, time consciousness (narratization, teleology), consciousness of choice, ‘duality,’ the power to deceive and the potential for delusion, guilt and dread, alienation and addiction – which emerge simultaneously, which mutually arise. Much of this list of attributes can be underpinned by the desire for security and control which, increasing beyond a certain level, becomes a psychosis. This psychosis is directly associated with that which absolutely limits all security and control, death. Extreme consciousness has a neurotic fear of death. Death is the absolute reminder of mortality and, as Buddhist philosophy has been reminding us for a very long time, it’s the delusory desire of the ego for its own immortality which is the source of ignorance and therefore suffering.

Which brings us to “apocalypse.” Apocalypse comes from the Greek apo, ‘away from’, and kaluptein, ‘to cover’, ‘to reveal’. ‘uncovering’ carries the implication of something hidden, that which is to be ‘uncovered’. It is the nature of people who are conscious to ‘cover’ certain aspects of themselves. This ‘covering’ may be conscious – a secret or conspiracy that one doesn’t wish to be revealed – or unconscious – a complete denial of a certain aspect of the self which is too uncomfortable to admit to. A true conspiracy, like an effective ideology, is unconscious because it has become encoded into a person or culture’s description of itself. It has been sublimated into a person or culture’s identity. As identity, it is assumed, presupposed, pre-reflective. As such, it can’t be “seen” without a transformation of identity, a “metanoia,” a conversion.
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‘Revelation’ comes from the Latin reuelare, and reuelatio, words associated with the pulling back of a curtain or veil, and the disclosure of that which was previously hidden or unknown. Addiction is all about making and living in patterns and circles of evasion and denial and so, the fact is, the last thing the addict wants is revelation. We don’t want our evasive patterns to be shown up. We’ve built our identities, cultural and personal, with them. We cling to them and we don’t want to leave them. Revelation, apocalypse, then, is a challenge to our identity.

Where there is a strong resistance to disclosure, where there is addiction, that is, where there are conspiracies and denials and personal and cultural identities founded on those conspiracies and denials, “revelation” is naturally perceived of as cataclysmic. It’s not that “apocalypse” is in itself cataclysmic. It’s the encounter of a force of energy which is in essence revelatory with that which resists revelation that is cataclysmic. If there is no resistance to revelation – if there is no addiction, conspiracy, ideology, or denial – there is no cataclysm associated with apocalypse.

Love, real love, is essentially apocalyptic in nature. Resistance to revelation, then, can be comprehended as resistance to love. Apocalypse is the character of love when it eventually breaks through the resistance and denial. That is, we experience love as apocalyptic, as violent and cataclysmic, because it is overthrowing an order that we value and cling to. It exposes our weakness and our brokenness, it reveals our vulnerability, it deeply humbles us, and so we associate it with death.

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Denial and love can’t cohabitate. Love incessantly seeks to compassionately reveal truth, denial despises such revelation and hence despises love. If a society is living in a state of denial then it inevitably seeks to ensure that love has no possibility of setting up its tent anywhere in the vicinity. If love endures and demonstrates the tenacity to persevere in being heard and felt it will be dealt with in a variety of more or less subtle ways; from being ignored, to being ridiculed, to banishment, to outright murder.

This situation has been repeated so frequently throughout history that, were it not genuinely tragic, it would be monotonous, This conflict, of love and denial, can in fact be understood to be a central dynamism in the progress of human civilization and consciousness. It can also be understood to be a central dynamism in the development of personal consciousness.

The great paradox of extreme consciousness is that its desire for security and control, and its fear of death, involves it in a kind of panic-stricken blind flight which leads it straight to disaster and death. Its flight from death leads to death. Fortunately love is something more sublime and powerful than death. Perhaps this is why we seem to fear love even more than we fear death.

Love struggles on.

No denying

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Nik Beeson – 1996