Monday 18 May 2020

Looking-back from generations hence: A tribal elder speaks on the self-immolation of evil

[The scene is some generations in the future, the Elder of a clan - speaking to his gathered people  - describes the extraordinary deep history of the earth; as it has been pieced-together and assembled by the wise, the bards, and the scholars.]

It will be hard for you to believe that there was once ten-times-ten alive for every Man today. What happened to them all, you are wondering?

Well, it is a sad but beautiful story.

Once upon a time the world was full of wickedness. Not just Men who had wickedness in them, like us; not just the rare bad Men whom we exile or kill; but a whole world where nearly everybody hated God, hated goodness, and celebrated that their life and this world was futile and meaningless.

But of course, Men cannot live this way. At first they became frenzied, then sad, then they despaired.

Underneath everything they spoke, they began to loathe and despise themselves; and they knew - with the last little bit of Good in their hearts - that they themselves should be eliminated.

The realisation spread over the world like a wave, like an avalanche... The decision was sudden, and almost everybody agreed.

Suddenly, everywhere, at the same time: almost everyone Just Stopped.

They stopped doing almost everything! They mostly stayed at home; but when they went-out they shunned each other - even their own family and closest friends.

You will find this the hardest to believe: they stopped seeking husbands and wives. They stopped even trying to have children and sustain families. They even ceased from their wicked sexual depravities of which I will not speak.

And, as they no doubt intended, deep in their hearts; their whole world collapsed.

Vast structures that we cannot imagine collapsed - great groupings of Men growing and making, carrying and sharing, trading and travelling... Suddenly they ceased to share pictures, plays, music and conversation. They did not dance together!

They gave-up constructiong, repairing, inventing. All of it.

And soon a whole world of Men came to an end; like a wave, like an avanlache...

We do not know how the Men reacted to what their hearts had done to them. Perhaps they were very afraid?

Perhaps they even changed their minds and at the last moment tried to save themselves?

But it was too late.

Not quite all of them died - because our great grand ancestors lived-on to make our world of clans and tribes.

Our scholars say that the the world of Men quietly accepted what was necessary and best, and quietly they expired.

Ten-times-ten for each one of us...

They were terrible, our great grand ancestors; very powerful, makers of vast and intricate things: some beautiful, most horrible.

They were very wicked indeed - but not completely wicked.

Deep, deep down inside, buried unders their sins and their despair - in their secret souls God lived. God told them the truth, God shaped their sleeping and their hidden will...

So they made their own ends; and they did so before the whole world was fully and finally damned.

And for that we are grateful.


Sean G. said...

What a terrifying story (considering our current place in it). With a growing family I'm hoping you're overestimating the collapse while also agreeing that it's likely for the best. It's always helps to remember that our most perfect loving Father wouldn't allow it unless it was best, and to repent for my anxiety and fear.

I like this style from you.

Stephen Macdonald said...

More like this, please.

Luther Burgsvik said...

"They stopped doing almost everything! "

This sounds near identical to a scene from a science-fiction film 'Firefly', where it's explained that the government of the day forced the population to breathe in a drug called 'Pax' that was intended to pacify everyone. It worked so effectively that 99% of people stopped doing anything.

The motivation may be different to the one in the story (which I know that you stress is important) but the results are nearly identical.

(The clip is ~2 minutes long)

Ingemar said...

Makes you wonder what sort of Men lived before the Flood?

As a reminder, only eight survived that Divine punishment...

Francis Berger said...

An engaging read. You should play around with narrative more often.

In any case, the forward-looking mechanisms the Wall Street boys like to play with are painting a different picture of the future entirely. If you listen to them, it's nothing but sunshine and rainbows and perpetual growth for as far as the eye can see. I mean, just look at that beautiful V-shaped recovery their charts are painting. Happy times ahead for all, folks!

Howard Ramsey Sutherland said...

Where do you see mankind on the frenzy-sadness-despair continuum? And, if pressed, when would you expect the Full Stop to happen?
Also, any thoughts about who among the nations might be better positioned to resist the Full Stop - or will it be scattered remnants amongst the nations, all of which are lost?
Your story opens several narrative possibilities...

John Fitzgerald said...

Very good. Shades of the fall of Numenor.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Sean - "I'm hoping you're overestimating the collapse" The idea is that this is an oral culture without exact understanding of number - ten-times-ten therefore means 'a lot'.

@LB - I know Firefly, indeed, my wife was/is mad on it! But I had forgotten that bit.

@Frank - I only occasionally get the urge to do a short pastiche/ allegorical 'fiction' - I don't know if you were reading my stuff when I did this:

or this

or this

Bruce Charlton said...

@HRS - Suicide is implicit in our culture.

I have been predicting that this crisis will, at some point, encourage suicide

This has now begun. All British households have been circulated with a leaftlet about mental health in the birdemic - which ends with an encouragement for all of us to be ready to ask each other, openly and explicitly, whether suicide is being considered. This is then stated Not to 'plant the idea' of suicide in the other person's mind.

On the contrary; I worked as a psychiatrist back in the day, and we were trained to approach the subject of suicide carefully and by stages, and only when appropriate.

So this (here, now) seems to be the start of a phase in which the possibility of suicide is to be brought forward as a topic of regular cultural conversation - to 'Normalise' suicide (which has, anyway, already become much more frequent due to massive (and still rising) over-prescription of (known to be) suicide-causing psychiatric drugs: so-called antidepressant (SSRI-type) drugs especially, but also anti-psychotic/ mood stabilizers (for that fake catgeory 'bipolar disorder'); fuelled by increased alcohol consumption and illegal drugs generally.

William Wildblood said...

A sad but beautiful piece, Bruce. Or maybe not sad because it is good that evil is cleansed from the Earth. It seems to be the fall of Atlantis all over again but this time on a much larger scale. Perhaps this is why predictions such as those of the Hindu Kali Yuga and Greek gold, silver, bronze and iron ages can be made. Not to mention those in the NT. It's a regular pattern.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William and Jack. Thank you

Andrew said...

I had a half-asleep dream where I felt a vast presence, like a mountain, and I felt really small. Also a sudden intuition that so much evil must be stopped - that what comes is necessary and good.

I understand this as my position to God: that these things are far outside my control, that I need to stop worrying, and that an end to things-as-they-are is good. So much overt evil. I need to be reminded of this daily as I am very prone to this sort of fear/hopelessness.

I found your story rather hopeful and comforting.

Many people are finding coping with this very difficult. Not accepting the lockdown and rule by bureaucracy means a very "dark" outlook on future events, and without God that leads to despair. Dealing realistically with the failing state of our civilization and constant lies also means a rejection of your sense of comfort and safety if you have no faith in God.

Sean G. said...

@Bruce I wasn't referring to the exact number, just your general pessimism/optimism about impending societal collapse. You've mentioned elsewhere that the planet could only support 1 billion without the global economic system (factory farming, energy, etc) which is certainly true.

That doesn't leave good odds for my family or anyone else's—but our hope ultimately lies not in this world but the next.

Anonymous said...

The part about people no longer trying to start families especially hits home for me. A trend in my generation is that we can't sustain families financially -- due to student debt, the gig economy, and such -- yet we no longer even have the desire to. At least half of Millennial women I talk to don't want to have children.

Maybe this is one aspect of the lack of natural affection mentioned in 2 Timothy?

No doubt part of the reason is the selfishness typical of postmodern people, since having children takes the focus off oneself. On the other hand, though, maybe we sense that the economy is too unstable and society is too depraved to be a suitable environment for raising healthy children. In any case, the trend of lowering birth rates started a long time before everyone just stopped...but in retrospect I wonder if there's any connection, like the indirect signs people give after they've decided to commit suicide.

a_probst said...

That's interesting about bipolar disorder being a fake category. It replaced the term manic-depression I read. Come to think it, some of the famous people who were supposed to have had it, such as Winston Churchill, did drink heavily. Hmm.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ap - manic depressive disorder was real but very rare - about one in a thousand or less. Modern Bipolar is diagnosed in about 5% of the population - a fifty-hundredfold increase. BD is mostly a rediagnosis of 'neuroticsm', neurotic depression, anxiety disorders, some personality disorders... a real rag bag.

Brief Outlines said...

I keep coming back to this. You are right, this world is self destructing out of a deeper wisdom that it is seriously sick and evil.

But on a personal level, forgetting for a moment God's ultimate plans, we are still living in this world, and our lives here and now have a purpose other than to destroy ourselves.

We must still live a worthy life.

Yes, the narrative of this civilisation is clearly incoherent, dysfunctional, and evil. Therefor it cannot be participated in without extreme rejection of what is true and good.

If that is the case, aside from becoming totally despondent, how does one live in this world?

Is it up to me to conjure a better narrative for life out of myself?

Final participation seems to suggest so.

The logos has transformed itself from an outer to an inner origin.

This means that in final participation the rules (the logos) are not given outwardly. They must come from one's own intuition.

Never a better opportunity, then, to reject the outer narratives that are behind the structure of our modern society, and live according to the truth as is revealed by inner intuition.

The difficulty is obviously; what the hell do I know about how to live?! Can my intuition really be the source?

You cant know unless you try.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Amo - Yes, that's it. We can't know what exactly to do on general principles, because the 'better narrative' is for *myself*, and not other people (with other narratives).

And it can't be checked using general principles, reasoning, evidence - because these are now Ahrimanic tools.

It is pretty intimidating to think about living from intuition in this way - it sounds crazy. But it can't be crazy, if the underlying assumptions are true. As you say, there is no other course than to try it.

One aspect is that we can't explain 'our reasons' to other people (other than this is our intuition, and we wish to live from intuition), and certainly can't argue with them or persuade them that we are correct.

It seems to me that many, many people have gone wrong in this respect, got sucked-into 'rationalisation', which then starts calling the shots - and they ended up living from mainstream logic.

William Wildblood said...

"The logos has transformed itself from an outer to an inner origin. " That's a key insight. It means that all (underlined) outer guidance is now suspect and never to be totally relied upon even at its
best which is something members of religious bodies, not just exoteric but esoteric too, must bear in mind.

This will become increasingly the case. We will have to depend on intuition and conscience and follow those wherever they lead, and they will lead us into some pretty complicated positions as the shackles of what you are calling Ahrimanic thinking and control become tighter and real freedom is denied though the semblance of it will still be there. The world will become more oppressive but that very oppression can help detach us completely from 'this world' if we maintain a God-centred mind.

Howard Ramsey Sutherland said...

Unless we are exceptionally well-grounded (a category I doubt I'm in) our intuition alone is unlikely to be a perfectly sure guide. WW states that all outer guidance is now suspect. I agree with that about the guidance today's world and its Ahrimanic institutions provide. Surely, though, there is wisdom from wiser times that we can rely on.
First and foremost, Jesus Christ's teachings. But even many of his disciples, when they had heard Him, said, "This is an hard teaching; who can hear it?" And so it seems.
Thus a question for this group: Who are reliable guides among the wise of earlier times? Not to supersede our individual intuition, but to provide a test for it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@hrs. The thing is that all texts require interpretation to understand them. Biblical scholarship has been subverting and poisoning interpretation for more than 200 years. The churches can't be trusted, or more exactly we can only know by intuition which church, or individual, can be trusted - so we cannot get away from the foundational role of intuition. If we get it wrong, we harm ourselves - so that's an incentive to take intuitive thinking seriously. And each must do this for himself.

Bruce Charlton said...

@hrs - Sorry, too far off topic.