Tuesday, 31 October 2017

What concerns God - an aphorism from William Arkle

We must seek not to concern ourselves with God so much as to concern ourselves with what concerns God

William Arkle - A Geography of Consciousness (1974) from page 206
Picture by William Arkle - https://www.facebook.com/BillArkle

The above sentence strikes me as profoundly wise, and a challenge to all serious Christians. If we come to an understanding of why God created us, and what he wants from us; we may find that God wants us to become more and more divine until, eventually, we are so much like him that we can beome divine-friends; co-workers in the creation. He has made this world for such a purpose - to provide the necessary experiences. That, then, is God's main concern about us. If so; it is likely that God does not want our constant attention (as is generally assumed) so much as he wants that we pursue this path he has made for us. 

When I was a post-modernist

My views, my 'ideology', changed often and frequently through my teen years and adult life as I zig-zagged ny way to Christianity in middle age - in one such phase I was a pretty-much a post-modernist (more-or less from late eighties to early nineties - but publications listed below took a while to reach print).

My most-cited publication of this sort was probably this book chapter about post-modernity in health promotion - published in a multi-author sociology volume.

I also wrote about medicine and post-modernity.

And my essay on Robert M Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance was written while I was deep into the shallows of Robert Rorty.

I find it hard to imagine myself in this postmodern phase - but the evidence is there. One of the perils of prolific publishing, I suppose...

The fighting pastor

A priest or pastor needs to be the tough kind of sheep herder we associate with the young David from the Old Testament; that is a defender of his flock against wolves, bears, lions and whatever else threatens them.

This is the proper nature of Christian church leaders, especially in times when the faith is threatened; otherwise, what is the use of churches at all?

Church leaders need to be courageous in defense of their lambs against whatever threatens them most. 

It requires no great powers of spiritual discernment to recognise the utter incapability, unwillingness and collaborationist culpability, of the leadership of current mainstream churches in Albion...

Read more at Albion Awakening...

Monday, 30 October 2017

How Romanticism came of age - Owen Barfield explains...

At the Notion Club Papers blog, I describe how Owen Barfield (back in 1944) pointed-to the solution to the most important problem of our time and place: the role of Imagination for modernity in The West... This being, in fact, the second time that the question had been answered (the first being in the works of Rudolf Steiner between 1886-94).

Something changed in human consciousness... Now we must have metaphysical foundations for fundamental convictions

The basic understanding I derive from Owen Barfield is that human consciousness changed with the advent of the Romantic era (building-up from the middle of the 18th century) - and that this movement was uncompleted since its impulse was either denied or corrupted.

The proper direction of Romanticism was towards a new 'synthesis' of traditional and modern (of spirituality and science) - but this did not happen.

One aspect of this failure has been that the insights and lessons of Romanticism have Not been included in the modern world - indeed they are alien and utterly excluded. This is obvious when we consider the paradigms of modernity: the bureaucracy and the mass media - there is no integration at all, and in practice only the materialist is considered decisive.

What I conclude is that for the modern sensibility, we must have a metaphysical basis for that which is primary. The failure to resist even the grossest insanities of modernity is because we lack a solid metaphysical base.

In theory, we could be ruled by 'common sense' - in practice common sense has zero traction in modern conditions - we need to have rock-solid metaphysical reasons for anything that matters.

This applies in religion too - including Christianity (e.g the major litmus test issues of male priesthood, and the status of homosexuality implied by same-sex marriage). The weakness of Christianity in the face of the sexual revolution is partly, essentially, due to weaknesses in the traditional metaphysical basis of Christin understanding of the sexes and sexuality. Such weaknesses are being brought to the surface, exposed, for the first time in history.

The only way forward is on the basis of metaphysics - what is conscious cannot be made unconscious; cannot because it is God's will (Man's destiny) that Man become more and more conscious - en route to becoming divine. This is an essential aspect of theosis under modern conditions.

What used to be done on the basis that it was prudent, expedient, natural, spontaneous... such things must now be done on the basis of fundamental metaphysical conviction - or they will not be done at all.

Fixing metaphysics requires a certain honesty - because it entails acknowledging that we know what is right, but cannot explain it metaphysically - and this means admitting that the traditional metaphysical accounts are inadequate. Traditional, mainstream Christianity does not have-all-the-answers, even after two thousand years, because the problems of modernity are novel.

(Purposive Evil has learned through history, and has found a new and highly effective way of attack - as described in Screwtape Proposes a Toast, by CS Lewis.) 

If Christians won't admit this, then they will not be able to fix the problem.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Until the Western nations can make policy for explicitly Christian reasons, there is no reason for optimism

I often repeat the fact that the Western nations are paralysed and doomed to self-destruction until after a spiritual Christian revival: as things are now, all secular policy is lethal (overall).

This is because all secular policy is based on the false materialist metaphysics, which intrinsically denies any purpose or meaning to life.

And any (overall) good policy must be aiming at the good - and if the good is not Christian, then it is a false-good at best.

More usually modern Western public policy is a strategically net-evil policy; masquerading as promoting freedom, justice, happiness, wealth or something - for example the legal and procedural changes relating to the regulation of sex and sexuality over the past half century are all evil (i.e. deliberately destructive of good) by intent of those with power and influence who pressed for them.

Modern Western ethics are rotten through-and-through - tainted from top to bottom. These ethics will work-through to evil, inevitably. From where we are now, no good can come by the methods that are allowed and effective.

There can be no incremental approach to repentance and renewal from within the existing system; we must reach outside the materialist mind-set and see the world as created, and humans as intrinsically purposive.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Weekend illumination from William Arkle

A luminous late painting by William Arkle from sometime 1980-2000

Prayer and Meditation compared

A personal account by William Wildblood at Albion Awakening.

What is true philosophy?

True philosophy is defined by its aim, not its methods.

The aim is for the individual to get back to his fundamental assumptions, to perceive which of his assumptions really are assumed (and not merely based-on other assumptions) - the aim is for the individual to be confronted by his pure assumptions.

That is the fundamental philosophical situation. Philosophy is something each must do for himself - others may help, but none can do it for you.

But the fundamental situation is not what is put-into words, not what is described; but it is the actual 'inner' situation that words are trying to express.

If that fundamental situation can be contemplated, then a person has attained to philosophy: that is to self-knowledge - specifically to direct (not theoretical) self-knowledge.

(Summarised by the first self-conscious philosopher, Socrates, quoting from the temple of his God: Know Thyself. Implicit is that this knowledge of of primary assumptions. This is the basis of true philosophy.)

What happens next? Who knows? Because the fundamental situation is the realm of freedom, of agency; of the real self and ultimate reality as known by that self.

But from that confrontation comes wisdom - true philosophy. 

Thus, true philosophy is rooted in inner, esoteric insight. The real Socrates was - and knew himself to be - primarily a religious mystic.

(The dialectical, questioning philosophical method associated with Socrates is only one method of attaining the aim - and a very limited one, because dominating, coercive, humiliating; thus likely to evoke push-back rather than assent. The subject of Socrates questioning was apparently sometimes a 'stooge' whose behaviour was dissected and debunked in public; and this method was implicitly aimed-at the attainment of philosophy in the audience, not the subject. But probably the real Socrates worked mostly in private, one-to-one or in a small group of friends - as shown in the early dialogues. For a lucid account of the real Socrates, as contrasted with Plato's use of him as a mouthpiece, see Paul Johnson's Socrates: a man for our times, 2011.)

Friday, 27 October 2017

New Owen Barfield Blog

A new blog of my work on Owen Barfield is now emerging.

My rationale for this blog can be found on The Notion Club Papers - which is my Inklings blog. 

What made me read The Hobbit?

I read the Hobbit aged 14, and shortly afterwards The Lord of the Rings: which changed my life permanently. After the Hobbit - much followed.

But what were the factors that made me read the Hobbit in the first place?

The uselessness of mindfulness

Mindfulness is being heavily (albeit dishonestly) pushed by many institutions at present; the practice is useless at best - harmful in its strategic intent.

If Western institutions were teaching prayer in the absence of Christianity, that people should just be praying but not to anybody or anything in particular - but because the process of praying is somehow good-for-you, the incoherence would be obvious.

Mindfulness is a fragment of Buddhism - a partial means to the ends of Buddhism, in which context it makes sense. But what kind of sense can it make without any religious objective?

Well, this religious practice is supposed to be a kind of therapy, or to make people feel good. That's all. It is like advocating going to church every week to enjoy the singing. In other words, it is shallow and at the level of pleasure.

But mindfulness is presented as if it is a spiritual activity, good for the spirit.

The question is why, aside from bureaucratic empire-building and perhaps the promise of a more effective or compliant workforce, mindfulness is being pushed - by whoever is pushing it.

My best guess is subversion of religion. Promoting pseudo-Buddhism is subversive of Christianity (in a Western context) and also subversive of any possibility of genuine Buddhism.

The implicit teaching of mindfulness education is that what matters about religion is not truth, but how you feel - putting religion on a level with entertainment, social media, alcohol and drugs.

Since real religion is the only genuine threat to the mainstream modern Establishment - this is  plausible to me. 

The usual 'at least' cover story is used to protect the subversion; 'at least' people will have a little bit of religion, 'at least' they will be encouraged to set aside some time away from media for thinking (albeit thinking about nothing, and with no purpose)...

Maybe mindfulness could be a gateway to real religion? This might be semi-plausible if almost exactly the same kind of content-free 'spritituality' hadn't already been tried multiple times since the Beat generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 60-70s and the New Age movement of the 80s... 

Well, did all this partial and diluted religiosity lead to more genuine religiousness, to more genuine spirituality? Look around - the obvious answer is no No NO! It led to, facilitated or permitted a vast expansion of materialist bureaucracy and totalitarianism on one side; a culture of hedonic distraction on the other.

And there we have our answer as to why mindfulness is popular among the bureaucrats and micro-managers...

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Brief Notice: The Good Place on Netflix

The Second Series of The Good Place, a sitcom/ serial-drama, is currently running on Netflix.

It is a really excellent philosophical and character-based comedy: funny, fast-moving, twisty, gripping, and extremely clever!

But, you must watch it from the beginning of the First Series, and in order...

The Compleat Lecturer: The special effectiveness of lecturing - in Oxford Magazine

The Compleat Lecturer – 2: The special effectiveness of lecturing
Bruce Charlton
Oxford Magazine, Second Week, Michaelmas term, 2017: 8-9

The Compleat Lecturer – II: The special effectiveness of lecturing

Lectures work – when done well and used appropriately; but nobody seems to know why. And the lack of an accepted rationale for the method seems to make people feel guilty about using lectures.

Typically lectures are taken for granted (which makes it unlikely that they will be improved); but the attitude is often hostile, and sporadic attempts are made to replace lectures with almost-anything-else in the name of innovative teaching. However, such experiments are usually short-lived. In modern mass higher education systems, it is impractical, and unaffordable, to replace lectures with a sufficient quantity of individual or small-group teaching. Attempts to do so, in any more than an ineffectual and token fashion, merely lead to less-teaching; not better-teaching.

Yet pragmatic realism about the lack of viable options is not a positive reason in favour of promoting lecturing as a valuable method in its own right; nor is it likely to guide or inspire good lecturing.

Perhaps the most convincing evidence of lectures’ specific effectiveness comes from what people actually do, rather than what people say. I find it highly significant that lectures have been especially used in teaching the most quantitative and systematic sciences, and for intensive professional training courses such as medicine, engineering and law. In other words, lectures have been a focus of teaching in exactly the situations where transmission of knowledge is most vital, and in subjects where relevant learning is most validly measurable. This is an indirect argument in favour of their value.

(Of course, lectures will only get you so-far; and individual teaching by direct and sustained personal contact or ‘apprenticeship’ - supported by ‘drill’ or repeated practical exercises - remain absolutely essential methods for learning specialized and high level skills.)

Taking these observations of long tradition and their place in serious professional education together, there seems to be ample prima facie evidence that lectures are a good teaching method in many circumstances and for many students. However, it is not generally understood why lectures are useful - or, at least, plausible positive explanations why good lectures are effective are not generally articulated. And because their rationale is not understood, the conduct of lectures has often been changed in ways that tend to make them less effective.

I believe that the effectiveness of lecturing can best be understood by taking into consideration what is plausibly known of ‘human nature’. In brief; lectures are effective when, and insofar as, they tap-into spontaneous human social behaviours, as these are understood by the various psychological disciplines.

Therefore, the primary and specific reason for their effectiveness, is essentially that lectures are a form of spoken communication, which is delivered to an audience by an actually present, authoritative and perceptible person, through a series of repeated social interactions.

A lecture can be considered as a formally-structured social event whose pattern fits some aspects of evolved ‘human nature’; and when that basic event is well-designed and ‘exploited’ in a lecture, this situation artificially manipulates instinctive human behaviour in order to improve learning.

As well as being spoken communications, lectures are properly delivered by an actually present individual person. This living presence creates a here-and-now social situation which unfolds in real time. Because humans are social animals, we are naturally more alert and vigilant in actual social situations.

What makes the lecture a ‘social event’ is the potential (even when, as usual, not actually realised) for two-way communication. Think of the difference between attending a play in a theatre and watching a movie: a theatre audience is typically much quieter and more focused than that of a movie. Because, although in practice the actors and audience almost-never communicate individually; the reality of human presence has a powerful effect on the activity, alertness and concentration of individuals in the audience - especially in a theatre when the audience can be seen and heard from the stage.

In lectures, this factor of presence works mainly by actual sensory-contact (mainly visual and auditory) between lecturer and audience. The situation of real-time social communication makes students spontaneously more vigilant than when alone with a book or computer, because a student’s failure to pay attention can be observed.

A properly-conducted lecture also exploits the psychological disposition to attend to persons of authority in social situations. In effect, the formal lecture is a mutually beneficial ‘collusion’ between class and lecturer: the class lends authority, and the lecturer uses it, in mutually-valued pursuit of effective education. Indeed, the physical structure of a well-designed lecture theatre - the arrangements of seats and stage - enables a situation in which a group’s attention is spontaneously focused on the lecturer; and this physical structure, of itself, artificially generates authority in the lecturer.

Most evolutionary psychologists would agree that humans were naturally selected to attend-to, and thus better remember, the words of authoritative, high-status individuals. The lecture situation is that socially-effective collusion whereby a class of students implicitly, by their silent attention, temporarily creates a psychological state of authority for the lecturer with the purpose of making learning more effective. This situation ought to be mutually gratifying as well as for mutual benefit: to have authority bestowed-upon-him is gratifying to the lecturer; and the resulting enhancement of attention and memorability is gratifying and beneficial for the students. The justification is improved motivation, and therefore learning, all-round.

It is, indeed, precisely because the authority structure of a formal lecture is so powerful an instrument for focusing attention and improving learning that the lecture medium can be abused for propaganda purposes – for example by political or religious orators who orchestrate mass-meetings or rallies. Because lectures can so effectively exploit human psychology, lectures are indeed intrinsically an imposition by one upon the many. The justification for such a potentially-hazardous asymmetry of power, and a factor that tends to prevent abuse, is the requirement that the lecturing process must genuinely be motivated by a shared ethic of education.

A further important factor is that the social interaction of a lecture is repeated. The syllabus of a qualification such as a degree is organized into units typically called courses – and as a generalisation it seems to work best when each course is given by a single person. The reasons are probably psychological – but the psychology seems to constrain the educational possibilities.

Lecturing requires some stability; the lecturer and the class need to get to know each other – and in particular the class needs to get-to-know and learn-to-trust the lecturer, which takes time and repetition. Until this trust is established, the student will experience an inner resistance to learning which is hard to overcome. The first couple of lectures may be entertaining or they may be dull, but they are seldom fully ‘educational’ in any substantive sense – it is only later in the course when some solid understanding and knowledge is likely to be transmitted. Therefore one-off lectures by multiple lecturers should be avoided; and multiple (team) teaching likewise avoided.

Also, the lectures in a course should be given reasonably close-together; at least once a week, and ideally more often – to assist and accelerate this process of class members developing familiarity, and indeed getting to know each other: as well as bonding the class into a psychological unit, so they develop a cohesive group personality.

Discovering the distinctive group personality of a class, and adjusting the teaching to its needs, is one of the things which keep lecturing fresh and enjoyable. Just like people, no two classes are exactly alike in personality - and some are quite delightful!

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Compleat Lecturer - 1: The first mass medium - now published in Oxford Magazine

The Compleat Lecturer – 1: The first mass medium
Bruce Charlton
Oxford Magazine, Noughth Week, Michaelmas term, 2017: 9

This is the first of a series of four articles currently being published in Oxford Magazine which is the fortnightly academic magazine for the Oxford University faculty. OM has been going for more than a century, and was a place where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis published poems, short articles and reviews. Below is the original text version I submitted - a few small changes were made in the final published version.

Lectures are the most ancient form of the ‘mass media’ – because they are a one-to-many method of communicating.

The lecture was the first method of amplifying the range of teaching from the apprenticeship situation of one-to-one (or a handful of people) by creating an environment with good visibility and acoustics suitable for larger groups of students. This was used to provide mostly verbal instruction in a curriculum which took the attendees through a ‘course’ of study.

Something of the sort seems to have been used in Greek and Roman civilizations – but it was at the founding of the European Medieval universities (from around 1100) in places like Bologna, Padua, Salamanca, Paris, Oxford and Cambridge; when the lecture became the main focus of higher (post-school) teaching.

In the early Medieval era, before the invention of printing and the availability of cheap books, the lecture was usually given slowly, as a form of dictation – and an ideal student’s lecture notes were therefore an accurate copy of the manuscript book from which the lecturer was reading. At a more advanced level, the lecture was a commentary (exposition, clarification, discussion, expansion) of a classic text; which would slowly be worked-through, line by line.

As books became more widely available, at least in libraries, the lecture evolved into a personal distillation by the lecturer of knowledge from a variety of sources – with advanced students amplifying this by further reading. These lectures were not always read-out, nor were they always given at dictation speed – but the delivery of a lecture could be enlivened and tailored to class response by elements of improvisation on the part of the lecturer; and the making of lecture notes necessarily became a more engaged and creative business - a matter of extracting, summarizing, structuring.

This type of lecturing probably reached its peak in the Scottish and German universities of the 18th and 19th century ‘Enlightenment’ era; when leading Professors became figures of national, even international, fame and significance. Such a semi-structured, semi-improvised lecture – having a skeletal plan, but with room for extempore features; systematic yet active and somewhat unpredictable - seems to me the ideal and best form of lecturing. Both lecturer and student are engaged by their tasks, and there is no possibility of either side switching to ‘autopilot’ - which may easily happen when a lecturer is simply reading aloud from notes and a student passively transcribing them.

To contrast the Medieval/ dictation and Enlightenment-style lectures: the Medieval lecture essentially provides merely a written resource for later private study; whereas the Enlightenment lecture is itself a part of the educational experience. When the lecture is structured yet partly-improvised; when the mind of both lecturer and student are engaged, then education is very obviously going-on in the here-and-now; understanding, learning and insights are actively happening in the classroom.

This type of lecture served as a vital introduction and orientation to what would have otherwise (to a novice) been a bewildering rage of sources – in pre-textbook days, sources typically too advanced to be easily comprehensible to the beginner.

A lecture course of this kind will give the student a structure of knowledge and understanding - valuable in itself, and upon-which he can build by private study. However, most students have probably always neglected private study and relied heavily upon their lecture notes (so long as the lecturer is doing a good job). Yet student-made lecture notes may be superior (for the student who made them) even to the best textbook; because making lecture notes in class, and revising them afterwards, is an active and creative process of deep-learning.

The end result of lecture note-taking is (at its best) a revision text uniquely-tailored to the student’s personal character, learning style and needs.

Of course, lectures cannot do everything in education; in general they work best for setting-out core, essential content and for explaining principles. Indeed - if there is a single word that describes what lectures do best, that word is probably explaining.

The implication is that choices concerning lecture structure and content should be subordinated to optimising that primary goal of explanation. The requirement of effective ‘explanation’ is, indeed, a useful index for deciding on the selection and volume of lecture material; and the degree of precision (or detail) with which a topic is addressed should be guided by the over-arching objective of maximising explanatory clarity.

By contrast, I don’t think lectures work well for open-ended objectives such as exploring, discussing, or encouraging genuine critical thinking. It is the nature of the medium that makes lectures most effective when used for instruction, with confident and clear didacticism. Presumably this is why lectures have generally been most popular in professional education; in fields such as medicine, law, theology and engineering.

Naturally, lectures are limited in what they can do – which is surely obvious. Among the most important limitations is that lectures cannot teach skills (skills need personal supervision, exercises and multiple repetitions); and of course individual private study is always necessary for mastery. For such purposes other teaching methods are necessary – typically some version of one-to-one (or one to a few) apprenticeship – as with an Oxford tutorial, postgraduate supervision, and laboratory science or bedside medical teaching.

The lecture medium has stood at the core of serious education in most of the best universities and colleges for many hundreds of years – and for efficient, explanatory teaching, no viable alternative method has emerged either to equal or supersede lectures. That being so; the art and craft of lecturing is worthy of serious consideration.

Is it possible for a Westerner to become a real Hindu?

Based on personal experience and study, William Wildblood concludes no, not really.

And at Albion Awakening, he discusses the spiritual significance of London, past, present and future - London being the city of William's birth, childhood and current residence.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Why I am dismayed by the materialism of the current international pseudo-right-wing backlash

Don't get me wrong - the enemies of the Brexit-Trump-Euronationalist backlash are much worse than the thing itself - but the backlash is in reality merely a different species of leftism: a more nationalist and efficiency orientated materialism. And materialism is what got us here.

The primary problem of the West is not the declining efficiency of the economy under political correctness, nor the destruction of mass immigration; the primary problem is that we have lost our religion hence sufficient reason for living.

All secular societies and peoples without any exceptions are well-advanced en route to self-chosen extinction... The average age of native English people is in the middle forties (ie. more than half the population are older than middle aged!), the average number of children per woman is nearer one than two - and among the most intelligent, wealthy, educated and capable women it is nearer a half-child than one. The average age of marriage and first child has passed thirty. There are half a million people aged 90 or over (of whom more than half have advanced dementia) - approaching one percent of the population! This situation is unique in the history of the world.

All this has happened in the context of the greatest and most-sustained-ever era of wealth, peace, prosperity, science, technology, comfort, convenience, amusement, and availability of education - so clearly material lack Is Not The Problem.

The problem is that we have no religion: specifcially we do not live by Christianity. We have rejected the Christianity of our grandparents and great grandparents, but we have not replaced it - hence we are bunch of short-termist, hedonistic cowards. Yet still we grasp after more stuff - and that is the promise of the New Right: even more stuff!

Nationalism cannot replace religion - the days of nationalism as a prime motivation in human affairs are long gone; but even in its heyday it could not sustain the population among the elites (i.e. the elite existentially-despaired, as could be seen from their art and philosophy); and nationalism was only able to hold nations together in a state of war or preparation for war - so the cure was at least as bad as the disease.

It is crystal clear that even in strictly biological terms, humans simply must have religion or we will despair and want to die and hope-for extinction. Against this the New Right is utterly powerless - or indeed counter-productive.

We are in a spiritual war, and in this war the New Right are on the same side as the Social Justice Warriors and the Establishment political mainstream; both wings are materialists against religion in general and Christianity in particular. They want a society run with a political/ economic/ utilitarian bottom-line; not religious. Do not be fooled by the tactical alliance between Political Correctness and the other great monotheism - there is nothing important in common; each is merely trying to use the other. Obviously.

You will say, and I will agree, that there is no sign of any spiritual Christian revival in the West. That is the current situation. But such an awakening is our only hope, and awakening starts with each individual person: with you, specifically.

Real Christianity cannot be adopted for expedience, it must be believed - it is not a route to more peace, prosperity, wealth and the rest of it. It cannot be a tool of politics. But you absolutely need to Know For Yourself whether or not Christianity Is True.

The churches are not going to be of help in this - because most of most self-identified Christian churches are on the other side from real Christianity.

You are going to have-to take responsibility for your own life, and for your own destiny and eternity; you are going to have-to Work It Out For Yourself, and to-your-own-satisfaction. You will need to find your own method and path - nobody else can help, because you do not (yet) know who you can trust.

This is urgent. Nothing is more important. For Heaven's sake - Get on with it!


Evaluating Rudolf Steiner - and his post-1900 corruption

My interest in Rudolf Steiner is focused mainly on his early three philosophical works culminating in The Philosophy of Freedom (1894).

However, I believe that post 1900-ish Steiner became (I have to say) corrupted by his later situations - and that he reverted to extensive use of what he termed Atavistic Clairvoyance (or, what Owen Barfield termed Original Participation) - in other words the post-1900 Steiner increasingly employed mediumship, or what we now term channelling.

This is quite explicitly described in passages of his later works (although Steiner strenuously denied that it really was atavistic clairvoyance - nonetheless, he describes visualisation and hearing words; much like Jung's hallucinatory Active Imagination); it is described in eyewitness accounts of Steiner's behaviour (eyes closed, frequent trance-behaviours); and it accounts for the vast and indiscriminate productivity of his later years: a vast productivity of (let's be honest...) mostly-nonsense; albeit highly-systemised* nonsense.

(All this behaviour is in stark contrast to the purposive, alert, aware thinking so convincingly explained and advocated in Philosophy of Freedom.)

My position is therefore that Rudolf Steiner was a great man, a genius of historic stature, originator of among the most important and relevant truths vital for our situation - yet, taken in total, he was mostly wrong about most things.

And for all their good work - this wrongness has been accentuated by the Anthroposophical movement - who have in practice taught almost everything except his core and essential philosophical insight.

This failure of the Anthroposophy movement was indeed made almost inevitable by Steiner's own errors in trying to systemise spiritual development into a (wholly-conjectural, on his part) process of 'initiation' and formal cognitive exercises. He should instead have pointing at the goal (which he had already done, in Philosophy of Freedom) and recognised that each person must find their own path to reach that goal; by trial and error (and repentance); as Steiner himself had done. 

I believe we need (and I mean literally need) to take Steiner's insights from PofF and apply them in our lives and in our civilisation - and we should (pretty much, but not entirely) ignore the truly vast structure of Spiritual Science he generated after writing Philosophy of Freedom^.

...With the exception of recognising that Steiner became a Christian in 1898 - and we too must have a Christian framework for our spiritual work on transforming consciousness.

We know this by experience of the multitudes who have tried to be spiritual but not religious (often implicitly anti-Christian), and observing the feebleness of the results. Our proper lineage includes William Blake, ST Coleridge, Owen Barfield and William Arkle - all of whom were serious Christians - as well as mystics or esotericists. 

   *Steiner was a genius of quite astonishing intelligence and knowledge - and he was culturally German - so had capacities for systemisation far beyond normal, perhaps unique in history. My understanding is that he took information derived partly from channelling, and substantially information from reading, and incrementally elaborated these into his massive ideological system by addition and interpolation.
    ^Although there are indeed many nuggets of insight scattered throughout the post-1900 work which I would not wish to be without - for instance I am amazed and fascinated by the prophecy in lecture The Work of the Angels in Man's Astral Body, of 1918. Half of the lecture is 'nonsense' (harsh, but I mean it is incorrect and inessential) - but the other half is the only absolutely compelling example of prophecy I have ever encountered. 

Monday, 23 October 2017

Joseph Campbell (and CG Jung) and RUP (Residual Unresolved Positivism)

BILL MOYERS: Do you ever have the sense of… being helped by hidden hands? 

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time – namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. 
From The Power of Myth - interviews with Jospeh Campbell by Bill Moyers - book and PBS documentary, 1988.

Owen Barfield described a common phenomenon among spiritual people he named  RUP - Residual Unresolved Positivism. In essence, he meant that such people suppose that they have transcended materialism and become spiritual, but have not really done so. It is the difference between theory and practice, or between explicit belief and implicit habits - in theory they believe that spirit is primary but in practice they continue habitually to depend on materialist metaphysical explanations.

In the passage quoted above, Joseph Campbell reveals a failure to follow-through his beliefs to their conclusions. (I can confirm that this is true of the whole span of his writings, not just this particular passage). He describes how, when a person follows his Bliss (by which he means his deepest inner convictions - get translates the term from a Hindu doctrine of five 'sheaths' of the person - Bliss is the most fundamental sheath)... then Life will arrange-itself around the fulfilment of this need.

Campbell was known as a spiritual writer on the subject of mythology; but his bottom line explanations were derived and adapted from Carl Gustav Jung (e.g Campbell edited a popular anthology The Portable Jung, he attended conferences and met Jung and some of his early books were issued by Jung's publishing house).

For Jung, and for Campbell, spirituality and myth were ultimately a matter of psychology, and psychology was ultimately about human gratification during mortal life. The difference between Jung and other psychologists and psychiatrists is that the mainstream were aimed at therapy (alleviation of pathology) while Jung aimed at positive enhancement of a person's sense of meaning and purpose in Life... however, in the end this meaning-purpose were simply feelings.

For whatever reason, Jung and Campbell both stopped short of a religious metaphysical basis for their beliefs. So, in the passage quoted above, Campbell defensively refers to his belief as a 'superstition' even though he believed it and based his life upon it. He regarded living for Bliss as better than living for money or status, but could not justify this except in terms of making people feel better (overall and in the long term).

Campbell felt that a person living for and from their Bliss would experience meeting important people and having doors-open for their destiny - but presented this as an empirical observation, merely; and did not explain why or how this should happen - why, specifically, 'the world' should arrange-itself (in multiple extremely complex and interacting ways ) to enable a person to follow their Bliss, or destined 'track'...

One of Campbell's problems was a deeply rooted anti-Christianity, in reaction to his upbringing in a very literalistic, exclusive and hard-line (all-or-nothing) Irish Roman Catholicism. Yet if Campbell had responded to Christianity with the depth and flexibility he allowed for other religions, he might have seen that Bliss could coherently be regarded as God-within-us (God immanent). And Campbell might have seen that if indeed Life does arrange itself around the true destiny of an individual human being, then this implies a personal God of great power, who loves each person as an individual and intervenes in the world to help them follow their proper 'track'.

Much the same applies to Jung's concept of synchronicity - which is what Campbell is rephrasing here. If indeed reality arranges for individual people to have 'meaningful coincidences', then it also implies a personal God who is doing the immense job of arranging multiple factors, for the good of specific persons.

In the case of Jung and Campbell, I think we can see that their unresolved positivism is quite extreme - since they lack even a spiritual metaphysics; hence they both end-up making thoroughly materialist and this-worldly analyses and recommendations.

But for those of us who try-to live by a genuinely spiritual and Christian metaphysics, there is still a major problem of RUP - since we live in a world with a materialist and this-worldly metaphysics; and it is this modern world that socialises, trains, educates and entrains our habits of thinking.

In the end and under such circumstances; we all find that a thorough-going, 100-percent spiritual Christianity is impossible; and we can only manage a partial and intermittent consistency between our metaphysics and our habitual thinking.

Our need, then, is to repent our failures; and to take seriously, learn from, and try to amplify our successes at transcending positivism and fully-living-by what we theoretically believe.


Sunday, 22 October 2017

Transcending the sophisticated cynic: How modern Man needs to enter alienated consciousness and emerge from the other-side

This is continuing from earlier posts on the developmentally-necessary adolescent phase of the 'sophisticated cynic' - and the requirement to pass-beyond it (not to retreat-from it) My ideas here are mostly-derived from, and partly-developed from, page 160 of A Geography of Consciousness by William Arkle (1974).

Part of our spiritual growth from passive, obedient, group-dominated 'childhood' is to enter the 'adolescent' phase of the sophisticated cynic. This is a very dangerous phase, because it is the 'dead-centre' of consciousness - and it is possible to become paralysed and rendered-incapable by radical self-doubt; as has happened to almost every non-grown-up 'adult' in the Modern West. However, nonetheless, this phase is developmentally-necessary in the same way that adolescence is necessary: it is the only possible route from childhood to maturity.

The necessity arises from the requirement that we learn by experience knowledge that is vital for attaining spiritual adulthood.  This is the sequence:

1. Going-into the sophisticated cynical state we left-behind 'the pack' or 'the masses' - and overcame our passive, un-responsible subordination to those un-chosen groups that asserted their ultimate authority over our being. We left this behind, and thereby attained a freedom and we reconised the primacy of cosnciousness (since it was to develop consciousness that we entered the dead-centre state). 

2. Yet we discovered that life cannot be lived alone in existential alienation; we discovered that such a life is utterly demotivated; and that without real-relationships there is absolutely-nothing we can or may do that is of value to anybody. We discovered absolute and unsolvable despair.

3. In the dead-centre we experience the horror of total self-conscious self-determinism: the psychological feeling is that we are not a part of anything. This is existential alienation or nihilism; the experience that nothing is really-real. Especially that there are no real relationships, groups are delusions, we are individually isolated: on-our-own.  

4. We discover, in sum, that the single, alone consciousness is a self-contradiction. In attaining absolute supremacy, the single consciousness by-that-act destroys its possibility-of-knowing and its own reason-for-being. By experiencing this, we recognise the necessity of relationships.  We discover we simply must have real relationships.

5. Since this position is incoherent and intolerable both; and since we know from experience that our previous state was immature and unfree; we ought-to (but may not) infer that the only way-out is forward into new relationships on a different basis: relationships that are active, chosen and real rather than passive, contingent and delusional. (Many people try and fail to go-back-to a state of passive, obedient, dependence on some established group, institution, ideology or religion. It can at most only half-work; thus modern Man oscillates between child-ish un-conscious and adolescent self-conscious states.)

6. On the basis of a new set of basic, metaphysical assumptions affirming the (potential) reality of relationships; we then seek a new group in a state of full consciousness, and explicitly. Recognising that all sensory-based communications are intrinsically-uncertain; we must work to build from a basis of directly-known, intuited, metaphysically-assumed, real-relationships. This is the task. 

7. The three stages can be summarised: We begin as immature little-children of God; in spiritual adolescence we solipsistically assert ourselves to be the one-real-God in a universe made-up by our-selves; in maturity we recognise that we are products-of and inhabitants-of the framework of God's creation; destined to become a multiplicity of gods; destined to become God's grown-up children and loving companions both of each other and of the deity.

And this is the basis of new, real, permanent relationship.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The magic of the ancient Egyptians

Ancient Egypt was a civilisation that lasted 3000 years, which is astonishing - most astonishing is that for more than a hundred generations they did not self-destruct.

The answer lies not in The System, but in the cohesion of the spirit of the people; in a word the religion. Religion kept the AEs cohesive - and the religion was headed by a god and priest-magicians.

It was a religion based-upon magic: magic that worked.

How do we know Egyptian magic worked? 3,000 years - and the surviving artifacts, which are of a greater scope, finish and precision than was again attained until the Renaissance.

Ancient Egyptian technology is literally incredible by mainstream historical understanding - therefore a vital explanatory factor is missing. And that factor (since there is no survival of technologies that could plausibly have made the artifacts) was presumably magic.

Even the Old Testament acknowledges that there was real magic:

Exodus 7:

And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.
10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.
11 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.
12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.

The account in Exodus takes it for granted that the Egyptian priests could do magic, and turn their 'staffs' into serpents - the difference between Aaron and the priests was that Aaron's rod made a more powerful serpent that consumed the others.

In other words; the Egyptian civilisation could only survive three millennia because it was (overall) reality based; therefore its essential knowledge claims were essentially correct: Pharaoh was a god (or demi-god), the Egyptian gods were real, and their priests really were magicians.

The account of Aaron's rod tells us that all these were subordinate to the One God, the creator and Father of the Hebrews - and the Ancient Egyptians knew that fact only implicitly and imperfectly; yet they knew a great deal about ultimate spiritual realities, and apparently fulfilled their destiny with great integrity.

Friday, 20 October 2017

The manager as Faust: How managers damn themselves by implementing The System

The 1960s Counterculture was spot-on when it talked of The System as The Problem - but the Counterculture hopelessly tried to oppose the System with self-gratifying instinctual goals - mostly sex.

Thus, over the past 50 years, the consequence has been the rise of The Manager as the archetypal Modern Man - the manager is the cocrete terminus and manifestation of sixties spirituality. Indeed, the 60s-type rebels and cynics always become managers; and managers are the servants of The System - indeed managers are the dupes of The System.

The deal is that in return for creating and imposing The System - in return for working as-a-manager to extend the reach and power of The System via the expansion and linking of bureaucracy - the manager personally will be rewarded with wealth, power and status such that he can pursue his (or more usually her) selfish gratifications - sex, holidays, fashion, possessions...

All managers hate their work as such - and it is indeed hateful work; it being to collaborate in the intended long-term and permanent enslavement of others to a totalitarian agenda of materialism and inversion of the Good. (Bureaucracy just is totalitarianism.)

To be a manager is to be a junior demon - to work for the enslavement of others to evil in return for a deferral of one's own enslavement - to strengthen The System in return for a few temporary exemptions from it - yet/ consequently it is by far the commonest job for the educated classes.

More college graduates are managers than anything else; and all jobs of all kinds become increasingly, and then totally, managerial as the ladder of promotion is ascended.

No wonder the Modern world is so evil; no wonder that the inversion of Good (of truth, beauty and virtue) has become normal and official for the first time in history; no wonder that the recognition of this reality is so rare.

Faust is the manager - the manager is Faust. The selling of one's soul for short-term reward has become all-but universal...

Except that Faust knew and acknowledged what he was doing, and fought his damnation - which made him an interesting anti-heroic character capable of repentance. By contrast, the mass of modern managers are lobotomised-deluded-sub-Faustian idiots; in denial of reality, incapable of honesty, self-blocked from insight: insensibly and unresistingly planning and implementing their own damnations.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

The scandal of modern 'science' is that it is 99% dead/ fake/ dishonest

And what remains is merely a branch of the linked-bureaucracy - hence scientific success is no longer discovering something true, new and useful; but merely 'positional' success: careerism (status and its indices - jobs, prizes, money, power etc.)

Real science is essentially long-since dead and gone

But, as the few remaining real scientists retire and die; the current generation become unaware of the gross frauds they actually are - arguing that most scientists conform to the (bureaucratic) requirements (primarily of obedience to line-management and conformity to explicit regulations); and thus are 'no worse' than average when it comes to careerism, greed, self-promotion and dishonesty.

And missing the fact that in science, the 'workers' must be better than average - especially in terms of truth-seeking and truth-speaking - much better than average (indeed near perfection is required in this respect); or else it just-isn't-science (and is just a lying, misleading and colossal waste of time, energy and money).

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Jerusalem in Albion: William Blake and prophecy

Prophecy comes-into the stream of primary thinking - and its expression should be in that context; which implies that the expression of prophecy intends to recreate the stream of thinking including intuitive and prophetic insights. Thinking and noting occur together; prophecy is creation in real-time - and perfectly consciously (no unconscious speaking or automatic writing here and now, however matters were in past eras...) The result may be, probably will be, first-draft, instantaneously recorded, and unexplained.

English people are unaware of their positive values, explicitly those which hold Albion together - they are, indeed, unaware of what is Albion; of our bounds and content.

These were made by past genius - and not by known work, but ultimately by the thinking of past genius; these discovered, remade, added to the soul of Albion.

William Blake wrote poems, such as Jerusalem - which is widely known and sung; he painted and illustrated, composed lyric poems, aphorisms, and vast prophetic verses... But Blake's true role in Albion was to remake the nation at so deep (or high) a level that it is beyond perception; and not fully-knowable as a communication.

The principle act of Blake was his direct knowledge of reality, and then his shaping of reality... The reality of God's creation; that reality which can be known directly by you, or by me, or by anybody (now, or in the future). This is the imperishable legacy of Blake - and there were other as well as Blake (Langland, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton...).

So Blake's poem Jerusalem (to take an example) is true - when it was conceived it became true because it was written-into creation; that is the nature of prophecy.

For you and I to talk or write or read about creation involves us in indirectness, in symbolism, in 'communication'. But we can understand each other when both of us stand-before the poem Jerusalem as it is written into creation.

(Everything else is indirect and second-order; to contemplate creation alone is primary, sure; because direct.)

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England's mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire;
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold;
Bring me my Chariot of fire.
I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England's green and pleasant Land.

Priddy in Somerset; a green, cloudy, hilly place that the young Jesus is supposed to have visited in ancient time,
with his uncle Joseph (of Arimathea)

Sacrifice and reward: The Prodigal Son versus The Angels

I have edited the following italicised section from William Arkle’s A Geography of Consciousness pp. 123-4:

Mortal Man’s right to, and experience of, autonomy is a very destructive and dangerous process in that it is paved with ugly and inharmonious desires and ideas. If the Angelic stage of evolution was also open to this reactive phase, the result would be total destruction and collapse of the necessary field of earthly experience.

So, while we Humans make the great sacrifice of suffering and pain to achieve an autonomous and individual divine nature, so the Angels make the great sacrifice which is to create and maintain the necessary ground for our Human experience; and they clean up the mess we make in the course of this experience. This work requires them to remain always in harmony with the divine purpose and aspiration, and consequently does not properly allow them the experience of objective valuation which ultimate understanding requires.

Such is the interpretation given to the parable of the Prodigal Son. The Prodigal is the Human who is bound to sin for a reason he does not understand, but which – in the end – gives him knowledge of very great value.

But his Brother, who does not sin and who does not venture off into the wilds of poverty and hunger, does not experience the pain and misery of this hunger; and therefore does not value that which is hungered-for in quite the same way. The Brother [like the Angels] is never lost and never has cause to be rejoiced-over; for he never returns of his own accord with this priceless treasure, and his Father in Heaven never has anxiety about him.

The Prodigal Son represents us - represents mortal Men; the Brother represents the Angels.

Such Angels I conceive to be pre-mortal spirit Children of God (i.e. men and women such as ourselves, but before we were incarnated) – whose ‘job’ includes vital assistance in making and maintaining the earth and creation for incarnate mortal Men to inhabit.

Our world is where we may experience the consequences of our agency and sin; such that we may ultimately repent, return, and bring-home the precious treasures won from our sufferings and death.

That is the sacrifice of mortals.

The premortal Men/ Angels vital role is to help mortal Men, and to ‘clean-up the mess’ created by mortal Men so that mortal life does not rapidly self-destroy and collapse.

Such a job entails absolute concordance with the divine will and purpose; therefore the Angels must have limited agency and, consequently, delayed spiritual progression. They must patiently wait their turn for incarnation.

And that is the sacrifice of the Angels.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Idealist, Poet, Mystic - the higher stages of consciousness beyond the sophisticated cynic

In his book, A Geography of Consciousness (1974; pp 118-9) William Arkle discussed the stages of consciousness beyond the sophisticated cynic (discussed in the previous post); and leading towards the Higher Man - who thinks in the divine mode, and who is the product of spiritual progression or theosis.

7. Mystic
6. Poetic
5. Idealistic
4. Sophisticated cynical - the Dead-Centre
3. Responsible
2. Average
1. Lower man

The idealist is the first step beyond the sophisticated cynic. He is motivated by 'ideas'; that is, by a theoretical understanding: specifically a set of metaphysical assumptions that acknowledge the possibility of a higher (and superior) mode of consciousness - above and beyond this-worldly materialism and emotions.

The poetic thinker adds imagination; that is, he 'pictures' or 'images' aspects of higher experience - not necessarily visually, but as an inner-generated perception of some kind. Thus the 'poet' has personal experience of higher things; not direct experience, but self-generated creative experience. More exactly, the poet has imagined the universal world of reality.

(The previous idealistic stage is necessary for the poet to regard his imaginations as real and significant - because if he is a metaphysical materialist, then he will not take-seriously his own imaginations.)

The mystic has experienced actual, direct-contact with the underlying divine and universal reality; he has experienced the universal world of truth, virtue and beauty.

(The previous stages of idealism and imagination are necessary so that the mystic may recognise and acknowledge the reality of that divine world.)

Higher Man
The mystic has (merely) experienced the underlying divine and universal reality - but the higher man creatively-participates in this world - beyond experiencing he actively sustains, reshapes and adds-to that created-reality - in line with God's primary creation. This is a divine form of participation; hence the higher man has become a co-creator and collaborator in God's great work of creation.

Are you a sophisticated cynic? Stuck in dead-centre, alienated, demotivated consciousness

In his Geography of Consciousness ('GoC' - 1974), William Arkle describes eight levels of consciousness spanning the physical and ideal worlds - at the lowest end is Man as almost unconscious: passive, instinctive and immersed in the social group; at the highest level, Man's consciousness has become that of a god: free, agent, autonomous, participating in the work of creation.

But as probably only one or a very few have ever attained Higher Man stage (Saint John the Evangelist, may be an example); it is stages 1-7 which we need to consider...

Higher Man

7. Mystic
6. Poetic
5. Idealistic
4. Sophisticated cynical - the Dead-Centre
3. Responsible
2. Average
1. Lower man

And in particular I wish to focus on the sophisticated cynic of stage 4 - which is the typical and defining stage of Modern Western Man - or, at least, the intellectual and institutional leadership class of Modern Western Man.

To paraphrase Arkle (from pages 117-8 of GoC); the sophisticated cynic is at the Dead-Centre of the evolutionary scheme - poised, suspended, trapped between lower and higher consciousness. This is a state of wide awareness of options and possibilities; made possible by increased knowledge and learning - but experienced as a pervasive relativism.

Everything is known, but nothing known with confidence - all is suspect; one option is balanced and cancelled-out by the others. Movement upward, or downward, immediately leads to loss of confidence and a tendency to return to the Dead-Centre.

And the centre is 'dead' because there is a state of demotivation. The longer a period of time that is spent in the dead centre; the harder it gets to escape. The modern sophisticated cynic may yearn either to become a higher man, to live by pure ideals and non-material values; or (perhaps more often) he yearns to discard sophistication and cynicism and simply lapse back into passivity, instinct, spontaneity and unreflectiveness - to become natural...

But both are equally impossible. His materialism and hedonism reduces and deconstructs all higher values - while he 'knows better' than the natural, spontaneous, instinctive Man - and he finds he just cannot forget or discard his sophistication, science, philosophy, ideology... They come back, again and again, to haunt him.

The sophisticated cynic is therefore pulled in both directions; and also repelled by both directions. The sophisticated cynic is the permanent adolescent - too mature to be a child, too immature to be an adult; too bored by both immaturity and maturity, seeing-through the innocence of childhood and the responsibility of adulthood. He is cut-off from the basic satisfactions of simply getting-by in practical, material life; and also from the spiritual satisfactions of living for ideals located outwith mortal life and human limitation.

As the sophisticated cynic remains trapped by his own pre-conceptions; he may create vast belief-structures of ideology... but although initially promising, these invariably always lead-back (sooner or later) to where he began-from.(All apparent escape tunnels turn-out to be loops.)

The sophisticated cynic knows that the world of communications - of nature, of other people, of his own evanescent thoughts - are doubtful and unreliable: he has often experienced this unreliability. This insight itself implies that some other and solid form of knowing exists (with which communication is implicitly being contrasted); but when it comes to any specific knowledge, the sophisticated cynic remains unsure: he lives in an atomsphere of doubt... Yet at the same time, he doubts his own doubts, suspects there is 'more to life', and cannot embrace a fully nihilistic skepticism. 

Thus the sophisticated cynic is trapped in the Dead Centre of consciousness.

The phase is a necessary point through-which Men must pass if they are to attain the autonomy required by higher consciousness; but if the lessons are to be learned, then the phase must feel real - must indeed be real - at the time it is being experienced. There must to be a pause in progression - and this pause may become prolonged and arrested into stasis.

(The ship must slow to a standstill, and actually stop - but once forward-momentum has been lost, the ship may become becalmed; at which point momentum and friction prevent it from moving again.)

Although many people do get stuck; some do escape - and in the right direction. What gets people out from the perpetual adolescence of sophisticated cynicism? That will be the subject of another post...

Monday, 16 October 2017

Was Jesus a Leftist Revolutionary?

William Wildblood examines the evidence at Albion Awakening...

Evaluating JRR Tolkien's acts of Subcreation - what are the relevant criteria?

I have found it difficult to understand exactly what JRR Tolkien meant by Subcreation in his essay On Fairy Stories. Indeed, I think that it is probably not possible to produce a coherent account of Subcreation within Tolkien's own (Roman Catholic) theology. Of course many RC Tolkien commentators have tried to do exactly this - explain how Subcreation works within the official theology of the Catholic church; what I am saying is that I have found all such attempts to be incoherent, hence unconvincing. The problem (as I see it) is to produce an account of Subcreation that applies to Tolkien's own work and is both genuinely 'sub' and also genuinely 'creation'...

Continued at my The Notion Club Papers blog...

Deep integrity - the only possible kind

An early watercolour sketch by William Arkle which I call 'The Floating Men'

Integrity - that is coherence of all aspects of our-selves - is only possible for sustained periods at a deep level: the level of the true self (or 'soul').

Most of us operate at the level of our 'personality' - which amounts to out actual patterns of behaviour. But the personality cannot ever be integrated, because it is a multiple thing of its nature - it is a mixture of automatic and inculcated patterns of behaviour that are consequences of different types of information-processing...

We learn to deal with situations at work, in social chit-chat, we may learn skills, we learn how t respond to music, or reading, or images... All of these are more-or-less automatic - because they need to be rapid-response systems.

Consider social chit-chat or 'small talk' (which is the sum total of social interaction for most people most of the time) - it has to be fast, almost instant, by its nature - considered answers and significant questions are simply inept. It is intrinsically 'glib' - TV interviewers and anchormen are the epitome - never lost for a comment or quip, instant in the response. Automatic.

At other times, in work, we need other instant patterns, different for each situation - if you can do it then you are socially competent. Social competence is multiple-personality disorder (which doesn't really exist as a psychopathology, but rather is the norm in modern Life). People are very different indeed in different situations.

By living - we just have incoherent personalities.

It is at a level deeper that personality where we cohere; and that is where it matters.

This coherence and integrity is repeatedly violated, especially in our interactions; this needs repenting but there isn't anything we can do to stop it.

On the other hand we need to know and experience when we are our-selves - that is, our true and integral selves; because that is what about us which is divine; and it is that about us which does/ is Primary Thinking... those times when when we really experience the reality and integrity of the world and know our own capacity to live-in-it as we ought.

We cannot (in mortal life) stay-in this state of integrity; but we need to spend some time in it; and to acknowledge its reality and primacy; and to accept and take-the-consequences, as we learn them through experience...

Friday, 13 October 2017

Understanding and learning-from the experience of primary thinking

Primary Thinking is the term I have devised for what Owen Barfield called Final Participation and Rudolf Steiner the Imaginative Soul - as a state it would also include some examples of Jung's active imagination, Gurdjieff's self-remembering, Maslow's peak experience, and alert types of shamanic, poetic and creative trances.

I regard the attainment of primary thinking to be the main task of modern Man - but clearly, since the state has been so widely noticed, and is experienced by so many people - merely experiencing primary thinking is ineffectual.

This is because primary thinking is firstly nearly-always brief and very intermittent, and secondly the experience of primary thinking nearly-always misunderstood by normal every day consciousness when that state resumes.

Primary thinking ought to be understood as an experience of the divine way of thinking, intrinsically Good and valid - and superior to other and lower types of normal existence. In primary thinking we know - and we know directly - truth, beauty and virtue; and in this state we are intrinsically creative; because primary thinking is that which is divine in us, active within the realm of universal knowledge.

However, most people who experience primary thinking most of the time will misinterpret the experience; or will try to use it for their own worldly expediency. Jung and Maslow, for example, regard it as therapeutic - in effect a branch of medicine, aiming at making people feel and function better. While mainstream New Agers tend to regard primary thinking as a source of pleasure and gratification - part of a satisfying lifestyle.

And of course most of us are substantially evil; so despite that the primary thinking state is intrinsically Good; once they 'snap out of it', people will try to use the knowledge attained during primary thinking for selfish and short-termist reasons, or else for actively-evil purposes - using their knowledge of Good to try and destroy Good.

(This is presumably what devils and demons do: i.e. a kind of inverted black magic.)

Mainstream secular leftist people usually regard primary thinking as a pleasant but foolish delusion - and make fun of, or scorn, those who take it seriously.

So the challenge of primary thinking is not so much to do it, but - when we are not doing it - to 1. understand it correctly, 2. learn from it, and 3. put those lessons into practice as best we can. 

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Justin Welby - Archbishop of Canterbury: a four year retrospective...

I notice that it is now more than four years since Justin Welby was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury and 'leader' of the Anglican communion - which is the third biggest denomination of the largest religion in the world.

Throughout this time I have often commented on the chap - the collection of posts can be viewed via this link - and I thought, in particular, it was interesting to re-post one of my earliest evaluations - from 22 March 2013 - to see how well I was able to predict what was to come...

Much is made, by the media, of the supposed fact that Justin Welby - the Archbishop of Canterbury who was enthroned yesterday - is an 'evangelical'.

But, what does this really mean?

For example, what does it mean in contrast with his predecessor, Rowan Williams?

Well, both are Leftist bureaucrats first and foremost - but Williams was like a university administrator while Welby is more of a health service manager.

Furthermore, Williams was so hostile to Christianity that he would avoid talking about it altogether, if possible.

But Welby, being an 'evangelical' is quite happy to mention Christian themes from time to time - woven into his socialist propaganda.

So that is the definition of an evangelical - as applied to Church of England Bishops and Priests: an 'evangelical' is a Leftist bureaucrat who is not actively hostile to Christianity; while the others are Leftist bureaucrats, pure and simple - and mention Christianity only to discredit or invert it.

From Justin Welby's inaugural sermon:


For more than a thousand years this country has to one degree or another sought to recognise that Jesus is the Son of God; by the ordering of its society, by its laws, by its sense of community. Sometimes we have done better, sometimes worse. When we do better we make space for our own courage to be liberated, for God to act among us and for human beings to flourish. Slaves were freed, Factory Acts passed, and the NHS and social care established through Christ-liberated courage. The present challenges of environment and economy, of human development and global poverty, can only be faced with extraordinary courage.

You see? The primary achievements of Christianity in 2000 years have been Abolition, Health and Safety, the health service bureaucracy and dole for most of the population.

The future of Christianity is fighting Global Warming, Fair Trade and making-Africans-smile.

What extraordinary 'courage' and liberation it takes for JW to articulate such counter-cultural sentiments!... Not.     

Yet at the same time the church transforms society when it takes the risks of renewal in prayer, of reconciliation and of confident declaration of the good news of Jesus Christ. In England alone the churches together run innumerable food banks, shelter the homeless, educate a million children, offer debt counselling, comfort the bereaved, and far, far more. All this comes from heeding the call of Jesus Christ. Internationally, churches run refugee camps, mediate civil wars, organise elections, set up hospitals. All of it happens because of heeding the call to go to Jesus through the storms and across the waves.

What is Welby's Church of England, anyway?

Well, apparently it is a really important part of the welfare state. It provides food banks (but I thought the poor were dying of obesity?); shelters the 'homeless' (to be 'homeless' is an official category which does not preclude someone having a 'shelter' such as a house or caravan - indeed being one of the thousands of 'homeless' selling the The Big Issue magazine is such an attractive job that it is hotly competed-for and has attracted Roma from a thousand miles distant to become 'homeless' in Britain); it educates millions - just like local governments; it provides financial advice (!).. and so on and drearily-on.

What is good about the C of E, apparently, is that it is almost as useful as the municipal council.

So at the end of this litany of socialist triumphs, we perceive that the C of E is 'transforming' society in exactly the same direction and by exactly the same means as Leftists everywhere - it is part of the precisely same project as the United Nations, Western governments, the civil service, the NGOs...

But all of these are aggressively atheist - so how come Welby is arguing that All of it happens because of heeding the call to go to Jesus? 

And why does Welby suppose it requires the CoE to go through storms and across waves to do this kind of stuff, when all he is asking the church to do is to float along with the mainstream current of secular Leftism?

The theme of the sermon is 'courage' and 'be not afraid'; but none of this stuff requires courage - rather, it is precisely what The Politically-Correct Establishment propagandizes, rewards, enforces.

What really would take courage, but what Welby of course never mentions, is to use his enthronement speech to make a clear Christian statement of opposition to the sexual revolution.

It is the opponents of bureaucratic Leftism and the sexual revolution who need to be told: be not afraid; because they are the ones who are afraid (and with good reason).   

There is every possible reason for optimism about the future of Christian faith in our world and in this country. Optimism does not come from us, but because to us and to all people Jesus comes and says “Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid”. We are called to step out of the comfort of our own traditions and places, and go into the waves, reaching for the hand of Christ. Let us provoke each other to heed the call of Christ, to be clear in our declaration of Christ, committed in prayer to Christ, and we will see a world transformed.

(He means, of course, a world 'transformed' into a socialist utopia.)

But does this man know anything about the state of Christianity in 'this country', this England? If so how could he be optimistic?

Does this man understand words? Does he know the meaning of 'optimism'? Or does he think optimism means the same as 'hope'?

If he does not understand the word he is an ignorant fool, and if he does understand it but misuses it then he is a liar - or perhaps insane.

Happy Easter! (22 March 2013)

Evaluation (12 October 2017): I wuz right! Welby combines dishonest mendacity, servility, and managerial incompetence in exactly the manner expected from an over-promoted Leftist ideologue. Thus, he fits seamlessly into the modern British Establishment.

Creativity as the Polarity of Preservation and Ruin (and Natural Selection)

Re-reading the final pages of Brandon Sanderson's marvellous 'Mistborn' fantasy-fiction trilogy; I realised that the author was describing an example of Polarity.

(No spoilers follow - except in the most indirect and abstract, non-narrative sense.)

From the primary forces of Preservation/ Order and Ruin/ Chaos there can be no real creativity - not from either individually (Preservation leading to crystalline stasis; Ruin to a Brownian motion of homogeneous disorder).

But while Preservation and Ruin are indeed distinguishable polar opposites of Creativity; it can be seen that Creativity is more than any possible combination or alternation of Preservation and Ruin. Creation uses both Order and Chaos to create.

But Creation is itself something more than can be captured by Order and Chaos - creation is an uncaused cause, a primary purpose.

Creation (as it were) stands-behind Preservation and Ruin, directing them in the process of creating towards the goals of creation.


There is an analogy (and a fundamental identity) with the limited explanatory power of the process of evolution by Natural Selection. Natural Selection can Preserve, and it can Destroy, but not Create.

Natural Selection operates by Preservation of functionality - sieving-out the deleterious consequences of undirected genetic change (Destruction) - i.e. mutation-selection balance, or balancing selection. And it produces adaptations by Preservation of the rare reproductively advantageous mutations thrown-up (un-intentionally) by forces leading-to mutation/ Destruction.

But this is not Creation - it takes for granted that Creation has already-happened.


A further example is in the Natural Selection based models of Creativity itself - such as those of HJ Eysenck or Dean Simonton in their discussions of genius. They regard the creative process as an undirected ('random') generation of ideas (perhaps produced, as in Eysenck, by partial brain/ mind pathology - by loose associations characteristic of psychotic/ dreamlike thinking)...

So Destruction/ 'free association' (supposedly) produces multiple ideas, from-which a process of Preservation (such as the analytic and rational processes of high general intelligence, or practical implementation and observation of consequences) then selects the minority of ideas that are useful/ 'true'.

But, a closer metaphysical examination of these assumptions reveals that this is not a genuine creative process (unless we have already decided, as an assumption, that it is the only possible explanation) because it rules-out the purposive nature of creation, which is intrinsic to the concept.

(Modern Biology indeed rules-out 'teleology' as a basic assumption.)

In particular, to explain genius creativity with only natural selection makes it an undirected, 'random', motiveless, inhuman procedure - and it also makes the evaluation of genius into an analogously 'random' process.

Since the selection process is necessarily imprecise, and indeed merely selects the best-reproducing idea in particular circumstances over a finite timescale; there is no valid means of knowing which concepts are right and which are wrong - a different answer will emerge in each different situation; and an answer that seemed correct for hundreds of years (Aristotelian Physics, Newtonian Physics) is always liable to revision or rejection (Einsteinian Physics/ quantum theory).

In the end, creativity and genius has been re-conceptualised away - it is just absorbed into the account of ongoing Natural Selection of everything, all the time.


To conclude; the reality is Creation, and Preservation/ Order and Destruction/ Chaos are merely some of its components. To quite Owen Barfield, they can be distinguished but not divided; and if they are divided - if they are treated as separable - this will be false.

(Unless we have a priori made the metaphysical assumption that it must be true; whatever the consequences.)

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The meaning of Freedom (in context of the current totalitarianism)

In a world that is already substantially totalitarian - in terms of the high level of thought-monitoring and thought-control - and where trends are towards more totalitarianism; it is necessary to be clear about the nature and purpose of freedom...

Continued at Albion Awakening

Metaphysical mismatch and the 'shallow hypocrisy' of Christians living in modernity

Modern, mainstream social discourse and behaviour is dishonest, insane, incoherent and (at root) overall-evil in its motivation -- thus for any real Christian involved with modernity, there will be not merely be conflict; but intrinsically a state of near-total opposition.

Christianity cannot be integrated with mainstream modern life - with the mass media, the interlinked bureaucracies, and social discourse/ social media - since modern culture is materialistic, utilitarian (hedonistic) and regards exclusively-this-worldly Leftist ideology as the deepest virtue.

Insofar as a real Christian has public dealings - so much will that Christian have a fake public facade.

Consequently, to those mainstream people whose ideology embraces modernity (that is, the mass majority of Westerners); Christians will appear like smiling automata - superficial and divided in their nature. That is: Hypocritical (by the modern definition.)

Superficial because their surface public interactions are not underpinned by their deepest convictions; and this is the division in their natures; and this division is understood as a fake public facade masking reality - which is hypocrisy...

It is a fact that a real Christian cannot participate in the modern world whole-heartedly, with the whole of his nature. And when he does, when is is compelled to do so, then the existence of duality, of splitting between surface and depth, is interpreted as a deception, manipulation, a lie, a fake. And this is correct in the sense that the real Christian is not the Christian that we see.

In modernity, one goal is to be authentic, a 'together' kind of personality, naturally integrated across all behaviours and situations, effortlessly yourself...

But real Christians cannot be authentic in their dealings with the modern world - because it would require integrating with purposive ugliness, sin and lies: integrating with the aims of those strategically-evil beings who dominate the Global, especially Western, leadership.

So the problem is intractable. We can only acknowledge and live-with-it; as best we may.