In the first two essays in this sequence, I sketched out the framework of Oswald Spengler’s vision of the process by which great cultures rise, work through their possibilities, and fossilize once those possibilities have been pushed as far as they can go. That vision of history pretty reliably generates a profound unease among people raised in Western industrial societies, for those societies—the heirs of what Spengler named Faustian culture, the great culture that emerged in western and central Europe starting around the year 1000, and holds temporary dominion over the globe—prefer to see history in a different and far more simplistic way.
In the Faustian worldview, it’s inconceivable that the world’s cultures each have their own possibilities, their own values and insights and ways of understanding the world, which cannot be reduced to any single trajectory. In the Faustian worldview, there is only one range of possibilities open to human beings, the one set out by Faustian culture; all other cultures can be seen only as inadequate attempts to attain the Faustian model. There can be no different but equally valid sets of values and insights and ways of understanding the world; there is simply the Faustian way, which is self-evidently true, and every other way, which is superstitious, benighted, and obviously wrong. (Watch today’s ideologically correct literary critics denouncing the writers of past generations for not sharing the values of today’s elite Western culture, and you can see this sort of giddily self-centered thinking in full and inglorious flower.)
In exactly the same way, it’s unthinkable to the Faustian mind that history might consist of a sequence of different trajectories of rise and fall. There is only one trajectory, the one that begins in the squalor and ignorance of the caves, fumbles its way through various cultural forms that can be judged and found wanting on the basis of their difference from ours, and then finally figures out the one true way of progress and goes zooming confidently upwards toward its supposedly inevitable destiny out there among the stars. Thus it’s not at all surprising that Spengler’s ideas reliably generate the same sort of nervous laughter followed by angry pushback that you’ll get if you point out, among a group of middle-aged people frantically trying to cling to the waning phantasm of youth, that every one of them will soon grow old and die.
The difficulty faced right now by true believers in the Faustian vision, in turn, is precisely that the world no longer caters to their dreams. While a few narrow fields of technology continue to advance, working through their own possibilities, most of the artifacts of contemporary life in the Western world follow patterns laid down a century or more ago, a pervasive decline in real standards of living has been under way for decades, and some of the most heavily ballyhooed triumphs of the recent past are already slipping out of reach. We can expect plenty of self-congratulatory handwaving next year, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon; I wonder how many people will remember that the same year will be the forty-fifth anniversary of the last human bootprints on lunar soil, or notice that since that time no human being has even gone beyond low earth orbit.
All the recent rehashes of the typical future-fantasies of the mid-twentieth century—the faux-confident chatter about space travel, flying cars, robots replacing human jobs and other gewgaws which featured so heavily in the comic books and pulp entertainment of my childhood—thus can be seen as the cultural equivalent of comb-overs, facelifts, Viagra and Botox, the increasingly frantic attempts of the aging to cling to the scraps of a youth they no longer possess and pretend that old age is solely for other people. It’s the same motive that leads universities to abandon the study of the artistic and cultural heritage of Western civilization: compare these to their recent epigones, and it’s uncomfortably clear just how absurd it is to insist that Andy Warhol and John Cage represent any sort of advance over, let’s say, Rembrandt and Bach.
Get beyond the facile and fatuous insistence that the grand march of progress is still plodding away toward the stars, despite the growing mountain of evidence to the contrary, and Spengler’s vision offers a more meaningful way to make sense of the far future. Like the other classic writers on the cyclic nature of history—Giambattista Vico and Arnold Toynbee—he holds up the past as a mirror in which the future can be glimpsed: a future marked by the exhaustion of creative potentials; the winnowing of the past to produce an enduring canon of scientific, literary, and artistic achievements; the coming of irreversible economic and political decline, and the rest.
On the far side of that trajectory lies the emergence of new cultures with their own values and insights and ways of understanding the world. Thinkers over the last century or so have pointed out that two of these will likely emerge in parallel regions to east and west of the European homeland of the Faustian culture: in European Russia, and in particular in the Volga river basin; and in eastern North America, and in particular in the region that includes the Ohio River basin and the Great Lakes. To my mind, it’s worth thinking about these, and trying to glimpse the shapes of these unborn great cultures.
There are some remarkable parallels between America and Russia, balanced by equally important differences. Let’s start with the parallels. Both came into being in the borderlands where expanding Faustian cultures confronted tribal cultures with much simpler technologies and much more stable relationships to the natural world. The tribal cultures of North America and Siberia are related genetically and culturally by way of the vanished Bering land bridge, and their impacts on the expanding cultures that partly supplanted them and partly absorbed them had important parallels. What’s more, the experience of the frontier, the encounter with vast spaces inconceivably larger than anything the limited horizons of Europe could offer, shaped both cultures in similar ways.
At the same time, a crucial difference marks these two encounters, and the broader histories in which they have so important a place: a difference of time. Russia’s great era of frontier expansion took place in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; America’s took place in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. More generally, Russia has been a coherent cultural entity much longer than English-speaking North America has. Russia is old enough to have received its first great wave of cultural influence from abroad—its first pseudomorphosis, in Spengler’s terms—from the Magian great culture o the Middle East by way of Byzantium, and got its second from the Faustian culture of western Europe right about the time that the European colonies on the Atlantic coast were first getting past the subsistence stage. America, by contrast, is still in the waning days of its first pseudomorphosis and likely has some centuries to go before its second pseudomorphosis kickstarts the emergence of its own unique cultural forms.
That difference of time is mapped onto a wider difference, which has to do with place. One of the things that Spengler’s analysis stresses—and one of the aspects of his work that tends to offend Faustian sensibilities most strongly—is the way that specific great cultures are bound to specific regions of the world, and never quite manage to transplant themselves successfully to other lands. The home ground of Faustian culture is western and central Europe, for example, and whenever it has established its cultural forms or political control outside that region, the result is inevitably a layer of Faustian elite culture over the top of a very different cultural substrate. You can see this at work in both the protocultures we’re discussing; in New York and Saint Petersburg, the intelligentsia and the privileged classes go through the motions of European culture; away from the centers of power, in farm towns along the banks of the Ohio and the Volga, the European veneer is very thin where it exists at all, and something rooted far more deeply in the soil (and the soul) of the countryside comes close to the surface.
In his brilliant and neglected study God is Red, Native American philosopher Vine Deloria Jr. wrote at length about the spiritual importance of place. That’s something that Magian culture understood implicitly—notice the way that Magian religions inevitably orient themselves toward specific, geographically unique centers of pilgrimage—but that Faustian culture can’t grasp at all. To the Faustian mind, the landscape is a blank slate waiting to be overwritten by the creative will of the heroic individual whose deeds are the bread and butter of Faustian mythmaking. Note the way that Faustian cultures prefer to talk, not of place, but of space: not of localities with their own character and qualities, but of emptiness that, at least in our imagination, can be put to whatever sequence of temporary uses we happen to have in mind.
Every culture has its blind spots, and this is one of ours. Carl Jung, while traveling in America, happened to see workers streaming out of a factory. To his European eye, many members of the crowd looked distinctly Native American, and he was startled when his host insisted there was probably not one Native American there. Both men were correct. The land—any land—puts its stamp on the bodies, the actions, and the thoughts of the people who are born and raised there; the American who tries to be European has been a butt of edged humor in Europe for centuries now, because the result always rings false to European ears. Exactly the same thing is true of the Europeanized Russian, though the details of the mismatch are different, since the Russian bears the imprint of a different land.
It’s because of this imprint, reflected in details of history and culture, that it’s possible to glimpse a little of the shape of the two great cultures we’re discussing.
Each great culture, Spengler showed, has what amounts to a distinctive theme, a core concept from which that culture extracts the problems it considers important and unfolds the resources it will direct to their solution. The central theme of Faustian culture is infinite expansion. Notice the way that any Faustian thinker who comes up with a new political cause or a new diet instantly assumes that everyone, everywhere ought to embrace the cause or take up the diet; notice the way that so much of our technological prowess has focused obsessively on the quest to erase distance. From square-rigged ships to trains to cars to airplanes to rockets, from semaphore to telegraphy to radio to television to the internet, it’s all about extending a straight line to infinity, which is not surprising in the only culture in history to use linear perspective in its art.
Compare that to Magian culture, the great culture that rose, ripened, and settled into its enduring forms many centuries earlier in the Middle East. The central theme of Magian culture is the relationship between the human community and God. Where Faustian culture faces outward toward infinite space, Magian culture turns inward, forming an attentive circle around a unique human being whose words and deeds communicate an equally unique revelation from on high. Think of Jesus in the midst of his apostles, or Muhammad in the midst of his companions, and you’ve got the basic image; you can find that reflected in such classic products of the Magian pseudomorphosis as the Arthurian legends, with Arthur in the midst of his knights as a lightly secularized reflection of the theme. Even there, you can catch the first stirrings of the Faustian spirit as Arthur ends his days, not in a tomb that serves as a site of pilgrimage—the usual destiny of the Magian central figure—but vanishing across the western sea. “Not wise the thought, a grave for Arthur,” says an old Welsh text, and Tennyson echoes the same theme a thousand years later: “From the great deep to the great deep he goes.”
Every other great culture has its own central theme, its own basic image of existence. Those of my readers who are interested in these can find the details in Spengler’s The Decline of the West. Let’s turn toward the future, though, and try to grasp the central themes of the Russian and American great cultures to come.
A caveat is of course needed here. I’m not Russian; my sole exposure to Russian culture comes from three years of high school classes in the Russian language, followed by a fair bit of sympathetic reading in Russian literature and history. I’ve never been there, and whatever whispers come with the winds off the great Eurasian steppes to the Volga valley are outside my experience. Fortunately there have been a number of thoughtful Russian writers who’ve grappled with the question of the shape of a future Russian great culture, and their take is that its central theme is best described by a term that has no exact equivalent in English: sobornost.
If I understand the concept—and I’ll happily accept correction from my Russian readers if I don’t—sobornost is a collective identity that arises out of shared experience and shared history. It’s not defined from above, like the community of the faithful that provides Magian culture with its basic theme; rather, it ripens organically in individual lives, as the natural fulfillment of individual identity. In a culture of sobornost, what lies at the heart of each person is not some unique essence, but a link with the whole. It’s for this reason that traditional Russian villages were arranged in a series of concentric circles with a holy place at the center, houses around that, gardens around that, fields further out, and the forest sweeping away into the distance beyond: each part of the village has its place in a pattern that makes it formally equal with the others.
The first stirrings of the American great culture are fainter at this point—not surprising, as its flowering will likely be quite a bit further in the future, and we have a second pseudomorphosis to get through first. One measure of that faintness is that there isn’t yet a good clear English word for the theme that already differentiates American culture from those of other societies. Since the land keeps radiating its basic influence while peoples come and go, I’ll borrow a term from Chinook jargon—the old trade language of the northwest quarter or so of native North America, which was once spoken from northern California to Alaska and from the Pacific Ocean to the eastern slopes of the Rockies—and speak of tamanous.
Tamanous—that’s pronounced “tah-MAN-oh-oose,” by the way—is the guardian spirit of the individual, and also his luck and his destiny. In a great many Native American cultures, finding and establishing a sacred relationship with one’s tamanous, via various traditional practices, is the primary religious act a person can engage in, an essential part of achieving adulthood and thus something that most people do as a matter of course. The result is a religious vision unlike any other, in which the personal relationship between the individual and an equally unique and individualized spiritual power takes center stage.
I once had the privilege of attending a religious ceremony at a Native American reservation north of Everett in Washington State. To the rolling thunder of drums, the participants—men and women of several related Coast Salish tribes—danced the dances of their tamanous. No two danced the same steps or made the same gestures; each, caught up by the power of the drums, expressed the nature of his or her own unique spiritual protector and the gifts it brought. That’s the traditional religion of the Salish—not a collective relationship with a single overarching power or a well-organized pantheon, but a dazzling flurry of individual relationships with spiritual beings, no one of which has any necessary relevance to anyone but the human and the spirit who share in it. Similar patterns can be found in many other Native American cultures.
Look at the history of American religion and you can see this same pattern taking shape out of the last scraps of the Magian pseudomorphosis. In traditional Christianity, the individual is a part of the universal Body of Christ that is the church, united by a shared doctrine and praxis. In America, even in Colonial times, that began to break down, to be replaced by a focus on the individual relationship with Jesus and personal insight into the meaning of Scripture. It’s the homegrown American versions of Christianity that call believers to take Jesus as their personal savior, through a process of personal transformation that, generation after generation, comes more and more to resemble a Christian vision quest—and is there really that much difference between a personal savior and a tamanous?
More generally, the fault lines that divide the first stirrings of a distinctively American culture from the Faustian culture of the West all involve conflicts between individual liberty and the will to power that pervades the Faustian mind. The mythic narratives of Faustian culture all revolve around the conflict between the visionary individual who knows the truth, and the ignorant and superstitious masses who must be forced to accept it. Where Faustian pseudomorphoses hold sway, as in Russia and America, that inevitably takes the form of an elite caste of educated intellectuals trying to bully and browbeat the recalcitrant populace into accepting whatever the latest fashionable ideology happens to be preaching this week.
In Russia for centuries now, such projects have run face first into the brick wall of sobornost, the patient and maddeningly irrefutable collective identity that shrugs off alien ideas in order to return to its own enduring patterns. If Spengler and the Russian thinkers mentioned earlier are correct, the time of the Faustian pseudomorphosis there is nearly over, and the next few centuries will see a newborn Russian great culture shake off or radically repurpose the inheritance of Europe in the service of a wholly different vision of humanity and the cosmos, in which sobornost will emerge as a central theme.
And America? We’ve got longer to go, and another pseudomorphosis to get through. Even so, the stirrings of the future American great culture can be tracked in our own time, as an intelligentsia with its head full of Faustian notions collides with a vision of humanity and the cosmos that’s just as frustratingly different as anything to be found on Russian soil. To those who want to claim the role of visionary individual revealing the truth to the benighted masses, the masses increasingly often are saying, “If that’s your truth, hey, by all means follow it. It’s not ours”—and “ours,” in turn, breaks up on closer examination into a crowd of dancing figures, no two of whom are taking the same steps or making the same gestures.
There is no one right way for everyone. That’s the message, or one part of the message, that the American land has been whispering to its human residents for a very long time. It’s not a message for everyone—again, each great culture has its own theme, and the core theme of the future American great culture is no more universal than any other. I suspect that a thousand years from now, the incommensurability between sobornost and tamanous will become the same kind of massive political fact that the irreconcilable conflict of basic themes between Magian and Faustian cultures was in 1600 or so. In the meantime, though, that message deserves attention here.
Between the lingering nostalgia for the one true faith of the Magian inheritance, and the Faustian insistence that any truth once discovered must extend its sway to the outer limits of the cosmos, it’s a very difficult message for many Americans to hear, but they’ve been hearing it more and more often for the last three centuries. As the Faustian pseudomorphosis in America breaks and rolls back out to sea—a process that seems to be reaching a critical stage just now—it seems to be sinking in that you can follow the promptings of your tamanous, I can follow the promptings of mine, and the fact that we’re not doing the same dance is of concern to neither of us.
That realization has immense political and cultural implications. I hope to sketch some of them out in the weeks ahead.
Okay, I’m not sure I buy tamanous will be shaping the great culture of the great lakes region. North American religions are wildly diverse, so I’m far from convinced that the same patterns will play out in the middle of the continent as on the west coast. I suspect that a big part of the “culture wars” happening in the US is just that: different regions evolving in their own directions.
I don’t know enough about native myths from the region to be sure what pattern will evolve though. Hmm, might be time for a lot of research. I’ll have to get back to you with more formed thoughts later (likely on a later post in the series)
This may be wildly off topic. If so, feel free to delete it, but since you gave a discussion of Faustian culture, I want to share an epiphany I had today: Druidry is the natural shape of a Faustian spirituality. Your comment to James Jensen about the dream of Gwynfudd being the dream of infinite expansion set in motion a series of thoughts, which have culminated in that realization.
To make just three points: the dream of Gwynfudd is the dream of infinite expansion which plays such a major role in Faustian mythology, being the heart of the world view of our culture, chasing infinite spiritual growth; there’s the individual liberty played up to an extreme degree, in the form of an utter disregard for dogma and the massive emphasis on individual practice (both of which are normal, cross culturally, but have been taken to extremes in Druidry); finally there’s also the space, not place aspect to be found in the tradition, as can be found by the fact that Druids outside of Britain are happy to practice, in quite a few cases without reference to sacred places at all. Even within the UK, sacred places play a much lesser role than they did in other traditions, and the idea of a Druid temple, as a sacred place and not the grove, seems somewhat odd.
Ultimately though, it doesn’t matter. As a Faustian, it makes perfect sense my worldview would be shaped by the culture. I doubt Druidry is “true”, but that doesn’t mean its not worth pursuing. I suspect I could spend the rest of my life meditating on this and still not run out of themes…
The ideas in this post, and in the other posts in thiss series, are quite intersting. It has occurred to me a while ago that the predicted Muslim mass migrations to Europe would not be able to really transplant the Magian core cultural themes to Europe, if Oswald Spengler is right, because Europe as a region has its own character.
Regarding Russia, Oswald Spengler did already at his time write in “The Decline of the West” that Russia has its own cultural symbol, the Eurasian steppe, respective the equal brotherhood of the members of humankind, as the literature of Tolstoi and others show, according to him.
Thirdly, the individuality of Druidism might be, if it is particularly pronounced in America, a manifestation of the religious individuality of the Tamanous type.
Interesting stuff! This seems to have parallels to subjective vs. objective truth. I believe it was Chesterton who sketched a triangle. At one base was the objective rational truth, on the other side of the triangle base was subjective truth and mysticism. He saw a vision of the two truths colliding at the pinnacle in the birth of Christ. Those times must have been so fertile with so many conceptions oh God, Gods, philosophy, Platonism, Roman law, rhetoric, and many things more, all competing for ‘truth’ at a time when philosophical discussions were in fashion, not faux pas like these days.
So we have a decaying Faustian truth vector, exasperatingly attempting to expand, grow, and transfix the mind and materialism of man- the dying throes of objective truth; juxtaposed with an increasing vector of subjective truth, imparted by our place, coming out as a helter skelter anarchy of ‘anything goes’. It’s no wonder the average American eats antidepressants like skittles.
Not to attempt to read too much into this description, but in terms of the political dimension, the nature of tamanous as described would seem (to me, anyway) to better fit a system consisting of a multitude of smaller polities, rather than a small number of larger polities (or a single imperial polity, for that matter).
“Thirdly, the individuality of Druidism might be, if it is particularly pronounced in America, a manifestation of the religious individuality of the Tamanous type.” — I was just thinking that, not only for Druidry but also for other forms of paganism and polytheism here.
I recommend that readers of this blog also pay some attention to Dmitri Orlov’s blog, at http://cluborlov.blogspot.com, for its similar and equally sane look into the Russian soul and psyche as contrasted to those of the American polity. Great minds think alike (I’m told), and here we have two hard-workin’ people converging to essentially the same conclusions, coming at them from different premises and positions.
Will J and JMG,
I see Druidry, though Faustian in origin, as a “natural shape” for an evolving spirituality based in tamanous. The emphasis on individual pursuit of one’s own unique Awen is one of the core virtues of Druidry and even in Gwynfydd the pursuit goes on and on. At the same time, there’s the need to connect to nature where you are live, so the spirituality of place is vital in my opinion. Granted, I’m still relatively new to Druidry.
“it seems to be sinking in that you can follow the promptings of your tamanous, I can follow the promptings of mine, and the fact that we’re not doing the same dance is of concern to neither of us.”
I’d say the Beatniks and Hippies picked up on this back in the day, early adopters who either renounced the vision or dropped out and became invisible. Brings to mind a great a great Isley Bros. song from 1969: “It’s your thing, do what you wanna do, I can’t tell you, who to sock it to”. This a fascinating series…thanks!
I’ve just now been reading a great deal of the brilliant N. S. Trubetzkoy on Russian history. He sees the history of Russia much as our host does, with one highly significant exception. He insists that there were three great waves of influence in Russian history, not two. Between a wave of influence from the Byzantine Empire and one from Western Europe came a wave of influence from the Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan and his successors, and this wave was rather more significant and powerful that the wave from Byzantium. On this basis, he makes a very strong case that the Russian Empire which began to consolidate itself around Moscow in the 15th and 16th centuries is best viewed as the European successor to the westernmost part of the Mongol Empire, not as a successor to the Viking-ruled petty Russian kingdoms that controlled the river route from Scandinavia to Constantinople during the 9th-13th centuries.
On this basis Trubetzkoy has a good deal to say about the future course of Russian history, and what he says is quite similar to our host’s projections. He does not use the term sobornost, so far as I have noticed, but he emphasizes the same tendency toward “collective identity.” He stresses the importance of the land itself for the development of every nation and national identity, and for Russia the most important land in this regard is the Russian steppe. Though he doesn’t say much about the Volga River precisely, he does say a lot about the course of Empire that Russia followed in the 16th century, which–though he doesn’t dwell on the fact–actually unfolded along the course of the Volga River. And he is very, very clear that the future of Russia cannot not in any sense be a European future. For him, European culture is toxic to the Russian land, and thus to the sense of Russian national identity which that land demands.
Trubetzkoy wrote on this theme almost exclusively in Russian, as a Russian, and for a Russian audience, even though he published much of his other scholarly work in German. In 1991, however, an excellent selection of his works on the future course of Russian history appeared in English translation in a single volume: Nikolai Sergeevich Trubetzkoy, “The Legacy of Genghis Khan and Other Essays on Russia’s Identity” (Michigan Slavic Publications, no. 33; Ann Arbor, MI). One essay not found there is his brief “On the Common Slavic Element in Russian Culture,” which appeared in 1949 (corrected ed., 1950) as a small pamphlet published by the Slavic Department of Columbia University in New York
So could it be that all the hysteria we have at the moment is caused by an inner conflict between a stirring tamanous and the need to conform to current political ways of thinking for financial or social reasons?
It sounds like you’re saying that, as Neil Gaiman put it, “America is not a good place for gods”.
But where does one land end and another begin? Is Britain part of Europe (population wise, half of us are, half of us aren’t)? The Faroe Islands? Iceland? Greenland? All divided from other lands by the sea.
Interesting synchronocity here. Just
a few days ago I was debating theology and ethics with my Catholic girlfriend, and I found myself going on a bit of a tangent explaining that one of the main problems I have with Catholic thought is the way it tends to assume there’s one answer for everyone – one proper relation to God, one proper expression of sexuality, one church, one Book, etc. Of course my thinking on this is doubtless shaped by my years of reading your works, not to mention my exploration of occult philosophy with its much greater emphasis on the individual encounter with divinity. But i do think it’s telling that this kind of outlook makes such intuitive sense to me.
I can totally see this. It’s possible I’m taking your message too literally here (the smarts, they escape me at times), but it seems like the last two decades of my life (20-40) have been a prolonged lesson in understanding that I know very little and that what I think I know shouldn’t interfere with the lives of others.
As you say, it’s not always a pleasant revelation to have. Recently, a co-worker tossed an ugly slur at me (Hipster!) because I just can’t bring myself to think that Trump voters are my enemies. He called me that because he perceived my feelings as apathy or cynicism, but it’s nothing like that. I just like people, and I tend to suspect that most people have the same difficulties I do while navigating the world. There is no right way for everyone.
I used to be an atheist because I had convinced myself that science was right, religion was wrong. Mind you, that’s after being raised by a very reasonable religions woman, so it’s not like I was beaten by catholic priests on a daily basis or something. Yep. Wrong again. And now I find myself eagerly reading magical textbooks written by a luxuriously bearded ex-archdruid.
Like Dr. Seuss said: Oh the places you’ll go.
On the upside, the more I realize this, the less anxiety I experience–which probably has something to do with diminishing cognitive dissonance. Who knows? Not me.
Spengler famously described the USA as “a boundless field and a population of trappers, drifting from town to town in the dollar hunt”. I’m wondering if some of the commercial activities that were spawned in America, such as the travelling salesman, the touring rock band, the local radio stations with eccentric disc jockeys, are reflections of the tamanous. What seems to be characteristic of the USA, looking at it from afar, is the sense of restlessness – people don’t accommodate themselves to a place, they (eventually) accommodate themselves to themselves.
Just an observation: it’s interesting (and typically Faustian) that one of the features of the Faustian pseudomorphosis in both Russia and America consisted of plopping a “civilized” European city onto a primeval swamp – see St. Petersburg and Washington, DC respectively.
Hi there. I haven’t commented in a few years and have occasionally had to take breaks from your writing due to my experience of mental illness (anxiety and panic), but I am really enjoying your blog these days.
I read today’s blog and I thought maybe it ties in to your recommendation for dissensus, with dissensus being something crucial to the future culture here in America. I know you write specifically with the American experience in mind (as you say, the rest of the world hardly needs another American telling them what to do). I imagine a Russian JMG eschewing that idea.
I plan on picking up a copy of a history of native American cultures in my region to learn more about how this land has shaped the people here in the past. Apparently my state has a landscape that has changed so much that it would be virtually unrecognizable if seen as it was hundreds of years ago. We have a lot of effigy mounds in our area … I’m excited to learn more.
Any thoughts on how that other North American native religion of the Aztecs fits into this? It seems to me to be quite a different religion than the religion of vision quest.
Oh, I hate myself for spelling errors. I don’t suppose this new great culture has anything to say about there being no one correct spelling for every word?
Thanks JMG. This is a really fascinating set of ideas.
Why the Ohio River basin, and not some other area such as the Hudson Valley, or the St Lawrence seaway?
In a related note, since the Adena mound-building culture were based in that area did they reveal any particular expressions of the land that we are likely to see again?
The idea that something is not ‘true’ in the universal sense, but worth practicing as an indivdual seems downright tamanousian. The Faustian viewpoint seems to be to find a personal truth and enforce it on others, rather than to share and enjoy it for its own sake.
Using this interpretation, the culture wars seem to be two faustian future narratives at war with each other: the Trumper’s nuclear armed traditional family vs the SJW’s all relationships governed by PC protocol space communism. Sadly, as long there is one central point of control to fight over I don’t see these two forces stopping anytime soon as the fight constant battled of attack and defense. Maybe once that center collapses, and central control becomes impossible, we can learn to pursue our own truths without automatically imposing that truth on others.
Hi Maxine Rogers here,
I live just to the North of traditional Coast Salish territory and I suspect I have been meeting my Tamanous in scrying for the past few months. Very interesting!
Also, as a Druid, I see all forests as sacred. I don’t need my ancestors to have built a tomb on some land for the land to be sacred.
Yes. The Navajos refer to Christians as being “on the Jesus road.” And even an American fantasy writer using a culture of medieval technology and mind-magic, had her favored culture lift the principle of “There is no One True Way.” to a near-religious imperative. (Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series a.k.a. My Little Telepathic Pony. Who, to be fair, are something very like minor angels in her world.)
I wonder of sobornost could be very roughly translated for American minds as “solidarity”?
am I right to infer that no two great cultures have ever called or indeed can ever call the same place their heartland? How does the changing landscape affect all this?
also, how Faustian is this whole idea of the civilization being, to use Toynbee’s terminology, “the intelligible unit of historical study”?
I’m itching to figure out what has this analysis to say about civilization as a something that evolves through time. What made us civilize in the first place? Do we ever ditch that approach and try something else? Any reading suggestions? =D I have the feeling that I’m Faustianlly trying to stretch this thing into infinity to not amazing results to be quite honest…
as always, a big thank you for putting my curiosity to work!
So what happens to the countries in the aftermath of being host to a great culture? (E.g. Europe in the coming centuries.) Does Faustianism disappear to be reborn in another epoch, or does it just disappear?
So it looks like America and Russia are up for some interesting evolutions, but what of the heartland of Faustian culture, Europe? With the decline of Faustian culture and the disintegration of the utopian unitary superstate project that is the EU, what will arise in its place? With increasing division, perhaps including different pseudomorhposes taking hold of different nations, are we looking at another mass conflict igniting in Europe?
Also globally, I find myself wondering what some of the waning elites might pull off before their inevitable downfalls. It’s often mentioned most bandied-about technologies are inherently economically unviable (which seems obvious considering the absurd visions associated with them) but some technologies could have massive impacts on society with only very limited use (see e.g. atomic bombs) so I think some scifi scenarios might see some limited light of day after all, though in all likelihood it won’t be any of the “nice” scenarios.
Your description of Tamanous made me think of a field trip I took as a grade school kid in the Pacific Northwest. At the time all the elementary school children in the Portland Public Schools and surrounding area went on at least one field trip to see a presentation by Chief Lelooska in the early 70’s. He was a famous carver of Totem Poles and had a giant ceremonial teepee that we kids would crowd in to be introduced to the culture, art and language of the Chinook. I vaguely remember being introduced to the concept of Tamanous then. It makes me realize how much we are now regressing and falling down the long chute of history since in addition to this we grade school kids also spent a week in outdoor school learning about plants, trees and making our own survival stove. This sort of thing is all gone from the schools now as all the money goes to an excess of administration and efforts to prep kids for meaningless tests. Green wizardry is not the only thing to have gotten shuffled aside in the last gasp of Faustian culture that was ushered in at the begining of the 1980/s
‘There is no right way for everyone’ certainly describes the attitude I hear more and more from my millennial North American peers. But that’s not a culture- it’s a rejection of any shared culture and worldview, mostly out of cynical anti-authoritarianism. It’s called ‘post-modernism’ because it’s not actually a thing in itself, it’s a reaction to a thing.
Look at the way indigenous youth across this continent are reclaiming cultural symbols and practices, and you see pretty clearly that they’re trying to revive ancient commonalities, not each dance their own dance. Freewheeling individuality is a late-breaking Faustian phenomenon, and it’s been gaining ground among both European and North American youth for the last half-century.
Culture IS commonality. Even the wildly polytheistic Apollinian culture had traits that bound its members into a greater whole. The spirit of Tamanous you describe sounds more like what Spengler refers to as primitive (before the great culture coheres) or fellaheen (post-cultural): mere masses of individuals.
Mr Greer, I’d very much like to hear your take on Yuval Noah Harari sometime, whose recent popular trilogy sees history in a quite different way from you (and from Spengler) – for instance, he insists that there has always been a trend towards globalization and that now it’s here, it won’t and can’t go away (and, moreover, it is necessary to deal with global problems, since nation states cannot solve borderless issues like climate change). He does not gloss over the difficulties of our current capitalist culture, but says the elite won’t let tech advances and AI die, even if major problems upset the current applecart (I think you yourself accepted this last point in Retrotopia).
Do you think that the great work of the Green Wizards’ Benevolent and Protective Association be pre- and neonatal care of the new civilization? Rusty
I have a thought that’s trying to think itself, but I’m not sure where it’s going.
The following facts all seem significant to me.
1. It has occurred to me recently that the great majority of Roman Catholic public intellectuals in the United States are converts. So is every single Eastern Orthodox public intellectual that I’ve ever encountered. This despite the fact that there is a large population of American Cradle Catholics and a small but not insignificant population of Orthodox. It seems, though, that these religions in their native form are simply not American in a very real sense. Populations of Irish, Italians and other ethnic Americans were able to maintain their Catholic or Orthodox identity as long as they remained isolated from the larger culture. Once they begin to mix freely with the general population, both their ethnic identities and their fidelity to their old religion began to disappear.
2. I am probably not the only commentator here who has watched this practice unfold in my own family over the course of my life. We were raised in a heavily Catholic enclave in rural PA, with 15 of us growing up in the same house. Over time every one of us has left that region, and, while the extended family remains close, most of us now live in single family homes standard suburbs in reasonably wealthy metro areas. Very few still practice Catholicism, and those who do attend the sort of suburban churches that are protestant in all but name. I practice something resembling Catholicism as a component of a larger spiritual practice that includes Golden Dawn magic, revival Druidry and ideas derived from my study of Chinese Taoism.
3. I sometimes read Rod Dreher at The American Conservative, who is a convert to Orthodoxy. I have often thought that Dreher would be a much more authentic American Conservative if he joined a Masonic lodge or a Spiritualist church, or, better yet, both. Instead he follows the lead of his foreign church in condemning these deeply American institutions. On the other hand, from the perspective of Tamanous, his conversion to Orthodoxy is thoroughly American, as authentic and as American as Jack Kerouac’s Buddhism.
4. It’s also occurred to me that Alcoholics Anonymous is the most thoroughly American Magian religion. Magian– it has the Book, the Hero and his followers (Bill W and Co), the Fellowship, and the missionary zeal. American: It is organized democratically, is as franchisable as McDonald’s, is puritanical and, importantly for this discussion, has at its heart the individual “spiritual experience.”
5. My partner and I were recently discussing how we will manage our children’s spiritual lives. My background is Catholic, as I shared; hers is Protestant. And she has a half-Jewish child from a previous relationship, whose father, though an atheist, has nevertheless insisted on keeping Jewish customs in the house. Eventually we realized that it was pointless to try to plan ahead. She is a Reiki master (and quite a good one); I am a ceremonial magician; these influences, along with elements of Protestant and Catholic Christianity and Judaism and scraps of qigong and yoga will all be present in our household. Amid all this our children should have the spiritual resources to find their own way.
6. I wonder to what extent we can imagine the religious future of North America, based on the foregoing. I see the importance of the personal vision quest, embedded in a spiritual world that may include a melange of practices and deities derived from many different sources. I think we see the first hints of this in the practices of those who identify as “spiritual but not religious.” While the large Sacramental churches don’t seem to have much of a future here, Jesus probably does in some form or other, and Mary seems, if anything, even more popular than her son in spiritual and New Age quarters. Giving up intoxicants as part of the spiritual quest is something I’ve seen in many corners, including American Indians. And I wonder if “going West” will continue to function as metaphor for the spiritual journey as a whole.
7. I’m probably overlooking something big… I wonder what it might be.
I seem to recall that the honourable Manly P. Hall described the whole project of post-enlightenment rationalism and dogmatic materialism as an attempt to explain everything by denying everything. Could it be that it’s because the Faustian narrative is so overwhelmingly absurd, that in order to be able to pursue it, the core philosophical endeavor of our culture had be the systematic negation of the whole universe and everything (and particularly everyone, however embodied…) in it? There can be nothing but lumps of matter bouncing into each other! Why? Because there can be nothing but lumps of matter bouncing into each other! And if you experience something that isn’t lumps of matter bouncing into each other (like yourself, for starters…) that is an illusion caused by lumps of matter bouncing into each other! Why? Because we say so!
It really is astounding to witness the intelligentsia going on and on about it. And the steady accumulation of narratives, models and self-defeating intellectual backflips amassed by this project is regarded as the progress of “knowledge”. And when they’re not doing that, they’re barking insults at everyone who isn’t aboard with the program. The intellectual class seems to be fighting enemies everywhere. No wonder Russia is so grossly offensive, and has always been. They keep on being what they are, no matter what we do to them…
Tamanous is a wonderful concept, and it pinpoints what I’ve always found so appealing about America. If there is one thing that seems to distinguish the average European from their American equivalents, it is that in the states it is the elites that push Faustian sensibilities, while most other people respond with a roll of the eyes (or and erect middle finger…) and walk away. In Europe, by contrast, everyone apes the attitude of the elites, no matter who they are, what they’re background is and what they do for a living. Get a bunch of them together in a group and they pretty reliably make a contest of it, always with a kind of forced enthusiasm and fear in their eyes (“Someone might dare to say something different, what will we do then?!). It’s getting… tiresome…
You know, JMG, this is shaping up to be some of the best stuff you’ve written.
Oh wow, I have been reading for a long time now but am always feeling like I’m too late to jump in with comments but I have been absolutely loving this series. As a born and bred upper midwesterner (hint – got my undergrad degree in dairy science), I find this interpretation very spot on for what I see in the less populated areas. There is a live and let live mentality of community here I’ve noted especially when it comes to land owners as long as the respect is mutual and goes both ways. Farm how you want to farm, as long as you don’t try to step on me. As someone that also works intimately in end-of-life care, I feel that the faustian worldview has never been strong in me (hence seeking out this area almost subliminally). It’s hard to believe in infinite endless progress when you are surrounded by the inevitable deaths both beautiful and difficult. If you believe that everything will continue to go on forever and only get better, you’re apt to miss out on what is right in front of you. Looking forward to the comments on this one!
The description of Tamanous has echos of HGA, Higher self, Genius, Augoeides, Atman etc.
Or am I missing a crucial difference?
“…and never quite manage to transplant themselves successfully to other lands.”
Reading your articles, I think about how this applies to East Asia, where I studied and lived.
Japan, for instance, inherited a system of government and economy plus whole technological package from Europe and America, but you don’t see the myth of progress in Japanese society (I speak Japanese and lived there for several years).
What you see more is a kind of “protect the status quo” and “make the most out of what you got” mentality, which tends to encourage compliance with social norms above all else in the name of preserving personal dignity and the social order (the latter implies preserving peace and safety).
The social order is governed by unspoken rules, which in old Confucian lingo would be equivalent to Dao 道. When the masses are compliant and everyone is doing their proper part (the poor AND the rich), the realm enjoys harmony and everyone collectively benefits (the system works too).
This concept, however, doesn’t equate to progress. There are deep Buddhist influences in Japanese society, and a long history of frequent natural disasters, so at the same time there is a collective acknowledgment of impermanence. The result is anticipation that the good times can’t roll on forever, so buckle down and make the most out of decline. There is a kind of fatalist view of decline at this point. “It can’t be helped.”
This is what we’re seeing in Japan today: an aging population and stagnant economy being overtaken by China and Korea. Japan is now a cheap holiday destination. Far fewer young people study abroad now than before. PM Abe and many in the government insist immigration is required, but the voters simply won’t yield to this. They would rather preserve the present status quo in some form or another, even if it means facing a crippled currency and eventual national insolvency.
The old Buddhist notion of painful practice being beneficial is reflected here too: hardship is not only inevitable, but even healthy and necessary for perpetuation of order. The economic boom after WWII was a bumper crop, but now we’re going into winter, the time of rest and consolidation, which are necessary for a future spring that only a future generation will enjoy long from now.
The land—any land—puts its stamp on the bodies, the actions, and the thoughts of the people who are born and raised there
I’m curious about what process is at work here; what drives one land to shape its people in one way, and while another shapes its people in a different way? How does one sense what these shaping forces are from the land itself? Do these forces also shape those born in a different land who have relocated to another?
Thanks again for taking the time to write all these wonderful posts.
Wonderful as ever. Here in New Zealand there is a Maori concept, the place where your feet are firmly planted, where you belong…not sure how it translates but we non Maori find it an appropriate description of our shared spiritual attachment to the land. Its is called Turangawaewae.
I’m not sure about many of your points, but I have noticed that there’s nothing most Americans reject as swiftly and decisively as the idea that they are, in the ways that matter, pretty much the same as everyone else.
Hey, I think you’ve got that sobornost thing right. I guess that is why I love Russian culture so much. Sometimes Americans are surprised when I describe it, as they have a dour and grim idea given by cold war themes, but I find Russians as I found them in Crimea to be so open and friendly and lighthearted. My daughter in Sweden complains about how very difficult Swedes are to get to know, how they wouldn’t dream, for instance, of saying hello to a stranger and don’t strike of up conversations with strangers in the store. (I get them to do it, but she says that once they see I’m American and they get a chance to speak English with me, they are able to excuse my behavior.)
I recall one time when my husband and I went out to some kind of park or public square to celebrate Ukrainian independence, which happens in August. The climate there in Sevastopol is rather Mediterranean and so doesn’t rain much in summer, but that evening there was an unusual and quite strong downpour. Everyone ran for cover, but the only cover available were a few restaurants which had large outdoor eating patios, filled with customers but which also had awnings overhead. People just ran up on those patios and squeezed in by the hundreds. I am sure the diners could hardly lift their forks to their plates but I felt that no one minded at all. After all, it was raining! The whole atmosphere was quite cheerful and someone then called out “Hey! Someone should tell some jokes!” A very subtle feeling of all being in on the experience together is the sole reason I remember that event.
I also noticed several times, even though Russians don’t always form orderly lines and can do a bit of pushing and shoving, that when someone was running late to catch a plane or train, people let them go to the front of the line.
I’m definitely surprised at what you say about the Native American way of having one’s own relationship to one’s guiding spirit. This is happening all the time now, not just with Christians, but people speak of their higher selves, of trying to get guidance from their higher self as well as from spirit guides.
It’s interesting to contemplate that the settlers coming to America were already leaning toward rugged individualism, and that got reinforced by the melting pot, the starting-overness of immigrating here and the expansion into new territories.
I’m not ready to concede that this is somehow irreconcilable with Russian sobornost. Religiously it might be to an extent, but there is something I like very much about American culture, underneath all our current agonies and insanities – and that is the milk of human kindness.
Did that place north of Everett happen to be the Tulalip reservation? I went there once during a cultural ceremony. It was an enjoyable experience but what really made it memorable for me was that sometime in the early afternoon, there was a great sound that echoed through the trees like a mighty roar! My family and I laughed it off after the initial shock saying “it was Bigfoot!” The laughing stopped once we realized many other folks had heard it to and no one had a clue what had made the sound or where it came from. Needless to say, we all kept our eyes on the tree line for the rest of day.
“today’s ideologically correct literary critics denouncing the writers of past generations for not sharing the values of today’s elite Western culture”
“to insist that Andy Warhol and John Cage represent any sort of advance over, let’s say, Rembrandt and Bach”
who insists this? obviously Cage cannot exist without Bach as a predecessor, but I am not aware anyone says his work is superior
“the only culture in history to use linear perspective in its art”
an excellent insight, thanks for this
and thanks for offering the notion of tamanous. food for thought.
It does indeed sound like it.
By the gods, I didn’t need more to meditate on! 😉
Tamanous neatly captures something I’ve struggled with since my teens, and especially in the last few years.
It seems like what some pragmatists have been trying to get at since “The Will to Believe”: Yes, yes, scientists/philosophers/the Party say I should live in such-and-such a way… but what if I don’t want to? What if living that way would make me miserable? Why can’t you just accept me as I am? (Or at least leave me alone.)
Especially if this is the only life I’ll get.
Then there’s the similarity of tamanous with the concept of the Higher Self… I’ll need to think about that some more.
I’m interested in your comments about sobornost. You write: “In a culture of sobornost, what lies at the heart of each person is not some unique essence, but a link with the whole. It’s for this reason that traditional Russian villages were arranged in a series of concentric circles with a holy place at the center, houses around that, gardens around that, fields further out, and the forest sweeping away into the distance beyond: each part of the village has its place in a pattern that makes it formally equal with the others.”
I think that could safely be said about much of traditional European culture, certainly not of the elites, the rich, the nobility, but of the people who lived closest to the ground. There was a time, even in my grandparents’ day and my parents’ early childhood, when ordinary people’s local German culture varied widely between regions and even between adjacent towns, dialects were intensely local, too, and not always mutually intelligible. Architecture was regional. You knew where someone came from by their language, their dress, their customs, because towns had their own patron saints, seasonal celebrations, food. The advent of mass media, particularly television – and, by the way, two world wars – have flattened out these differences so local idiosyncrasies have either become objects of ridicule rather than things due respect or have been beaten smooth so that they can be exported everywhere and anywhere for profit. (See: northern European Christmas traditions, now peddled in practically every country on Earth). Perhaps Russia has been able to fend off progress longer because of her location on the frozen periphery and the centuries-long financial poverty of ordinary Russians.
Although it is highly unlikely, were there to be a large-scale resurgence of an intensely local way of life and traditions in Europe, could the decline of those cultures be slowed?
@ Robert Mathiessen – I lived in St Petersburg for a year, and Peterburgers always took pride in the uniqueness of their city. In both architecture and history it is much more a European outpost. I would concur with the point that the impact of the Mongol conquest cannot be understated. I would argue (as other historians have), that Russia became a fundamentally more autocratic place as a result of the Tartar Yoke.
@ Onething –Russians very often mistook me for Ukrainian or Baltic person, once my Russian got better than a second grade level. I also dated a woman from Kherson, which is fairly close to Crimea. Unfortunately, I never got to visit Ukraine. Did you get mistaken as being anything other than American? (I’m assuming you are from somewhere in North America).
@ JMG – You said “the land puts it’s stamp on human bodies” – I have joked that I could spot a Texan in a lineup (provided their family had lived their a while).
As for ‘sobornost’ I would say that is a reasonable description of what I witnessed even in a Russian city as Europeanized as St Petersburg. The emphasis on common experience and collective activity was one of the hardest things to adjust to as an American. I was fortunate to escape the American expat circles an spend time with ‘real’ Russians. As comfortable as I got with them, I would still sometimes get weirded out by the emphasis on “everyone does everything together’ aspect of being part of a circle of Russian friends.
Linguistic side note – as far as I know, Russian has no word for individuality. The closest word would be ‘odenokost’ which translates roughly as ‘oneness’ and has a vaguely sad or negative connotation.
Regarding pseudomorphosis in America, do you have any guesses from where the 2nd pseudomorphosis to effect America will come from? Is this a topic you plan to cover later?
The hint at political and cultural implications reminds me a bit of the difference between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. If the future great culture of Lakeland sheds its Faustian cloak, and it no longer faces such a challenge to its autonomy from the Faustian expansion across the sea in an era of lower population and mobility, I’d expect something much closer to the A of C to hold sway.
I know that there’s debate over the degree to which the Haudenosaunee Confederacy influenced the shape of US governance, but if you’re as onto something as I think you are, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more emphasis on decentralized political power and individual liberty if I were in the area in the 2600s.
In your description of tamanous I’m reminded of the Faustian mythology of native Americans in which individuals who did not wish to adhere to social norms or the decisions of the leadership were free to leave and go their own way, though they forsook the benefits and protection of the larger group. Faustian-American history is full of such behavior, from the Antinomian controversy through the closing of the frontier to the modern day.
The emphasis on the individual’s rite and duty to establish each one’s own relationship with the divine and to determine the expression of such in one’s own life strikes me as inescapably American. Even now in the Faustian crisis at the end of Progress, we’re collectively fed the processed simulacrum of “following your dreams” within the confines of imperial corporate culture. How that will manifest as the Faustian tide rolls out is fascinating to contemplate.
I’ve had a feeling for a very long time that some similar localised spiritual world is going to gradually take hold in Australia. This is a deeply unconscious country, where the dominant culture could best be compared to invaders of an alien planet. The Europeans brought everything with them, but after two hundred years, these ‘provisions’ are about to run out. Then, like the other waves of settlers from a very distant past (the first ones appear to have come here 60,000 years ago), we will have to come to terms with the land, and it is a very distinctive and very different land from anything in the Northern hemisphere.
The European colonists consisted of a number of very different and often mutually hostile tribes. The original ruling class were branches of minor English aristocracy or middle-level military people and typically were (and still are) stupid, arrogant, mindlessly assertive and brutal. Under them were a class of broken lümpenproleteriat, the criminals who were deported here (Australia was founded as a penal colony), their military guard and a small but growing number of free settlers who were from the bottom of the heap socially in Britain. Then there was a great influx of Irish following the Famine in Ireland and another during the mid-century gold rushes of a more intelligent, ‘skilled working class’ type who have gone on to form the technical classes who operate the system. When the country became an independent democracy, two parties arose, one of which, the Liberals, represented the ‘traditional’ ruling group and the other, Labor, represented the working classes and the Irish. These groupings are still dominant in the cities, which have perhaps 90% of the population—Australia, strangely, is one of the most urbanised countries on Earth. As well as this, another group called the Squatters spread out into the countryside (which in Australia is an enormous, sparsely populated area) in the mid-nineteenth century and seized huge land holdings by driving off, killing and enslaving the Aboriginal populations existing there. By monopolising the water sources, which in Australia tend to be widely spaced apart and are the key to any agriculture, they managed to freeze out any smaller settlers. They formed their own political party, originally called the Country Party, now renamed the Nationals, who have always allied themselves with the Liberals (confusingly, these are conservatives in Australia!), thus allowing the rather small ruling class to hold the dominant political position for many decades.
The working class people who spread out into the countryside to work for the Squatters and in the small country towns were often desperately poor. They intermingled and had children with the remnant Aboriginal population, who had no rights and were regarded legally as part of the native animal population up until the mid nineteen-sixties. Thus, although the Aboriginals were almost destroyed, their way of thinking penetrated upwards from the very bottom of society, quite outside the normal channels of cultural transmission and education. And this Aboriginal spiritual heritage is utterly different from the European, Christian heritage. It is very complex and based around connections to place—‘Country’, tribal ancestry, long geographic connections called song lines and common spiritual ancestors from something called the Dreamtime, which is a kind of primordial time before time.
I have experienced some of this Aboriginal spirituality, both in an Aboriginal community and at other times quite unexpectedly when in some particular place in the countryside. I can’t really talk about it other than to say it is real, very powerful, and like a steady background hum in many places. I was born into the aftermath of a genocide and an ecocide. The majestic forests which had covered the land in the area where I grew up had been cut down almost to the last tree. The aboriginal inhabitants had also been wiped out. The memory of these crimes had been forgotten or suppressed and the mess cleared away. Still, strange echoes remained and filled the air with a immense but near silent cry, processed by a child at a secret level, not discussed and thus not articulated, but registering nonetheless.
The effect on the Australian psyche of this Aboriginal leavening is also difficult to describe but I shall try. It leads to a non-individualistic sense of identity, a kind of tribalism which is very much embodied in ordinary working class language. It has penetrated upwards into the middle classes too. It can be seen most clearly when Australians let their guard down socially and drop their masks. The lawyer or scientist suddenly becomes a regular ‘Aussie’. This is not universal: there are some people who over-identify with their functional role but they are often mocked behind their backs.
Christianity was the dominant religion, and the Church of England was the denomination of the ruling class. I went (briefly and unhappily) to a Church of England private boarding school. In the country town where I grew up the ‘better’ folk, the shopkeepers etc went to church every Sunday. Then at the end of the sixties it suddenly began to die very rapidly. It would be hard to call Australia a Christian nation today, although most educated people are rabid believers in the latest Christian heresy, the religion of Progress! But there are signs of that starting to fail too, beginning as ever at the bottom of society.
So the beginnings of a very different consciousness is here and it will become more apparent as industrial society fails and we must adapt more closely to what our rather harsh land demands. But as you say, it’s likely to be a matter of centuries rather than decades.
Will, you may want to reread the post a little more carefully. I used a Chinook jargon word, but the concept — as I noted — is found all over native North America, straight across to the Atlantic.
As for Druidry as the natural shape of a Faustian spirituality, you’re taking one element of Druid teaching — the specific take on the post-human potentials of the soul suggested by the heirs of Iolo Morganwg — and using it, out of context, as a fair measure of the entire tradition. What about the concept of respectful relationships with gods, spirits, and nonhuman beings, which is rather more central to Druidry? That’s antithetical to Faustian beliefs, which tend to see the human ego as free to create its own reality, and gloss over the possibility that others might get hurt in the process.
Booklover, good. If Spengler is right, even if Europe is conquered by mass migrations from the Middle East and Africa in the two centuries ahead, the new cultures that rise out of the resulting dark age will have a European cast to them. I had Spengler’s insights into Russian culture in mind while considering the claims of the authors who’ve discussed sobornost; as for Druidry, it has strong Faustian elements in it, but I think in America, it’s already reaching toward something more in keeping with the voices of the land.
Dave, true enough! It’s a very rough time to go through, made rougher still by the impact of imperial decline.
David, yes, and you’ll notice that this was the standard social form in native North America; there were several cultures that embraced the more centralized forms from Mesoamerica, but they didn’t last long.
Thesseli, that seems like a sensible point to me.
Haassmasithiam, I’m certainly not going to argue!
Jim, they did indeed, and a lot of other eccentrics and countercultures throughout American history have done the same. If my analysis is correct, that’s going to become more mainstream in the centuries immediately ahead.
Robert, that’s fascinating. Spengler’s analysis doesn’t actually conflict with Trubetzkoy’s, though, because Spengler doesn’t consider the Mongols as one of the great cultures with which his analysis is entirely concerned. I suspect he’d consider the Tatar conquest of Muscovy as part of the process by which the Russian protoculture reoriented itself toward the steppes and away from too great an immersion in the Magian pseudomorphosis. The rest of it flows very well with Spengler’s vision, so thank you for this!
Cassandra, America’s a great place for gods, and there are plenty of them here — in the native traditions of the place I live now, for example, there’s Cautantowit the Great Spirit. Wetucks the Transformer, Habbamock the god of death, and many more. It’s just not a great place for “The One True God,” whoever that might be.
Fred, I’m glad to hear it. What did your girlfriend think of that?
Dudley, that’s fascinating — do you happen to know if hipsters generally are abandoning the more than Gnostic dualism being pushed by the Democratic party these days?
Phil K., there’s something to that, but at the same time it’s worth remembering that Spengler never visited North America — he was riffing off what he heard from European media and literature.
RPC, that’s an excellent point!
Jessica, welcome back! I hope you’re doing better. I’m sure that a Russian JMG, were such an exotic item of intellectual fauna to be found, would talk not of dissensus but of allowing a consensus to emerge organically out of experience, rather than trying to force one onto the situation.
Dashui, it’s a different great culture. Mexico was the homeland of one of the world’s great cultures, which extended its cultural influence down into the Andean highlands and up into the Mississippi valley; Spengler talks about it at some length and with a great deal of respect; but Anahuac — that’s the Nahuatl name for what’s now central Mexico, “the place between the waters,” the heartland of the Mesoamerican great culture — is a very different environment from eastern North America, and the cultures shaped by that environment are just as foreign to the latter as is, say, Faustian culture.
Dudley, hating yourself is a bad habit; I like to leave that job to other people, who are perfectly willing to do it for me. 😉
Samurai_47, the Hudson Valley and the St. Lawrence valley will both be straits full of salt water within not that many centuries. The Ohio valley, by contrast, will be prime agricultural land still getting plenty of rain. I’m sure the future Ohian culture will expand into those regions early on. As for the Adena, all the mound builder cultures were pseudomorphoses based on Mexican native cultures — the mounds were as close as you can get in valleys without much building stone to the temple pyramids that were a central cultural project of the Mesoamerican great culture.
Maxine, that shows the gap between your spirituality and the Magian vision!
Patricia M, that’s the first really good thing I’ve ever heard about Lackey’s work. (I managed to get through one of her books, but it wasn’t easy.) As for sobornost, “solidarity,” “community,” and “collectivity” all get some of its implications but, if I understand correctly, miss the core of it.
Succwc, as I see it, civilization is simply what happens when a human society figures out how to produce foodstuffs that can be transported and stored in bulk. (Historically, that requires grain agriculture.) Once you have that, it becomes possible to concentrate wealth and thus to provide for extensive occupational specialization; cities become an option, and so do job titles such as “priest” and “monarch.” Yes, there have been places that once had civilizations and now do not — look for ruined cities for a hint! As for great cultures, since our historical records only go back about five thousand years, I’m not at all sure we have a big enough sample size to figure out whether it’s possible for a second, radically different great culture to emerge on ground that fostered an earlier great culture.
Hereward, eventually it gets swallowed up by a more recent great culture — think of Egypt today, as part of the Magian world.
Both you and Steiner have made references of Brazil as a possible birthplace of a future high culture, do you have any insight or clues as to why or the possible central theme? I have an insight regarding this and would be interesting to compare: different religions centered on the use of ayahuasca are growing in strength and number here, with our very characteristic syncretism running wild (african+catholic+cardecist spiritualism+different native nations).
Very much a mix of images come to mind when thinking about them, but this experience of sharing one (and the same) thing as a way of social participation, bonding and inclusion are very much present in our culture today: we drink the same beer, the same cup of “mate”, the same ganja cigarette, the same ayahuasca brew, and we enter into the journey as group, even if the journey is individual.
All the best!
If I had to guess the 2nd pseudomorphosis, I’d say it’s Latin American. ¡Bienvenidos!
I’m loving this particular series on Spengler. Two comments I’d make:
1) When you describe how these cultures don’t travel well, I immediately ricochet back to (I believe) The Martian Chronicles and how the colonists were disturbed by the old Martian characteristics were coming forth and polluting their children born on the Red Planet. In effect, diluting the culture they brought from Earth.
2) What is Spengler’s naming convention for the great cultures? I get Apollo for Apollonian, but Magian? I guess also latin magus-i (n) for a wizard or a wise man? I haven’t ever read Faust so I’d love a nudge in that direction to better understand it origin.
Thanks again for this series. It it especially healing in this week before the US midterm elections!
I’m curious of what you might think about South American situation. There’s a similar pattern of rivers (La Plata and its tributaries, particularly the Paraná, with possibly the Paraíba do Sul and São Francisco in the mix), and a longer history (closer in length to the Russian experience). There may also have already been two cycles, with the first one quite Magian, from the 16th to 19th Centuries, and the Faustian less powerful than in the US.
Finally the underlying Native influence is remarkably similar to what you describe for the US, with perhaps even more dissensus.
Hello JMG, if you may allow, I’d like to address a comment from last week discussion on vaccination. I will try to frame it in terms of Tamanous vs Sobornost (funny, the word is almost the Spanish for “bribe”, I was surprised to find it has a Latin root), so to not be too off-topic, but you may or may not allow this pass. I shall see how to continue the discussion in some other platform if you consider we’d add too much noise.
Now, assuming our host permits…
@Scottlyn, on the case of public vs private interest regarding vaccination
While a line by line response would be a bit too much, let me frame a response to your yesterday comment. In the rest of this post I will use proto-Russian to mean “community based” and proto-Anglo to mean “individual based” (I am not sure this vision is uniquely American, anyone can challenge that idea if found innadecuate). I will abstain from using the “anti-vaxer” label, since it seems to have bothered you.
It is true that “the public” is an abstraction and that many people have claimed to speak in the name of the public’s interest to further their own agendas, but I think you have gone a little too far at claiming that the will of the people cannot be known. I do believe common sense that “the people” (meaning the vast majority of population, possibly minus a handful of eccentrics) do have a common interest in not dying, not suffering irreversible disabilities, not being sick in general. While vaccination cannot provide 100% fulfillment of such things (nothing can), it is a matter of public record that there’s a benefic correlation. I am open to the possibility of there being a smaller malefic correlation as well, but if you deny outright that vaccines do some good, or claim that people disagree on the goal of not being sick, I will cut the discussion without further notice. It is true that it is possible to manipulate consensus to push one’s own agenda, but it is also possible to filibuster and prevent consensus from being reached for the same purpose. I will assume you are debating in good faith as long as you extend the same courtesy to me.
The comparison with baptism does not hold. From a proto-Anglo perspective, it is horrific to be forced to be pigeonholed into a strictly structured relationship with One particular god. From a Magian perspective, you are free to join the relationship or not, but the god is the one dictating the terms, thank you very much. Proto-Russian is closer to Magian in this case: if you do not want to be part of the community, there’s no big deal: don’t. You cannot take from the community by being not part of the community.
The problem is that vaccination does not work that way. You live by your neighbours, your kids play together with their kids. Your right to express your Tamanous is not absolute (within physical limits) because every action you take affects all others, specially those that are in closer relationships with you. Furthermore, the Community (unlike the System) does not demand absolute complaiance, but reciprocity.
So, deniers-of-the-innoquity-of-vaccines fail to conform to the community consensus (fabricated or not), so what? Let’s assume they are 1% of population. The 99% will hardly notice, you have something to talk about at parties, others will politely smile and simply agree or disagree in the privacy of their minds.
Now, assume they are 50%. There’s a big political divide, not the struggle of the against camp (which by the way, in my limited, Mexican experience, tend to be members of the Salary class that are aping the latest fashions of their American peers) vs the pro camp (who, again, IMLMxE are the hoi poloi, who are painfully aware of the many flaws of individual doctors, but do not have much of a concept for PeakMedicine). There’s enough population so that endemic diseases will take hold in the community. Under conventional wisdom, half of the population will get sick, the other half will be immune; so what? Well, because the disease is more active, there will be more mutations, and those mutations will render the vaccines less effective. So the choice for the pro camp is to either deflect to the other side, or to double down and subject their immune systems to further vaccines to achieve the same effect, which according to your portrait of the world is a bad thing. But why did they have to double down on the cost to achieve the same benefit? Because the first half did not fulfill their duty to the collective.
You claim that it is immoral to force an individual to act against their best interest (proto-Anglo). I claim that it is immoral to take from the community and not give back something of equal value (proto-Russian). I went further and offered an option of what that something might be: if you are not vaccined, it is your choice (your Tamanous told you not to), but you must take care to not turn into a vector of disease by reducing your movility (the Sobornost demands you to mind your neighbour’s rights as well).
I find it pretty illuminating how JMG focused so much on the differences between the dancers. Truth, no one did perform the same steps at any time. However, they all came to the same place and time to perform their dances. They all went by the rithm of the drums (and whatever other instrument that may be played at that time). In general, within their free movements, they took care to not trip and fall into each other. But most of the audience is proto-Anglo, so the important thing is how much different you are from every other dancer. Reality exist all at the same time, but culture is the lenses that show us which part of it matters.
Re: Hipsters. I’m honestly not sure. The few hipsters I’ve befriended have been pretty apolitical. Not because they find fault with the parties or something, but just because it wasn’t something they ever considered.
This is why (I think) i was called one. My disinterest in tantrum-protesting an election was taken as ignorance or laziness, rather than something I’d reasoned out for myself. The same person has given me many, many you’re-clearly-an-idiot-so-i’ll-explain-this-slowly lectures about a variety of political subjects. This kind of thing is in their wheelhouse.
You make a good point. I’ll consider outsourcing hating myself.
@JMG…Wow! You outdid yourself this time! Not an easy thing to do, as your essays tend – more often than not – to change my perspective on one thing or another. This time it was like Dorthy … and we ain’t in Kansas anymore!
As I was reading, I was temped to break at various points and make some written comment or question. I’m glad I didn’t do that, but read it all the way through. Now I think I will let my possible comments and questions age for a while. Except one:
Is there a PO Box or something where I might do something really retrotopian and MAIL you a small check towards the joy and wonder and meaning you brought to my life this week?
SpiceisNice, my guess is that when Faustian culture goes down, it’s going to go down with a bang. A culture whose basic metaphor is that of an explosion will not settle into a nice long stable civilization the way, say, Egypt or China did. What will be left in Europe after the Great European Wars of 2135-2209, or whatever it happens to be, will be an interesting if somewhat academic question; my working guess is that southern Europe will settle into an African pseudomorphosis and northern Europe will settle into a Russian one.
Clay, I know. It really was a traumatic and destructive shift.
Dylan, obviously i disagree. If you look at the world’s cultures you’ll find a very wide degree of variation in the extent to which commonalty is required, and the places and subjects about which it’s required. The future American culture I’m envisioning will likely take “follow your own path” pretty much as far as it can go, granted, but that won’t make it a nonculture; it’ll simply make it a culture different from the Faustian culture, with its obsession with having everyone believe the right things and take up the same lifestyles.
Ben, no, I didn’t accept that in Retrotopia — quite the contrary, the story showed major elements of high technology, such as satellites, shutting down permanently, and others dropping out of use because they were no longer economically viable. The claim that globalism is somehow irreversible strikes me as embarrassingly simplistic — quite the contrary, the global economy was purely a function of the extravagant use of fossil fuel energy, and is thus temporary and self-limiting. I expect something like the 18th century version of globalism to be fairly common in ages to come, since deepwater ships powered by sails are a sustainable transport technology over the long term — but that’s not at all the same thing.
Rusty, more the stirrings of one rootlet from the seed…
Steve, I hear stories like this all the time. That’s one of the things that leads me to think that an authentic spiritual ferment is under way — the emergence, as I’ve suggested before, of a new religious sensibility that will have little in common with the one out of which it’s slowly being born.
Sven, I think it’s more than that. The entire Faustian vision is a perpetual overcoming of the cosmos — that’s what distinguishes it from Nietzsche’s attempted revisioning of it into the image of the Overman, who perpetually overcomes himself. Faustian Man — I use the singular masculine deliberately here — is, after all, the Conqueror of Nature; since Nature includes literally everything in the cosmos except the individual ego of Faustian Man (and includes the individual egos of mere human beings, by the way), his job is to contend constantly with everything and defeat it. Reducing the universe to lumps of matter bumping off each other is part of that process; when you’ve reduced the universe to that, then you can prove that the lumps of matter don’t exist, and the imperial ego of Faustian Man is all there is. (Plenty of New Age teachings got here a long time ago.) Then, of course, Faustian Man must disprove his own existence — the eliminative materialists are already there, of course — because nothing anywhere can be allowed to resist the limitless will to power at the center of the Faustian project.
Sounds psychotic, doesn’t it? It is — but then the same thing is true of the basic theme of every great culture once it goes to extremes. That’s the nature of the beast: since every great culture starts out with a unique but partial vision of what it means to be human, formed in large part by its rejection of one or more other visions, as Vico said, it begins in necessity and ends in madness.
Halfpint, thanks for this! I worked in nursing homes for some years back before I got into print, and learned the same lesson there; it’s one a lot more people could benefit from learning.
Anthony, the difference is that the Holy Guardian Angel et al. is something that a very few people achieve through immense efforts; the tamanous is something that pretty much everyone gets in touch with as a normal part of becoming an adult. Do you see the importance of the difference?
Jeffrey, that makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks for this!
Jbucks, all those are excellent questions for which I don’t have definite answers.
Nick, fascinating. If New Zealand ever pups a great culture in Spengler’s sense, I wouldn’t be surprised if turungawaewae becomes its core theme…
Jay, to my mind that’s another echo of the same thing.
Onething, I think there’s definitely a mode of community that makes room for the principle I’m calling tamanous — the native cultures of North America managed it very well, after all! It’ll be different from sobornost, but not necessarily worse (or better). I simply see a strong likelihood that the two great cultures will end up at loggerheads a millennium or so from now, and the differences between their core cultural themes will be part of the reason.
StarNinja, it was indeed. We didn’t hear a sasquatch, but it was an eerie and powerful experience to attend the spirit dance.
Zach, if you really want me to post a link to Let Me Google That For You, I will. Alternatively, you can take the few minutes necessary to look something up for yourself.
James, it’s exactly that recognition — “the One True Way may be fine for other people but it doesn’t work for me, and I want to live in my own way” — that I see wakening around me just now. It’s a good sign.
Beekeeper, there are elements of sobornost in most cultures, but it’s not as prominent a cultural theme in some as in others. I expect that as the Russian great culture takes off, many of the surviving European cultures will be influenced by it and take on some form of sobornost themselves.
Ben, thanks for this — I’ve heard similar things from others who’ve lived in Russia. As for the second pseudomorphosis, that’s hard to predict; it might be Chinese, but it might be something else. It’s probably a century or two away.
Steve, agreed — and yes, it’s fascinating to contemplate!
Lloyd, that’s utterly fascinating. Thank you for this!
Matt and I both had a good chuckle at your reply. Good times …
I go back and forth; currently I’m on medication that’s helping somewhat. When it’s bad, I have to stay away from the internet entirely due to all the triggers. I’m planning on reading some of Steiner’s stuff … Apparently he thinks there are beings or spirits that feed off of anxiety.
Anyway, thank you, I’m enjoying this series.
This was, frankly, a brilliant post. In your reply to Sven, you wrote “…with a unique but partial vision of what it means to be human, formed in large part by its rejection of one or more other visions, as Vico said, it begins in necessity and ends in madness” in reference to “great cultures”. I have two questions, if I may, to meditate upon after reading this. 1.The conclusion seems to be that living solely at the level of culture involves one in a necessary lie which is both wonderful and capriciously tragic when it ossifies. That is, every great culture is grasping after some aspect of the truth, which is really there, but perhaps not fully for an entire culture in that way. Is that a fair conclusion? 2. Would you agree it is possible for individuals at the level of their individuality (and not in a way conforming purely to tamanous) to grasp the whole of Truth, through metaphysical and/or magical efforts? That is, to give Faustianism the devil his due, is it possible that they (we) tried to collectively do something in an awkward and repressive way that is, actually, after all possible for the individuality? I have in mind certain of the teachings of Mouravieff and Ousepensky, which of course borrowed elements from Magian, Apollogian, and Faustian tradition(s) to make their point.
There is a variant of the Arthur myth in which Arthur does not go to the West, but is sleeping. He will awake in England’s time of greatest need. The graphic novel _Camelot 3000_ uses that theme and has been continuously in print since it’s publication in 1982, which suggests that it touched a deep chord. In this work aliens invade Earth and an awakened Arthur reunites with Merlin and his reincarnated knights to fight the menace.
in fairness, the text you have provided does not readily lend itself to google searches. literary critics do not tend to self-identify as “ideologically correct,” etc.
i have one or two other things on my plate, but i spent awhile searching for “warhol rembrandt” and “cage bach,” and i am coming up empty on the question who could take down whom in a grudge match.
and while you do sometimes hear children decrying the western “canon” — and actually an argument can be made there –, i do not readily find critics with any following denouncing whoever for whatever.
if you are talking about the ALSC changing the name of the laura ingalls wilder award, (a) those are not “literary critics,” and (b) they are not “denouncing” her — quite the contrary, they say her books “have been and will continue to be meaningful to many readers,” etc.
–, but saying the continued use of the name did not align with their values. every once in awhile they might want to give the award to a black or native american writer, y’know, who might not want wilder’s name on their wall.
hemingway was always a jerk. maybe you have someone else in mind.
Well, when I visited Crimea, it WAS Ukraine. I also visited Kiev, a very beautiful city. My Russian is quite bad but my proiznosheniye is rather good for an American, and one time I conversed for a bit with some workers on a roof and they were making various wild guesses that I was from some sort is fairly near other country or province. They were very surprised that I was American.
In America, it isn’t rare for people to assume I’m a foreigner. I’m not sure why.
A small contribution of 3 links I found due to reading the essay and doing a little scratching around to put things in perspective:
The argument for decline and a future American civilization: https://www.ecosophia.net/long-road-decline-deindustrial-future/
A map of the Ohio River Basin: http://water.ohiodnr.gov/maps/watershed-drainage-basin-maps
A map and quick overview of the Volga River Region in Russia: http://www.cabri-volga.org/about.html
The occurrence of psudomorphisis doesn’t necessarily have to be violent does it? I’m thinking here of the spread of Indian culture into China and East Asia. Buddhism didn’t really manage to take root in India due to its to a psudomorphic merging with magian culture during the Muryan Empire. The Muryan empire was heavily influenced by Alexander who was himself heavily influenced by Magian culture. The end of that Magian period resulted in the end of Buddhism in India, but that particular combination ended up being very successful in China and the rest of East Asia. Even the earlier influence of Vedic spirituality up Daoism seemed to spread on similar non-military contact.
KevPilot – the Latin ‘magi” comes from a term for Persian priests, and “magic” was “what Persian priests do.” This from my Medieval Studies course in “Magic, religion, &science in the Middle Ages.”
Fascinating read! A few questions
(1) Could the burning man festival in the US be an example of the emergence of the “Tamanous” spirituality whereby everyone does his or her own thing?
(2) What could be form or origin of the 2nd pseudomorphosis the US might go through? After all, it should already be emerging?
(3) The sobornost concept appears to also include a spiritual pathway. Will Christianity then remain at the heart of sobornost?
Jackfruit, I’ve mostly written about the likelihood that Brazil will become a major world power in another century or two. It’s going through a lot of convulsions just now, granted, but the same was true of Britain a century or two before it became a major world power, you know! As for a future great culture, a lot depends on factors difficult to gauge from a distance. The region that stretches from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to Bahia Blanca in Argentina, and extends inland from there, seems to me to have many of the features that will make for a seedbed of a great culture, but when? It’s anyone’s guess.
Shane, that’s also a possibility.
KevPilot, Bradbury may well have gotten the idea from Spengler. A lot of people read the Decline of the West in Bradbury’s day.
Jose, you’re much more likely to be able to figure out how things will work there than I am; I know less about Latin America than I know about Russia — my grasp of Spanish is very rudimentary and my knowledge of the literature doesn’t go past a modest number of the classic magic-realist authors. What do you think?
Dudley, fair enough. That’s definitely one thing worth outsourcing!
Gnat, thank you. I’ve emailed you an address.
Jessica, you’re most welcome. You might like Steiner; he has some very useful things to say.
Argusandphoenix, 1) Yes, that’s quite fair. Human beings are finite and the universe is not, thus every human culture can only grasp a certain very modest fraction of reality. 2) No, I would argue that the same rule applies: human beings are finite and the universe is not. No individual human being can grasp more than an infinitesimal part of truth, and then only filtered through the clunky apparatus of our nervous systems and minds. All the human beings who have ever lived, live now, or will ever live, taken together, can only sum up that small portion of universal truth that’s relevant to human beings. We can attain wisdom and virtue, and those are goals worth achieving, but truth? Only in a very minor and relative way.
Rita, oh, granted — but that’s also a reflection of the standard Magian myth. The central figure, Christ or the twelfth Imam or whoever, always comes again.
Zach, no, I didn’t have the Laura Ingalls Wilder award business in mind, though that was embarrassing enough. Have you really not encountered critics (typically these days out of the discipline of critical theory) lambasting older writers as racists, sexists, blah blah blah, because they didn’t make the right verbal gestures around the current crop of liberal shibboleths? I’ll see if I can gather a dozen lame examples and do a post on the subject sometime soon; it’s relevant to a theme I want to develop.
Gnat, thanks for this.
Varun, no, it doesn’t have to be violent, and very often isn’t. The charisma of a successful culture is very often enough to get other cultures to embrace many of its forms; the expansion of Hindu religion and Indian cultural forms eastward into several parts of southeast Asia didn’t happen because Indian armies invaded there, but because Indian culture was strong and impressive enough that the rulers of small nations further east adopted these things, for the same reason that people all over Europe embraced blue jeans and rock music.
Karim, 1) I see Burning Man as our equivalent of a Roman orgy — basically, a lavish entertainment for the privileged. Watch the poor and marginal instead if you want to see the new pattern take shape, because that’s where this generally happens. 2) Nah, it’s probably a century or two away, and will take place once some other existing culture becomes a dominant presence in this part of the world. 3) It might, but if it does, it’ll be a very different sort of Christianity. There might also be a new religion at the center of it, or some offshoot of Islam.
I spent my primary school years in small town Australia (Narrabri-Boggabri, NSW). A few years ago I was travelling to a visit a friend on the northern NSW coast. I decided to take the inland route and visit some places I remembered from childhood. Within 3 minutes of sitting down on a bench to eat lunch in Narrabri, a middle aged man sat down next to me and asked who I was. He instantly remembered my family name, knew who my father had worked for, where we had lived etc. We had been gone from this town for more than 20 years!
In this and a hundred other ways, our small towns (in particular the ones inland) are vastly different from our big cities. I think a ” localised spiritual world” already exists in our towns (actually in the surrounding land) but our cities represent the antithesis of this. Even moreso in the last decade or so with the enormous amount of immigration.
P.S. If you haven’t read it already, I recommend this A.D. Hope poem – https://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/hope-a-d/australia-0146006
It seems to me that the notion of “I want to live in my own way,” has cropped up several times in the last few centuries in America, arguably starting with the pilgrims who came over to worship in their own way, but definitely including the Transcendentalists, Hippies, New Agers, etc.
The problem is that in most cases, “I want to live in my own way” was amended with “…because that’s the real One True Way.” In other words, it got co-opted into Faustian individualism, where a brave, visionary individual finally blah blah blah.
I’ve only run across one thinker besides you who really championed something like a tamanous individuality: Paul Feyerabend. Interestingly, the way he tells it, it was the influx of a large number of Native American students into the college he was teaching at that set him on his path from rationalism through relativism and finally to something like pragmatism: the thought of taking these students’ culture from them by teaching them the approved facts and rationality horrified him.
Perhaps, despite his being Austrian, he found himself caught up in the spirit of tamanous?
This post really struck a cord with me. I sat in on a UU service recently where the welcoming pastor told the congregation that if you asked 30 UU followers what to believe, you would get 40 different answers, and not to expect everyone to follow the same beliefs or doctrine. Even when I was Catholic and going to become a nun, as I interacted with more and more American Catholics I found that each had their own patron saint that they felt watched over them, praying to Jesus when together with others, but asking their patron saint for help in day to day matters. Part of what drew me to Druidry was the lack of a doctrine that everyone had to follow or else, and the idea that I could explore what Druidry meant to me as well. And I have been thinking more and more that I might never find a set of friends and a community that shares all my beliefs, but just need to find a community that accepts me nonetheless. I want to meditate more on the Tamanous idea, but it just felt right as I read the post.
I read a lot of Soviet sci-fi and I can compare it with the american sci-fi literature.
I think some good writers have hit the roadblock of human nature. How do you imagine a great interstellar future for humans given our obvious mental and social limitations?
The solutions found are distinct to each culture.
In US, most of the writers imagine some libertarian utopia or at the very least individual heroes that change the future. Think about most books by Asimov, Heinlein and basically everybody else.
In Soviet literature they explicitly described a change in human nature, decided by the society and then implemented over time. Brothers Strugatskiy have a couple of books where this change is central to the story (for example “Hard to be a God”).
It’s also interesting that american critics describe soviet sci-fi as “naive” but don’t see their own naivete in believing that people free to follow the worst of their instincts (aka libertarianism) would bring a great future.
Do you think this opposite visions for the future correlate with sobornost and tamanous?
Would the stirrings of the Russian cultural character you describe here have anything to do with the fact that Russia was the epicenter of Marxist revolution at the beginning of the last century instead of anywhere else, in this model? Being sympathetic to notions of collective struggle and transformation imported from Europe?
I haven’t commented on your new blog for a long time but have been following, and am always surprised by your ability to discuss new and interesting discursive topics!
I’ve been thinking a lot about what the ‘central’ theme of the Indian civilisation that I belong to is. If there’s any land that has so successfully resisted invaders and converted them in a matter of two generations, it’s there.
Today after reading this I think I’ve plugged it together. The (currently very popular) Indian mystic Sadhguru has an important line he repeats “This is a land of seekers.” I’ve come to realise why he says this is a LAND of seekers and not this is an ideology or a people who are seekers. The land is what inspires the seeking.
The central story in Indian culture is after all, a person who drops everything they have to do at a critical juncture in search of truth. Think of the Buddha who left his kingdom and family to search for truth. Or Arjuna, who lay down his weapons at the onset of the most important battle of his life to search for truth. Or Nachiketa who walks to death willingly to search for the truth.
Gandhi wrote in his famous book ‘Hind Swaraj’ that India is one because its saints walked across all of it. What else is this but the movement of seekers’ and their findings?
It also explains how strongly Indian culture rejects the Magian imposition on it – the most indegenous expression of Islamic culture, Sufism, has poetry exclusively addressing seeking of truth.
This seems to be a deeply personal search, as from my spirituality classes I am reminded that everyone must apply what they have learnt in practice and experience the truth themselves.
Food for thought indeed!
Thank you for the word “tamanous” – it makes a great deal of sense to me.
It is interesting that among the first comments there are two distinct ideas of where druidry might fit – both as natural faustianism and as an early expression of tamanous.
It would be nice to think of the practice as a bridge. And certainly, it has the potential to connect practitioners both to the biota and the theota* of the place they are in.
*with thanks to JMG for this excellent term
Hello John, great essay as usual. I have several questions:
(1) Could you recommend some of the Russian authors who have talked about sobornost?
(2) If Western and Central Europe keep Faustian cultural forms after they are rejected in the rest of the world, how would they survive there? A culture centered on infinite expansion wouldn’t have a very difficult time after modern industrial civilization ceases to exist, when Progress is over and nothing really expands anymore? Could Europeans find other ways of expressing their desire of expansion even when material expansion is not possible anymore? Maybe it would take more directly religious forms?
(3) “There is no one right way for everyone”. I certainly feel very comfortable with this way of looking at things. I don’t like telling people what they should do, and I think I live and act according to this. But as a Western European I’m not supposed to feel attracted by this, no? Or maybe this attraction I feel is superficial, and deeper inside I desire to bully people into accepting whatever truth I have for them…
(4) Do you think Magian civilization suffered any process of collapse (something on the lines of catabolic collapse, or just maintenance crisis, as sketched in your study “How Civilizations Fall”) during its long history, before entering the orbit of Faustian culture? Things like nomadization of certain areas, the havoc caused by the Mongol invasions, the disintegration of the Abbasid caliphate and the migration of the Turks, all happening in the centuries around 1000 AD, certainly could point that way, but my knowledge about this subject is quite flimsy, and I’d like to know your opinion on this.
A wonderfully written and generally marvellous blog. (I’m grateful to that Faustian invention, the Internet, for enabling me to read it.)
One minor strengthening of your argument: in Dec 2019 it will be 47, not 45, years since the last expedition to the Moon.
I particularly agree with your observations on the Faustian downgrading of “place”. Reminds me of how the railways unfortunately enabled loads of buildings to be made out of non-local materials. A great satire on the carting-stuff-about mind-set can be read in the later chapters of C S Lewis’ “Out of the Silent Planet”, which mocks the huge value assigned to moving heavy weights around. That’s one thing future civilizations will have to lay less stress on. Perhaps the contemporary British embodiment of such meaningless activity is the HS2 Project, to spend gazillions of pounds building a destructive railway from London to Birmingham – alongside the already existing railway from London to Birmingham. The antithesis of a sensitive topological awareness.
As for whether the Russians will ever achieve a viable polity… a coherent Russia, reasonably at peace with itself… The ingrained Russian need for a “strong man” at the top (a practical matter, the land being without natural frontiers) is profoundly at variance with other equally native aspects of the culture. Especially when the strong man’s ego prompts him to define himself against, rather than with, his own heritage, as was the case with the pogonophobic Peter the Great. But perhaps if the nations surrounding theirs become more relaxed, who knows, the Russians may relax too.
JMG, how do you see the boundaries of the ‘land’, as it were, being set? What makes the Russian land different to the European land? Where do islands (Britain, Iceland etc) fit into the scheme?
That really is the best, most concise and accurate summation of the situation in Australia that i have come across, as someone else who grew up in rural Australia. I suppose the only similar polemics i have seen are John Pilgers long suppressed ‘A Secret Country’ and Judith Bretts essay ‘Fair Share’.
Can tou reccomend anything similar ?
I think you should write a book mate we need more of that sort of incisive clear eyed analysis to guide the new arrivals and the youth.
Thank you so much , keep up the great work !
@ Will H, JMG,
I see druidry as the counter-reaction to science and “Progress”. Much like Satanists are very much Christian in my eyes, since they have the same worldview but are rooting for the other side, so Revival Druidry is, deep down, as Faustian as modern science is. It is just that science took up a Latin-Greek aesthetic, and the countermovement took another culture from the same era, the Celts. Modern scientists have next to nothing in common with the ancient Romans, and my guess is that the ancient Celts would not recognize modern Druidry either.
That said, I do see this drive for expansion as intrinsic to the lands of Europe. The Romans were Appolonian in thought, but had that same drive for expansion – a few centuries before, the Celts had done the same, their culture also conquering most of Europe, and into Asia. As I see it, the tendency to have an elevated intelligentia also runs back to the ancient druids, who were just that, and probably further back still. European Hermeticism has these qualities too, in my eyes.
Initially, faustian culture was heavily inspired by nature – up to the renaisance this deep respect for nature is very clear in art and thinking. It is when we start transitioning into the early modern age that, in slowly shaking off the shackles of (Magian and Appolonian) religion and worldview, we’re left with great holes in our culture. It is still unraveling to this day. I feel this is also evident in the frantic insanity of Rococo and Baroque art (not to mention current skyscrapers, which are Gothic in design, the desire to reach upwards and incorporate glass (that is, light) having reached a fever pitch of utter unsightliness). In my eyes, Revival Druidry was a reaction to that, part of Romanticism, and though it of course has christian influences, it is a genuine European Faustian faith in my eyes.
At its core, science is the empirical researching of nature and natural phenomena.
The dichotomy that is now popularly envisioned between technology on the one hand and nature on the other is ultimately false, an illusion.
(Not unlike a similar modern false dichotomy between our everyday physical world and the world of spiritual experiences and insights.)
I’m currently very interested in what would happen if Revival Druidry and the modern (western) scientific worldview were to merge. I think they would come together into something wonderful, if the drive for growth and expansion can be directed inwards, and put to work on exploring the inner realms and improving the self. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this urge by itself, it just currently lacks healthy direction, hence it is spreading out of control, to places it should not go.
As a Mage, Druid and a scientist living in Europe, I am in an excellent position to experiment with this.
Hi JMG. This is interesting speculation. Thank you! Just wondering if streets, malls, subdivisions, and Walmarts impact the influence of Tamanous? Will their disappearance enhance that influence.
An article about catabolic collapse by a poli-sci professor at my alma mater. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/01/catabolism-capitalisms-frightening-future/
I have a confession to make. I am so awed by the level of commentary here, that I sometimes fumble with what to say, type up a long text, and then end up deleting it. I recently got a lovely little astrology book called “The Little Book of Saturn,” which described my Saturn in Aquarius as one that is afraid to embrace my differentness, and thus my daimon. I’m fascinated at the moment with both side of this dichotomy, and while I definitely have been aware of the idea of Tamanous, my favorite movie of all time puts a sobornost theme front and center, and it’s set in a small town near Whitefish, Montana called “Big Eden.” It’s an unconventional sort of film a) because the seeming main character is actually the antagonist, and the town is really the protag, and b) it embraces an outlook that incorporates both a person’s self-determination as well as the yearning for a collective place.. (It doesn’t hurt in my case, that the main love relationships are male-male.)
Years ago, I came across a gimmicky idea from a person purporting to be a Native Elder who spoke of one’s personal totem pole. I really liked that idea, and I’ve been working with various animal energies for many a year. I’ve also been trained in the Feri Tradition of Witchcraft, and I am wondering how Tamanous might fit in with either the Fetch or Child Self (Unihipili in the Hawaiian tradition) or the Sacred Dove (Aumakua). It’s interesting too how the Triple Soul aspect from Feri dovetails with the Cabalistic idea of 5 souls as well as the Yoruba Triple Soul. I tend to think of my fetch as being rather simple, and my Sacred Dove as remote, FYI.
In different times of my life, I have tried to honor the spirits of place. I sat on a bench near 34th Street when I left New York City, for it was a stone’s throw from the Empire State Building. I figure that is the epicenter of New York, though I suspect that the spirits of the microneighborhoods all inside the city would bristle at that one being “THE” spirit. In Albany, NY, I sat near the State Capitol, which felt like a big old canine to me. I almost imagined it to go play fetch with me, if I threw a bone or something.
I have more to say, but I need to sign off. Typing at a work computer, and it’s time to sign out. Very interested in this discussion.
Richard from Laramie
OT, but seeing as this is the last post before next Tue.:
I wonder how much a “reverse Bradley effect” will skew polls for this election, the way it possibly did in ’16? How many previously left leaning folk like Tripp, David (BTL), and me will vote red (GOP), yet pretty much keep our mouths shut about it in this toxic environment? On a local level, we just voted down a school tax increase for a new high school, even though the signage and supporters were way more visible and vocal. I told my mom before the election that the majority was probably silent and would only make their preferences known in the voting booth b/c no one wants to be seen as being “against” education. How many voters are like Tripp, David, and me, only making their preferences known in the voting booth and select places like this blog just to avoid being on the receiving end of a tirade?
Fascinating! I think you are on to something with “sobornost” and “tamanous.” This is my first acquaintance with either term, and I’ll have to defer to the Russians myself on the former, but your description immediately brought to mind the song “Those were the Days My Friend.” The soulful rendition in English bears little resemblance to the Russian original written about a century ago, a quick translation of which resembles “Jingle Bells.”
(For reference, close but no cigar: “Dashing with some bells, in a three-horse open sleigh, with some distant lights, glimmering far away hey, if I could follow you, my friends, I wouldn’t feel so blue, oh the long long road, the moonlit night, a song ringing out from afar. Oh, the ancient seven-string guitar that tortured me at night! A-riding with some sleighbells etc.) I realized it was every bit as soulful as what we are familiar with, but in such a different way we would hardly recognize it. It describes shared group experiences, rather than individual, and constitutes a lament over the loss of these very important shared experiences in the face of modernization. Right where the lovely Mary Hopkins sings “In the mirror I saw a strange reflection.–was that lonely woman really me?” the original Russian words are “If we are finished with the old, does it mean these nights have gone away?”
Hm, this comment about what region in Latin America could foster a great culture remminded me of another impression I had. We’re about to have a major change of climate in our semi-arid region to a true desert. It’s historically a bithplace of defiant militias which is seeing the first stirrings of a ressurgence in what could easily be called war band culture.
All the best’
It seems to me that the exaltation of consent as the one ethical imperative is a result of this transition from Faustian to the new tamanous-based North American culture. It is a whole-hearted rejection of Magian ethical rules handed down from on high, but it carries the Faustian energy of “everyone should adopt consent as the prime moral standard.” Yet by its nature, it says that the individual people involved in an interaction are the only ones who can determine its rightness or wrongness.
@Jeffrey, I think that is a very good description of the Japanese mindset and culture. In fact, I’m amazed at how much of that I have internalized over the years. I hope you won’t mind if I send your description to a few relatives of mine so I can point out ways I have diverged from what is normal in their view.
Do you see the importance of the difference?
This comment probably smacks of my Faustian heritage but my first thought was “priest and laity”.
After marrying my Russian wife, I sat through and read quite a bit about Russian history in hopes to better be able to understand her. It certainly helped a lot in finding common characteristics of the Russian personality. But this idea of sobornost I totally missed. And it is perhaps one of the characteristics which often puts my wife and I at loggerheads. She wants to do everything together. I more often than not want to do things individually. She often wants to share all experiences. I often want to do things efficiently so that we can have more opportunity for more memorable experiences. What we are experiencing is sobornost vs tamanous.
I noticed sobornost a lot with my mother in law as well. Whenever she visited us in China, she’d watch the Chinese who often gather together in the evenings to perform guangchang wu, literally square dance, admiring their unity and commenting on how she’d like to get involved. Again, an example of this idea of sobornost.
While thinking about sobornost and tamanous I couldn’t help but assign these are feminine and masculine traits, respectively. Is it common that as a culture declines and new cultures offshoot, that those offshooting cultures are polar opposites of each other? And should those two new, opposite cultures manage to bridge their differences, what would be the result? This is great food for thought!
One of your examples, of how the Russian’s developed their communities in concentric circles, I feel actually is quite similar with how the Native American’s often arranged their communities, especially those of the Plains tribes. So, it would not surprise me if certain areas of the USA, in keeping with the traditions of the land, would also have stirrings more in line with the community than with the self.
“but saying the continued use of the name did not align with their values. every once in awhile they might want to give the award to a black or native american writer, y’know, who might not want wilder’s name on their wall.”
How truly awful. How have we come to this? Where will the utter madness end? It will end in a terrible destruction and blood bath if we are not careful. And all our good works as a nation and a people destroyed and brought to nought!
In what twisted racism do whites assume that the giving of an award that happened to be inspired by a particular writer will be so hated by blacks or native Americas that they won’t want her name on their wall? Would you feel entitled to feel contempt toward an award, say a Martin Luther King, Jr. award and not want it on your wall because he’s black?
What ‘values’ are those in which being white is so shameful that it deserves even worse derision than was ever dished out by them in the past? Is revenge the route to healing? Isn’t this sort of ‘value’ a Hatfield versus McCoy value? Do you really think inciting blacks and others to hatred and rage will end well?
It’s interesting that the tamanous spirit is prefigured somewhat in Crowley’s Thelemic religion, with its emphadis on the discovery of one’s True Will, even though he was raised in Britain and had his encounter with Aiwass in Egypt. Of course, he himself seems not to have filly grasped the implications of the idea given that he immediately set about turning a religion with standardized rituals and a theology that amounts to Christianity but with indulgence in place of asceticism.
More generally, the Western Occult tradition’s focus on contacting one’s guardian angel or higher self has some resonance with the tamanous concept. Perhaps the attraction to that idea is part of what drives the periodic waves of popular occultism in America.
Wait, I think I misunderstood you as agreeing with the LIW business, rather it appears you were using it as an example. Apologies. But my reaction still stands.
Tamanous and the promptings of your own spiritual connections sounds a lot like the concept you have described in the past (the name of the term escapes me) of how each of us might come up with a different, but successful way to preserve a skill from the past or refine a technique to prosper in hard times.
When you describe the thin veneer of Western European culture laid over America, I was immediately taken back to an experience in my mid twenties. I grew up in Atlanta, Ga where my family on all sides has lived for generations. I have worshiped at the feet of southern European culture since my early teens. I studied french until I was almost fluent. I finally had the great fortune to spend a summer studying art in Tuscany, cradle of the Italian Renaissance, with stops in London, Paris, Rome, and Venice. Everywhere except France, I passed myself as a french art student, embarrassed to say I was American. My parents were so sure that they would never see me again that my father promised me a thousand dollars and a plane ticket to anywhere in the world if I would come home and finish my degree so I did. Atlanta is built along a geological ridge line with, at the time, the Downtown business center of skyscrapers in the south and the old money social enclave of Buckhead several mile north connected by two main streets. A few days after I returned home, I got in my car and drove up from my home in the southern suburbs. Getting off the expressway downtown I drove north on Peachtree street, had lunch and headed south down Peidmont. Halfway back I was forced to pull off into a gas station where I put my head on the steering wheel and cried. For a long time, deep sobs shook my body one half in gratitude to be home again, the other with the tragic angry frustration that what I thought of as a pitiful unsophisticated backwater that barely deserved to called a City was indeed Home and that where ever I went in the world, it would always be home. I never moved to Paris or Florence. Thirty years later, Atlanta is larger and much improved. I have left several times over the years but I always end up coming home again.
A few remarks on sobornost’:
Solidarity is not really a good translation for Russian sobornost’, inasmuch as the English word implies distinct individuals choosing to work together. Sobornost’ underlines that the community is the primary form of human existence, and individuals with distinct purposes and goals in life are a secondary phenomena. In modern times, urban Russians can be very strong individualists, after the pattern of Western European individualism. In the traditional Russian peasant village, however, those few people who are individualists by temperament are more tolerated than respected.
@Beekeeper in Vermont:
The traditional word referring to the Russian peasant village, as JMG has described it, is mir. This very same word, mir, means several other things as well, notably “cosmos, “world” and “peace.” But mir is not several distinct words, all of whch happen to be pronounced the same (homophones). Rather, it is one single word with a single meaning that encompasses within the scope of its single meaning all the things that the three English words mean.
The Russian word odinokost’ is closer to English “solitude.” It is not always an undesirable condition; a forest hermit seeks odinokost’ to draw closer to God. But in other contexts it implies “loneliness,” which Russians regard, by and large, as a painful thing to be avoided.
Most Russian thinkers who use the word sobornost’ assume that it necessarily implies a shared religion or spirituality, and specifically the traditional religion of Russia, Russian Orthodoxy. This was Trubetzkoy’s take on it, too.
The word sobornost’ was first turned into a technical term of social and political thought in the 19th century by a group of intellectuals who are now called the Slavophiles, and chiefly by the philosopher A. S. Khomiakov. Somewhat later it became a key element in the theology of the famous mystic and lay theologian, Vladimir Solovyov, and his associates (one of whom was Trubetzkoy’s father). Under their influence, the ideas behind the word became key elements in the philosophy of history that was developed by the early Eurasianists, including Trubetzkoy himself.
The influential and notorious Aleksander Dugin drew heavily on these early Eurasianists, and calls himself a latter-day Eurasianist, though his views are not the same as those of the early Eurasianists. There is now even a Russian political party, Eurasia, which builds on the thinking of these latter-day Eurasianists.
Most of these Russian thinkers can be sampled in English translations of some of their key works.
JMG, Do you have any thoughts about the shrinking influence of Christianity and the rise of alternative spiritualities like Neopaganism and Druidry in regards to American tamanous?
Fascinating! So am I reading correctly that you equate the initiation of the relationship with one’s tamanous with the initiation into adulthood, at least in North America? I find the concept very interesting, the whole university industry seems like a particularly toxic way of grifting off of this noble spiritual impulse. College really does dress in the drag of a bright, plastic and shiny faux-vision quest, doesn’t it?
The sort of spiritual dimension you describe fits well with my experiences, both personally and with other people. Hmm, at least in my experience, I’ve noticed a correlation between one’s tamanous and a certain “amateur” quality, that is, a burning passion in which one ‘does it for love’ and ‘love’ means a highly personal, idiosyncratic vision. When I’ve met the highest concentrations of those who seem to have a healthy relationship with their tamanous are in contexts where they are giving their time to feed their hearts with the personal experiences that they individually need. In fact, certain spaces such as community gardens, community theaters, and libraries seem to function as public institutions for helping people have the resources they need for cultivating right relationships with their tamanous.
Good article. I would note that Magian culture might say: “I’m not dead yet!” Much of the current cultural wars are the bristling of Faustian and Magian tendencies in the American mind. In much of rural America,d faith-based culture has strong Magian leanings and distrusts the science and hubris of the big city Faustians. In many cases this is a cognitive dissonance within the individual.
Taking the long view, neither extreme has much of a future. The political parties busy throwing red meat to both crowds are looking old and shaky.
Umm, JMG, how does the Canada/US divide get resolved over the coming centuries? Offhand, I’d say the Faustian pseudomorphosis is more thorough in Canada. From what you are saying, the old Canada/US border will not exist once the coming great North American culture emerges.
One point that I feel is being missed after reading through some comments is that it is the spirit within the land helping to shape the characteristics of the culture. Communism and many of the other ideas of community which persist in Russia were acceptable because of the land, just as within the USA, our ideas of freedom, independence and an economy based on capitalism came about because of the spirit of the land.
It certainly is a hard concept to wrap ones head around, but there is a magic in the land. Just as Jung noted the American people looked as if they had Native American ancestry when in fact the vast majority are of European heredity, it was a result of the land that we’ve developed some of the physical features which are manifested, we also manifest some spiritual and cultural features tied with the spirit of the land.
Oriol wrote: “Could Europeans find other ways of expressing their desire of expansion even when material expansion is not possible anymore? Maybe it would take more directly religious forms?”
From what I’ve gathered from this blog (specifically the posts on reincarnation), JMG’s druidry is Faustian, with people destined to grow and grow and grow throughout their many (infinite?) lives so there’s a religious form there. As for Christianity (my religion, and *the* religion of European civilisation), the Church Father Athanasius wrote that ‘God became man that man might become God’. As humans are finite and God is infinite, it will take forever for us to become fully like God, so we have an infinity of growth ahead of us.
As for other forms of expansion, maybe we’ll keep probing the mysteries of the universe. Indefinite expansion of knowledge – though we’d best figure out how to store it without being overwhelmed. Imagine, the vast libraries of Europa, with seekers from all around the world coming to trawl through their corridors of shelves…
The concept of Tamanous is very interesting – it brings to mind a theory I heard that Europeans could never have built modern democracy if they hadn’t encountered the cultures of North America and seen individual autonomy so successfully in action. It seems to be similar but subtly different from the Faustian image of the lonely hero.
I wonder how much overlap there is between Tamanous and the idea of ‘Personal Legend’ Coelho wrote about in The Alchemist. I guess it’s a controversial book these days, but I found it deeply inspiring and think I would like living in a culture influenced by its ideas. I also wonder how much the current influx of migrants from across the Pacific will bring a daoist influence into the cultural language.
More generally, I wonder to what degree Cultures and the nascent culture in particular shape their landscape as it shapes them. Out in my neck of the woods, the big adversarial spirit in the old stories is Beaver, who’s always modifying the land for his own purposes. It’s no accident I’m sure that English speaking Canada has taken him as our national animal.
Will J here, but I’ve decided to change things up by chopping the first half of my full name off instead of the second.
JMG here: I’ve been contacted offlist by Will J. This was not written or posted by him. The person who did it has been banned from this site.
Very much looking forward to further installments in this series!
I described your witnessing of Native American dancing to member of our family who found it particularly meaningful – even in Britain: tamanous indeed. Smile.
For myself, I have long valued Russian literature and thought (albeit in translation) so I thought to google for sobernost / Turgenev and got this by and large thoughtful essay (Nielson, 2017). I like Nielson’s quote from Turgenev on Tolstoy. https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/06/the-universal-russian-soul
I noticed in my recent searches that Aleksei Khomiakov uses the notion of sobornost in considering wider conciliatory thought in Eastern Orthodox religion. This also sounds encouraging.
Of course there are different points of view on Russia and Russian religious dimension. Recent comments on Ecosophia prompted me to inquire further into the recent schism in Eastern Orthodox religion.
Having read Richard Sakwa’s book this summer on Ukraine and the development of ‘Atlanticist’ policy embedded in NATO expansion, I found the following explanatory article (Weigel, 2018) on the schizm’ to be a disturbing point of view. Weigel extends those very same geopolitical attitudes propagated in the USA, which have been criticized by Sakwa, to the religious dimension.One pejorative suggestion for example is that the ‘schism’ will help: “liberate [the Russian Orthodox Church] from its historic role of chaplain to the czar-of-the-day”. Err … guess who!
I feel the need to distinguish between legitimate differing points of view and propaganda. I tend to think you’re writing on sobornost helps me to do that.
The whole imaginative excursion into the future provides pegs for much discussion! Smile.
PS. EEE Ecosphia UK on-line discussion group will have its first meeting Wednesday 7th November when 10 of us in the group have been able to arrange to meet in London. I understand that the auspicious phase of the New Moon in London is due from 4.01pm on the 7th. That sounds about right. We will be at The Prince Arthur.
A lot of my life starts to make sense when considering the importance of place and the idea of tamanous.
I have to point out that such an idea can leave unresolved the potential for loneliness. Many people would take a dearth of family and friends as a reason to move from one place to the next. I could make the same judgement in my case if it were not the fact that I am very sure that I am in the correct place. Efforts to move to another place (closer to family) have fallen completely flat and I think I have a sense as well of this being the correct place.
Sometimes I think I would prefer sobornost to tamanous. Over the course of my life I have become disillusioned with the kind of strong individualism that is taken as the gold standard of social “place” these days.
How do you maintain important interpersonal ties against a tamanous backdrop?
If you are going to criticize Faustian culture, you have to deal with Darwin. I mean after all, it was Darwin that definitively reduced our understanding of the universe to purely naturalistic processes… this “banging of blob against blob” that produced everything we see today, in contradiction to the concept held by nearly everyone else throughout history that a divine power was the first cause (except for maybe the Epicureans who were, in their day, roundly criticized by all on this count). I mean if we are going to believe that spiritual processes are as important and maybe more important to the current operation of this universe, then they should also be equally as important in the formation of it. Will you deny Darwin? If not, how will you defend him from a non-Faustian perspective?
Darwin also challenges your concept of Faustian materialism being purely in the service of progress and the human ego. Aside from the physical scientific evidence that led him to his theory, philosophically, Darwin proposed what he did not because he was a promoter of infinite progress but as an answer to the problem of evil. To him as well as to me, Faustian materialism is a welcome refuge from the idea that god/the gods are uninvolved, don’t care, or are just plain evil. Faustian materialism is a welcome refuge from the spiritual searching, the constant asking “why?” and never finding a good answer, the blaming of one’s self.
I do a lot of searching to understand the future. Your post this week reminds me to look within myself, and within my immediate community (such as it is) for answers. It is important to see the forest AND the trees.
The long descent will cause our world to get smaller but as you point out, cultures are headed that way anyway. So I don’t think it will be as apocalyptic as we sometimes imagine it to be. The areas of the world that localize and de-globalize sooner will do better. Power centralizes when culture is ascending and growth is the norm and decentralizes when culture is descending and growth is gone.
Many things that now require long supply chains will only be preserved if production can be localized. That’s going to be interesting.
CR Patiño – since JMG has allowed your comment, I will respond.
I spent some time reading your long post. The impression it gives is of being aimed squarely at a person who is a denier of vaccines, that is to say, a person who might advocate that they be banned, or who might advocate to individuals that they refuse to take them. If I am reading this correctly, then it is not aimed at me, or if it is, you may have mistaken me for someone else.
Let me say again, the concerns that I speak to, relate wholly to the situation of people who, far from refusing to have vaccines, have had them, and as a result, have been grieviously injured by them. The actual existence, and suffering, of these people is real, not a myth.
Their current fate is to be erased from view for ideological reasons, and this exacerbates the suffering that is already inbuilt into their life and health. They are not deniers, they are not refusers, they are simply injured. They may be rare in the population, but to THEM, to the 1 in 10,000 or 1 in 100,000 or 1 in 1,000,000, what has occurred is as serious as, say, a rare anaphylaxis reaction to a kiwi fruit (which nearly killed a friend of mine), or a rare autoimmune disease caused by a breast implant, or a rare suicide caused by an anti-depressant. THEY must accommodate the whole of their post-vaccination life, or ongoing existence, around the suffering and disability it has given them.
They, too, I believe you would agree, share our “common interest in not dying, not suffering irreversible disabilities, not being sick in general.” And yet, they die, suffer irreversible disabilities, and are sick in general, because of the vaccination they received. If you have something to say to this, then we might continue the conversation.
However, I read your post three times, and insofar as I can tell, I cannot find the issue of vaccine injuries addressed at all. From this, I surmise that we are speaking to wholly incommensurable aspects of the issue. (I should add that, I have no answers, I only say that these people should neither be invisible, an embarrassment to the medical establishment, nor left out of the conversation – that is really the only contribution to the conversation that I personally wish to make).
Whatever the price “we” as a public, or “we” as a society, decide “we” are willing to pay, for whatever the general benefits “we” may receive, well, these, who are injured, and who suffer, are the ones who are actually paying it. Fulsomely, grieviously. “We” certainly owe them a better hearing, and a more generous willingness to give them the treatment they require, in pure gratitute that they have become the sacrifice that protects the rest of us.
@ Zach, JMG
I can’t say I thought about specific literary critics per se when I read the original post, but the point seemed obvious to me from current discussions about things like the propriety of having Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill or even George Washington on the $1 bill. Despite their roles in US history, many deem them unworthy by today’s standards due to their ownership of slaves and treatment of Native Americans. You might find this article interesting:
Apparently “product of its time” is a good way to search this issue.
No, Thelema’s a Faustian religion through and through: “The Law is for All!” A lot of Liber AL and other writings by Crowley is about how Kings have a right to impress their True Will on the Slaves of the world. (Replace “Kings” and “Slaves” with “PCs” and “NPCs” and you get the flavor in more up-to-date terms. Crowley would love the NPC meme, as long as nobody used it on him.)
Wicca is closer to a tamanous religion, but really it’s more of an Indian pseudomorphosis: Gardner’s experiences as a civil servant in India aren’t too hard to recognize. Rather than claiming it’s the One True Way, Gardner claimed that it was the ancestral religion of Western Europe and the British Isles. He also situated it within a broader umbrella of perennialism and as a kind of “secret center” of European polytheism. (American Wiccans pushed these last two points much further, and blended them together until you get the idea that Wicca is the Olde Religion(tm), not of some particular people, but for everyone. There’s your Faustianism again.)
PS: Someone really should make an NPC meme of that Crowley photo (you know, the one in the funny hat).
@ Liam J,
I’ll take that as a compliment. Thank you!
Interesting stuff. All this talk of Russia being the next great culture inspired me to go try and learn a bit of Russian by trying to read some Chekhov. I’ll see how that goes.
I was wondering, (and this might be a silly question, I’m not sure), since the Russian and American great cultures will come out of specific river valleys, not the whole continent, whereabouts in Europe was the epicentre, as it were, of the Faustian culture? Is the UK basically Faustian at the root, or is it Faustian overlaid on whatever culture the ancient Celts had? The UK certainly did a lot of the whole empire-building thing, but then I remember that the Renaissance was focused on Italy…
Both sobornost and tamarous sound promising as future cultures to me, in any case. Thanks for these posts.
There is a system in place for reporting vaccine injuries. A friend of a friend’s child had one such injury and the pediatrician refused to take the report because he considered it impossible.
The extremes on both sides are problematic. More doctors are stubborn because more anti-vaxxers are stubborn and it feeds on itself and people get more and more entrenched.
It doesn’t help that the US has an extraordinarily aggressive vaccination schedule (as compared to Japan, for example). So there are things the medical establishment could do to help the situation instead of extending a big middle finger to those who are concerned in the name of science.
“…walk with spirit, talk with the spirit, walk with the spirit of the land…” – these lyrics, seem appropriate to the subject of Mr. Greer’s essay for this week (JMG – thank you!). The words are from a song that played last night on one of the local public radio stations: “Walking With The Spirit” (ARTIST: Coco Robicheaux; ALBUM: Spiritland; LABEL: ℗ 2010 Orleans Records). I found this link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3smGAB0-QLI
As an American, I’m totally on board with that.
i don’t think it is because wilder was white, i think it is because she depicted nonwhites in caricature
As I write, I am staring out of the kitchen window of my apartment in downtown Moscow at a church that has been standing there since America was a very young nation. It is a church that has borne witness to a lot. It is a rooted symbol of an old Russia in a city that has seen so much uprooting. And yet in the past week, I have also sipped mezcal at a trendy Mexican cafe, drunk single-origin pourovers at several of Moscow’s excellent gourmet coffee shops and had cocktails as good as anywhere in the world. It is also a city desperately trying to become European — and succeeding to a surprising extent. Such is the almost schizophrenia nature of today’s Russia.
Russia’s elite and intellectual classes are unquestionably much more drawn to the West than they are to, for example, the villages by the Volga (many of them escaped such villages). Moscow and St. Petersburg are becoming more Western (Faustian), not less. And yet what lies beyond the two capitals is not an intact old “blood and soil” Russia, but an awkward amalgamation of Soviet collectivism (a perversion of sobornost) and a cheap consumerism that a nation long deprived of material comforts has fallen into head over shoulders.
A sense of history was largely beaten out of Russian during the Soviet era. The brutality of that era is often not fully appreciated by Westerners — not just the gulags and the executions but the utter destruction of a sense of place, of a sense of belonging. Also, the nation was pitted against itself. When many of the labor camps began being emptied after the death of Stalin, the great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova wrote “Теперь две России взглянут друг другу в глаза – та, что сидела, и та, что сажала” (Now two Russias will look each other in the eye — the one that imprisoned and the one that was imprisoned). This mistrust of each other has carried on to this very day. I think the brusqueness of the public space is somewhat of a legacy.
I recommend anyone interested in the uncomfortable juxtaposition of the collectivist entity (represented by the state) and the individual to read Pushkin’s Bronze Horseman. Pushkin is profound at a number of levels in this wonderful work, but I will just mention here that one of the reasons for the woebegone Evgeny’s misfortune is having turned his back on his ancestors and forgetting the history of his people.
And yet, despite it all, I still have a sense of living in a nation with a coherent sense of itself as a people, however fractured and imperfect, however traumatized, however confused about its own identity.
okay, so for example Chinua Achebe says Joseph Conrad is racist. but Achebe does not have the last word. there is a discussion. Maya Jasanoff disagrees. Caryl Phillips disagrees. we have a conversation about how the “other” is employed in literature. everyone learns something. and even Achebe is not saying don’t read Conrad.
but then, Achebe is not a post-modernist whatever, so again probably not what you had in mind.
is the European Union the universal state (again, Toynbee’s terminology) of Western civilazation?
if so, would the Muslim migrants be either the interal, or external proletariat?
OT, I may need a place to go soon…
The Native American vision quest seems like the most overt example of a ritual to draw out the inner individuality. I know a few people who have done it, and have had some wild experiences with bears and bobcats walking right up to them. I think it is interesting that in many traditions the initiate gets a new name through the process.
I’m still not 100% comfortable delving into the Native American spirituality, even though I am intensely interested in what it might reveal about a spiritual connection to the land, because many Native Americans don’t want their religion appropriated. Given the history in this country, I can understand why they feel this way. At some point I hope you can elaborate on how to study and learn from what they developed without being intrusive.
Are there other religious traditions that have developed an effective methodology for drawing out the unique from within? Most religions talk about it in some way, whether it is a guardian angel, power animal, or dharma, but your response to Anthony was really revealing: “the tamanous is something that pretty much everyone gets in touch with as a normal part of becoming an adult”. Is there an example from Western occultism of this process?
@Prestidigitatory Ledgerdemainiac: Dunno mate! I haven’t read anything about Australia that’s really jumped out at me that I can remember. Ok, Robert Hughes The Fatal Shore, Robin Boyd The Great Australian Ugliness, Frank Hardy novels, Tim Winton (patchy) and a few other Aussie novelists. Tim Flannery The Future Eaters. I went walking on the Prom with him and a couple of girls thirty years ago and he had it off noisily in the tent next door to me with the one I was keen on! Grr! But I have to admit he can write.
I guess my thing is that I’ve been around for a few years and have also been in and around many jobs/worlds/social scenes/schools/mad philosophies/poets/musos/mind altering substances/frantic projects/places both high and low. As for writing, I’m having a go. I’ve written a play and got a few others on the go plus an autobiography (unpublishable: I’d get my pants sued off so it’s for my kids until after I’m dead), a novel nearly done. But I’m working two part-time jobs, trying to finish the house I’m building plus running a little business and also involved in local civic stuff. I’ve got four kids and five grandkids. The body is wearing out, the mind is blowing the odd fuse! I spend way too much time thinking about higher matters. We’ll see. But I have plans!
Re: Laura Ingalls Wilder
The kerfuffle about removing her name from the literature prize is based on a statement in her 1935 book, “Little House on the Prairie” in which she wrote about one place the family lived, “there were no people. Only Indians lived there.” Years later she said that had been a ‘stupid blunder’ of hers and that of course Indians are people and she hadn’t intended to imply they weren’t. I think that line was changed in later editions (at Wilder’s own suggestion, I believe), replacing the word ‘people’ with ‘settlers’. Additionally, some characters in the stories express a variety of opinions about Indians: it’s obvious that ‘Ma’ is terrified of them while ‘Pa’ treats them with respect. Like a lot of literature, the stories reflect the attitudes of the time, but in our woke era that’s enough to brand them as racist and to remove Wilder’s name from the award.
For the record, I read all of the Little House books aloud to my sons when they were small and I would certainly do it again, no matter what the ALSC thinks of them.
1) What do you think the second pseudomorphosis of the new American great culture will be? Will it be something from, say, China or India? Or something coming from the the southern Hispanic cultures with Indigenous roots?
2) Do you see any impact on the differences between American and Canadian influences on the emerging Ohio Valley/Great Lakes culture? Do you see it as a single great culture emerging on both sides of the current border, even after those two nation states are gone? Or is that not very relevant in the long-term?
I have no idea who or what JMG specifically had in mind, if any one/thing, but try reading some contemporary criticism of Edward Abbey, Henry Thoreau, Knut Hamsen, Henry Miller, or pretty much any European or American male who wrote prior to say, 2012 and you’ll get a good taste of what he’s talking about. I’d link to some of it, but most of what I know of is locked up in JStor.
Many thanks for your reply : it clarifies where you’re coming from. I am certainly, for what it’s worth, comfortable describing myself as a “Henotheist” rather than a Theist. And if I had my way, most churches would resemble high Anglican churches, which had a vicar who was studying esotericism in his spare time. You did say “We can attain wisdom and virtue, and those are goals worth achieving, but truth? Only in a very minor and relative way.” Yes, I agree with this, at the level of culture and the personality embedded within it. But does this necessarily exclude this minor and relative way from operating as part of a kind of magnetic doorway to other possibilities, granted, that are infinite (therefore ensuring that progress is always “minor” and “relative”), but also, (applying the same rule), a doorway into infinity and its infinities that dwarf even the quite real accomplishments of things at the level of culture and personality? This is not meant to be a quibble: just seeing if perhaps I can restate a position in a manner that elicits resonation. A seed or a fruit looks nothing like the tree, but could be the whole point of the tree? The tree has its own beauty, of course, at its level, which is also its whole point. This is paradoxical, but true, it seems to me. But yet it strives for the sun and the fruit. Even though it rarely happens that you see a perfect apple, the tree still yearns. Then again, back and forth, to quote Sherwood Anderson, sometimes the “twisted apples are the sweetest”. By the way, I tried an Arkansas Red for the first time ever. Damn. That’s something worth saving.
John, reading your essays over the past few years has changed the way I think about so many things and for that I am grateful. There’s just one problem: the more I read your work, the harder it is to have a conversation with other people about history or current events. My perspective on things has become so drastically different from nearly everyone I know including close relatives, that I don’t even bother to get into discussions anymore about anything related to politics, economics, history, spirituality, etc… I’ve never been one for small talk, but I am finding it increasingly necessary to be more reserved as time goes by.
I must say that I have been underwhelmed with the essay. I found the presentation of western civilization, aka the Faustian culture, to be simplistic in the extreme.
I simply do not recognize the whole western civilization in your tale. You say the Faustian culture was born in central and western Europe around the year 1000 and still going. Yet there are so many radical, fundamental philosophical and religious changes in those centuries, that evolved from a deeply christian mindset to a mostly materialistic worldview, with battles going back and forth until the 20th century.
You say that Faustian civilization has always thought of itself of being assured of its perenity and endless progress, yet would you say that of a Hungarian witnessing half the population being killed by the Mongol invasion, or maybe a XIVth century monk witnessing the Black Death, or the Viennese citizen being besieged by the Ottoman armies in the late XVIIth century, or the philosophical musings engendered by the deadly Lisbon earthquake of the late XVIIIth century? Were they all assured of infinite expansion of their culture?
You claim Faustian civilization is deeply Apollinian and based on logic, yet debates have raged between Europeans who have gone back and forth between reason and passion, between enlightenment and romanticism, between Voltaire and Rousseau, between Apollinian and Dyonisean views. Hume (as hundreds of others) has argued for the primacy of sentiment over reason. Scientific materialism had barely attained top dog status that it immediately came under attack by other factions, from old enemies to new, post-modernist critiques. You argue that western culture knows it IS the one, unstoppable history of mankind, yet that has always been contested from within this same culture. You refer to Vico and Toynbee, but who were they but members of this western culture? There were no shortage of european archeologists digging for the lost cities of lost civilizations and sighing pensively about whether theirs would be next. As Paul Valéry wrote, “we civilizations know that we are mortals”. You are more or less rehashing the “whig history” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whig_history) criticism, which was, well, made many generations ago. I am not denying that there is a let’s call it Faustian streak in western civilization, but it’s certainly not the whole of it.
@ onething – That makes two of us, then. Some of the other American students I studied with stood out as Yankees, according to my Russian friends.
@ Robert Mathiesen – IMHO, ‘Solitude’ would better translate as odinochestvo, while ‘odinokost’ would most literally translate as one-ness, or more generally, the quality of being one person. The cognate ‘endividuaknost’ is, like ‘demokratsiya’, a foreign word for a foreign concept, transliterated in a way that has not yet, and may never fully be, embraced by Russians. I am by no means implying representative government could NEVER work there, nor am I suggesting that Russians operate like some kind of hive mind collective that completely devalues individual human experience. What word do you think most closely renders the concept of individuality in Russian?
@ JMG – I hadn’t thought of mound building cultures in the Mississippi and Ohio basins as being a pseudomorphic(?) response to the importation of Meso-American cultural forms. Mind. Blown. I just figured the mound builders constructed pyramids since other cultures seem to have gone thru that phase, like the Sumerians and Egyptians, though they had no (known) contact with the Americas.
Could it be that land shapes nations by the demographics of rural areas and cities? Often rural areas have a population “overproduction” while cities have an “underproduction” which causes a constant stream of young people moving from the countryside to the cities.
Most cities today all look the same and share a common culture (a sort of mcdonaldization of global urban culture) because they are closer connected to each other than to the countryside in between. The Cultural divide can be seen in elections in many western countries where city people tend to vote on more globalized positions.
In the countryside on the other hand people are of course more connected to the land they live on and from, then to other people in other countries. So the land keeps shaping the people in the countryside. Demographics will lead to a constant influx of countryside people to the cities, so the land keeps also shaping the people in the cities.
If this trend holds true even the effects of the mass migration seen in recent years may be reducable. Most Migrants tend to move to the cities and then after two generation their birthrate drops to the birthrate of the indiginous city population, which is to low to be sustainable. If the future influx to the cities will come again from the indigenous countryside instead of coming from abroad, there are changes for demographics to work in favor of the indigenous population.
The idea of a tamanousian great culture sounds appealing. Where can I get my official There Is No One Right Way For Everyone t-shirt?
Serious point, though: as appealing as the core concept of such a culture sounds to (apparently) most of us posting here, isn’t it not only likely but pretty much necessary that its eventual realization will have aspects that we’d generally find objectionable?
I don’t suppose it’s possible to predict what those characteristics destined to trouble vestigial Faustian and Magian polities will be. Perhaps, a disdain for the preservation of art works and monuments. Perhaps, social condonement of suicide for individuals whose sacred relationship with their respective tamanous calls for that, or is not developing well.
Such characteristics won’t make the new culture into some kind of dystopia; they’ll exist because the Tamanousian societies want it that way. “Why shouldn’t those adolescents who seem driven to risk life and limb knife-fighting one another for prestige be encouraged to do so?” they might ask. Or perhaps: “Why shouldn’t lifetime bonds of servitude be available for those whose spirits thrive on that condition?”
These are wild guesses but not totally random. A hypothetical future state will still have to do what states do, such as deciding and enforcing who’s in charge, and directing and exploiting labor. It’s interesting to think about how those might be done within the Tamanousian framework.
@CR Patiño and Scotlyn,
Sorry to continue the off-topic. I just wanted to point out a cultural difference you might not be aware of. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I recall CR Patiño lives in Mexico, where it’s more common to die because of a lack of medical treatment. In the US (compared to Mexico) people are more likely to die because of medical treatment they received. (I don’t remember where Scotlyn is from or if this applies to her, but I live in the US and am familiar with the issue here).
There is still a heated debate in the US over vaccines precisely because the medical establishment is losing authority-more people have begun to view medical science as corrupt and untrustworthy, particularly because more and more people die of medical treatment. I’m sure Mr. Patiño can understand the need to question authority, particularly if corruption may be involved.
Similarly, I’m sure Scotlyn would agree it is very important that all people receive the medical care that they need (as long as no one *forces them* to take it). Also, that it is very important to limit the spread of communicable diseases, *especially* the deadly ones (and some of these diseases may be much more deadly in Mexico, where it is sometimes difficult for poor or rural people to see a doctor at all).
I think we can all agree these important decisions affecting the public need to be transparent, and the public does need a say in what is an “acceptable risk”. I also think this is a case where the decisions become easier when the public has access to good science, because you can measure the percentage of vaccine-injured children and weigh it against the percentage of disease-injured children, though of course we must always remember these are real injured or dead people, not just numbers.
In the US, I think it would make sense to allow anyone to opt out of any mandatory vaccine as long as they submit their past and future medical history to scientific studies about the safety of vaccines. (And perhaps undergo a quarantine period if this involves international travel, if reasonably necessary). This would settle the debate completely over just a few generations.
Mexico is probably better off continuing to give as much medical care to people as possible while watching the US do that type of experiment and later applying the results.
Just my two (off topic) cents
@DT “the pediatrician refused to take the report because he considered it impossible.”
Exactly. This is precisely what happens time after time after time. This is the central problem. If pediatricians are as poorly educated and prepared as this, such that they can neither “see” nor treat the injured, this seems to go beyond mere ignorance, and arise from a carefully fostored professional blindness.
The registry you speak of 1) has been carefully designed so as to prevent any data it gathers being useful in establishing causal links between a vaccination and an adverse event and 2) is estimated to represent less than 1 in 100 real life cases (for the reason you show – the deep and cultivated scepticism of medical professionals prevents reporting).
You might ask yourself why this is. I think your facile notion that it is “anti-vaxers” that make doctors act like this is a clear reversal of cause and effect. To my way of thinking it is the medical establishment’s utter (and deliberate) failure to prepare their members to even consider the possibility of harm to susceptible individuals from vaccination (as they would in relation to other medications), not to mind mount a prompt and effective treatment response, that 1) makes it an ideological matter (why not be prepared and ready for these cases?) and 2) results in the growing strength of the anti-vaccination campaign.
People are generally disposed to trust their doctors. Until they find they cannot. Then what?
An interesting post. In particular, I noticed a relation with something that you may or may not have come across before, and I thought I’d point it out. I suspect it’s not only Christianity which is bending towards the tamanous in America.
First of all, my personal faith is neokemetic, not really matching or trying to match anyone else’s version (which I didn’t even realize until I started typing this could [i]also[/i] fit), focused, more or less, on a personal relationship between me and a pair of goddesses. Now, that’s probably not quite the tamanous — two of them, not wholly unique to me, and they basically sought me out rather than the reverse — but reading your post, I noticed some similarities.
What gave me the majority of my inspiration for this comment, however, was the Church of Kemetic Orthodoxy (kemet.org, and physically based near Chicago). I’m not a member (I don’t oppose them, but joining hasn’t felt like what I should do so far), but I have checked up on them on occasion, and I’ll put a quote from the website here:
“In Kemetic Orthodoxy, full converts give special importance to their parent god/goddess (or pair of two deities) as revealed through our Rite of Parent Divination.”
“When Netjer interacts with the Kemetic Orthodox within a ritual context, it is very intimate, personal, and face-to-face”
(And as an aside, I had my personal relationship with a pair of goddesses [i]before[/i] I found out about this; I’d already thought it likely there was a relation out of the human level present, from that, but I hadn’t though it might be anywhere near as widespread as this post is making me think about.)
Now, I don’t know how much of that may have come from other sources and how much may have come from the land, but if nothing else, that’s definitely close enough to come quickly to my mind while reading the post. It’s not a surprise, of course, that the land wouldn’t be limiting its influence to only [i]one[/i] of the religions on it, but I wonder how the movement towards tamanous takes shape in different ones?
Dear JMG, thank you for this brilliant and thought-provoking analysis.
I’d like to suggest another key word which might help understand what is in the core of the Russian civilization. The word is mir (мир). It has a plentitude of very closely related meanings. At first, it’s a state of mind, which can be translated as ‘peace’. Then, it’s the community of people peacefully living in one place. A traditional Russian village that you described was populated by mir – people with individual characters and individual fates, but nevertheless united by common place where they live and common tradition, and taking responsibility for the other people of the community. All important decisions were taken by the community as a whole (vsem mirom). Mir also served as a social security network and helped families which were devastated by natural disaster rebuild and regrow.
From this naturally follows the third meaning of mir – it’s the world in general. I guess these three meanings — the world, living as a unity of responsible individuals in peace with each other — is what may define the overarching goal of the civilization that might arise in the basin of Volga river.
John, et al.
Re the date of the last moon landing
I may have been the source of JMG’s erroneous factoid, as I do recall making a comment to that effect in a prior post. I could have sworn that I remembered a 1974 date for the final Apollo mission, but Robert is correct. According to the all-knowing Google, the last manned moon landing was Dec 14, 1972. My apologies. Et mea culpa.
Re the cultivation of tamanous
As I contemplate how one might cultivate this tamanous (which I personally prefer over the notion of sobonost philosophically; though I can appreciate the strength and beauty of collective tradition, it connotes a forced conformity — perhaps a misinterpretation on my part — that I find myself at odds with) in the here and now, I keep coming back to this strategy that Varun and I have discussed at length in our correspondence, namely the art of “gardening in the cracks of empire.” Until such time as the broader system has lost its power to enforce its will.
This is a fascinating analysis. Since I have never lived in the US nor Russia, I don’t want to opine too much, just that Québec right now seems to me to tend more to the community than to the invidualistic side.
OT: This notice is practically the Retrotopia chapter in the real world (automatic translation to English): https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=pt&u=https://theintercept.com/2018/09/17/agrotoxico-aborto-leite/&prev=search
@Onething A quick google search about the award name change brings up that several characters in the Little House books express the opinion that “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” and that they are “wild animals who don’t deserve the land they live on” Those were certainly things that people said at the time, and its a character saying it, not the author herself, but I can still see why it would sour someone on her work and having her name on their wall.
Furthermore I believe that people are right to re-evaluate the legacy of historical figures based on their own values. We shouldn’t have to keep around statues of confederate generals any more than the Russians should have to keep every statue of Stalin.
Your description of “tamanous” is very reminiscent of the Heathen “hamingja,” most commonly translated as “luck.” If I’m understanding it correctly, one’s haminja is (or can be) both an entity, a kind of guardian spirit which can appear in animal or human form, and a part of one’s soul, which can be reincarnated in or passed on to a descendant. So, the concept exists in at least one form of contemporary paganism, though I don’t know what use, if any, is currently being made of it outside of Northern Tradition shamanism.
I can’t make much sense of the concept that the land has it’s values that it imprints on the people that live there. Biological ecosystems just don’t work that way. Different ecosystems do produce different organisms, but then the great plains would produce different culture than the Rocky Mountains, not Russia vs USA. But to each his own truth…
The individualism you describe has played a major role in America. And yet, it only avoids self-destruction because strong forces of Magian moral framework and Faustian “we are advancing on a noble cause together” keep it partly together. America is likely to fragment, definitely ideologically, but maybe politically as well, but I suspect there will be less individualism in the aftermath of the progress myth than there was in its heyday.
In reference to Zach, and in general “today’s ideologically correct literary critics denouncing the writers of past generations for not sharing the values of today’s elite Western culture…”
Last week I was having a lot of fun exploring Plotto, a plot generator in book form written by the pulp novelist William Wallace Cook in 1928. For those interested, full text here: https://archive.org/details/plottonewmethodo00cook. Interactive version here: https://github.com/garykac/plotto.
I tried to find more information on how people used it. Invariably there was need to prep readers for the “product of its time qualities” including racism and sexism. That was fine. But then I came across a developer who abandoned a very promising-sounding project simply because of this. (https://medium.com/@lynn_72328/plotto-generating-truly-offensive-stories-since-1928-26b587f83c07)
It’s as if anything that doesn’t fit today’s notions of correctness must be dismissed out of hand, and not judged by any of its other merits. It must be suppressed.
I mean it’s a plot generation book not even intended to be used literally, but to inspire other writing ideas. With science fiction alone there would be so much room to explore odd notions around “inferior races,” and what that reflects about the human condition and cultural bias.
Both this post and the comments about Russian culture cast more light on one of my former co-workers, who kept coming over to other people’s cubicles to chat at the end of the day and was always really enthusiastic about everyone having lunch together. I found it bizarre–occasional socialization, great, but we’re all just here because they pay us, we’ll all move on in a year or five, and we all (hopefully) have lives outside work, plus books exist–but assumed that was just how she was. But she was also from either Russia or a country in that area, and the overlap of “solitude” and “loneliness” explains a lot.
I, conversely, don’t start getting actually lonely until I’ve spent about 48 hours without even the most casual in-person interaction. I might feel differently without the internet, though memories of vacations past suggest otherwise; I would definitely feel differently without books, but that’s more boredom–and I’m often *more* bored in the company of people than otherwise.
I wonder if the New England highest ideal of “keeping yourself to yourself”* has anything to do with tamanous …
On the literary thing, I’ve found the “…a man of his time,” designation a decent one. It means that, as a reader, I don’t hold past authors to the same standards I do current ones as far as, say, female characters or whatnot goes…but I also keep in mind that some people may not want to be reminded of the time in question, for good reasons. (My mom on “Mad Men”: “It’s a very accurate portrayal of an environment I’d rather not think about any more.”) So I like Kipling a lot, but if my Indian friends would rather not read his work, I understand that–there are a couple Anne McCaffrey books, for example, that grate on my sex-positive feminist nerves too much for me to deal with.
Changing an award name or the face on money is different, of course–but on the other other hand, after growing up with airports getting renamed for Reagan and stadiums changing to TDBank or Dunkin’ Donuts or whatever, I’m pretty jaded about the whole matter.
* Which doesn’t preclude community support or even interaction, but, y’know, you go to the church social or you help your neighbor fix his car or whatever, but then you each go back to your own house and stay there and you don’t pry into what goes on under the roofs of others. (Or, well, you do, but only as an interested observer when you’re having tea and/or beers with a third party. Gossip makes the world go ’round, but *interference* is Not Done, in my experience of MA/ME.)
Your description of the individual(istic) dance reminded me immediately of Jazz music where each soloist is given a moment to do their thing on top of the rhythm. The interesting development in my opinion is Free Jazz where everyone is doing their own thing almost at the same time. Unfortunately it resembles the sound of 7 or so men tripping and falling in the same room. Jazz is basically a high culture version of jazz/blues (outgrowths of a segment of Americans who were marginal and poor). This same sort of thing exists in rock music with extended soloing. The vocalist for a while seemed to be the individual with the band being the backing. That broke free as well as the genre developed.
Metal music took the dominant role of the individual away from the singer and placed it into the hands of the guitarist. A generalization, not a rule. A previous comment speculated that the touring/traveling band was an american invention. The last significant development in metal music, essentially achieved by northern europeans, saw active rejections of not just touring but playing live at all. Many rejected the band entirely and just had one guy doing everything in the studio. A sort of purge I suppose of Americanism.
Interesting stuff. Thank you.
It is a hard concept to grasp. Largely because we haven’t developed a framework for having such discussions as this. Developing that framework for such suggestions is partly what we are doing here.
Russia vs USA are political frameworks which we are familiar with. The coming high cultures aren’t respective to these political factions but instead are respective to the land around the Volga River basin and the Ohio River Valley/Great Lakes. There are lots of possibilities for other cultures to exist on the fringes of those areas, and I don’t doubt they will! The second psuedomorphisis for the Ohio River Valley/Great Lakes high culture I think will likely have some influence either from cultures to the North (present day Canada and the great migration of Chinese immigrants) or perhaps from the South (in my opinion likely the Texas region and it’s many Latin immigrants). That is to say, the cultures on the fringes will also be important.
This series of posts will certainly reward multiple readings and contemplation but just to throw a personal anecdote out into the mix based on my first read-through of this section, I have to say that you are on to something JMG.
I found, as I read the section on sobornost, that my reaction was one of “huh, interesting, I really have no experience of that,” whereas as soon as you brought up tamanous my heart felt a little thrill, and an “aha! yes, that!” occurred. And then, the fiction project I’m sketching up came to mind and I saw that way-of-being manifesting in the way the story (or actually, many of my stories) is coming together. I’ll have to be particularly skillful to make sure I don’t come across as pedantically following ecosophia breadcrumbs in my work, and my point is not that I’m trying to slavishly follow your themes – but that you seem to have really drilled down into something if even just an average temporaryreality working on regular little creative writing projects has sparks of tamanous-leanings in her dreamings. Even my comment on making sure my story has more of “my” vision than just being an ecosophia/JMG fan-girl art, requires tamanous orientation – I have to figure out what wants to be said through me.
I think therein lies the spectrum the comments section holds this week. The perversion of tamanous found in modern north America is individualism and this celebration of me, me, me, my opinion, my experience, my way of seeing the world is what’s important that is found so easily here. “I deserve” blah blah blah… Blech.
As @Prizm has noted, though, there’s a very much deeper element and that’s that the land itself, the spirit of place, is making itself known via the forms the people are capable of giving it (and this is where I’m pointing the skiff of my story idea in hopes we float in the right direction). At this point our cultural forms are self-centered. We manifest it (because we cannot help but do so), but it does not serve any but ourselves (and I cannot imagine that the spirit(s) of place, the great beings, the gods and others are particularly pleased by this).
As others have noted, the perversion of sobornost might very well be seen in the hyper-collectivity of brutal Marxism.
I see that there needs to be a balance between sobornost and tamanous for the full flourishing of both individual people and their communities (obviously not speaking here of land-compelled manifestations, exactly, but more of expressions of the two notions that can happen regardless of place). This can perhaps be elegantly understood through a story Vine Deloria, Jr. included in The Way We Were (p121). He recounted the story of Many Tail Feather’s father who dreamed the buffalo came to him, distressed by the hunting ways of his people. The buffalo requested that the human people stop running the buffalo people off cliffs and into traps as that method of hunting was too efficient and the costs were too high. When Many Tail Feather’s father brought the dream to his people, they agreed to change their ways so as to right the relationship with the buffalo. They willingly agreed to a cultural change that would make things more difficult for themselves in order to protect the future of buffalo and humans.
Can you imagine? This is a story full of incredible implications. You have to have a society that honors dreams (individuals’ dreams) as being connected to an “ecology” of beings (dreamworld and physical world beings); the recognition that non-human communities carry wisdom and agency; the acceptance and wil of a peoplel to limit themselves; the community that can make such a collective decision; etc. At heart there is the interplay of personal vision benefitting the whole. Tamanous at its most potent moment is not about the celebration of “myself” it is the deep meaning manifesting uniquely in order to allow the whole to flourish.
I would like to thank you, JMG for this series, as well as Prizm, for several great comments in the last few weeks, and Violet for a comment a few weeks ago with some prime quotes and thoughts. Several others have shared experiences/thoughts, as well, that have been helpful to me (I forget who just moved to a place near a river/eventual marsh and has been conversing with the spirit there, for example).
Perhaps sometime in the future we (ecosophians) can consider a collection of speculative stories that explore some of these themes… I also hope you (JMG) will continue or expand or riff off of this truly eco-sophiac topic.
@Walt: There’s some of that now, for that matter. Suicide is increasingly seen among those I know as an acceptable response to terminal physical illness, and sad-but-not-socially-opprobrious-or-sinful as a response to depression. Lifetime servitude…well, “lifetime” as far as any relationship/marriage, but there’s certainly elements of that at the extremes of the “lifestyle BDSM” crowd. (For that matter, remove the romantic-relationship attitude and that’s a decent description of some monastic lifestyles, or the armed forces for a value of “lifetime.”)
Personally I’ve yet to be in a situation where I didn’t want to live–then again, I’ve never had, say, pancreatic cancer or locked-in syndrome. And wanting someone to tell me what to do all the time never appealed–finding that romantic strikes me as a flaw in someone who’s supposed to be an adult–but eh, I don’t feel any impulse to intervene. People do what they do, and it’s mostly not my problem when they do it.
Re the shifting of one’s perspectives and its impact on conversing with others
Likewise. I have discovered that my fundamental assumptions re the shape of the future and the underlying forces driving those contours have diverged so significantly from the “standard” view that I have more often than not found that when speaking with others on many issues that we speak past one another. Take current politics. Metaphorically, I’m going, “Well, the US is going to be a has-been power before this century is half over and modern industrial civilization will whimper out of existence sometime next century. How can we best prepare to navigate that difficult terrain?” And the other person is going, “This is a minor blip in the perpetual progress of Western civilization, technological advancement, and American power. How can we best invest in its continuance?” And then we look at one other blankly, blink, and each say, “Wait. What?”
So, yes, the simpler solution is to just not talk with others too much. For the time being, anyway.
I keep having the idea that these could emerge as the two great cultures of the Age of Aquarius, with Sobornost reflecting the Saturnian rulership of the sign, and Tamanous the Uranian. It seems reasonable that the transition phase from one age to the next is turbulent and anything but smooth since adjacent signs are so distinctly different. I can’t recall you examining the Zodiacal Ages at any length but would love to know your thoughts about them.
I do not think “dismissed out of hand” is a fair characterization of Cherny’s evaluation of Cook’s story generating engine. She examines it in considerable detail, expresses her distaste for the mechanisms that involve treating females or “inferior races” in caricature, and then enters a discussion of the trajectories of fiction writing by male and female authors, depicting male and female characters, over about a century and a half.
@ Ryan Schaap,
Thanks for the link to the Atlantic article. Berlatsky makes an excellent point: if we are trying to move the needle on gender or sex or class or whatever, we will want to continue to read writer who do not “get it” in order to examine how (disfavored) messages are being conveyed in our narratives.
@Jessi (and DT and CR Patiño)
Thank you, Jessi, actually, I think you have done an excellent job of sketching a larger map of the discussion, in which we are each separately working out one small local area. For one thing, I do not oppose CR Patiño’s ideas, nor do I think they are wrong, and I would be misunderstood if anyone has taken away the impression I am arguing against him. I simply think that his ideas are applicable to a different part of the map from the one that I myself am working in – which gives me the feeling of talking past one another.
And, when you say “I’m sure Scotlyn would agree it is very important that all people receive the medical care that they need (as long as no one *forces them* to take it). Also, that it is very important to limit the spread of communicable diseases, *especially* the deadly ones (and some of these diseases may be much more deadly in Mexico, where it is sometimes difficult for poor or rural people to see a doctor at all).” Of course I do agree with this broad proposition, including the stress you’ve noted that I would place on the medical ethic of informed consent.
As to where I live – for the last 36 years, I have lived in Ireland. I am an American citizen, born in Boston, reared in Costa Rica from ages 4-18, and have had the very great fortune to spend an incredibly formative teenage year of mine (the year I was 14 going on 15) living in Mexico. The view from each of those places is definitely different to the others, for sure!
Health and sickness and the matter of care for ourselves and for one another, both formal and informal, together make up a very, very large territory. My comments to date have been focussed on one very small corner of the territory, where certain forms of corporate and medical corruption have ensured that “Here Be Invisibles”. I’d like the people occupying that territory to be properly mapped, and not be forgotten. However, there is much else in that large territory, and I will happily leave it to others to map it.
Thanks for going the extra mile on sustaining a civil debate.
First, I think I may not have made myself clear. I do not believe vaccines are as innocuous as they are made to appear by the medical establishment. Even if I have never met anyone who fits the description, I know there’s people who have been harmed (sometimes griveously harmed) by those. I also agree (could not bring myself to disagree, even if I wanted to) that they should not be marginalized and stygmatized because their condition contradicts the official dogma. If anything, as you said, they should be provided with the best care available, all expenses covered by tax-payers.
But I also cannot bring myself to support your previous stance about individual choice in the issue of vaccination. Patients cannot be allowed *absolute* informed consent (I am paraphrasing from memory, sorry if that’s not the correct wording) on any and every vaccine out there. The risks have to be evaluated by someone, – and yes that someone may have ulterior motives, but the alternative is to assume the risks blindly, without the slightest idea of what is at stake, – and a proper amount of leity may be determined for each individual vaccine.
By example, I have no issue with leaving mumps vaccine 100% to parental preference. The disease is viral, self-limiting, and usually does not leave long term sequels. On the other side of the scale, had an HIV-vaccine be available, I’d have a hard time letting people “promise never to cheat” or otherwise never to engage in sexual riske behavior. While the existence of individuals who have fully mastered their sexual drives is a possibility, the bulk of population’s self-control is pretty basic, in spite of literal millenia of social/religious pressure to do so.
Even then, I would not recommend forcible immunization (I’d leave that for fictional zombielike-virus diseases, which pose immediate and dire risk for not just the patient but for everyone in their general proximity). Still, for the case of AIDS, the privilege of refusing immunization should be conditional on observing a number of lifestyle choices (I prefer to not sound too much like a broken record, so I wont go into details).
Most actual vaccines fall somewhere in the middle of this range, and each individual disease may be addressed in a similar way to reach some acceptable middleground. But a first prerequisite for doing so would be to stop shouting past each other and advocating abstract ideas of Good-vs-Evil.
So the great spirits of the land in America whisper the ancient wisdom that could be recorded as “get off my lawn!”. This explain so much about USA quirks.
I also want to add to the discusion of Faustian occult (spiritual) most archetypical shape. I would argue that the most Faustian occult practice is search for Philsopher’s stone. It was flattened in pop-culture to somehow disjointed feats of changing base metal into gold and creating elixir of eternal youth, but in the text I read so far, the Stone represents manifestation of more coherent goal. To quote greatest Polish alchemist Michal Sedziwoj it’s “commanding Monarchy of natural world” – perfect understanding of elements and their proportions and creative processes. From that knowledge alchemist could derive power over things like aging and transmutation of one quality into another.
We can see how the alchemist turned into scientists, but are working toward the same purpose, if using tools limited to only material world. Nota bene: Newton, the pardigm-settling figure of modern science, was ardent student of Sedziwoj’s writings.
 Tractatus de sulphure altero naturae principio.
JMG, you may be well right about the birth of a great culture between Rio and Buenos Aires. Though that’s far in the future, there is a distinctive feel to the land that can’t be found anywhere else. There will be room for many great cultures in the world after peak oil.
JMG, one question: how do you think these two future great cultures will regard Faustian civilization?
Thank you Jessi! Now that I think of it, it makes too much sense. Being utterly embedded in corruption through my life (on every level, and participating in it with my little petty ways from time to time) may have desensitivized me from the grief Scotly seems to be going through. Of course doctors are corrupt and self serving! Just like everyone else, move on. I feel for you all to have your eyes opened, but I have never had much respect for the “you cannot handle the truth” argument.
In Mexico, it is not so much that there are no doctors in rural areas (though that is also an issue) but that the access to medical care in urban areas is overwelmed by a combination of under-investment, extreme neglect and plain old political rapaciousness. There’s at least one documented case of chemotherapy vials being substituted with distilled water in order to fleece the public treasury at the cost of people’s lives. If you have the money to pay for private medicine (or of you work for a boss that will pay for private health plans) you are likely to get first-world levels of care. Otherwise, you go throught the clinics that treat patients at a rate of 15 min consults, followed by pharmacists that on a good day will fill half of your prescription because, “there’s only so much medicine around”.
There’s a running joke that if abortion were legal in Mexico, you’d go get an appointment,and by the time your turn came the little cutie would already be in kindergarden.
> People are generally disposed to trust their doctors. Until they find they cannot. Then what?
You muddle through. The Long Descent is all about that, on multiple fronts at the same time. I simpatize with the feeling, though. I go through the same thing every once in a while.
I’ll weigh in on the hipster question since I feel more than some kinship with that phenomenon – the one common feature I see among hipsters is doing things counter to trend, it seems to be used as a pejorative when someone bucks the mainstream trend but thereby aligns with another, already existing trend. So in answer to your question, I’d opine it depends on what the mainstream is doing where the hipster is located – if everyone is strongly aligned with a party, a hipster would more likely be apolitical or support an unpopular candidate, while if everyone is apathetic about voting, they might be annoyingly political.
Walt, I recommend this book to everyone, but if you’re interested in how a Tamanous society would organize, you in particular might want to check out ‘reinventing organizations’ by Frederic Laloux. He’s got some interesting talks out there as well if you’d like a quick idea of the central themes.
Quite a few I suspect. I don’t think the numbers have grown smaller in 2 years, but rather larger. The black vote will be interesting.
This is a reply to a question in the open post last week, for a question on abandoned books. I am ignoring the question on magic, which I am not qualified to reply; though some unfortunate experience leads me to think that your suspect is entirely correct.
Good evening JMG,
My question this week is related to the spell you have mentioned here several times, the one that you “curses” anyone that illegally aquires one of your books. Without going into details, I suspect the karmatic blowback for using any pirated copies from any author is already there, and you just pushed it a little bit to make it more effective.
My question is, what is to happen to works that have been “abandoned” by their rightful owners? Earlier this year, I tried to acquire a book from a (more or less recently) deceased doctor. The pirated version that was most easily available to me is a copy of the original Peruvian edition. I searched the web in order to hunt for a legitimate copy but none was found. I manage to locate the son of the author, another doctor who had had a software system built based on his father’s work, and at some point was selling it though the page looked quite rusty. I emailed the guy to inquire a way to purchase a legit copy and received no response.
Is it too much of a strech to say that if no one took my money, the book is free for grabs? What’s your opinion as a mage and as an author?
My reply will be based in UK law. I was looking for a book in this condition; the author died, the small press that published it closed.
When you can’t locate the copyright holders, this is called an orphan work. There is a procedure that allows you to get a license to reproduce an entire work, for personal research or else. Cost will vary depending on what you want to do. You can have more information, within the UK context, here:
Copyright: orphan works
If the copyright holders are known, they have the right to not reply to inquires. In this case, the request will be denied.
This entirely depends on the country. Brazilian law, for example, is lax. You can walk into a library and photocopy an entire book for personal use. This is allowed on the claim that young students need to have access to cheap study material. Some librarians may not know that, the decision was made some years ago; you might have to point the law to them.
Magic books are entirely another matter. JMG said many times that in magic, you must always pay the price. No, it would be not recommended to make a copy even if you are allowed to do so by law. If a book is gone, it is gone. There are a number of books that I could, if I wanted, to acquire bootlegs of. That would not be advisable.
Patience is key. Contact every bookseller you know and then some. Inform them you are looking for it. Look for the book in every used bookstore. Libraries that carry it may sell the book to you. If it is of the sort that might be discarded in the near future because, you know–Progress!–you might be able to convince a library to sell it to you, especially if they own duplicates.
Ask on the next Magic Monday what kind of magic work you might do to find a legal copy, and what would be the possible blowback to this work.
I find it interesting that you assume complete materialism on the part of Darwin and also his theory, when I was told here just last week that this isn’t the case.
I appreciate your telling me the secrets of what makes materialists tick, as it generally seems rather incomprehensible to me.
Frankly, I don’t see that Darwinisim or materialism deals with the need for a first cause by simply ignoring it.
Many people who believe in Darwinian evolution are not full on materialists and I’m pretty sure JMG will be saying something to that effect! Certainly Darwin didn’t address the arisal of the universe.
I did not know that Darwin was troubled by the problem of evil.
My reaction to your ‘welcome refuge’ is that if sticking your head in the sand makes for a simpler world, well, to each his own.
I lean towards lichnost’ [личность] as a best-analogue for ‘individuality’. Afaik, it’s not a dictionary definition, but in my experience, the way the words are *used* in their respective tongues has good overlap.
I asked my husband your question, what is the word for individuality. He said, “individualnost.” But I objected that the word is an obvious borrowing. Is there a Russian word? He said no. Odinokost he says is loneliness.
JMG, your description of “sobornost” instantly reminded me of another Russian concept, very well known to myself and other students of cinema: montage, and specifically the Kuleshov effect (introduced by Russian film theorist Lev Kuleshov). In the Kuleshov effect, individual film shots are linked together, like bricks, and together, through their association, they form a greater, cohesive meaning. Perhaps the word montage (although I believe it’s actually French for “assemble”) could also be used to describe the central theme of Russia’s emerging high culture.
On the American side of things, the concept of individualism resonates very deep within me, and I definitely would not be surprised if that becomes the central theme of America’s high culture, once the Democrats and Republicans learn to live and let live and stop forcing their Faustian rulebooks down everyone’s throats.
It’s funny, because I’ve always attributed my belief in individualism primarily to punk rock (especially the anarchist variety), which I started listening to as a youth. Ever since then, non-conformity, individuality, and anti-authoritarianism have been guiding principles in my life. But now I’m starting to wonder if the Land itself – and my “tamanous” – have been influences as well. Indeed, it seems very likely, and perhaps it’s no mere coincidence that the highly individualist punk rock scene is most strongly associated with the mohawk; a distinctly Native American look.
I am upset that CR Patino thinks I should have to give up my career in healthcare because I don’t want a yearly flu shot and indeed this was the deal breaker that caused me to leave my last job. I think my worries that a yearly flu shot will definitely contribute to the Alzheimer’s epidemic are pretty well founded on the latest research.
It also bothers me that I should have to not see my grandchild if I don’t get the flu shot.
My best understanding is that when we do vaccinations, when we take antibiotics, when we even take pharmaceutical drugs – there is a payment to be made. We damage our gut health, it is hard to restore, down the road complications can really pile up. You provoke the immune system and who is to say if it might contribute to the increase in autoimmune problems we are seeing?
And the reason I mention this is that it is another angle from the one Scotlyn brings up, in which we know that a person was injured by a vaccine. But I think that as a society we are only now beginning to understand the ways in which there are long term detriments to health as well, that are very difficult to track and measure on the individual level, from several modern practices – including antibiotics for farm animals. So even when things go well it does not really mean that they have gone well.
I don’t know! I read the Little House books about 30 years ago, but I don’t remember anything offensive. Of course the author might have written those sentiments as expressed by people in her mileau. But I am very wary of whitewashing out of our histories and knowledge base her books, which were an authentic memory of her girlhood and life as it was.
If societies did this all the time, (and sometimes they do!) we’d lose all sorts of beautiful art (they’re naked!) and certainly the Bible would have to go.
Wonderful post, JMG, thank you!…It brings me back to the closing lines of the great Yeats’ poem ‘Among School Children’…
O chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?
Dear Robert Mathiesen, Wikipedia thinks that Mr. N.S. Trubetzkoy was a “linguist”. Perhaps you might want to expand and improve their article?
Dear L, The French historian Marc Bloch identified Northern France and Southern England as the heartland of what he called “The West”.
As for vaccines, we badly need complete transparency about who or what entity makes any given vaccine, where it is made, with what extra additives and where those are sourced, under what protocols, overseen by whom using what laws, statutes and standards, with names named and all relevant information clearly and readily available. I don’t care if any or all of the above information is “proprietorial”, it needs to be made public anyway.
Oops, I mistyped the title of Deloria’s book I think. Should be “The World We Used to Live In”
Samurai_47, maybe it’s because we live in different areas, but my experience has been that ‘appropriation’ is an imperfect translation of what the actual issue is. I’ve encountered far more Native people willing to teach than White people able to learn. It might be different in Japan, but in Western society the idea of what a teacher-student relationship is has basically not deviated from the pattern laid down at the Academia in Apollonian times. It’s been industrialized in recent centuries, but the central process is the same: the teacher draws the students out of the material world into a world of ideas, where the students grapple with the ideas and bring back whatever they could hold onto.
That is not at all like the teacher-student relationship in any of the native cultures I’ve encountered. White people who get rebuffed seem to show up expecting an abstract, Academic-style lesson and get huffy when they realise it’s not forthcoming. Since ‘abstraction’ means ‘to draw away’, ‘appropriation’ might actually be a very good translation for where the issue is linguistically, but that makes us think of not wanting a secret stolen. I think a much better description would be an insistence that the teacher controls the syllabus, and may decide the student needs to spend the first season learning to walk. To say that the lessons are reflective rather than abstract is itself an abstraction, but probably the best one for this case.
If you want to learn, a respectful way would probably be to go to your closest friendship centre and offer to volunteer, then observe whomever everyone else is observing. If that’s not an option, you could attend the next Powwow in your area (bringing food and possibly tobacco to share is polite in most places) and do the same: talk, listen, watch, pay attention to the people you meet.
An interesting introduction to Spengler’s “world model”. I’m curious; how might the emerging future you describe in “The Long Descent” play into the emergence of cultures based on tamanous and sobornost? If I understand rightly, most of human history in recent millenia has played out in an overall rise of available energy (with local exceptions, of course).
I’d guess that the “change of direction” would have a strong effect on the American pseudomorphosis, at least in the early stages. Another factor might be (as you indicated) the re-emergence of the American indigenous peoples with their land-based (and ecologically sensible) spirituality. I have no idea how the crumbling of the fossil fuel based culture might effect the Russians, although sobornost (to the degree I understand it) might be useful in navigating the descent.
Slightly OT: I’d be interested in your reaction to the themes that Robin Kimmerer weaves together in her book “Braiding Sweetgrass”.
Delightful posting, JMG! I’ll just say that when I read your description of sobornost, all I could think of was a story I had heard about when the Nazis invaded Russia and the Ukraine, the invaders tried all kinds of bullying tactics to get the locals to cooperate or provide them with intelligence and they refused. When frustrated Nazi soldiers threatened to kill the locals, their calm response was the Russian equivalent of “you can’t kill us all”. To this day whenever I think of the story, I am in awe bordering on bliss.
James, that is to say, the emerging American protoculture is still in the middle of a Faustian pseudomorphosis. Feyerabend is a good thinker to read in this context.
BoulderLovinCat, I’ve had similar reactions from a lot of people since I began developing the concept, and I think it really does echo something.
NomadicBeer, yes, very much so.
Tony, yes, but Marxism is profoundly Faustian, with its insistence on being the one true doctrine that has to be accepted by everyone on earth and will lead onward and upward forever. I suspect its collectivist aspects made it marginally acceptable in Russia, though here again it doesn’t seem to have established deep roots.
YCS, fascinating. That would make sense to me. The other thing I, as an outsider, see as distinctive in Indian culture is the conviction — pervasive in all the great Indian philosophies — that the reality we experience is maya, pure illusion, and that the proper goal of the seeking you’ve discussed is the incommunicable reality behind the illusion.
Scotlyn, it would need to be a bridge, because the Faustian culture is what we’ve got — the future American great culture hasn’t been born yet. So that quality is probably a good thing.
Oriol, 1) I’m going to refer you to Robert Mathiesen’s comment further down; it’s been a long time since I read the writers in question and I’d have to go digging for my notes. 2) That’s a huge question, not easily answered; I’ll try to discuss it in later posts. 3) The central theme of any culture is always contextual and contested, and it evolves in part through contact with other cultures and their own disparate themes, so mulling over the possible theme of the American protoculture may just lead you to express something like it from within your own personal take on Faustian culture. 4) Yes, and in fact that’s where Spengler sees the transition from culture to civilization taking place in Magian societies.
Robert, thank you. Lewis had a remarkably good sense of Faustian culture’s follies — I think that was in large part because, as a brilliant medievalist, he had a very good grasp of the Magian worldview and could see the gaps in Faustian logic by comparison. As for Russia, my guess is that — like China — it will alternate between periods of a relatively coherent polity and periods of disorganization, though the alternation may be quicker — on a timescale of lifetimes rather than dynasties!
Cassandra, good question. I suspect that would take a lot of close study of individual cases.
Brigyn, oh, granted, modern Druidry has essentially nothing in common with the Druidry of the ancient Celts, and it’s got a very strong Faustian bias, as a spiritual tradition born and nurtured in Faustian cultures would necessarily have to do. The fusion of science and spirituality you’ve suggested here is a normal event in the latter phases of a culture’s life cycle, evolving once the Age of Reason is over, the limits of reason have been reached and understood, and rationalists and believers rediscover the fact that they have more in common than they think; we’re about to the point when that should begin taking shape, so your timing is good.
Mac, I’d say rather that tamanous is always present, but the rectilinear blankness of shopping malls et al. helps people hide from it.
Phutatorius, thanks for this.
Richard, likewise, thanks for this.
Shane, well, we’ll see on Tuesday, won’t we?
Patricia, fascinating! I wasn’t aware of the Russian version. Yes, that does point things up very crisply.
Jackfruit, remind me where the desert is forming. That could be interesting to watch.
Breanna, that makes sense — and it’s precisely its exaltation as the one true ethical standard that shows the Faustian imprint.
Anthony, good, but take it a step further. The one includes the dichotomy between priest and laity, the other abolishes both; if everyone pursues that kind of experience, who is priest, who is laity?
Prizm, thanks for this. Those are excellent examples.
Fred, that’s a good point — and you’re right that the desire for personal spiritual experience not confined by a collective dogma is very much a driving force in American occultism.
Kay, why, yes, it does, doesn’t it. 😉
Btidwell, that’s a common experience for members of what Toynbee calls the colonial intelligentsia, the people who live in one culture but adopt the values of another, and never quite belong to either. We’ll be discussing that at length later on.
Robert, many thanks for this!
Btidwell, that’s a huge topic that will need reflection, and then a post of its own.
Violet, yes and yes.
John, Magian civilization — that’s Spengler’s term for a culture that has finished its course of development and settled into its enduring form — is very much alive and well in the Middle East, and busy shaking itself free of the influences it absorbed during Faustian culture’s age of global domination. Here in the US, the remnants of the old Magian pseudomorphosis have been picked up by people dissatisfied with the Faustian worldview, and in that process those remnants will be changed to the point of unrecognizability. Stay tuned!
Shane, yeah, I thought you’d circle back to that. I don’t expect it to figure at all, as the border between the US and Canada is no more significant as a cultural reality as quite a few borders within either country — for example, the difference between eastern and western Canada, or between New England and the mid-Atlantic states, is as significant as the 49th parallel.
Prizm, exactly. It’s a difficult concept for the Faustian mind to grasp, but it’s common sense to people in most other cultures.
Christopher, exactly! The lonely Faustian hero never compromises, never finds his or her equilibrium in an equal relationship with others — it’s always the One Important Person vs. everyone else. In the nascent American vision, everyone’s the hero, and compromise and relationship are the framework within which each seeks out his or her own unique vision.
Liam, and yet most Faustian people find Druidry unappealing. Perhaps you might reflect on that….
Phil H., I’ve been watching the religious situation in Russia and Ukraine closely of late, and I think there’s a lot going on there below the surface. The machinations of clueless Americans are certainly one major part of it, though.
DT, your question is probably going to work out to become the great social question of the future American great culture.
Ryan, thanks for this.
L, most Europeans have no idea how small Europe is in terms of the rest of the world. The Ohio River basin covers 189,422 square miles, and the Volga basin 532,821 square miles; all of Great Britain covers only 80,823 square miles, and the area of southern Britain plus the northern half of France, the Low Countries, and the northwest third or so of Germany — the original heartland of the Faustian culture — is smaller than the Ohio basin. Both the future great cultures will expand out of their original heartlands, as great cultures do — the American culture to the Great Lakes and the broader Mississippi watershed, the Russian culture across the Urals to the Ob-Irtysh basin, in both cases covering a larger land area than all of Europe put together.
Thank you for the information. Yes, that was probably more of a Magic Monday kind of question.
I am not surprised that you get upset when someone *thinks* of impossing a limit (that happens to apply) to you. Yet, the fact remains that your choices do not only affect yourself, but the people you come in contact with. By virtue of tending to the ill you are at increased risks, both of getting infected and then of infecting others. Maybe if you ellaborated on how would you plan to address those risks without vaccination, or why said risks do not need any addressing, if that’s the case, would help me (and those who think like me) to understand your position and reassess the situation?
Christopher, exactly! The lonely Faustian hero never compromises, never finds his or her equilibrium in an equal relationship with others — it’s always the One Important Person vs. everyone else. In the nascent American vision, everyone’s the hero, and compromise and relationship are the framework within which each seeks out his or her own unique vision.
I am reminded here of what now seems to be a very Faustian sentiment: George Bernard Shaw’s quote in which he states that “the reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
With progress acknowledged explicitly, it’s Faustian to a T!
Why do you think that the Russian religion might not be Orthodoxy? Orthodoxy shows every sign of growing and winning the hearts of the people…
Wikipedia is actually correct to call Trubetzkoy a linguist. He was one of the most profound thinkers about linguistics of the early 20th century, and his impact is still strong in the field. But he was much more than a linguist. — He was in fact a Wunderkind, a child genius; even as a young ‘teen, he had read and digested enough about a wide range of obscure languages that he could correspond on nearly equal terms with highly respected senior professors in the best universities of Russia. Nor was linguistics the only academic field he had begun to master in his young ‘teen years. Sadly, like many a Wunderkind, he died very young (age 43, from heart disease). — My own first academic field was Slavic philology and historical linguistics, with a focus on the Church Slavonic language; for that Language, Trubetzkoy’s posthumous _Altkirchenslavische Grammatik_ was the most thought-provoking, profound and insightful treatment of the structure of that language that has ever been written.
As for correcting Wikipedia, no, I’ll pass. It is convenient and it has its uses, but it will never be anything more than a useful idiot. Actually, it reminds me of a hideous fungus that feeds on factoids, and behind the scenes it seems like a snake-pit where a large number of petty semi-learned “expert” editors engage in infantile bickering. Frankly, I wish it would just go away. Fracking “progress”!!! (Yes, I’m old and grouchy.)
I wonder how the Celts fit into all of this? I think the contemporary Celts can be both quite individualistic but also collectivist at the same time, even if the boundaries of that are narrower in its horizon to our own village or clan, rather than having universalist aspirations of either the Faustian or the sobornost type that you have sketched out. I’d even include much of the working classes of England in this, since neither the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings nor Normans completely replaced the people who were there before.
Hi JMG –
“Tamanous… is the guardian spirit of the individual, and also his luck and his destiny. In a great many Native American cultures, finding and establishing a sacred relationship with one’s tamanous, via various traditional practices, is the primary religious act a person can engage in, an essential part of achieving adulthood and thus something that most people do as a matter of course.”
“There is no one right way for everyone. That’s the message, or one part of the message, that the American land has been whispering to its human residents for a very long time.”
“the tamanous is something that pretty much everyone gets in touch with as a normal part of becoming an adult.”
It took me a while to spot how you could get from “the establishment of a sacred relationship with one’s tamanous” (in the post) to “a normal part of becoming an adult” (in comments). Then I realised that the differences between these two, are superficial and the deep resonance lies in the message “the American land has been whispering to its human residents for a very long time.”
A commenter in a different comment thread posted a link to the subak irrigation system, which I found very interesting, which makes reference to a central ethic of “Tri Hita Karana” translated in the sources I could find as the “three happinesses” – which arise from cultivating three sets of harmonious relationships:
a) with ones gods
b) with ones neighbours
c) with ones place, lands, natural surroundings, ecosystem
It seems to me that the American land, as you tell it, whispers of a fourth “happiness” – the cultivation of a harmonious relationship with oneself.
It may be that all four of these potential “happinesses” are present “in potentia” for every human, but that a particular culture will stress one to the detriment of another.
It is evident that our current cultural context prioritises none of these happinesses, unless we imagine the Faustian to be a drive to force the harmonious relationship with oneself by absorbing and/or extinguishing of all other selves (or at least of their voices), while also neglecting harmonious relationships with neighbours, and land, and with all but the most severe of gods.
There is a lot to chew on here. Thank you.
Hi, CR Patiño – “But a first prerequisite for doing so would be to stop shouting past each other and advocating abstract ideas of Good-vs-Evil.”
Our shared map of the larger territory is slowly in the making, and within it, let us continue to seek and to win common ground.
Tamanous. Fascinating concept. (I wish it were spelled the way it is pronounced, tho’; I keep reading the ‘-ous’ like ‘mouse’.) I’ve never heard of it before, but I feel quite familiar with the concept, since I’ve been pondering it myself for years.
During the early frictions with the aboriginals, tribal raiders frequently killed settler families encroaching on their lands, then took the children away to raise as their own. Later on, as conditions of the temporary peace treaties, the colonists would demand the return of these children, who, after experiencing life as a colonial settler, would try to escape back to the tribe they were raised in, because that lifestyle is so much more appealing to the individual. A similar pattern occurred in the very Volga basin you’re talking about, roughly during the 16th Century, when the Novgorod Principality had no effective control over the region, and the Cossack horse-culture arose and had its flowering in the Eastern Ukraine, ironically, the same place nomads tamed horses 5000 years ago. (n.b. they were not the first culture to tame horses.)
Both these cultures, the North American and the Cossack were highly individualistic, very accepting of differences (within strictly-defined limits and roles), and ultimately incapable of resisting conquest by organized hierarchies. They could easily overcome temporary incursions, but ultimately were forced to submit to the European colonists and the Novgorod Principality, respectively.
I conclude that, if an insistence on universality of any given concept is the blind spot in Faustian civilization, then the inherent disorganization of the hyper-individuality of the tribal culture is it’s own fatal weakness.
We need a balance between the two: neither universally hierarchical, nor too freely individualistic; Organized, but not oppressive; With individual freedom, but not atomized.
Not directly related to this post, but re the hollowing-out of the Faustian vision and the decay of progress generally, this caught my eye:
Also, I was pondering the connection between the Faustian worldview and the tendency to see one’s models of reality as more real than the reality those models represent. But then, the Greeks and Romans were very much into abstraction and yet were of a different Great Culture. So, I suppose it is not so direct a link as I first thought.
@Isabel, exactly. In selecting my wild guesses, er, examples, I tried to steer clear of unlikely worst-case scenarios. Much as I enjoy the horror- or dystopian-SF-writer’s game of “how can I pervert this pleasant-sounding starting point into the most ghastly possible extreme?” that wasn’t my aim this time. Instead, I picked out behaviors that have been present to some extent in every culture and tolerated to varying degrees in many of them, that could conceivably become relatively more prominent in a hypothetical tamanousian framework due to meshing better with its basic premises.
In the present day, too much (though far from all) of the talk about searching for a personal relationship with the divine comes with the assumption that it’s about finding out just how special a cosmically destined snowflake we truly are. But historically and practically, the more typical outcomes will be the person and his or her tamanous working out peaceful terms on which to live as (for instance) a farmer, herder, servant, soldier, or child carer.
@Christopher, Laloux’s present day “teal” organizations float on layers of infrastructure that themselves operate in the more warmly colored realms. Fear and force, for instance, remain prominent integral parts of the U.S. federal, state, and local tax systems. How does distributed decision making work in, for instance, the design, funding, and construction of the communication system the distributed decision making process will be dependent on?
What I’m trying to imagine is how the individualization of spiritual life might (or might not) be reflected in the most basic temporal organization of a society. Everyone dancing their own dance is a great thing, and Laloux’s ideas can shed light on such questions as how the dancers choose a drummer. But no one is depending on a dance to drive away bandits, keep a canal from silting up, or craft a working firearm. I think there are possibilities, but I haven’t figured out how likely they are, or how they might actually work.
While walking in the arid, Cretaceous seabed north of the green Colorado River agricultural and civilized American culture of Trumpian individualism, I asked for the spirit of the land to show (itself?). In the grey drab landscape, a lichen colored face of a dragon, etched with an open mouth, extending out in sandstone, and an answer to time: a sandstone rock, small enough to carry in my hand, three waves (ripples) captured from 99-65 million years past. I like looking for mineralized pieces of previous life in layers of rock, but finding the ripples seemed to be bringing the eternal back into the temporal. My drive back to civilization offers a view of precambrian rock across the valley. This area will not foster a great new civilization, but people will live along the few rivers that continue to flow. This past summer, hot and dry, full of smoke for weeks at a time, reminds me of my fantasies during the 1990’s, of climate disruption and now I am living in it. Still, the people here believe that coal and gas and oil are the life blood and the future here. I think agriculture will survive, even though I have witnessed the climate zone change in the 38 years I have fed the soil here. I have a cottonwood tree that is as old or older than the American settlement here. The previous inhabitants left implements and rock art, maybe corn, beans and squash, and many here are drawn to the spirituality in the land, the rocks and landforms.
I walked up an adjoining, dry wash the next day and found nothing but trash, from 100 years ago and very recent trash. The vibrations were different, telling me that indifferent human behavior reflects poorly on us.
All my walks have impressed upon me the effects of drought on the vegetation. This week, the desert is the greenest of the year, due to a rain of an inch, a quarter of the total for the year that happened in October. Even irrigated land has suffered. I am aware of the difficulty of living in desert conditions and I watch with interest the political and social dance around the Colorado River. The myth of the Individual is strong in the western USA land mass, but 40 million straws will break the camel’s back. The way to survive is through cooperation, the water on my ground is from a canal system that holds the second water rights in Colorado. We will see how far that will hold when the two big lakes become mere mud pits.
The indépendant nature of those of us living here will probably keep us from living under the theocracy of Utah, or the extractive nature of the Texans in the future. Trade will arise with the Mexican culture from the south and the indigenous cultures in the north, along the Rocky Mountains. Railroads opened this area to settlement and may provide transportation between the villages in the future, provided we aren’t all cooked in a Phoenix-style oven. I would like to think the mountains will provide some moisture, and we learn to adapt with fewer people and smart horticulture.
My better half and I had an interesting discussion (debate?) this morning that made me think of this blog generally and the discussion of Faustian civilization more specifically.
In a nutshell, the conversation centered on the framing of the circumstances one encounters. Briefly, we were both using the analogy of sailing (oddly enough, neither one of us sail) and talking about how one reacts to changing conditions (e.g., change in wind direction). My wife is very much an intuitive, “go with what I feel” type and I am, well, pretty much the opposite of that. So, while we were both talking about “navigating,” I think we had very different ideas of what that entailed. What she saw as navigating and adjusting to conditions, I saw as passively going where the wind blows you. I acknowledge, this is a valid choice of path, but if one is trying to utilize the conditions to achieve specific ends (e.g., sailing from point A to point B), then navigation means something very different.
(Earlier, we were talking about how intention impacts outcome — the renovation of her mother’s former house into an art studio space versus renovating with the intention of “flipping.” I acknowledge the validity of this and it correlates to the things I’ve been learning in my magical studies. On the other hand, 2+2 always equals 4, regardless of what intention one might have. And I still struggle to reconcile these two understandings of the cosmos.)
Is the idea of harnessing the world and utilizing the knowledge of the systems of the world to achieve specific goals a Faustian trait? I got the sense we were talking past each other somewhat.
So I have no idea who’s doing it, or why, but whoever’s commenting under my name (and decided to rename me) isn’t me.
Oops, my fingers hit the wrong keys as I typed: N. S. Trubetzkoy died at age 48, not 43.
Regarding the Ohio valley, I have in my personal library a book called, “One Hundred Miles from Home: Nuclear Contamination in the Communities of the Ohio River Valley: Mound, Paducah, Piketon, Fernald, Maxey Flats and Jefferson Proving Ground.” It’s by Carol Rainey with a forward by Wendell Berry. That particular legacy may be with future generations in the Ohio valley for quite a long time.
A second thought, if there must be a second pseudomorphosis, I submit that this is happening now, in the form of immigration from Latin America.
I haven´t read the entire thread, so perhaps this has come up already, but how deep roots does Tamanous and Sobornost have? It seems like two neo-versions of Rugged Individualism and an idealized version of the Mir, respectively. Also, look at the Cold War, a conflict between a kind of pseudo-Tamanous (US capitalism and faux individualist suburbia) and pseudo-Sobornost (Communism). Is it simply a case of America and Russia throwing off the Faustian-Magian pseudomorphosis? It seems to confirm the notion that there is something about “the land” that moulds the people/culture (except maybe the elites)…
the reason we keep Confederate statues around is b/c the South was right, the “United States” is an oxymoron, and once Calexit takes place and the rest of blue America follows suit and the Union is dissolved, the Confederacy will take on new meaning…
JMG, I was quite impressed with this piece of writing. It sure got me thinking, as did many of the comments.
However I think you may have overlooked something quite important. I wonder if North America or more properly North America (the parts of it north of Mexico) is not already experiencing a second (and third?) pseudomorphosis.
Consider the cultural contributions of African Americans and Hispanic Americans. The cultural contributions of these are NOT just European-Faustian but blend West African, Caribbean and Aztec, Mayan, and Central American influences very noticeably.
Also, the Jewish (Magian?) influences are quite strong —— in literature, the arts, sciences and pop culture.
And the Near Eastern — and Central Asian Islamic influences are increasing as more Islamic immigrants from these regions arrive.
And Chinese, Hindi, and Japanese influences are also strong — both in cuisine, design, in yoga’s popularity and the popularity of (watered down?) mindfulness and meditation, and Zen (or pseudo Zen) everything.
I think trying to fit what’s already happening around us into a Spenglerian schema may be trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.
I’d be interested in JMG’s or anyone’s comments on this.
One problem I have with your stance is how sure you are of it. So far, I have seen the great authorities and experts be very wrong. Sometimes it is due to corruption. The very bad dietary advice has caused untold deaths and morbidities and yet if you immerse yourself in the topic, you will find that the truth was known by a few all throughout. But that truth gets marginalized and buried. When, in the space of 2 weeks, in 2002, I saw in a major women’s magazine, on TV news, and in the local newspaper that the recommended daily amount of hydrogenated fats was zero, I knew this was a bombshell. It was a legal maneuver to cover them. For 50 years they told people to eat margarine as healthier but finally the research proved that hydrogenated fats are fairly deadly. They lead to heart disease, probably cancer, and diabetes.
This is just one example. The facts are not yet in. The corruption is pretty obvious. Why must I compromise my health because it is currently fashionable and profitable for the experts and authorities?
You ask how I address the risks. For heaven’s sake, we all weren’t worried about the flu until they came up with a vaccine and now they push the idea that normal people can die of the flu. You can’t vaccinate against everything. Since vaccines are not completely safe, it stands to reason that they should be used judiciously. Getting 50-70 shots by the age of 18 is not judicious at all.
How do you address the risks of putting deadly substances like mercury into the bodies of 7 pound people with immature immune systems? How do you address the risk-benefit ratio of giving newborn babies on the day of birth a vaccine against a disease that is not contagious except by sharing needles, possibly not even by sexual contact, and which immunity may not last more than 12 years?
Are you aware of the research that shows some people’s bodies don’t eliminate aluminum well, and it can certainly cause alzheimer’s? Aluminum is in the flu vaccine. If the vaccine works (and we know the flu vaccine doesn’t) then let those concerned about it get the vaccine.
Because of these risks and the controversy surrounding the issue, I am fairly uncomfortable with the use of force to demand that people take part in a medical experiment with their bodies. If I had listened to the authorities, or if they had used force, my health would now be worse than it is, using my own best assessment of what to do for my own health.
My first husband taught me to read it…
Walt, fair enough! Though I would say that with its central metaphor being an ecosystem, Laloux’s model has conflict built in where many other ideas do not. I actually work in telecommunications, and the ideas about self-organization seem as relevant to my industry as to any of the other case studies in his book, with many of the same frustrations and solutions coming up. Simple things like a central spreadsheet where everyone sees the project schedule and can ‘sign out’ pieces of work instead of having to wait for a manager to assign them actually make a huge difference in how smoothly things run day to day.
As for the very basics of survival in the face of warbands, I’ve certainly thought about that question, but I lack the experience to evaluate my ideas. One experiment I’m very interested in is Rojava, the Kurdish autonomous region in Northern Syria. They seem to have an interesting combination of personal autonomy and an extreme ease of creating and joining organizations. So far they’ve managed to hang onto territory in a fairly rough neighborhood, I hope some decent data makes it out of there.
PatriciaT, thanks for this.
Blue Sun, exactly.
Cloven, that’s standard for a society in Russia’s current situation. Remember that according to Spengler’s logic, the future Russian great culture does not yet exist. It’s still got to find itself, and that’s a long slow process of fumbling in the darkness. What you’ve described sounds very much like that process is well under way.
Zach, no, he’s not what I had in mind. I’ll get to this in the future post I mentioned.
Succwc, we’ll talk in a future post about the reasons why Toynbee’s notion of the universal state is an overgeneralization.
Samurai_47, the future American great culture will have its own unique take on that process, which will not be identical to the one practiced by Native Americans. Yes, some traditions of Western occultism do have practices aimed at this, though since it’s not a central theme in Faustian spirituality, it’s far from universal.
I must thank you for introducing me to Vine Deloria Jr. a few years back (through your posts, of course). He is an absolute gem! This past summer I read “The World We Used to Live In” and absolutely loved it. It was interesting to note how many of the descriptions of the marvels of medicine people were made by people whom we assume would find a way – any way – to dismiss the medicine people as “clever jugglers”. I am now going to dive into “Red Earth White Lies”. Unfortunately the book I really want to read, “God is Red”, is not in my library – so I guess it will have to become part of my private collection…
I will attest to Yung’s statement about the people who live in North America are being transformed by the land. Having friendships with a large number of immigrant families, I have seen this happen in the first generation time and time again. If a given family has three children born close together – two born abroad and one born in North America – the “native” North American child is noticeably different from the rest of the family by looks, expression and outlook (much more like the tamanous you describe). And time and time again I have seen domineering immigrant parents give up on their children who steadfastly refuse to accept the parents’ narrow-mindedness, parochialism and intolerance. Slowly, steadily, the spirit of the land shapes us all… what a wonderful thing!
As far back as I can remember, I have always had an overwhelming passion for dead languages, odd and archaic alphabets, and “quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore” and ritual. I was not raised Christian; my family on my mother’s side was what might be called “old-line Californian magical pantheists, while my father’s side was agnostic and skeptical. But for a while in high-school and college, long before meeting my wife, I dated a Russian Orthodox girl. She spoke Russian with her mother at home, even when I was around, so I started studying Russian. Then I discovered the archaic Slavic language with the old-fashioned black-letter alphabet that was used in her church. I was intrigued.
I took a course on that at UC Berkeley with the brilliant maverick linguist, Francis J. Whitfield, and my intellectual world was transformed. I had been a math nerd; now suddenly I became a linguistics nerd. I remained fascinated by Slavic historical linguistics and medieval philology long after the Russian girl and I amicably went our separate ways.
Many successive doors opened before me in subsequent years, without any substantial effort on my own part. I ended up earning a tenured professor of Slavic languages and medieval studies at an Ivy League university on the East Coast.
In the early 1990s the unseen forces that had been moving me like a pawn here and there on some cosmic chessboard shoved me into teaching developing and teaching courses on the history and theory of magic and the intimate connections between that history and the Women’s Rights movement in the USA. And so I was able to teach and guide a few dozen young people’s developing passions for magic. My aim was to provide a “trampoline” they could use to develop their own skill and agility rather than to impart any theories or practices. I have long been of the mind that magic is not all a single thing, working according to the same occult laws for all people who take it up, but that magic is hugely polymorphic, and its laws are not the same for any two people. One must ever court and win one’s own magic, much as one must ever court and win one’s life-long spouse. As Pico della Mirandola once wrote, “To work magic is to be wed to the Cosmos” (Magicam operare non est aliud quam maritare mundum).
Now I have been retired for nearly a decade and a half, but I am as certain as I am of anything that those young people were the aim with which that tiny pawn–me!–was moved hither and thither on that vast cosmic game-board. My part in the board-game may be over, but the game itself will continue, I dare say, for long aeons after I am dust and have been wholly forgotten.
So … a long answer to a question you may have thought was a simple one. Apologies if you thought “tl;dr.”
Another “data point” on this week’s theme: From Arthur Morgan’s 1957 book “The Community of the Future and the Future of Community”, which I’ve just started reading:
The effect of community on the individuals concerned varies greatly in different societies. Among the Hutterites — compact religious communities which originated in the regions bordering on Switzerland, then spent a couple of centuries as refugees in Russia, and are now located in South Dakota and nearby states and Manitoba — community tends to infringe on individual personality. As an elder in one Hutterite community put it, “A boy’s spirit must be broken by the time he is thirteen.” … among the Eskimos around Coronation Gulf, north of Canada, the exact opposite condition prevails. While among them there is a very high degree of mutual regard and responsibility, there is also very strong adherence to individuality. One way of respecting that personal autonomy is by refraining from bringing pressure on any member. This considerateness goes so far that if part of the village is is going on a hunting trip and another part is going fishing, it would be considered very improper for even husband or wife to to try to persuade the other.
For me, Russian odinokost’ and odinochestvo have the same range of meanings, but are on somewhat different stylistic levels.
But I’d be the first to admit that the Russian I learned was somewhat old-fashioned even when I learned it back in the ’60s. In those days the Slavic Department at UC Berkeley was staffed mostly by Russian émigrés who had been intellectuals and aristocrats back under the Tsars. Some of them would say privately that the Soviets had killed the Russian language dead as a door-nail, and that what was spoken in the Soviet Union after 1917 was not any sort of russkii iazyk [Russian language] at all, but a strange bastardized sovetskii iazyk [Soviet language], a mere misbegotten jargon of bandits and bureaucrats. — Since I have never had much interest in the modern world, I never took any pains to update my Russian to modern Soviet norms.
Curtis, 1) that depends on events that haven’t happened yet, and may involve cultures that don’t yet exist. 2) My guess is that the border between the US and Canada will have about as much influence on the future as the borders of the Roman Empire’s provinces had on the modern world, i.e., frack-all. Still, I could be wrong.
Argus, of course it’s possible for human beings to experience things greater and more lovely than the things with which most of us spend our time, and in fact doing this is one of the main points of spiritual practice. I’m far from sure, though, that it’s helpful to insist that these things are somehow “the truth.” I simply approach them as other experiences it’s possible to have, and leave the matter at that.
Ethan, I’ve had the same experience!
Gilles, you’ve done a fine job of misunderstanding nearly everything I’ve said. May I recommend reading the essay again, and making an effort not to assume you know in advance what I’m talking about? Better still, you might consider reading Spengler’s The Decline of the West so you understand what you’re trying to criticize.
Ben, I was just as startled when I first read this, but the evidence for cultural influence is very strong.
Walt, of course! The future American great culture will be just as riddled with faults, crimes, and atrocities as every other great culture has been; some of them will be the same ol’ same ol’, others will be unique to that culture, and will involve taking the possibilities of a culture of tamanous out to their illogical extreme.
Reese, good. Of course the land will affect different religions in different ways, drawing on the available stock of metaphors and rites; American Christianity is mutating along one track, American Buddhism along another, and so on. It doesn’t surprise me to see Kemetic spirituality following its own track in the same broad direction.
Oleg, thank you for this. The reason I chose sobornost as a theme was purely because a range of Russian thinkers settled on that specific term as their label for the keynote of the future Russian great culture; the remarkable complex of meanings around mir also makes sense, and of course fits together neatly with sobornost and its meanings.
David, it’s a workable strategy!
Matthias, ouch. Yes, the reason I put that scene in Retrotopia was precisely because things like that are actually happening in various parts of the world.
Sister Crow, fascinating. I bet the Heathens here in North America end up putting more and more emphasis into that aspect of their tradition…
Ganv, obviously I disagree. As I see it, the oppositional and antinomian nature of so much of what Americans like to call individualism is a derived feature, not an essential one — it comes out of the conflict against the collectivist nature of the Magian tradition and the very odd individualism-for-the-few that pervades Faustian culture. I’ll be discussing this in more detail in a later post.
Isabel, good question. I don’t yet know New England culture well enough to judge — and of course most of what I see isn’t old-fashioned WASP New England culture, but the ebullient cultural stew we get down here in “the universal haven of the odd, the free, and the dissenting.”
NHV, I see jazz as a very clear expression of the emergent American consciousness: at its best, free improvisation over the top of an understood common ground. It’s less the solos that interest me as the way that, in a good trad jazz group, everybody’s responding freely to the unfolding of the whole pattern of the music.
Temporaryreality, thank you — you’ve brought up a crucial point here that I haven’t developed far enough in my discussions on this theme. Exactly; it’s not the ego that’s at the center of what’s taking shape, but the tamanous, the spiritual essence present to (but not part of) the individual, which needs to be danced.
Jim, hmm! I could see that. I’ll consider a post on the astrological ages one of these days.
Changeling, that makes a great deal of sense.
Bruno, interesting. I was basing my guess purely on the geography, which has all the features needed for the rise of a strong and assertive culture; of course I’ve never been to the region in question, and it fascinates me to hear that someone who has notices the same potential in a different way. As for how the great cultures of the future will look on Faustian culture, I’ve been convinced for some time that we will be the great shadow in their past, the mighty, evil, and idiotically foolish ancients who laid the world waste and doomed their own grandchildren to lives of misery so that they could wallow in absurd extravagance for a brief while. People in the future will think of us the way we think of Nazis, and I see no reason to disagree with their assessment.
Christopher H., thanks for this.
Sam, interesting. I hadn’t thought of the Mohawk in those terms, but you’re quite right, of course.
Pyrrhus, nice! Thank you.
Dwig, my take is that the very modest increase in energy availability that characterized history until quite recently was canceled out by population growth, so that energy per capita remained essentially flat from the establishment of stable agricultural societies c. 8000 BCE until the first stirrings of the Industrial Revolution. Then we had the huge fossil fuel boom. The Russian great culture will arise, if my timeline is more or less correct, while the last of that boom is trickling away, while the American great culture will emerge long after it’s over. The Long Descent is the twilight of Faustian civilization.
Ron, that’s a great story. I compare that with the story a Finnish friend used to explain the untranslatable Finnish concept of sisu — “utterly unflappable bloody-mindedness” is about as close as one can get. It so happened in the early stages of the war between Finland and the Soviet Union that two Finnish infantrymen were in a foxhole, looking across the meadow at a vast advancing force of Soviet infantry. One of the Finns says, “My God, there are so many of them!” The other says, “I know. Where will we find room to bury them all?”
JMG: you mention ‘very odd individualism-for-the-few’ of Progressivism. I noticed that ‘elect’ and ‘elite’ have the same root, etymologically, and I conclude that the Protestant/Liberal/Progressive ideas form one big conglomerate, fundamentally opposed to ‘the people’/‘the damned’/‘the reprobate’.
JMG, Argus re: truth as a goal
Donald Davidson, another rationalist-turned-pragmatist, has an essay in which he argued that truth is pointless as a goal: we don’t know for sure when we have it, and we don’t know that much about how to get it, either!
Davidson’s whole take on truth was holistic and indirect: according to him, it’s more-or-less never possible to be certain when any particular belief is true or false. Truth is something that emerges from sets of beliefs, and then mostly only in the sense that someone’s beliefs about, say, cats can only be so wrong: otherwise, they wouldn’t be beliefs about cats.
(If I say that cats are large reptilian herbivores with long necks that are now extinct, I’m confusing cats with some kind of diplodocus. If I say that cats are two-inch tall primates from Jupiter who subsist on molten lava, which they process in their pineal glands, I’ve confused cats with some bizarre imaginary creature… about which those beliefs are true.)
A long time ago on ADR I made an analogy that I still think is workable: where most philosophers sees truth as hitting a target with an arrow, Davidson sees it more like shooting whole volleys of arrows over the castle walls and listening for screams.
Land of a thousand dances
G’day John Michael,
The late spring weather here today was glorious! Although a storm looks set to roll in tonight, but storms are good things when they bring a bit of rain with them. I’ve barely had to water the plants this season, but who knows what next week will bring, because certainly there are large parts of this fragile old continent that are suffering. I listen to what the forest has to say, because it is foolish to consider that it is quiet.
I can’t really add much to your discussion this week if only because I’m an outsider to both cultures. On the other hand, I do note that there is an ever so slow return to the cultural norms for this fragile old continent, and sometimes I get little glimpses that change from the present is ever a constant. Check this out: Traditional fire skills help kids who grew up in Black Saturday’s wake. Pretty interesting huh?
Hi, Christopher Heningsen.
You say “As for the very basics of survival in the face of warbands, I’ve certainly thought about that question, but I lack the experience to evaluate my ideas. One experiment I’m very interested in is Rojava, the Kurdish autonomous region in Northern Syria. They seem to have an interesting combination of personal autonomy and an extreme ease of creating and joining organizations. So far they’ve managed to hang onto territory in a fairly rough neighborhood, I hope some decent data makes it out of there.”
I absolutely concur with you that this is an incredibly interesting and different social entity, and one worth watching. More to the point, the fact that women have always existed in warband times (but their ways of being within that kind of context is very seldom addressed), it also interests me that personal autonomy in Rojava very much extends to women, some of whom also fight. I would like to learn much, much more about useful and viable ways for women to act and to be in the context of warband formation.
Hello Robert Matthiesen,
“One must ever court and win one’s own magic, much as one must ever court and win one’s life-long spouse. As Pico della Mirandola once wrote, “To work magic is to be wed to the Cosmos” (Magicam operare non est aliud quam maritare mundum).”
Thank you, from my heart!
Scotlyn, CR Patiño, Jessi, Onething.
Firstly I hope I don’t offend or upset anyone by foolishly adding my 2 cents as this is a difficult conversation for many people…
As someone who spent way too much time investigating the vaccination quandary about 7-ish years ago around the time my daughter was born, and have kept a watch of the conversation in the meantime, I believe I have a few worthwhile things to add to this discussion.
One way to look at this, is as upstream and downstream conversations. To discuss whether we should all be vaccinated for a particular vaccine is best thought through downstream of understanding the vaccine (how it works, how effective, how safe, etc).
e.g. Here in Australia when my wife was pregnant, there was a big push to vaccinate all pregnant mothers with the Whooping Cough Vaccine because there was an uptick in occurrence of the illness.
My wife took this vaccine when she was pregnant as was government policy during the routine doctors appointment, however I took the vaccine insert and read it afterwards. The vaccine insert specifically stated not to use on pregnant mothers as it hadn’t been tested as such! This was the starting point from where my trust in the official narrative slowly unwound.
How can we be told to trust the science which we’re told proves safety, when the manufacturer is saying the science hasn’t been done?
About the same time scientists at one of the universities had collected samples (prompted due to uptick in occurrences) and found the cases of whooping cough for the strain covered by the vaccine was very small, but all these cases were for a new strain not covered by the vaccine.
Thirdly (It’s been a while so the details might be a little hazy here but I believe the theme is correct – happy to be corrected), taking note the nature of the whooping cough vaccine doesn’t protect against the bacteria but the toxins the bacteria produces which cause the damage. Ergo the vaccine doesn’t protect against the disease, it however masks the symptoms.
This also means, there is no herd immunity for this vaccine, as it doesn’t stop the disease. A message which is repeated ad-nauesum.
Taking this one step further, the classic example of grandparents and friends told to get vaccinated before being allowed to see new babies, go ahead and get vaccinated, then get whooping cough, but as they don’t show symptoms will unknowingly pass on the disease.
With all this in mind (and other points), looking at the downstream discussion, The push to communally vaccinate for this one disease is significantly lessened.
On a side note, a number of years ago JMG wrote that science will loose it’s respect in cycles of history in years to come. I couldn’t comprehend that at the time, however I can now see how that can happen.
Having kept an eye on this subject in the last 7 years, it’s been interesting to see the ‘vaccine safety sceptic’ movement grow with better independent science, clearer understanding and more injured children. This is fascinating to watch history happening, and can see maybe 10-20 years it’ll be over and at some point “vaccine-science” will be a term of derision as “tobacco-science” is today.
I would also like to make the point not to blame doctors as whenever I tried to discuss they always admitted all they knew or had the time for was to prescribe and poke. They believe the official narrative therefore didn’t know how they worked or had any safety concerns.
One doctor in Melbourne Australia here who did challenge the official pro-vax ‘religion’ had his medical license taken away. (and the fear narrative with it’s ‘Overton window’ is a big piece of this puzzle to be understood as an upstream conversation)
Understanding narrative is a big part of how we got into the situation we are in at the moment.
(maybe I should have blathered on about that instead, but too late now 🙂 )
On this subject I must thank you for I believe in reading your blogs over the years has improved my critical thinking mindset which lead me (and way too many hours research) to the position I have on this subject today.
“People in the future will think of us the way we think of Nazis, and I see no reason to disagree with their assessment.”
Lots of people really like the Nazis though, or are at least compulsively fascinated by them. It’s instructive to go on Youtube, and see the enormous disparity in enthusiasm for WW2 videos featuring the Germans, in comparison to those featuring the Allies. As the comedian Ricky Gervais put it, “I’ve spent the weekend watching the Discovery Channel, so you can ask me anything you like about sharks and Nazis.”
This is why I think that although in the future Faustian civilisation might be viewed with official disapproval, it will nevertheless be a major source of guilty fascination, especially among the disaffected. It will probably be a source of much lurid and amoral fiction, that will be looked down upon as vulgar, but will also be extremely profitable to publish.
This may not be posted in time for a response so maybe I’ll toss it up on Occult Monday.
if everyone pursues that kind of experience, who is priest, who is laity?
If they are the same experience – no one, the terms become meaningless. But from your first comment it sounds like we are talking about to very different experiences – pursuing communion with your HGA being a long arduous process and accessing your tamanous being something that you, pretty much, grow up with.
Unless you are saying that a future culture, because it assumes the experience as the norm and provides for it happening, is making what was once a difficult and long process into a rather common and expected occurrence?
OT for this post but not your topics – from “Let Trump Be Trump” book, page 101 –
“… Donald Trump has more than a fundamental grasp on a surprising number of fields, including Jungian Psychology. One of his favorite books is ‘Memory, Dreams, Reflections’, Jung’s autobiography. Steve Bannon insists that Trump came up with the idea for the names Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco, Low-Energy Jeb, and, later, Crooked Hillary, from his knowledge of Jungian archetypes.”
So how about them apples?
@JMG: Right–New England is actually more divided than a high-level perspective might assume! My impression is that RI is sort of, er, freewheeling in a lot of ways (Cianci was a more-or-less beloved cultural figure when I was in college, to the extent of having a very popular sandwich named after him at a sadly-now-extinct popular hangout on Thayer); Maine is often dissenting and odd but much more socially uptight–not politically-socially necessarily, but, well, the joke when we lived there was that if Emi and I stuck around for the next sixty years and had kids, those kids *might* not be “from away.”
And of course, in MA, which itself breaks down a lot: there’s Boston, there’s the surrounding suburbs, and then there are a bunch of very small towns out west, some of which fit the Dunwich stereotype alarmingly well. (The site where I LARP a lot had significant problems getting built, because after the owner bought a lot of land nobody was using, the locals had a town meeting where they basically accused us of practicing “dark witchcraft” out there. *I* wanted to say that we should tell them we would and threaten to involve the ACLU if they kept getting in the way, but I am not nice, and was not there.) My Mom was native Bostonian–well, Medford, but still–but also Irish Catholic, so there was an interesting mix of American tamanous and the much-more-sobornost-y impression I get from the RCC, especially in the 1940s-1960s.
(“Technically,” she always said, “I’m a lapsed Catholic, not an ex-Catholic, because *you* don’t get to decide that you’re leaving the Church.”)
Just finished ”God, War, and Providence” by J A Warren, published this year. Thought to mention it because Roger Williams dances with his tamanous throughout, and I am awed with respect for what he accomplished.
The book pretty much leapt into my hands while I took a casual glance at the new nonfiction display at the library. Took it home because scores of my 17th century ancestors lived in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York. Several fought in King Phillip’s War. Family tradition has it that at least one was Narragansett. Found two ancestors referred to by name in the book, and found breadcrumbs to others.
In a sense, I can see the United Colonies, Rhode Island and it’s dissenters, and the disenfranchised Native American tribes in myself.
Makes me wonder if the experiences of our ancestors comprise, in some way, a unique tamanous for each of us; that the roll of the dice that produced the physical person also, in some sense, produces the tamanous that accompanies that person?
@Walt: Makes a lot of sense! (And one of the interesting edge cases that comes to my mind is actually the “consensual cannibalism” bit in Germany a while back–it says something about me that my main problem with the whole thing is that you’d really need an impartial witness to make sure the thing stays consensual at least until the person in question’s dead and intervene in the case of last-minute second thoughts. But otherwise, well, each man can go to perdition in his own way and all that.)
“too much (though far from all) of the talk about searching for a personal relationship with the divine comes with the assumption that it’s about finding out just how special a cosmically destined snowflake we truly are.” See, *that* sounds like you’ve become fairly acquainted with the “otherkin” circles, or the Wives Of Snape on the Astral Plane*, or the sizable population of pagans convinced that they were Rilly For Serious You Guys burned as a witch in Salem (…right?) or a high priestess in Atlantis or Morgan la Fey. (An acquaintance of mine had the idea of sponsoring a “Main Morgaine” Thunderdome-style fight between all the proponents of the last. I’d buy a ticket.)
* Not making this up. There was also a segment of women who believed that they were married to a video game dude named Sephiroth. They would have flamewars over which one of them the Astral Guy of Choice liked best. The Necronomicon has nothing on certain corners of the Internet.
John, et al.
Coming off another discussion with the better half this morning (a frequent weekend occurrence), is it terribly Faustian of me to wish to react to the challenges of our time by Doing Something rather than Waiting For Something To Happen?
I’m flattered you felt my comments have presented some useful ideas and that you’ve kept me in such company as the many other great commenters here. This forum feels in some ways as the Greek gymnasium, just a place where many different minds and walks of life have the opportunity to present ideas and converse on those ideas. I can’t begin to count the number of times someone has commented in such a way as to help me gain a different perspective. This forum for me has been life changing.
David, by the lake, et al.
It probably is very Faustian, as well as American! One of my Russian colleagues mentioned to me that she noticed American’s are always wanting to do something or fix something. She found it hard to have some conversations with American’s because of that. Personally, I find it hard to discuss things without trying to reach some conclusion or a way to solve it. What else is the purpose of communication? 😉
Speaking of warbands – bigger than the official government and a lot meaner –
They have not yet reached the stage where you realize “If we are the government, we need to start shearing the sheep instead of slaughtering them.”
“… and whenever it has established its cultural forms or political control outside that region, the result is inevitably a layer of Faustian elite culture over the top of a very different cultural substrate.”
This calls to mind Daniel K. Richter’s Before The Revolution: Ancient American Pasts, which uses a similar geological metaphor to describe the way indigenous cultural forms were overlaid but not erased by successive layers of European influence.
If cultural forms are in fact shaped to whatever degree by the land itself (I think it would be pretty hard to argue that they’re not), then it certainly makes sense to look to native North American cultures for characteristic shapes and patterns, which in turn should be perceptible, even though overwhelmed, in the current Faustian pseudomorphosis.
Can anyone suggest sources of help for thinking more about this “very different cultural substrate”? I haven’t made it much further than just collecting anecdotes.
I recommend the Richter book, it’s outstanding.
Jbucks, George Bernard Shaw was about as rigidly Faustian an intellectual as there has ever been, so the quote’s very much in character.
Monk, the faith of the future Russian great culture could well be what Orthodoxy turns into now that it’s broken with Constantinople and can go its own way. In its current form, Orthodoxy depends too much on hierarchy and too little on the consensus of the faithful to fit well in a culture of sobornost.
MawKernewek, there you’re talking about groups on a smaller scale than Spengler dealt with. To him, all the various ethnic and linguistic groups that ended up as part of western European culture are subsets of the Faustian culture, just as all the various ethnic and linguistic groups in ancient Greece were subsets of the Apollonian culture, and so on. That smaller scale deserves attention, too, but it’s not what Spengler was discussing.
Scotlyn, very well put. Thank you.
Renaissance, I’ve also seen it spelled tahmahnawis, if that helps any. As for inherent weaknesses, every human society has its fatal weaknesses, which are always the flip side of its strengths; that’s why every human society has a finite lifespan.
David, bingo. Every great culture starts out with concrete realities and eventually goes so deep into abstraction that the concrete realities that sustain it fall apart, and down we go.
Jdm, I hope you’re right. My very occasional visions of the future — no way to vouch for their accuracy in advance, of course — show the dryland from the Cascades and Sierra Nevadas east to the Great Plains as the kind of sun-scorched desert you get in the eastern Sahara, where no one lives at all.
David, you actually get that kind of pragmatic goal-oriented thinking in every great culture, for the simple reason that it works well in some areas of life. (Your Roman engineer, planning the route of an aqueduct, was not guided by general feelings.) You also get your wife’s approach in every great culture, because it also works well in some areas of life. (If you try to run your emotional life or your creative activities by the kind of rule-based method that works well for engineering, the results will not be good.) Wisdom is among other things the ability to know which one is likely to get the best results in which situation, and how conflicts between them might best be resolved.
Phutatorius, yes, and other kinds of equally nasty pollution will be found in a lot of other places. We’re leaving quite a mess for our descendants.
Tidlosa, I think it goes pretty deep, and the stereotypes you’ve referenced are simply the surface reflections of something much more complex and interesting.
Walt, there’s a difference between a pseudomorphosis, in Spengler’s sense of the term, and the ordinary processes of cultural exchange. Every healthy society engages in an ongoing series of exchanges with other societies, picking up things that make sense within its own worldview while other societies do the same. A pseudomorphosis takes place when the elite classes of one society attempt to make it over completely in the image of another, dominant and charismatic society, the way that Third World societies in the 20th century modeled themselves on Europe and America, complete with skyscrapers, parliamentary democracy, and business suits. The things you’ve described are classic examples of ordinary, healthy cultural exchange, but they’re not pseudomorphoses in Spengler’s sense.
Ron, delighted to hear it. Deloria’s one of the great American thinkers, and deserves much more attention than he’s been given.
Dwig, thanks for this.
Monk, good. That’s an important part of it.
James, that seems very sensible. I’d say that the nearest approach we can have to truth is the one Karl Popper sketched out in his works on the foundations of science: a statement can be considered more or less true if it’s capable of disproof, but nobody’s yet succeeded in disproving it.
Aron, thanks for this!
Chris, interesting indeed. I’m glad to hear it.
KNS, you’re welcome and thank you!
Phil K., well, of course. The return of the repressed is one of the enduring processes in history.
Anthony, that’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s a long difficult process in Faustian culture because all our cultural imperatives push the other way; that won’t be true in the future culture whose arrival five or six centuries from now I’m predicting.
Denys, fascinating. I wasn’t aware of that.
Isabel, that’s about what I thought. Thank you!
Ottergirl, I’ve become very fond of Roger Williams since moving here. As for the ancestral thing, that’s a reality, no question; as a descendant of a long line of Scots Presbyterians I can see how that influence shapes my thinking, even though I’ve never been to a Presbyterian service and my father stopped going when he was a child. I’m not really sure what to make of it, but it’s there.
David, no, that’s called Yang as opposed to Yin… 😉
Patricia M, yep. We’re getting there.
Jonathan, thanks for the reference! I’ll definitely want to check that one out.
As for the next pseudomorphosis, my vote’s for the Meycan empire, as outlined in the Meriga of Star’s Reach…
@Prizm: Ooh, that hits home. One of the things I’ve been trying to work on of late is suppressing the impulse to always be working toward a goal or having a plan or whatnot*, and just trying to enjoy whatever’s going on for what it is, while it’s going on. It’s one of the harder things I’ve attempted, and I’m sort of inclined to blame Calvinism and the general “idle hands do the Devil’s work” principle.
* Especially because I’m lucky enough to have done the thing I really wanted to do with my life–publish a novel–and I’m neither financially ambitious, family-oriented, nor the sort of person who’d run for high office (besides, any examination of my past would disqualify me for sure).
OK, nothing deep here; just thought you might get a chortle out of this.
When you were describing tamanous, I got a fit of the giggles. See, I’ve recently been “promoted” to Administrator of my Moose Lodge. (The scare quotes are because at this point, I’ve received more condolences than congratulations….) I don’t even officially start the job until Friday and I’m already embroiled in a controversy.
We tried having a blues & jazz band on Wednesday night instead of country.
I expected some push-back, but what confused me was all the complaints that you can’t dance to it. Excuse me? The dance floor was full all night. Finally, I cornered one particularly vocal gentleman to explain.
After some back and forth, it boiled down to this: you can’t line dance to blues.
I told him that not everyone likes to line dance; some of us just like to follow the music. He drew himself up to full height and with that special indignation that only elderly gentlemen can muster, splutteringly denounced me in the most insulting way he could think of:
“You… you… you… hippie!!
…and stormed out of my office.
(FYI, as I was born at the tail end of 1964, the closest I ever came to being a hippy was dressing up as one for Halloween…)
Just thought with your time in fraternal orders, you’d appreciate this.
OT but may be important: https://globalnews.ca/news/4628088/brett-kavanaugh-rape-accusation-lie/?utm_source=Article&utm_medium=MostPopular&utm_campaign=2014
I wonder if this is the result of the working to keep Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court. You know, the one that called for their truth to come out….
JMG, thanks for your kind reply. I can see where you’re coming from. I did a little more looking – monolatry is the word I was wanting, not merely henotheism. There may be some position in between. I stop short of henotheism saying that the “gods” appear in different forms to different cultures, merely (this would entail equivalency, or divine relativism), but perhaps am not a full blown monolatrist, which would entail saying that every other tradition is worshipping something utterly short of the “true God”. Maybe my position doesn’t exist yet. Thanks for responding, it was helpful. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monolatrism
As I’m reading God is red, a thought occurred that since the Faustian worldview places so much importance on time and that the world will become a paradise in a future, one which seems unreachable in our experiences, are we perhaps exacting revenge on the inhabitants of that future which we cannot be a part of by wrecking the world in which they’ll live?
Back in the first post of this sequence, someone in the comments (Dylan?) asked why different places generate different views on time. I ran out of time to comment that week, but I suspect I’m unusually well qualified to answer that and it’s relevant to this week’s post, too, so my belated answer: that springs from a level that I suspect is above even what Spengler is talking about. I’d call the underlying phenomenon the deep cultures.
I’m pretty sure I brushed one of them years ago, roughly concurrently with the first of two experiences hearing a small quiet voice (“the universe is fractal; it is self-similar at every scale”) consistent with descriptions of divine revelation — and I would not be surprised in the slightest if the phenomena are related. I’m not entirely sure which one (I got the strong impression there’s at least two deep cultures on the continent) – my impression was North America, corresponding more to the area JMG is talking about, but it’s not impossible that I was mistaken and I brushed Mesoamerica instead. Either way, I’m pretty sure it applies to at least the southern half of what are now the Great Plains.
– The core idiom of this culture’s equivalent of spacetime is fractal (hence my name for it), and I think is a ternary of “infinite individual variation” and “all is one” where both are simultaneously true, much like how the infinite panoply of gods are both separate entities and all part of the divine unity in some traditional polytheisms. Snowflakes in the original sense of the word are a good analogy: each snowflake is unique, but they’re all formed by the same processes and are all, at some level, a snowflake. This idiom is also strongly cyclical; I tend to conceptualize it as nested life cycles (cells comprising bodies, bodies comprising egregores and so on) and/or air currents, but I’ve seen one description of what was recognizably the same class of experience (in a piece of erotica, of all things) that described it by analogy to ocean waves. (The main reason I’m not entirely sure the Fractal isn’t Mesoamerica is that the Mayan calendar is exactly what I’d expect if you tried to express that transcendence as a calendar. That said, tamanous fits this vision of transcendence very, very nicely.)
(- Aside: the Fractal viewpoint would posit a very simple reason why new great cultures develop at the intersection of two psuedomorphoses: psuedomorphosis is a higher-level analogue of sexual reproduction.)
– I’m not quite as sure about the space/place binary, since that’s more likely to be contaminated with my own biases, but I think it’s similar – again, an infinite variety of places that are also all part of one endless expanse. The old Yogi Berra quote comes to mind: “wherever you go, there you are”.
– “Life here began out there” (to quote Battlestar Galactica, which IIRC was drawing off the Mormons at a couple of removes), and the Xth World mythos are both fairly likely to reassert themselves in some form as the Faustian pseudomorphosis ends; I’m pretty sure the Hopi sipapu is drawing off of something real.
– Relating to both of the above: It’s hard to tell, especially with United States culture interfering, but there might be a secondary theme of “finding your own place/piece of infinity” in a future North American high culture. If so, it probably has some downsides; for example, my impression is that NIMBY is unusually strong in North America, and that may also be a manifestation of this deep culture. (“I found my place, I don’t want to have to go looking for it again!”) More generally, I’m not entirely sure that “Native American” isn’t a hilarious joke, even for tribes that have lived here for ten thousand years.
– Astrology is likely to have pride of place again, since it fits extremely neatly into Fractal idioms (cycles building greater cycles); I would not be surprised if the Fractal is the culture to answer why and to what degree astrology works.
– I suspect both statistics and computer science may survive to the Fractal in some form; both fit too neatly here to be completely lost, compsci because iteration and recursion make fit extremely neatly in Fractal idiom and statistics because it’s a decent way to point to the aforementioned variation/unity ternary in the Fractal worldview (and specifically to a vision of thresholds [i.e, cells comprising a body] that I think roughly corresponds to the traditional magical conception of planes). Statistics in particular may be to the Faustian what the scientific method was to the Magian – a technique developed during a high culture that gets adapted and brought to its full flower by a successive high culture that’s better suited for it.
With regards to pseudomorphoses:
– With JMG concurring with one of my pieces of speculation re: Cahokia and the like, I’m going to note that the second pseudomorphosis is considerably more likely than not to be Mesoamerica. Moreover, I think there’s a pretty decent chance that in the final analysis Mesoamerica goes down as the first pseudomorphosis rather than the second, because despite the best efforts of the Spanish it’s still a live entity and its influence can be clearly seen in certain parts of the US. To wit: AIUI the central religious rite of the Mesoamerican Culture (as evidenced by the Popol Vuh) was a sacred ball game attended by large portions of the community… a description that also applies very neatly to American football culture, especially at the high school level. (I rather doubt it’s a coincidence that Texas specifically gets the “high school football is the real state religion” not-a-joke, given its proximity to Mesoamerica proper.) I also suspect the same influence may have factored into the unusual brutality of Southern slavery, and if nothing else there’s a hot take in comparing American lynching to Mesoamerican human sacrifice rites.
– I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a double revolt against two simultaneous psuedomorphoses, either. (Since I know I’m not the only person in the comments who watched Babylon 5 back in the day: “Now get the hell out of our galaxy!”.)
That is very interesting. I don’t know how a vaccine could protect against the toxins, but if that is how the vaccine works, I would consider that a good thing as it means the person would get a true immunity to whooping cough while not dying from it.
Most vaccines don’t give life immunity. After getting the DPT shot 3 times, they now want everyone to get it every ten years.
@OtterGirl, that’s interesting that you say that. Over the past 8-10 years I’ve gradually become interested in the origin of names. Mine comes from the Latin Terentius, spefically the Roman playwright Publius Terentius and the Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro, both of which are appropriate, as I’ve always gravitated toward books, knowledge and the written word. Maybe there is, at least theoretically, a connection between your name and your tamanous?
Shane, when the election is held a couple of centuries from now, I expect to see you in line at the polling place! 😉
Anthony, funny. ‘Tis an ill wind that blows no minds…
Ric, heh. Please accept my condolences! I ran the Ballard Odd Fellows hall in Seattle for half a dozen years, and it was, ahem, an experience. I see you’re already chugging on down the same track…
Will, oddly enough, I was thinking that too. Mumble mumble blowback mumble mumble…
Argus, you’re welcome and thank you.
Prizm, ouch. Yeah, that makes a painful amount of sense.
Username, interesting. Toynbee agreed with you, by the way; he insisted that the Mesoamerican great culture was down but not out, and would very possibly have a resurgence on the far side of the Faustian pseudomorphosis the Spaniards brought with them.
Interesting! I wonder. It does make a certain kind of sense, doesn’t it? Names are such a huge part of our lives, seems to me, that surely there is more to the ones we end up with than just something handy to write on a “Hello, my name is…” tag. Something to ponder! I wonder what JMG’s take is.
jdm: I visited Green River this past August, and on a recommendation from my dad visited a set of rapids on the Colorado River to the northeast of the town proper. For the first time in my life, I was able to appreciate the beauty of the area. There’s something about the cottonwoods contrasting with the geometric starkness of the book cliffs.
I was reminded as I left, though, that the landscape encourages apocalyptic daydreaming on my part. Something in its greyness and its starkness.
This whole area of the U.S. is beautiful, and I grieve over what climate change will do to it.
I wonder if it’s right to say (relevant to what Steve said) that America is currently ‘rejecting’ Catholicism and reverting to its ancestral Protestantism in a similar though smaller-scale way to how China, India, Russia, and the Middle East are rejecting foreign faiths and reverting to their ancestral religions. I’m thinking of the state abuse probes that are starting now, as well as the American resistance to the current Pope.
Hello Pretentious_username. In your extraordinarily fascinating comment, there is one wee thing you said that I’d like to riff on:
“nested life cycles (cells comprising bodies, bodies comprising egregores and so on)”
Since, my personal sense of fractal reality includes a belief in the existence of autonomous, choosing/acting agents at every level (subatomic to galactic), and I have long been interested specifically in studies of the cell and its “intelligence” (scare quotes because this is most definitely a contested idea at present), I tend to reflect that my personal multicellular sense of “self” may be a type of egregore formed by the collective minds and actions of the multitude of intelligent cells that make it up (both those that are “mine” and those that are part of my microbiomic community). In passing, this would certainly explain the numerous feelings and actions “I” find myself experiencing and performing for no obvious reason except a feeling of inner compulsion or motivation.
Anyway, your phrase strongly evoked that reflection for me, so I thought I’d share.
totally agree about the South/Confederacy. I think it is much closer to Latin America, and much further from the rest of the country.
Hi, JMG, et al–
I was fully intending to continue on with my initial thoughts on Friday, but a bout of food poisoning got to me. Just–whoa! I have never experienced chills and shakes the like of that before. In my delirium, for some reason I was focusing on a factoid that I think I read on Chris Martenson’s site, that a $1,000,000,000,000.00, if laid out in a stack along the side of the highway from Albany, NY, towards the east, would reach Springfield, Massachusetts, and for some reason I had an image of it landing in my bank account as “funny money.” What a strange spy novel it became….
Anyway, I’m in Laramie, and I feel the spirits here are either dormant or anesthetized. Not sure why. I had a small stint at a nature preserve in Cold Brook, NY for 6 months, and I hoped to connect with the trees there, or the land. Not a peep. I have come to the conclusion that, despite my desire, if the land doesn’t feel like it agrees with a person, it’s not going to give much to you. This makes me wonder whether Laramie is indeed “home,” while places like Short Mountain in Tennessee and central North Dakota’s land really electrifies me. Albany felt like a good place for me to learn stuff, but eventually its lessons finished, and I was late to understand that. Despite this lack of connection to the spirits of this land, I feel that the place encourages risktaking in some good ways. There’s not much overhead here… yet.
Weirdly, I did feel a kinship with parts of Los Angeles, when I drove there years ago to meet some fellow screenwriters and a producer. I don’t want to go there (though my Astro*Carto*Graphy for both LA and SF features lovely Venus and Jupiter lines). This idea of the land bringing out some of the Tamanous in some of us at any rate, really makes a lot of sense, and I wonder if I might not end up being some sort of roving Tamanous ambassador at some point. LOL
Years ago, I tried to write a play where the cities of the United States became people, and interacted with one another. The main character was part Mexican, part Russian Jew, part Welsh and figured out he was gay. Set in 1906, for the most part in Chicago, at a meat packing plant. Fumes caused him to hallucinate into this other realm, circa 1990, where the cities were people, and “Mama Los Estados Unidos” was a grotesque character, whose food was asphalt. I wonder if I might need to return to that. I don’t think I found the real villain in that piece, and it needs a villain of some sort. In a nod to Brecht’s Jungle of Cities, I called it Cities of the Jungle.
In considering this idea of Tamanous more, I have another odd image to report. In meditation, I encountered a figure I came to know as the “Steward of the Mountain of Playwriting.” I sometimes mishear names, and thought she called herself “Carburón.” Later, I discovered I was speaking with Cerridwen in a little-known guise. She instructed me to find my various “plots’ on the mountain and go a-digging, to find my stories. I don’t always remember to do that, but I know it’s there when and if I need it.
Again, end of shift. Gotta go.
Twilight’s Last Gleaming —-
This interview I caught with Steve Bannon grabbed my attention for his assessment of the elite in this county. I think following his current trail of work post Trump Whitehouse would be interesting to do. He keeps mentioning the upcoming crisis and I feel like his thoughts about the future overlap with yours, although I don’t have a deep knowledge of his work, just what I’ve read in the media though pieces.
“If you held assets the last 12 years – stocks, hedge funds – you had the greatest increase in wealth in American history. If you are a working class stiff, the 40% of American families can’t put their hands on $400 in cash, the equity in their homes is $10,000, pension funds are drying up, you got no benefit the last twelve years – most listeners are two paychecks away from oblivion, especially as they get older…..The question has to be how did we get this concentration of wealth and power? The whole civic society rests on the shoulders of the deplorables…..The military, the cops, the people who go to work everyday, plus they pay all the taxes.
We are run by an elite that are both corrupt and incompetent. Hey if they were just corrupt, but competent, we could probably give them a pass. But they make so many massive decisions that f*ed up things and destroy this country, particularly destroying it greatest resource, the deplorables. The best thing we have is the deplorables, the back bone is the working class of this country that got us through the Revolution, the Civil War, it got us through World War 2, and upon its shoulders, it will get through this next crisis, upon the shoulders of Donald Trump.”
If the Democrats experience great election losses tomorrow (which I believe they will), everyone keep your heads on swivel. The reaction will be immense.
I stood in line yesterday for something for an hour yesterday and the struck up a conversation with a man my age who identified himself as a progressive and a Trump hater. He said his daughter is in college in Scotland and everyone there tells her how great America is. I immediately replied I love this country and it’s the best thing this world has going. He said we were made up of racists and misogynists. I said sure the media will share some story of one person who did something awful, but things are way better than they were 40 years ago and we were never going back.
He tried to bully me then, so I had some fun with him sharing stories of our post industrial town poverty, drug round-ups by feds (200 people a year like clockwork), and drug deaths. All the programs we’ve tried to fix it have failed, and how it was finally getting better here now that people were getting jobs with good pay. We are just beginning to experience a slight economic recovery here.
He said we are divided. I said no we are not – we all want the same things – justice, good jobs, have fun, etc. The issue is each side in the media keeps fanning the flames. We are good people who want the best for each other.
He got really angry. His face turned red and I think there was steam coming out of his ears. I feel bad for a man who hates his country and thinks his fellow citizens are awful people.
That guy looked like a regular middle class everyday white dude. He really believes that half the country is evil. He was ready to go nuclear. So please be careful out there.
Re knowing which tool to use for what task
I suspect that I am not terribly wise. Much more comfortable with things that can be analyzed, assessed, and understood.
I caught myself, as the wife and I were discussing The Point Of It All and I was trying to frame things in terms of the Tree of Life, saying “Up here is Kether, the capital-S Self and first-born of the Unmanifest, and we’re all trapped down here in Malkuth, the physical plane.” My choice of terminology is telling.
I’m far from sure that it’s blowback: part of the spell was focused on “May their [the women accusing Kavanaugh] truth prevail”. This may very well be the spell working as written….
Thinking more about the influence of North American lands on the people who dwell in them…
There was a bit of conversation here about the age differences among different parts of the land (northeastern U.S. vs. the Pacific coast was the example), and it’s interesting to imagine what effects those differences might have on the inhabitants of those places. So what, then, about the fact that humans arrived to this land so much more recently than in most parts of the Old World? Even if humans have been here quite a bit longer than the most accepted estimates say, the lands of the Old World would still have immeasurably more experience in living and dealing with humanity. To the Americas, having last seen our evolutionary ancestors hundreds of millions of years ago, humans would have been a very different animal. And vice versa; to the first people here, this must have been a very new world indeed.
What might that have meant for the quality of the relationship between people and the land? Would it still mean something now? I certainly have no idea what time scales matter here. If Jung notes observable physical differences in a matter of generations, the influence must begin to take effect pretty immediately. Maybe the millennia that people have spent here are enough to have long since worked through whatever had to be worked through. If the land shapes the bodies, languages, religions, and cultures of the people who live with it, then I think the development of successful cultures and even some great civilizations in the Americas would be evidence of people and land having come to terms.
I’m wondering out loud here. Can anyone suggest ways to think about this? Do geology or occult philosophy have anything to say?
@ Patricia Mathews
Re the convention article
I also saw that article. I know it has become something of a pet peeve of mine, but I caught the reference to the author’s notion of “good” changes that the “evil conservatives” will of course not consider — among these being reapportionment of the Senate.
Sigh. Reapportionment of the Senate is the one amendment that is expressly proscribed perpetually. “[N]o State, without its consent, shall be deprived of equal representation in the Senate.” From the end of Article V. (The other proscribed amendment was the temporary ban on amendments impacting the importation of slaves.)
Personally, I think a convention would be one of the more reasonable paths by which we might be able to effectively transition to the has-been power we are destined to become. Certainly, it is a peaceful means by which the federal power may be circumscribed. I’m hopeful that we might pull one off in the next decade or so.
Darwinists the world over like to insist that Darwinism doesn’t require materialism but that can’t be shown. If it could be shown, the ID crowd would’ve done it by now. I have spent much time deconstructing ID/creationist arguments include those that try to reconcile evolution and creation and it is a fruitless endeavor. The people who manage to hold Darwinism and not be materialists are simply compartmentalizing and not acknowledging the cognitive dissonance. For Christian Darwinists, or other “Darwinists of the book” for example, they either 1) mythologize large/important sections of scripture and/or 2) subscribe to the NOMA concept and ignore NOMA’s serious deficiencies. They are the ones sticking their heads in the sand, not me. In fact a lot of late Christian apologetics RE: the evolution/creation debate reconcile the two in manner than divorces evolution from Darwinism (see Denis Lamoureux). The problem is that you can’t do that either. You can’t pick and choose Darwin, accept his science but not his materialist approach. If evolution is true then it is natural processes all the way back. ALL alternatives are unfalsifiable and not science.
‘Tamanous’ is a new idea for me, but I have many times reflected that the North American land reached out and grabbed my ancestors, most of whom have been here since at least c.1750. Some came in the 1600s. I have great affection for the wondrous cultural heritage of Europe, but it is the affection of a grown child for a much revered parent, a child who knows that her own life can never be that of the parent.
I believe that the American “conformism” of the mid-20thC was culturally induced by use of powerful incantations by the advertising industry. The dirty secret of a mass production economy is that it requires and demands a mass market in which everyone must participate. The social role of advertising went way beyond persuading people to buy. Especially on radio and TV, it delineated the boundaries of respectable behavior. “Respectable” people were people who plugged into the mass market, and thereby did their civic duty of helping sustain business and employment. I hear an echo of this attitude in Mme. Clinton’s infamous deplorables remark–those others who can’t or won’t afford to live well and look nice.
American novels from the mid and early 20thC depict a very different society in which a wide range of eccentricity and “cussedness” was accepted and tolerated, see for example the novels of Carson McCullers and Sherwood Anderson, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter in particular.
There are of course, various tightly knit enclaves throughout the USA, the Pueblo towns, the Jewish Orthodox communities, the Amish villages, the various Chinatowns for example, but those are tolerated only if and because they don’t presume to rule over the rest of us. A recent “hot-button” issue which I think illustrates American individualism is the continuing furor over the Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade. Almost no one likes the idea of abortion; while it may be legal, in most neighborhoods it is not at all socially acceptable, being seen as a confession by both parents of failure of character. Statements such as “Well, I don’t want the responsibility” on his side and “I don’t want to go through a 9 months pregnancy” on hers are viewed with open contempt in even the poorest neighborhoods. But, what the American public was and is not prepared to tolerate is a pack of conservative Catholics, Southern Evangelicals, and Mormons presuming to dictate to the rest of us how we should live.
I would assert that American individualism is not anarchy, nor anything like it, rather it is an understanding that within the limits laid down by the Constitution, and established law, passed by Congress and signed by the President, you can pretty much live as you like so long as you don’t offend against public decency, which will be established by continuing negotiation.
My personal observation and experience of the South of the Border migrants is that these cultures are far more conformist than Americans ever think of being. It is my view that not even they will be able to impose their cultural norms on that part of North America which lies north of the Rio Grande, and certainly neither will East or West Asians, while the Central European diaspora has already failed in that project, although not without doing a lot of harm on their way to cultural oblivion.
JMG: “I’ll consider a post on the astrological ages one of these days.” Oh, yes please! It is a fascinating subject…one I’d love to see you delve into at length some day. I just looked over this article at astro.com which you might find interesting (http://www.astro.com/astrology/aa_article160602_e.htm). Any idea whether Spengler incorporated any astrological insights in his work?
I have lived in Albuquerque for 50 years, and in New Mexico even longer (6 years in Las Cruces). When my daughter and her family and I drove up to Durango, Colorado, for a family reunion, as soon as we hit the mountains and meadows and tall trees, a dryness I didn’t even know was there lifted from my spirits and I felt I was finally home. Alas, we had to go back all too soon for me.
When I went to visit my oldest daughter in Gainesville, FL, who had been moving down there when we met in Durango, I also felt “This is a nice little town. (Well, for some values of “little'”. It is a city of 130,000 people) It feels real, and decent.” I could connect to it, even though it’s as flat as a flour tortilla.
For what that’s worth.
“It’s for this reason that traditional Russian villages were arranged in a series of concentric circles with a holy place at the center, houses around that, gardens around that, fields further out, and the forest sweeping away into the distance beyond: each part of the village has its place in a pattern that makes it formally equal with the others.”
In the last few decades, Russian archeologists have discovered a number of ancient settlements, the most famous of which is Arkaim, that were built according to the same basic pattern. Arkaim is known to be at least 3500 years old.
Spengler noted in The Decline of the West that traditional Russian cities exhibited a similar pattern, with a fortified stronghold (“kremlin” in the generic sense of the term), a cathedral and an adjoining marketplace in the middle and the rest of the city laid out in concentric circles surrounding the center. Clearly, this is a very old and deeply rooted pattern in the Russian land and psyche. Indeed, modern day Moscow is still laid out on a concentric pattern reminiscent of traditional Russian settlements.
“Toynbee agreed with you, by the way; he insisted that the Mesoamerican great culture was down but not out, and would very possibly have a resurgence on the far side of the Faustian pseudomorphosis the Spaniards brought with them.”
Spengler expressed similar views in The Hour of Decision, seeing the Iberian pseudomorphesis in Mexico and the rest of Latin America as a temporary phenomenon. He wrote “In Mexico City there stands a statue of the last Aztec emperor, Guatemozin. No one would dare to put up one of Cortez” and described the Mestizo and Native American peoples of Latin America as “the highly gifted Indian race living from Mexico to Chili”. He admired the Mesoamericans and believed they would come into their own once again as a great culture as the Faustian Culture lost its influence.
I do not see a willingness to compromise in either of you. Onething’s response, particularly, felt like a virtual slap across the face to me. I don’t think I demanded anything unreasonable from you, but instead you called me naive, denounced the falsehood of official rhethoric, then provided an alternative rhethoric that pressumably I must take at face value in order to keep talking about the subject. I tend to distrust people that throws me lots of isolated factoids that I am unaware off and then demands compliance, but of course that speaks more about myself than the validity of your claim.
I remaind you, in my worldview every politician and public servant are guilty until proven innocent. That factoid is no broad permission to break whichever rule we happen to not fancy. Under the same logic, drunkards would be raving all around against DUI laws, businessmen against labor laws, pretty much everyone against taxation in general, etc. I am also less than thrilled that you keep dragging the discussion towards the Me-Against-Evil-System duality and keep pretending that your decisions do not have a Community scope. One would think it would be easy to say “yes, I considered how my decision to not vaccinate would affect my neighbour, but decided it did not matter at the end because XYZ”. I do not think taking God’s name in vain as a preffix to that was called for either.
It occurrs to me that while we do not disagree on the actual facts, we sport very different sets of values that color those facts and make them irreconciliable. I agree that a history of lies and abuses from public health officials would have a tragic effect on the people, the unwillingness to listen to any of them regardless of anything. Please consider if you may have reached this stage already, or what it would take for you to reach said stage if you are still willing to give some credit to the official stance.
In my case, probably a reassesment of cost vs benefits of vaccination is due. I am far from convinced that you are right, – it was Richelieu who said “if you give me six lines …” and you have been perusing much more than that in order to build up your arguments, – but I notice that my mental model does not account for some of the stuff you presented. This discussion keeps popping up from time to time, so I will let you know one way or the other.
Onething – You made a passing reference to the possible impact of vaccinations on “gut health”. I know nothing about that, but I have read a set of published scientific papers claiming that glyphosate (“Roundup”) herbicide can be toxic to gut microbes. If you want to see people talk past each other, listen to Monsanto/Bayer explain why glyphosate is not toxic to animal physiology, and a holistic-medicine advocate explain why glyphosate harms the bacteria in our guts (which we need).
A day or two ago in these comments, someone published a link to a Brazilian story about acute glyphosate exposure and spontaneous abortion. In that story, a “scientist” asserted that genetically-modified organisms would be expected to reduce the use of agro-chemicals, but in fact that had not happened. It should have come as no surprise (if indeed the expectation was genuine): “Roundup-Ready” GMOs are designed to tolerate doses of herbicide that kill the weeds around them!
Twenty-three years ago, my wife used Roundup in a futile attempt to improve our lawn (by killing it, and starting over with seed). Three years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer. Just coincidence? We’ll never know. But for me, it’s personal. (She has made an amazing recovery, and we eat a largely-organic diet now. It costs a little more, but cancer is expensive, too.)
OT, but interesting…
Scotlyn: I’ve been thinking in very similar terms for half a decade now, including things like trying to envision what the body looks like from the perspective of a cell, so you’re in good company. (I have an essay draft sitting around somewhere comparing the morphologies of cells, organisms, and egregores.) I’ve gotten some interesting ideas out of it, too – for example, democracy functioning as a proprioceptive system in larger egregores, and castes and education as the cultural analogues of cell differentiation.
Hi Scotlyn, glad someone else is interested in this region.
One thing I find very intriguing about Rojava is that apparently, their largest volunteer-militia used to be mixed – gender but has now divided into an all male and an all female militia. My understanding is that they consider this a temporary measure, and in some ways reuniting the YPG and the YPJ will be their declaration of peace. It seems they’d prefer not to segregate along gender lines but do so for practical purposes during an emergence. I feel like like that’s a quite telling detail about the whole story.
John, it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one. 🙂 It seems the esoteric path is like one long continuous paradigm shift. Or perhaps every day is a new shift. Perhaps it’s dangerous to learn to look at history from an occult perspective. It’s probably for the best that more people don’t. Could create total chaos if they did. One begins to think in radically different ways than the majority of people and if they express it, they become a threat to the status quo. It’s probably why almost every attempt in history to organize society along the lines of occult philosophy usually creates more problems than it remedies. In the words of Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men”: “You can’t handle the truth!”
Alright, well, I wasn’t going to stick my vulnerable Taurusian body parts out into the path of the vaccination needle, but since the topic’s been reopened this week, what the heck.
Here’s my admittedly fringe view on the subject…for whatever it’s worth:
Upthread KNS talked about (formerly) not really grasping the current and accelerating crisis of faith in the scientific establishment. That’s never been my problem. I grew up with a renegade animal nutritionist for a father, an enormous influence that greeted me every time I sat down at the dinner table.
My father’s doctoral work in animal nutrition convinced him without a doubt that what the health profession was spouting about proper nutrition in the 70s and 80s was in fact pure bunk, backwards even – a viewpoint that is, happily for him, bearing out in recent research.
So I was taught from an early age that even the most stridently proclaimed doctrine handed down from on high is not beyond the pale in terms of oppositional criticism. That allowance has stuck with me ever since (ironically, much to the chagrin of my father!).
I went back to college late in life and got that biology degree I had always planned to get, got a “real” job, and lasted a little over 3 years as a government scientist. It was already too late. And like KNS, having our first child just made it worse.
This was about the time BPA hit the headlines, so glass baby bottles were in and plastics were right out. We also opted for cloth diapers, as wrapping our little girl in plastic and ultra absorbent crystals didn’t sit well with us either (before even getting to the sheer amount of waste involved). When the inevitable diaper rash arrived on the scene, instead of choosing something from a laundry list of popular ointments, we formulated an organic herbal healing salve that is now a cornerstone of our herbal products business. (And probably the best skin and tissue healing ointment in the world! Prove me wrong…)
Apologies for the shameless plug…but all of you, smart as you are, ought to at least have that little facet of life taken care of! 😉
In other words, vaccination was just another costly “solution” foisted on us by an unscrupulous profit-mongering establishment. I still believe that a decade later. Except now my children are the tallest, fittest, smartest members of their cohort. And neither of them has ever had the first vaccination. And although there is undoubtedly a genetic factor at work there, I believe it has plenty to do with the fact that we were so willing to SUBTRACT so many things from their lives that our culture insists they ought to have. There’s that renegade upbringing again!
I haven’t darkened the door of a conventional doctor’s office in 12 years, following a time when I was put on medication for anxiety and the cure was oh so much worse than the disease. At the time I didnt know I was never going to see a doctor again but that was the beginning of a long trend, and the aforementioned crisis of faith. I look at modern pharmaceuticals and read about their so-called “side” effects and wonder how any marginally-thoughtful human being could ever put him/herself in that harm’s way.
To me vaccinations are just the next thing to be shredded by long term evidence, and the anti-vaxxer! shrieking that accompanies the denunciations from the establishment hold precisely zero sway over my beliefs. Wait. That’s not entirely accurate. The self-righteous browbeating actually makes me MORE steadfast in my beliefs…
Is mine a faith-based perspective? Sure. But it’s a scientific and humanistic one too, and more importantly, one based on historical evidence. Four and a half decades of direct observation has shown me that the scientific establishment very rarely knows what it’s talking about. Instead I have faith that roughly 3 billion years of coevolution with the planet’s biota has better prepared us to deal with random pathogens than a century or two of monkeys, well, monkeying around in labs has done.
I have no room for human hubris when it comes to protecting my children. And I know that must strike some folks as a really odd perspective. Sort of like my Dad’s views on nutrition were.
And again, it’s just my .02
Thanks to Matthias for opening this can of worms, and to Scotlyn for such a wise response, and to KNS, and everyone else who offered so much to the topic. May a satisfactory conclusion reach us all one day…or not.
I’m hoping Barbara Ehrenreich takes a dim view of smoking bans in her book. Methinks the health benefits are overrated, and hopes that the pendulum swings the other way once the next Awakening generation hits center stage. Nothing is more emblematic of North American puritanism than the excessive smoking ban.
@Scotlyn et al, re: vaccines:
I am enjoying the generally civil and well-reasoned discussion. If you’d like to add a meager point to your dataset, here’s what we have done.
My husband and I were both plagued by respiratory and ear infections as children. Husband has asthma. We kind of expected our kids to be similarly plagued. Instead, they are remarkably healthy. There are two things I think contributed greatly to this: no antibiotics, and delayed/minimized vaccinations.
I’m not all fired up about either thing as some sort of political issue. I’ve resisted antibiotics because I’ve read some of the literature, and am concerned about their overuse, resistance issues, and there’s pretty good evidence that after you take them, your gut microbiome never really recovers. Also good evidence that antibiotic use in the first year of life at least doubles the incidence of asthma and allergies. I’d still use them for something life-threatening, but… so far we’ve avoided them. The kids haven’t needed them– they get sick, and my youngest has been caught licking shopping carts! 🙁 But so far, they get over it without much drama. We monitor for high fevers, keep Oral Rehydration Salts in our medkit for emergencies, keep them hydrated and make them rest… and they get better.
Vaccines weren’t something I thought about at all until a close relative had a bad experience with them. Each time they took their infant for the scheduled round of shots (and this happened three times, to an infant), the child developed a 106-degree fever and had to be taken to the hospital, the same evening. Three times. Each time, the doctors roundly denied that the vaccines had anything to do with it, and insisted on sticking to the prescribed schedule. The child is… not quite right. There could be any number of reasons for this. Maybe the bad reactions were a result of there being something else going on with the child already. We’ll never know. But for me, it introduced doubt. All the pediatrician papers I received talked about how rare complications were, and how mild, etc. But… that’s all based on the VAERS data. And here I actually knew someone who had adverse effects that I KNEW had not been reported. And the way the situation had gone down, it seemed obvious that this was standard procedure. How many data points are missing from VAERS because of this attitude in the medical profession? VAERS is obviously not working with a complete dataset. That leaves safety stats as kind of a huge question mark.
I’m not, in the end, anti-vaxx. My kids have had some of them. But I’ve been exceedingly cautious, and slow. Neither of them had their first vax until after age 1. I’ve kept them current on tetanus since, because of where we live, and our attitudes about taking risks and playing outdoors. Everything else… we pick and choose, and we are waaaay “behind schedule” on most. We’ve never gotten more than one shot in a six-week span. Ultimately we would like to travel internationally with the kids, and if we do that, we’ll make sure we’re all current on Hep A &B, polio, typhoid (I’ve had all of these due to travel), and yellow fever if it seems relevant. We don’t bother at all with Varicella (pretty sure the kids have already had it anyway– maybe we’ll get their titres checked instead).
I’m certainly not going to attack anyone for getting shots or not getting them. It seems obvious that there’s not a single right answer for everyone. I wish NIH would put more effort into figuring out which people are likely to react badly to them, so that they could possibly be identified *before* they are permanently damaged. I would love to see a quick saliva test your doc could do, and say “hey, great, your kid should be fine with this vaccine!” or, alternately “Oh, darn, you have xyz factor, you shouldn’t have this shot.” But at this point, it seems like if you even suggest that, you’re an evil “antivaxxer”, and if anybody in govt or pharma admits there’s a downside to vaccines, it’s all “OMG evil corporate conspiracy!” That doesn’t leave space for any reasoned discussion or problem solving at all.
Will J –
Your comment about the blowback from the Kavanaugh spell reminded me of an article on The Federalist website yesterday, link below, and it looks like Justice is indeed on a roll: two of the anti-Kavanaugh actors (Julie Swetnick and attorney Michael Avenatti) have been recommended to the DoJ for further inquiry for making false claims, and more uncomfortable facts and inconsistencies have come to light in the continuing investigation of Blasy-Ford’s allegations. Another accuser, Judy Munro-Leighton, has recently admitted that her story was a lie and that she had never even met Kavanaugh.
I wonder if these mages have been doing spells for today’s election?
Hi Pretentious_Username… Those sound like congenial subjects to think and reflect upon! Thank you! Might I commend gaining an acquaintance with the thinking of scientists such as Humberto Maturana & Francisco Varela (Autopoiesis), Lynn Margulis (bacterial intelligence), Barbara McClintock & James A Shapiro (genomic intelligence), if you have not yet run across them? Likewise, I’d welcome names of any interesting thinkers that have added something to your own insights in this regard?
Hello, Christopher Henningsen. You said “their largest volunteer-militia used to be mixed – gender but has now divided into an all male and an all female militia.” Thank you. I did not know this, but will be interested, like yourself, in seeing how it develops.
I would note that, in a totally different context, but where the aim was to put a stop to endless & self-defeating wars, the Haudenosaunee incorporated into their Great Law of Peace, a strong system of checks and balances between a female-led institution (the clan mothers) and a male-led institution (the clan chiefs) – one of their innovations which the US Constitution writers chose NOT to adopt.
I do not assume it is written in stone that warband times MUST be bad for the security, autonomy and authority of women, but I’d like to see practical examples of where it isn’t, so as to hold firmly to the knowledge that it is possible, for times when it is.
Well unfortunately it is late in the day. I think you are right that Darwinian evolution is materialist and that belief in a divinity and Darwinian evolution cannot be reconciled. I am confused when you say that the ID crowd have tried to show that evolution requires materialism. I did not think that they disputed that?
I certainly agree that NOMA is an idiotic concept. Reality includes everything.
Now, you say that you can’t divorce evolution from Darwinism. I’d like to know why not! I adhere to ID, but not from a Christian vantage point. Perhaps the difference is that I do not adhere to his science or the materialist approach. Rather, I think that the universe and the life forms could not have arisen accidentally and without conscious intelligence existing first in the universe. And, should such a conscious intelligence exist, I think it is, shall we say, vanishingly unlikely that said intelligence would have had nothing to do with the arisal of the life forms and the fully supportive substructures that underlie them.
But evolution of things in general seems pretty obvious, and life seems to have unfolded in a logical and stepwise manner. I just don’t think it was random, I don’t think accidental mutations have a role. I am leaning toward endogenous intelligence – that there is an intelligence in life which in its strivings finds ways to evolve. Whatever. I don’t think we have an idea at this time how it happened.
It is simply not true that if evolution is true it must be ‘natural.’ By natural, you mean that if our universe is one in which consciousness is a bedrock reality, then our universe is not natural! I hope you see the problem here. Or, you are defining evolution, any evolution worthy of the name, that is, as only being materialist (natural).
OK, I think I see where you are coming from. Yes, if there is conscious intent and input, even from one’s own DNA and not from a god, any kind of direction, that to you invalidates evolution as a concept.
But when you say such ideas are not falsifiable, well, I have read some very amusing essays on the unfalsifiability of Darwinian evolution, which in my opinion has been satisfactorily falsified, yet just as Biblical inerrancy in my opinion has been falsified, it does not mean that believers will adjust their worldview.
Now I have a question for you – and it is late but I will check past tomorrow in case you have answered – what category will you put this endeavor into if, somehow, we find that the universe has consciousness as its basal reality, from which all else emanates and therefore there is no such thing as anything existing outside of it and of will, let us say that such is the true situation, then if it is not science, what would you call the study of the unfolding of life?
I am sorry if I seemed harsh. I read through my and KNS’ posts and I did not see either of us taking the name of God in vain or accusing you of naivete.
It is very possible that we brought up issues you weren’t aware of. Some of the things KNS said are things I was not aware of.
Vaccination was presented to me at the age of 5 as a simple thing. But it turns out, as nearly anything in biology will, to be so much more complicated than anyone thought. I mean, gosh, they are now finding out a lot about what they call the microbiome or the gut biome and how it affects health and immunity. 5 years ago, you never heard of that.
This is one of the reasons I think using force is a problem. We don’t have full knowledge. Things always turn out to be much more complex than first thought. Getting a vaccine injury if you did it willingly is rather different than if you did not want the vaccine and then lost your child or the child lost its health.
I don’t see myself as uncompromising on this issue!
And I am angry that with overvaccination against things that are rarely deadly in healthy kids, like measles, that I was denied the chance to get lifetime immunity from measles, as all my older siblings got. Nor could I protect my babies in utero or from breast feeding, because the shot doesn’t give that kind of immunity. And despite 3 vaccinations, I no longer show immunity in my blood.
But maybe I have benefited from herd immunity, because I have not ever known anyone to have measles.
This article for some reason communicates to me a hint of the traditions to come, born in the land of the Cuyahoga. A mixing of what existed here before with what has happened to the land. https://beltmag.com/conjuring-steel/
I knew Trump wasn’t serious about change (aka “lying”) when he dumped Bannon.
Re your nutty man in line—I’ve been seeing this on liberal web sites ever since Trump and the Deplorables blasphemed the Goddess Hillary. A lot of posters are unhinged by their hatred. They are psychotic; they have lost touch with reality. I didn’t see this with conservatives and Obama. They hated him and his policies but stayed in touch with reality; they mainly confined themselves to obsessive Internet whining about him and tasteless jokes. I speak only of web sites and blogs since I don’t go near anti-social media.
Re: the old alt-right, ctrl-left, and esc-center: I just saw this in Quartz.com:
Yet the libertarian think tank Niskanen Center in Washington, DC, argues the moderate middle is the future. Niskanen president Jerry Taylor wrote in an Oct. 29 essay that he is dropping the libertarian banner the center has shared with the likes of the more conservative Cato Institute. In a 3,595-word farewell to the libertarian world, he says libertarianism, and ideology itself, is a dead end. “I have abandoned that libertarian project…because I have come to abandon ideology,
his disillusionment began years ago after working as a paid climate skeptic for the Cato Institute. He eventually came to see opposing action on climate change as both scientifically misguided, and wrong.”
This is one of the most cheering things I’ve read in a week! I’m actually registered as Libertarian, but have also turned my back on the party due to their recent “liberty for polluters” position (which displaced their “regulation only to protect the commons” position).
@ Violet: You said, “…[C]ertain spaces such as community gardens, community theaters, and libraries seem to function as public institutions for helping people have the resources they need for cultivating right relationships with their tamanous.”
Yes! Thank you for articulating this! A few rare small schools that I have seen seem to embody this function too. I know I’ve found such a space when, looking around at the inhabitants, all kinds of “weird” seem normal, accepted with no more than a shrug, and even admired.
–Heather in CA
According to Michael, the first wave of the next Idealist/Prophet/Reactive generation /(that’s the one that comes of age during a High/Awakening/Reaction) began to be born in 2016. They’ve named it the “Savior” generation, so I seriously doubt that they’ll react against the smoking ban. They’ll begin to make their presence known a bit earlier than usual.
@Pogonip I saw the mental breakdown when Obama was in office. A group of evangelical christians I knew were convinced Obama was the anti-christ here to issue in the second coming of Jesus. They didn’t post this online to persuade others because they were already in groups that believed it. And they were fervent in their belief but it wasn’t in an out of control emotional way. More matter of the fact, followed by disappointment the the country had fallen so far from christianity.
This group that hates Trump though can’t believe that others are not as passionate in their hate. I’m seeing what you are seeing and its the hate is just so vile. They post it everywhere and have no shame in walking up to others and declaring it. It really is like racism in that it is other white people who will come up to me as a white person and start in on the Trump hating, like whites used do with other races.
So what did you think of ending of Season 2 “Trump as President”? Ready to kick-off Season 3 with the return of villain Nancy Pelosi?
My daughter said we need to bring in hand-to-hand combat in arenas for some of these seats. Would really help the ratings. Lmao
Seriously though, Dems are going to threaten to open up investigations into Trump and throw subpoenas at him, and he’s just going to use it to show how they won’t work with him on legislation to help the country. It will be great footage in the re-election ads.
How much dirt do you think he collected on all these people in DC all the years he was giving to both parties and a registered Democrat?
@Pogonip I forgot to respond about Bannon. I don’t know what to think of him and Trump. I discount everything ever said in any media source about it, so I’ve got nothing to go on. Bannon is working to get populists elected anywhere he can and he sees a cataclysmic crisis occurring that will wipe out entire nations if people aren’t prepared from the bottom up. We aren’t prepared for anything cataclysmic these days.
Every time a predicted hurricane/flooding hits I am amazed that 3 days in the media reports people are out of food and water. The federal and state employees are working round the clock to save thousands of people because they don’t have 3 days worth of food. Not just a few people, but thousands.
In some cases its poverty that has people not prepared, but more often its some mix of arrogance and stupidity. “It’s not going to happen here and if it does, I can take care of myself.” I’ve never once seen a person interviewed in media who said “I was told to have a week of food but I didn’t listen, and I will do it so I am prepared.” Could be media spin to show people as victims though, makes for more clicks.
So back to Bannon…..I think he has a strong personality and Trump does to, and neither can push the other around. Bannon supports Trump because he believes Trump is the one things that can save this country.
In terms of lying…..Facts don’t matter anymore and they haven’t for awhile. We don’t make decisions based on facts, but how we feel. Trump lies, Obama lied, the media lies – people just don’t like Trump because there is something that repulses them and it’s encouraged to hate white men these days.
Well, it’s the end of the cycle, but I’m somewhat disappointed in last nights results. I wish that the Dems would have fallen short of the majority so there would be a wholesale reckoning and revamping of the Democratic party, but all the old, establishment types like Pelosi, Biden, et. al. will live to see another day.
For what it’s worth – here in New Mexico the Democratic sheriff was known to be a ” smash -bash-‘we don’t need no steenking body cameras'” Law & Order (except for his deputies) type, while the Republican was all for body cameras, accountability, community policing, and alternatives to jail. So of course I crossed party lines to vote for him. Guess what? The Democrats swept every office in our district. Either they just checked the “straight ticket” box, or else mentally voted “D=good, R=bad, L=trivial.” Shakes head …
“Well unfortunately it is late in the day. I think you are right that Darwinian evolution is materialist and that belief in a divinity and Darwinian evolution cannot be reconciled. I am confused when you say that the ID crowd have tried to show that evolution requires materialism. I did not think that they disputed that?”
I was trying to say the opposite, that ID people are trying to divide evolution from materialism, but this attempt at “reconciliation” between evolution and non-materialist philosophy I think is similarly futile to reconciliation between divinity and Darwinian evolution.
“I certainly agree that NOMA is an idiotic concept. Reality includes everything.”
Thanks for that! ‘Reality includes everything’ is the perfect quick answer to NOMA.
“Now, you say that you can’t divorce evolution from Darwinism. I’d like to know why not! I adhere to ID, but not from a Christian vantage point. Perhaps the difference is that I do not adhere to his science or the materialist approach. Rather, I think that the universe and the life forms could not have arisen accidentally and without conscious intelligence existing first in the universe. And, should such a conscious intelligence exist, I think it is, shall we say, vanishingly unlikely that said intelligence would have had nothing to do with the arisal of the life forms and the fully supportive substructures that underlie them.”
Starting from the end of that, I too agree that if there are spiritual forces that could be called god, or gods, or demigods, or anything worthy of our respect as elevated beings, then they would most definitely would have had something to do with the present order of our world and universe, or be closely related to spiritual forces that did. What the mechanism of that was, in the face of the apparent evidence for the big bang and evolution, seems elusive.
“But evolution of things in general seems pretty obvious, and life seems to have unfolded in a logical and stepwise manner. I just don’t think it was random, I don’t think accidental mutations have a role. I am leaning toward endogenous intelligence – that there is an intelligence in life which in its strivings finds ways to evolve. Whatever. I don’t think we have an idea at this time how it happened.”
I think it is harder to describe and believe in an intentional creative force in the face of the reality of evolution than it is to believe in materialism. Now I have to admit your mention of ‘endogenous intelligence’ was inspiring, and I’ve thought about it some. The analogy that comes to me is a baby writhing to be born, born live, struggling to find its way out. Or perhaps a hatchling, fish or fowl, struggling to get out of the egg.
The miracle of life, born spirited to live, indicative of conscious intent, and hinted at a conscious intent behind it’s own creation. And yet, the struggle. If you are going to tell me that the creative forces used evolution, then the creative forces must of necessity found themselves constrained by the limitations of the physical world, forcing them to struggle and writhe through the ages, facing death many times over and sometimes success at the hand of natural selection. Why would I believe in such forces? I too, am constrained by the natural world. Any ‘god’ who experiences similar constraints, is nothing to me. If then it is the constraints of the natural world that forces the hand of WHOEVER or WHATEVER it was that brought about life as we know it, it is much simpler, and much more satisfying, to understand the motive force behind evolution, not as that of a preexisting consciousness, but as that of natural selection operating on the basis of that which lived in the face of those natural constraints. We consider the will to live and flourish an evidence for the basis of all being being some sort of consciousness when it is equally if not more likely that it is due to the fact that natural selection selected for those who tended to have the will to live. Consciousness as we understand it is an evolutionary adaptation, as is morality.
“It is simply not true that if evolution is true it must be ‘natural.’ By natural, you mean that if our universe is one in which consciousness is a bedrock reality, then our universe is not natural! I hope you see the problem here. Or, you are defining evolution, any evolution worthy of the name, that is, as only being materialist (natural).
OK, I think I see where you are coming from. Yes, if there is conscious intent and input, even from one’s own DNA and not from a god, any kind of direction, that to you invalidates evolution as a concept.”
Right, I am defining evolution as materialist.
“But when you say such ideas are not falsifiable, well, I have read some very amusing essays on the unfalsifiability of Darwinian evolution, which in my opinion has been satisfactorily falsified, yet just as Biblical inerrancy in my opinion has been falsified, it does not mean that believers will adjust their worldview.”
I’d be interested to see some of that writing. If you believe Darwinian evolution is not falsifiable, is there a theory of origins that is, without being immediately apparent that it would be false?
“Now I have a question for you – and it is late but I will check past tomorrow in case you have answered – what category will you put this endeavor into if, somehow, we find that the universe has consciousness as its basal reality, from which all else emanates and therefore there is no such thing as anything existing outside of it and of will, let us say that such is the true situation, then if it is not science, what would you call the study of the unfolding of life?”
I guess that would depend? This consciousness… what if the evolution of our universe was unintended? I guess the issue is intent. Often I’ve said, what if our whole universe is a unnoticed splotch of mold in god’s backyard? What if our universe is an experiment in someone’s petri dish? What if our universe is a small part of another universe which itself is a small part of another universe? Understanding cosmology with a recognition of a creative force requires, if it is to be coherant and applicable, understanding the intent of the creative force. If there is NO intent, we would all do better to be materialists. If there is GOOD intent, who is my Maker and how can I understand His purposes? If there is EVIL intent, if our universe was created for some unfathomably evil endgame (this idea would make for some awesomely terrifying sci-fi), then give me materialism by the truckload (except give me popcorn for the movie adaptation). So it’s either religion or materialism.
And that’s where it all breaks down, the problem of religious pluralism. We have many creation narratives and no reason to choose one over the other.
It was really interesting to look at sobornost and tamanous together.
I grew up in the Caribbean, and sobornost resonated with me because I remember reading Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” in a college class when I came to the States and thinking it was totally alien to my thinking, whereas the professor said that most of my classmates would probably find it boring because it was describing the culture they had grown up on.
On the other hand, while we view ourselves very collectively, we still had room for more creative individual expression than I found among my American friends.
I think our cultural paragon is the Carnival – a collective gathering of individualised expression.
I just thought that it was a good example of how both elements can be present in a culture.
My impression is that Faustian culture ought to have something other than people as its subjects. Space exploration with people faces the hard challenge of no magnetosphere to protect from radiation poisoning. So to some the penny dropped… we must continue to do it with machines. They need only apply the recipe to the other sacred goals of Faustian culture to realize “we must do it without ourselves”.
I would definitely agree. Once in a while I run into someone saying we must forge ahead with technology or face extinction and that people concerned about the environmental impact are a danger to us all. I’m thinking of encouraging such people to “upload” their consciousness into a computer, if they think it is possible, and forge on ahead into space. The rest of us will honestly cheer for them.
I always enjoy reading your thoughts on Russia. There’s true effort to understand there, which is so rare among westerners. At the same time, I think that Russians have succeeded in making the world believe that there’s something inevitably impenetrable and mysterious about their culture that no one really can grasp. And I think you are, to an extent, under that spell.
There is a violent paradox intrinsic to the Russian culture: many Russians tend to identify with the spiritual mythology around what they are as a people when confronted with outside influences BUT those same people will act in their everyday lives and toward each other as if those ideals do not exist. I’ve always been struck by how much egoism rules the scene in Russia and how there’s rarely a sense of community on the grassroots level. The idea of contributing to the common good is ridiculed in Russia (sometimes justifiably so, given the corrupt interpretation of the term in the Soviet times). Every man for themselves, to me, is a much more accurate description of the Russian reality than the the ephemeral sobornost. There’s a verb in Russian, урвать [urvAt’], that could be roughly translated as ‘to grab’ and which expresses the strive to do whatever it takes for personal gain here and now, no matter how detrimental it is to the community or, strikingly, to oneself a little far off in the future. It’s a telling word.
By the way, another effect of sobornost on the Russian national psyche is a fierce rejection of anything that’s slightly different and doesn’t conform to the supposed national ideals. Being different in Russia is not just seen as an act of individual expression and disobedience — it often is interpreted as an act of cultural treason. It often turns grotesque. Doesn’t have to be anything major. Sometimes it’s enough to just dress a little differently and all of a sudden you’re a foreign agent paid for by the West to undermine the Holy Russia.
Obviously, it’s a much more complex and lengthy discussion but just thought I’d throw in a few personal observations.
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