The Four Cultural Ecologies of the West

William Irwin Thompson

All descriptions of the past are in the present; therefore, history tells our descendants more about us than it does about the imaginary creatures we like to call our ancestors. Like an image before us in the rear-view mirror of a car, the picture of where we have been keeps changing as we move forward in space and time. The narratives of the past from even so short a time ago as the beginning of our own twentieth century now no longer describe us, and so each generation must reinvent the past to make it correspond to its sense of the present.

 

In much the same way, futurism is little more than a not very imaginative managerial description of the implications of the present. Futurology, like archaeology, is an academic way of closing down the past and the future so that they are no longer open to the imaginative expansion of the present. The space of the present is under the political control of technocratic management; so it is important that the thought police patrol the exits. With Herman Kahn guarding the year 2000 A.D. and Aubrey Burl guarding the year 2000 B.C., we are closed in and protected from any narrative of future or past that is not propaganda for our present technological mentality.

 

All of which is only another way of saying that the past and the future do not exist; nevertheless, we need these narrative fictions, for we gain knowledge by looking backward at patterns and forward in anticipation of the results of our actions. We can live without a substantially real past or future, for our materialistic society is more concerned with the immediate demands of the present; it is only when we find that the present doesn't exist absolutely either (for the very act of perceiving it takes away its definition by pushing it into the past) that we become disoriented. When we look down for a ground to our being, we find ourselves walking on water that reflects the sky.

 

Physics, of all sciences, was the first to deliver us from the illusion of the substantial reality of matter, and it was Heisenberg who pointed out more than two generations ago that we do not live in nature, but in a description of nature Coeval with Heisenberg's analysis of matter was Heidegger's analysis of being, which revealed the groundlessness of basing being on a metaphysics of substance, on a substantial reality. (Notice that our very word for truth comes from the Latin res and means "thing" and "thingishness.")

 

Politicians like to pretend that these philosophical matters are obscure and the concern only of professors of philosophy, but we have merely to watch the rock music videos of the young to realize that the multiple, interpenetrating spaces of the paintings of Magritte (as, for example, in his Venfance dIcarre) are now part of the common imagery of videos such as the Cars' "You Might Think I'm Crazy." Computers and video synthesizers have democratized epistemology. In industrial culture there is a Left and a Right, and a top and a bottom; but in electronic culture, top becomes pop, and Left and Right become replaced with the fast forward of Jerry Brown and the rewind of Ronald Reagan.

 

Music video puts all human emotions into quotation marks, for it is clear that the love song is not expressing love, but is about "love." In the some way, the video imagery of war and apocalypse, whether sweetly sung by Boy George or screamed by Kiss, is not communicating an attraction or a revulsion to war; it is expressing a displacement from history. All history simply becomes quotes from old movies, whether Lang's Metropolis or Riefenstahl's The Triumph of the Will, and in the displacement of consciousness from literate history to the now of electronic video, the young are doomed to Blake's "dull eternal round." Paris is still an ancient capital of a literate civilization, so the Bonsoir les clips of music videos only comes on for twenty minutes at the end of the day's programming. Appropriately enough, the show comes on after the late news, for music video is truly the last news. Ah, but in New York and Toronto, MTV and Much Music run twenty-four hours a day. We may not yet have Nietzsche's Eternal Return, but we do have perpetual reruns.

 

Top and pop in culture, like past and future in the present, are the limbs of the body politic, and one cannot understand contemporary society merely by reading The New York Review of Books or watching MTV. An elite May define a self-conscious approach to culture through a literature but a cultural ecology is not a literary definition of a social group; it is a tissue of simultaneities of organisms playing out a similar adaptive approach in different contexts, different demes, different biomes. Heidegger May work to destruct metaphysics, and Derrida may follow him in an effort to destruct literary discourse, but les enlants du rock defer and displace automatically and unthinkingly, for the effect of putting all emotions into quotation marks in music video is to deconstruct the message with the medium. The content of the clips is clearly banal and atrocious, but the content is not what is really going on.

 

The literary critic and the philosopher analyze a culture from within that culture's definition of culture. The anthropologist, suffering from geographical displacement, labors to define the dynamics of culture from outside but still carries within himself or herself a theory of dynamics and mechanics that he or she has borrowed from early European physics. The cultural ecologist is, like-les enfdnts du rock, working from a geographical and a psychological displacement, for he or she is displaced from the content of his or her own culture and from the content of anthropology's instructions on how to behave as a proper scientific anthropologist. Like an astronaut looking down on the earth from on high, or a mystic looking down on the mind from on high in meditation, the cultural ecologist is displaced from the conventional ground of perception. All of this would be extremely esoteric if technology had not democratized the experience, for the effect of personal computers and music video is to put "civilization" into quotation marks.

 

This shift in sensibility, this transformation of mentality, is a shift from Atlantic, European, industrial civilization to Pacific, planetary, electronic culture. It is not a shift caused by technology, for that kind of narration of linear causation derives from the old industrial habits of thought; it is a shift in consciousness in which top culture and pop culture are synchronously involved in the adaptive play of and within a new cultural ecology. In many ways, the older philosophers and artists of Europe have foreshadowed the very culture in which they would not feel at home.

 

The groundlessness of being opens up to us in the old-fashioned books of Heidegger and the old-fashioned canvases of Magritte. Different children will spend the family inheritance of Europe in different ways; Ric Ocasek of the Cars will move from canvas to video synthesizer, but Keiji Nisbitani, a personal student of Heidegger, will move from metaphysics to zazen to favor the kind of displacement described by Dogen Zenji as "the dropping off of body and mind":

 

True equality is not simply a matter of an equality of human rights and the ownership of property. Such equality concerns man as the subject of desires and rights and comes down, in the final analysis, to the self-centered mode of being of man himself. It has yet to depart fundamentally from the principle of self-love. And therein the roots of discord and strife lie ever concealed. True equality, on the contrary, comes about in what we might call the reciprocal interchange of absolute inequality, such that the self and the other stand Simultaneously in the position Of absolute master and absolute servant with regard to one another, It is an equality in love.

 

Only on the field of emptiness does all this become possible. Unless the thoughts and deeds of man one and all be located on such a field, the sorts of problems that beset humanity have no chance of ever really being solved.

 

In the Kyoto School of Nisbitani, the East reconceptualthe West to show how the ultimate development of materialism leads to nihilism. But it takes no mirror made in Japan to make us see that about ourselves, for we need only turn the pages of a history of Western painting to see the full story. We begin with Giotto, in whose work nature is merely a stage for a religious event, as in the Flight into Egypt we pass on to Brueghel's Conversion of Saint Paul where the religious event is not as large as the horse's behind; and then we continue on to the landscapes of Ruys- where the religious event has dropped out of the picture altogether; from there on the thingishness of reality gets very thick, with still lifes of Kauw and the columnar temples of Poussin; but with Claude Lorrain the twilight over the temples becomes more important than the stones, and we begin to pass over matter into the mysteries of perception; and from there on there is no stopping until Monet's cathedral melt and solid matter disappears into the nihilism of the Rothko Chapel. With the paintings before us, we can literally see what Nishitani is talking about.

 

The movement from Heidegger to Nishitani is a Pacific Shift in philosophy, but these Pacific Shifts are not limited to philosophy. The movement from Warren McCulloch to Francisco Varela is a Pacific Shift in neurophysiology; in one the doctrine of materialism is negated, and in the other the doctrine of representation ism in the nervous system is negated but in both cases it is the world view of Atlantic civilization that is being set aside,

 

It is no cultural accident that both the Kyoto School of philosophy and the Santiago School of neurophysiology share a common Pacific orientation and a common invocation of the relevance of Buddhism to postmodernist science. The Pacific has become the new Mediterranean, with a new relationship between religion and science that is as different from Protestantism and industrial science as Pythagoras's synthesis was from Mesopotamian astrology. Nishitani was a personal student of Heidegger, and Varela has been influenced by Heidegger's writings; but both the Japanese philosopher and the Chilean biologist have not been content to rest with Heidegger's late Christian ontology and have pushed on from a vestigial theology into an explicit theology of Buddhism. The end of the West becomes the ultimate shore of the East.

 

The works of Heidegger, Nisbitani, and Varela are esoteric and read by a few; but the cultural wave that brings the East to the West carries many forms of life, and the California teenager who sits transfixed before the graphics of his personal computer is also participating in the cultural shift from the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism to Zen and the spirit of cybernetics.

 

One of the most pioneering thinkers in this cultural shift was Gregory Bateson. As a participant in the Macy Conference in New York, which brought the pioneers of cybernetics together, Bateson was part of the creation of a new science. As an anthropologist doing research among schizophrenics who lived outside normal reality, Bateson made the phrase "double bind" a household word in the vocabulary of people who had never beard of him. Bateson is important not only because of his contributions, but also because his personal journey in the ecology of Mind is also Western culture's odyssey from Europe to California. He began his career at St. John's College, Cambridge, but ended his days as the philosopher of the furthest edges of the European mentality. In the last years of his life as a regent of the University Of California, be lived at Esalen Institute in Big Sur; be died at the Zen Center in San Francisco, but be was neither a leader of encounter groups nor zazen sessions; be simply liked to haunt edges to observe the movement across thresholds flash into "the difference that became information."

 

The pattern that connects Bateson to Varela, and both to Buddhism, was the personal pattern of friendship, as well as the larger cultural pattern Of transformation. A fascination with the groundlessness of Buddhism and the intellectual openness of the Pacific world was shared by both theoreticians of the biology of knowledge. Both saw the mental habit of the West to be one in which Being is posited as a being and called God; in which process is arrested in substance and called material reality; and in which Mind is made into an organism without an environment and called the self. For both Bateson and Varela, all three of these cultural activities are part of the same process of reification that isolates God from nature, mind from matter, and organism from the environment; and each of these ends up giving us a system of abstractions that we mistake for reality, to the destruction of both culture and nature.

 

In Bateson's now classic analysis of "The Effects of Conscious Purpose on Human Adaptation," these three mistakes of thinking are seen to be part of the maladaptation of civilization to nature:

 

If consciousness has feedback upon the remainder of mind, and if consciousness deals only with a skewed sample of the events of the total mind, then there must exist a systematic (i.e., non-random) difference between the conscious views of self and the world, and the true nature of self and the world. Such a difference must distort the processes of adaptation.

 

Since Bateson delivered that lecture in Austria in 1968, the distortion in the process of adaptation has now progressed to the point of a disruption about to become a catastrophe. As this catastrophe has already begun to become visible in the death of the forests in Europe, this visibility of process is already changing the way we see history in the rear-view mirror. Now it is inappropriate to mark time with monuments to ego, such as Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square; now the description of civilization is the sequence of infrared photographs from space that show the Mediterranean's progress toward becoming an industrial sewer.

 

As we look back on the past in our contemporary imagination, we see it as a movement from the Near Eastern Riverine cultural ecology at the edge of the NASA Landsat photograph, to the Mediterranean cultural ecology in the center, and on to the Atlantic cultural ecology of the European era. When we look down from on high with the eye of an astronaut, we cannot see the celebrated effects of egos with names and monuments; we can only see an action analagous to the presence of bacteria in a compost heap or of a mold in a Petri dish: the changes of color for the seas and the forests tell us of the deadly presence of highly toxic human institutions. Where in this collective action is the individual human will? Is the human being simply a catalytic agent secreted by Gaia to transform the subterranean oceans of oil into a moving gas in the earth's atmosphere? Is human consciousness, as Marx would say, a "false consciousness"? Could it be, in a strange blending of Marx and Buddha, that human beings do not, perhaps, Cannot, know what they are doing? Is Lewis Thomas closer to the ecological truth of symbiotic humanity, and that humans are moving toward fusion all the time that they keep mumbling about the self?

 

The interest that Buddhism holds for scientists like Bate. son and Varela begins to make sense. It is not simply a question of the West's discovery of the groundlessness of its emphasis on material reality, but also of the enormous growth of suffering in the expansion of industrial society known as economic development. Buddha's is the aboriginal questioning of the relationship between mind and suffering; so it is small wonder that as science approaches the frontiers of mind in cybernetics and neuropbysiology, and as industrial society mass-produces human suffering, thinkers at the edge of European culture, such as Bateson, Nishitani, and Varela, would notice the relevance of the past of Buddhism to the future of science and philosophy.

 

Given the enormity of human suffering we now face in our declining twentieth century, and given the still youthful vigor of science, I think that this relationship between Buddhism and science will be an enduring Pythagorean marriage and not a passing Romantic affair. The relationship between religion and science is so complex and elaborate that only a civilization is complex enough to elaborate it. Just such a new civilization is emerging around the edges of the Pacific, and the reason that we can look back now to the past and see a movement from Riverine to Mediterranean to Atlantic is precisely because the West is now passing out of the Atlantic cultural ecology of Europe into the new cultural ecology of the Pacific.

 

The historical movement from one cultural ecology to another can be centuries long, as in the movement from Mesopotamian to classical to medieval; or it can be the journey of a lifetime, as in Bateson's movement from England to California; or it can become a metanoia in which the world is experienced by the individual in an instant. To appreciate the movement out of the old cultural ecology into the new one, consider the experience of the astronaut Russell Schweickart, the first man to float in space without a vehicle to frame his perceptions. Because of a malfunction with his camera, Schweickart had a moment to be and not to do; in that instant he dropped the linear perspective of the box of his camera to Comprehend the earth with his whole body and soul. In his remarks at Lindisfarne, Southampton, in 1974, Schweickart described the experience in the following way:

 

You look down there and you can't imagine bow many borders and boundaries you cross, again and again and again, And you don't even see them, There you are-hundreds of people in the Mideast killing each other over some imaginary line that you can't see-and from where you see it, the thing is a whole, and it's so beautiful. You wish you could take one in each hand, one from each side in the various conflicts, and say, "Look! Look at that! What's important?"

 

The world of industrial man is a world of objects separated by lines: mansions at one end, dioxin dumps at the other. But in the Pacific-Aerospace cultural ecology, the world is known to be .1 field of interpenetrating presences, and in the world of space one is constrained to be on more intimate terms with one's waste. This is a knowledge that is brought back to earth, for aerospace technologies lead directly to new understandings of ecology. With satellites one sees the life of rivers and seas; with space capsules and shuttles one learns the placing of exhalation and excretion. Ideologies are excretions of the mind; they are the exhausted remains of once living ideas. They, too, must be put safely to the side as toxic wastes that can kill if they are inappropriately taken in as life-giving food. For Rusty Schweickart, looking down on the violent Middle East, the movement into space became 2 shift from the ideologies of " us and them" to the ecology of consciousness in which opposites are understood in an involvement of "each in all." The furthest development of industrial technology and its extension into space brings about a rather classic enantiodromia in which technology triggers a mystical change in consciousness in which an object becomes a presence, but it also brings about a cultural condition in which the spiritual unconscious, or Gaia, is precipitated into consciousness.

 

As Bateson has shown, most of Mind is, and must be by definition, inaccessible to consciousness, 10 but bow we designate the unconscious is part of the history of consciousness, part of that image in the rear-view mirror that tells us where we have been. Looking back over the twentieth century, we can now see that the uncovering of the unconscious has moved through four stages. First came the uncovering of the instinctive unconscious with Freud; this was essentially a revelation of eros and thanatos in the basic animal life. Then came the uncovering of the psychic unconscious, the collective unconscious, through the work of Jung. This was a revelation of the archetypes of the emotional life of the soul. Then came the uncovering of the intellectual unconscious, the "positive unconscious" in the work of LeviStrauss and Foucault. For the structural anthropologist, mythologies and the sexual life of preliterate humanity expressed patterns that were invisible to the savage but perceived by the ethnologist. For the cultural historian of civilization, like Foucault, the episterne of an age was the hidden structure of the mind, the intellectual unconscious, that held economics, linguistics, and art into a relationship not seen by the people of their own era. Bateson's analysis of the ecology of Mind is the transition from the uncovering of the intellectual unconscious to the precipitation of the spiritual unconscious. This revelation takes two forms: first, the unconscious becomes experienced as the body not identified with and hitherto seen as "the other," namely, the environment; and second, the environmentally compressed social consciousness integrates from the threat of crisis to precipitate, not a literate civilization, but a collective consciousness. Another word for revelation is apocalypse, but this mythic narrative of the end of the world should not be taken literally in a paranoid fashion, and should be recognized as expressing not annihilation but the ending of a single world.

 

Catastrophe literally means "turning over." When one turns over compost with a shovel, one is creating a catastrophe for the anaerobic bacteria in the pile. Wars can be the turning over of civilizations, but for humans with a more ecological awareness, the transition from civilization to planetary culture could be more subtle, unimaginable, and so gradual that, though individuals in various ages intuit the transition and express it in art and paranoid utterance, the transition itself, the turning over, does not take place in time until it is finished. Perhaps, the transition from Civilization to planetary culture is like the transition from Paleolithic to Neolithic, and the artists who sensed the end of that era said farewell to it in Lascaux and Altamira. For the artist, nothing is the same; for the common man, nothing has changed, Perhaps this is what Yeats meant when he said, "All life is waiting for an event that never happens."

 

An yet something happened to Rusty Schweickart, and something happened to our world when we saw it from space. Perhaps there is a logarithmic progression to the rate of Change, and what a few intuit at the time of Hieronymus Bosch becomes more widely seen as the discontinuity between the rate of change and the rate of adaptation becomes more dramatic. Certainly with the rapid death of the forests and vineyards in Europe, and with overpopulated Mexico about to become to the United States in 1987 what Ireland was to England in 1845, the world does seem to be a place where culture and ecology are disastrously maladapted to one another.

 

The samsaric creatures who distort the process of adaptation with conscious purpose do not seem to know what they are doing. When the West Germans created the "economic miracle," they did not know that they were killing the forests. When the city fathers of Los Angeles connived with General Motors to eliminate the Pacific Electric public train system in order to build the freeways, they thought they were making something called "progress." This mistake seems to be as old as civilization itself, for in ancient Uruk, Gilgamesh and Enkidu thought that the right way to go out and make a name for themselves was to slay the spirit of the forest. Civilized humanity will continue to Make progress in this way, whether it makes DDT, or plutonium, or thalidomide, or dioxin, or a genetically engineered bacterium with which to spray fruit trees in order to retard the damage to agribusiness from frost.

 

Conscious purpose derives from conscious identity. As this Western industrial civilization of ours reaches its grand climactic finale, it is timely for us to look back and ask ourselves: Who is this we? What is this story we keep telling ourselves about Western science, and Western technology, and Western humanistic values?

 

This narrative of identity in which we take our being marks time with various monuments and builds its pantheons to celebrate the nation's great, but if we move OUT eyes up from the level of the streets of Paris or London, we do not see people or their monuments any longer. The samsaric creatures who thought that they were separate from nature when they dug wells and chopped down trees do not show up in the picture, except at the end of the story as the changing colors of a dying Mediterranean. As we look down on the stage for their story, we see a mold called civilization spread from river to sea to ocean. We do not see tribes, peoples, or nations, but we do see four distinct ecologies affected by human culture; so, that is why I prefer to call these configurations "cultural ecologies" and look back at the narrative of "Western civilization" to see it as a cumulative movement through four stages.

 

The first cultural ecology of the West was the Riverine, that lattice of city-states spread between the Tigris and the Euphrates in the fourth millennium B.C. This historic transformation of Neolithic villages and towns into cities was not simply an expression of an increase in population, but a reorganization of the structure of society, This systematic transformation involved new forms of communication in the appearance of writing, new forms of technology in the appearance of plows and irrigation works, and new institutions in the forms of standing armies and elevated temples. We now look back in identification with this complex and call it "civilization" to see ourselves in it.

 

Neolithic gathering and gardening were attuned to local conditions and limits. There were no great irrigation systems to transform the marshes of gatherers into the fields of farmers. Civilization, by contrast, was an extensive alteration of the landscape, and the dikes and canals of the irrigation works contributed greatly to the salinization of the soil.

 

The salinization of the soil is civilization's first form Of pollution, and it tells us right at the start something very important about the Structural organization of civilization: namely, that pollution is not a random noise or static that clings to the transmission of the signal as consciousness passes through the medium of nature, but, rather, it is itself a communication, albeit an unconscious one. It is not random, but a systematic description of the form of the disruption; it is like a shadow that describes the form of an object's intrusion into the light. It is not noise precisely because it is a signal; but because it is not recognized to be information, it cannot be classed as an ordinary signal. So, let us say that it is dissonance rather than noise, for dissonance derives from cultural conventions of tuning. Dissonance can contribute to background noise as long as it remains unconscious and unrecognized, but if the dissonance becomes interesting enough to attract awareness, and thus is pulled out of the unconscious into the creative play of mind, then dissonance becomes recognized as a signal.

 

Pollution, then, like a neurotic symptom, is a form of communication. To ignore the symptom, to thrust it to the side of awareness and push it back into the collective unconscious, is to perform the same action that created the pollution, the dissonance, the neurotic symptom, in the first place. The end result of ignoring the communication is to stimulate it to the point that the dissonance becomes so loud that it drowns out all other signals. Ultimately, the ignored and unconscious precipitates itself as the ultimate shadow of civilization, annihilation. This is another way of expressing what I have noted before: "If you do not create your destiny, you will have your fate inflicted upon you." The creation of destiny, then, depends on maintaining a more permeable membrane between noise and information, unconscious and conscious, nature and culture.

 

Civilization, however, is not surrounded by a light, permeable membrane, but a wall, and the intensification of consciousness in writing only contributes to the ignored accumulations of the unconscious. The S21inization of the soil was not seen or beard. A local technology, defined by the City's limits, Created a problem area larger than its political area of control. And so the very attempt at control through irrigation only created a larger area of the uncontrollable. It would seem that nature has its own homoestatic mechanisms Of Order that use disorder, and any cultural attempt to control an area rationally only seems to generate a shadow that has the ability to eat the form until it disappears in the light. We call nature wild with good reason, but the fascinating aspect of the cultural patterning of urban civilization is that the problem or crisis, the dissonance, can itself be read as the signal of emergence of the next level of historical order.

 

It can, that is, be read as a signal by the historian, because what is unconscious for the society is information for the historian precisely because he or she is not in its time. So it is that one culture's noise and dissonance can be the succeeding culture's information.

 

The Mediterranean cultural-ecology followed the Riverine. In the expansion of city-state to empire, political areas strained to become coextensive with their resource areas, if not their ecosystems. In urban civilization a center-periphery dynamic was established in which power was at the center with the literate elite, but the resources were at the periphery with the illiterate provincials, And so soil loss at the center could be offset by importing foodstuffs and materials from the periphery. But as the extension of empire from river to sea took place, deforestation appeared as the price for creating large fleets.

 

Soil loss can be seen to be a local problem remedied by importing food, but deforestation is not simply the removal of an object; it results in an alteration of the climate over a large area. But here again we see the pattern that the appearance of a crisis can be read, not simply as noise picked up by the signal in transmission through a medium, but as the signal of emergence of the next level of historical order. Removal of a forest creates an atmospheric disturbance. And here again we see that as the area of conscious control is extended, the area of unconscious unmanageability also expands. The human crisis comes as the political area and the ecosystem are not coextensive.

(By definition, conscious purpose and the larger "ecology of Mind" can never be congruent.) Nature has built-in defenses against rationalization, because total management would shut down spontaneity, novelty, and change; therefore the defense is a tissue of contradictions. Disorder is homeostatic; the capacity for innovation is held through forms

of maintenance that involve noise, randomness, and catastrophes used as stochastic mechanisms. The shape of nature is a form for which we have no topological mapping. It is a form of opposites: order and disorder, steady state and catastrophe, pattern and randomness, continuity and innovation. The ultimate enantiomorphic polity is Gaia herself.

 

The third cultural ecology is oceanic, specifically Atlantic. We know this formation under the mote familiar designation of industrial civilization. The technology is one of steam and internal combustion, and this gaseous, thermodynamic activity is poetically appropriate, for the environmental disturbance is not merely one of soil loss or local deforestation, but of global atmospheric change. These are the changes that we, who come at the end of industrial civilization, can see in the forms of acid rain and the Greenhouse Effect. Once again, the political area is not coextensive with the ecosystem, though the British certainly strained to make it so in the nineteenth century; and, once again, we can see that the crisis indicates the emergence of the next level of historical order, for the atmospheric damage indicates a movement in cultural activity from the oceanic to the planetary.

 

The fourth cultural ecology is space; its human foundation, however, is the Pacific Basin. In the cultural relationships between Japan and California, one can observe the technological shift from matter to information, from the old European civilization spread out from London and Paris to New York, to the new Pacific Basin civilization spread out from Los Angeles and Tokyo to Sydney.

 

Although this new culture is focused on the Pacific Basin, the global quality of the fourth cultural ecology is expressed in the fact that there is not simply one crisis, but an accumulation of all the preceding crises. We encounter salinization and soil loss in the United States from the use of centerpivot irrigation and the mining of fossil water. We encounter sudden and massive deforestation in Latin America and Indonesia, and when these are added to atmospheric changes from industrial pollution, we encounter not simply localized disturbances, but alterations of global weather, patterns. And as the forests die or are cut down, this loss of soil and water table accelerates the rate of change in weather patterns. Whether all of these will result in the advent of a new ice age or the melting of the ice caps and the flooding of coastal cities such as New York, or both in succession, is now being debated by scientists.

 

When we look back over the pattern of development from Riverine to Mediterranean to Atlantic to Pacific-Aerospace, we can see that Western civilization is correct in its identification with the urban revolution of the fourth millennium B. C., for the story is our story, and not one of the environmental problems of civilization has been "solved'' since 3500 B.C. The problems were simply deferred by moving into a new cultural ecology. But now we have come full circle, and all the problems are accumulating in what can only be described as the climax of civilization itself.

 

The human response to this climactic crisis has been Janus-beaded; one face looks for a way out through an imagination of the past, the other through an imagination of the future. The celebrators of bunting and gathering as an logically balanced culture, such as the poet Cary Snyder, tend to see civilization as a pathology. The celebrators of technology, Stich as the physicist Gerard O'Neill, see nature as the wrong vehicle for culture and have proposed space colonies as the proper medium in which technology can grow independent of the constraints of an earthly ecology, Both reactions to the present are literally reactionary. Hunters and gatherers are not innocent, and the extinction of the Pleistocene megafauna can be blamed on their techniques of using prairie fires and stampedes to eliminate whole species in their bunts. Civilization, if it is pathological, simply makes the pathology of human culture mote visible. The task is not to eliminate humanity in a romantic celebration of nature, or to eliminate nature in a romantic celebration of technology, but to understand the enantiomorphic dynamism of that oxymoron human nature. The planetary ecological crisis allows us to see for the first time the nature of a planetary ecology. If we can begin to understand the pattern that connects noise to innovation, catastrophe to selection, nature to culture, we have the possibility of becoming alive in vitally more imaginative ways than in the male-bonded clubbiness of the bunting camp or the space colony.

 

From the beginning of civilization there have been wild slippages in nature that have always kept it out of the control of culture. Heisenberg's Indeterminacy Principle is not simply a narrative limited to quantum mechanics; it is a narrative of the limits of the mappings of observation: if you can fix a society's location, you cannot fix its ecological momentum. Bateson saw the discrepancy between conscious purpose and the larger pathways outside the body in the ecology of Mind as a form of disharmony that resulted in Crises of maladaptation; but perhaps the relationship is more basic than that, more a question of ontology than epistemology. Perhaps knowing can never become identical with being, or perhaps it can only with the achievement of Buddhist Enlightenment.

 

The Christian poet Robert Browning said that "a man's reach should exceed his grasp, else what's a heaven for?" Since we have no historical evidence of the presence of Enlightened societies, for even the Taoist monks used charcoal to make the ink with which they made their celebrated paintings of nature, we can assume that the slippage of nature out of humanity's grasp has to do with a fundamental slippage of being from knowing. Like a shadow that does not permit us to jump over it, but moves with us to maintain its proper distance, pollution is nature's answer to culture. When we have learned to recycle pollution into potent information, we will have passed over completely into the new cultural ecology.

 

Although nature has her built-in protections against the schemes of total control that would, in effect, be totalitarian, human beings cannot refrain from the impulse to extend their control. Each time that Western civilization did expand, it struggled to internalize the preceding cultural ecology, and it strained its reach to extend its grasp in a political control up to the margins of the new cultural ecology. Mediterranean culture internalized the Riverine, and Roman society strained to turn the Mediterranean area into an empire. The English internalized the Mediterranean (that is what Nelson's Column celebrates) and strained to turn their new oceanic cultural ecology into the British Empire,

 

Compelling as the idea of empire May be for some people, in the words of Bishop Berkeley's rejection of scientific materialism, "We Irish think otherwise." The idea of empire is a poor abstraction of a living process; it is a crude oversimplification of an ecology, and perhaps this is why life always defeats empire in time. The historian of the modem world-system, Immanuel Wallerstein, sees the expansion of the West as an ambivalence, even an oscillation, in the application of two forms Of Political activity. One he characterizes as that of a world empire, the other that of a world economy. The current struggles between the United States of America and the Soviet Union Can be seen, therefore, to be not so much a conflict between capitalism and communism (the contents of their structures), but between a modernizing and deracinating world economy that puts McDonald's hamburgers in Paris and Disneyland in Tokyo, and a traditional and very conservative form of world empire that seeks to define the periphery in terms of the single center of Moscow.

 

One can therefore say that an empire is an abstraction of an ecosystem, that an economy is a shadow form of an ecology, and that what human beings are now struggling to create is a healthier cultural ecology in which pollution, noise, and dissonance are understood.

 

The United States has a high tolerance for noise, but is actually a fairly homogeneous culture; Western Europe has a lower tolerance for noise, but is highly heterogeneous. Given the double presence of noise and heterogeneity, it is difficult to imagine e that the Soviet Union could swallow up Western Europe. The imperial way of dealing with noise and dissonance is simply to suppress them. The economic way of dealing with them is to circulate them through society and make a profit from the movement across thresholds. One cultural system places a high value on stability and sees the steady state as the natural condition; the other places a high value on innovation and sees change as the natural condition. Europe is the unstable shore between the world economy of the Americans and the world empire of the Russians, and so its instability makes it rather unpredictable, But its very instability does argue that it is no more open to conquest by the Russians than Latin America is to conquest by the gringos. America's fear of Soviet expansion is a projection that is a caricature of its own military expansion into Puerto Rico and Hawaii. Reagan's fear of communist world domination is Manifest Destiny in a Hollywood projection in which the reversed image is righted by the lens that has cleverly hidden the inversion of reality.

 

The season of cultural florescence is, by its very nature, transitory. The Dutch were world leaders in commerce, art, and science in the seventeenth century, and then they lost their leadership to the English in the eighteenth century. The English, in turn, lost their role to the Americans in the twentieth century, Now some Europeans, including Johan Galtung of the Oslo Peace Institute, think that the Americans will lose their leadership to the Japanese, The Americans, for their part, are afraid that the twenty-first century could see Japanese momentum added to Chinese mass to create an unstoppable Asian velocity to the future. But in truth the Americans are happy to have the Japanese to compete with in the race for the supercomputer, for Americans cans need a Super Bowl to spur them on. The Japanese are not likely to overtake the Americans, for their primary and secondary educational systems tend to crush the young and I kill any sense of risk taking, imagination, spontaneity, play. American high schools, by contrast, are a joke, but as kids tinker with computers, as once they tinkered with customizing cars, they are free to grow in the more relaxed ways that lead to such mythic stories as the creation of Apple Computer. Easy high schools and encouraging Universities are the secret of American success. Given its Stanfords, Cal Techs, M.I.T.'s, Berkeleys, Swarthmores, and Amhersts, America is not yet into decline, but is, in fact, entering a period of cultural transformation greater even than the Industrial Revolution that passed over Great Britain in the eighteenth century.

 

If we were simply shifting the center of world-power from one world-city to another, "history" would be the same old story of rise and fall; however, because we are moving out of one cultural-ecology into another, history is unpredictable, but not unimaginable. The larger patterns of historical development can often help us to see what is forming seemingly local events, much in the same way that geology can help us to see what forces formed our local hills and streams; but one of the more interesting patterns of the perception of historical development is to notice the way in which different narratives become isomorphic. The four cultural ecologies that I have chosen line up in an interesting way with the typologies of both Marx and McLuhan. One chose systems Of production and distribution, the other systems of communication; but the shift from one form to another Was also synchronous with a reorganization of cultural ecologies, as we can see below:

 

Cultural Ecology

Economy

Communication System

Riverine

Asiatic

Script

Mediterranean

Feudal

Alphabetic

Atlantic

Capitalistic

Print

Pacific-Space

Socialistic

Electronic

 

Because Marx was writing in the middle of tile Industrial Revolution, he overemphasized technology and the means of production, for, in large measure, he was also reacting to what be felt was the excessive idealism of the Hegelian school. Marx bad no way of anticipating the shift from hardware to software, and be had little chance to see that capitalism's emphasis on innovation would carry it from one culture into another and that Russia's revolution would lock its grip onto the industrial mentality. McLuban had the advantage of coming right in the middle of the shift from print to electronics, and he had the advantage of the perspective that comes from sitting to the side of history. Marx was in the center of the industrial mentality in London; McLuban, however, was not in Los Angeles, but Toronto, and Toronto, like a fly in amber, is a beautiful fossil of the Scot's vision of the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism. McLuhan disliked change and innovation, but in his fascination with the culture he studied, he spoke for the ambivalence of most Ontarians. Nevertheless, McLuban saw what most Americans could not, and that was themselves. His analyses of the sixties make even more sense in the eighties.

 

As we consider the pattern that connects Marx's means of production to McLuhan's system of communication, we can notice that each shift from one to the other tended to introduce a new form of polity.

 

Cultural Ecology

Polity

Riverine

City-state

Mediterranean

Empire

Atlantic

Industrial nation-state

Pacific-Space

Enantiomorphic?

 

The kind of polity that is emerging in our epoch is, of course, anybody's guess. The Russians would like to see world communism with Lenin as its prophet and Moscow as its Mecca. The Americans would like to see a global marketplace with minimal national interference in the way of environmental protection or tariffs. I hope that we will have neither a Russian not an American world-state, but that through the cultural integrations brought on by both the electronic technologies and the ecologies of Mind, we will be able to come up with something more like a planetary cultural ecology in which difference is vital as the information that spells transformation.

 

Because the eighteenth-century Industrial Revolution turned technology into a form of idolatry, most contemporary political scientists tend to see only technology and economics as expressions of political reality. Pure science, art, and a spirituality that is not religiously institutional are not taken seriously. Fortunately, the French have made up for the Comtian positivism that they foisted on the world, for now cultural historians such as Foucault and Serres look beyond technology for the implicit configuration, the syntax of thought, that is common to the narratives of myth and science. Now, finally, postindustrial humanity is beginning to realize that in spite of Levi-Strauss, we never can have a science of myth (since our being is always more than our knowing) but that we will always have changing myths of science.

 

Foucault introduced the concept of episteme as the hidden system of coherence in the positive unconscious of an era. Michel Serres has looked at the origins of geometry and noticed the mythic patterns that unite literature and science. Following these insights, and relating them to my own previous discussions of the narratives common to myth and science, I would like to propose a further elaboration of the fourfold typology of cultural ecologies to consider: (1) the dominant form of mathematical articulation, (2) the climactic literary masterpiece, and (3) the dominant mode of religious experience.

 

Let us begin with the forms of mathematical articulation. Because I am mathematically illiterate, I see patterns precisely because I am outside the content. Like an illiterate peasant who yet has some skill in painting complex patterns on pottery, and who, when he comes upon Sanskrit, Chinese, Arabic, or Greek for the first time, sees them as pat

terns of identity, I look at mathematics as a cultural description. In each of the four cultural ecologies, the processes that have absorbed attention have been quite distinct. It is definitely not the case that there is one universal human nature with four different cultural styles of asking the same questions about the eternal verities. The pattern I see is the following:

 

Cultural Ecology

Mathematical Mode

Riverine

Enumeration

Mediterranean

Geometrizing

Atlantic

Notations of movement, dynamics

Pacific-Space

Catastrophe theory-topology

(My hunch is that processual, multidimensional morphologies will lead to a return of hieroglyphic thinking of a new sort: a turn on the spiral to a new form of Egyptian science, not Creek abstraction.)

 

The beginning of mathematics, according to Whitehead, was in the recognition of set and periodicity. The first hunter who observed that three fish and three bears were both instances of threeness took the first step toward the observation of periodicity. Elsewhere I have argued at greater length that the first observations of periodicity had to have been involved with the menstrual cycle and that the primordial mathematician was probably not a hunter, but a gatherer. The Neolithic stick of computation, christened le haton de commandement by the Abbe Breuil, was probably no such male thing at all, but rather a midwife's tally stick for the lunar calender of "women's mysteries." 17 Menstruation and mensuration are related, and the lunar cosmologies that Alexander Thom has shown to be expressed in the megalithic stone circles of Britain speak of a cosmology that is not military, masculine, and Bronze Age.

 

The observation of periodicity in Woman and moon establishes a mentality that becomes developed in the Paleolithic systems of knowledge in midwifery and some form of lunar astrology. But enumeration is not simply counting; it is relating. Therefore the recital of the relationships of humans and animals, of offspring and parents, is a form of relating humans to a cosmology. Relating genealogy is relating the individual to the class, and it is so important and valued a form of organizing the universe that the mentality of enumeration survives up into the historic period. The enumeration of all the me's taken by the goddess Inanna from Eridu to Erecb is one of the earliest recorded performances of this mentality, but, so basic is it, that it survives from the Riverine up into the foundations of the Mediterranean epoch. In the catalogue of the ships in Book Two of the Iliad, in the recital of the shades who come forth to speak with Odysseus in Book Eleven of the Odyssey, and in hp recital of the lineages of the gods in Hesiod's Theogony, we have three classical performances of the world view implicitly organized by the mentality of enumeration.

 

To appreciate just what a transformation of world view it is to move from enumerating to geometrizing, we have only to compare the mentality of Hesiod with Pythagoras or Plato. Enumeration is a fairly straightforward way of relating

humanity to divinity, but when the line folds into triangles and squares, the pattern becomes more complex. One can begin to see the unconscious emergence of the geometrizing mentality in the Iliad, for there the lines of descent are beginning to cross over to create patterns. Leda and Tyndareus give birth to the twins Castor and Clytaemnestra; Leda and Zeus give birth to the twins Helen and Pollux. Then the two sets of twins cross, and Castor and Pollux are raised up into heaven; but Clytaemnestra and Helen remain on earth to become the sources of eros and thanatos in the world of passionate conflict. When, from another line of descent from Zeus, through Tantalus and Atreus, the brothers Agamemnon and Menelaus are wed to Clytaemnestra and Helen respectively, the lines of descent create the outlines of the battlefield of Troy.

 

When the line becomes the outline of a form, the metaphor that begins to obsess the ancient imagination is the wall, for the wall is the line seen as container. The Gilgamesh Epic opens and closes with a celebration of the wall of the city of Uruk. Book Twelve of the Iliad focuses on the wall the Greeks build to protect their invading ships. The wall is the limit, but when Patroclus dares to go beyond the limit, and when he dares to go beyond the limits of his own identity by putting on the armor of Achilles, he is cut down. With the concept of the limit, the mentality of enumeration begins to pass over into the mentality of geometry, for the limit is the form of a thing's existence in time as well as space. In the first thirty-three lines of Book Twelve, Homer explores the idea of the wall as a limit of the Greeks' presence in Troy, the limit of the length of time of Achilles's anger, and the limit of duration against entropy. The forces of chaos raging at the edges of order are personified as the gods Poseidon and Apollo, who take counsel together on how to destroy the wall through the eroding force of rivers, but it is clear that what is being described through gods and immortal spirits of rivers are the ideas of entropy and order. A genius such as Homer, possessed by his Daimon, maintains a permeable membrane between unconscious and conscious, and his ideas have such power because they are neither unconscious nor overrationalized. In that vibrant state they provide vital material for thought for generations to come, for when Thucydides portrays the Athenian fleet of Alcibiades proudly sailing off to disaster at Syracuse, he is performing the idea of Patroclus donning the armor of Achilles to go beyond the limit to his destruction; and when Anaximander explores the idea of the edge of things, the wall of definition that separates the limited from the nonlimited, he, too, is making explicit what was poetically expressed by Homer in Book Twelve:

 

The Non-Limited is the original material of existing things; further, the source from which things derive their existence is also that to which they return at their destruction, according to necessity; for they give justice and make reparation to one another for their injustice, according to the arrangement of Time.

 

The wall is the archetypal image of the limit, the edge between life and death, civilization and savagery, and the poetic metaphor of the wall marks the transition in the cultural evolution of consciousness from the mentality of enumerating to geometrizing. In the Babylonian creation myth, the Enuma Elish (circa 1000 B.C.), Ea puts a magic circle around the younger gods to protect them from the god of the underground water, Apsu, The older gods are restloving, but the younger gods throw noisy parties, and so the Great Mother of the saltwaters wishes to destroy them to return to her primordial rest. The thermodynamic activity of the youthful and newly emergent gods disturbs the condition of rest and entropy preferred by the Great Mother, and so the battle of the male god, Marduk, is no longer the old Neolithic cosmology of the male as the symbol of vanishing and the female as the symbol of continuity; it is a battle of form versus entropy, of civilized, military patriarchy versus prehistoric matriarchy, of the enduring and the changeless versus transformation. All the ideas that we have since rearticulated into the Second Law of Thermodynamics have their origin in this matrix of myth.

 

The Enuma Elish and the Iliad are profound milestones in the cultural evolution of consciousness, for they sum up and finish an ancient mentality at the same time that they announce the mentality to come. In Hesiod's Theogony and in Homer's Iliad, the mentality of enumeration is consummated and finished. Homer brings us up to the edge of the geometrizing mentality, but it will be the work of Pythagoras and Plato to transform mythology into mathematics. And although C. M. Cornford taught us to see that transformation as the great rational leap "From Religion to Philosophy," we now can see what a mixed blessing abstraction is. Homer remains the greater genius, for he understood and expressed in a way that no subsequent writer has surpassed, the violations of order.

 

Throughout the Mediterranean epoch, this geometrizing mentality is dominant, both in its medieval Christian elaborations and in its Islamic variations that replace iconography with geometry. Perhaps the supreme expression of this geometrizing world view is in the circles of Dante's Paradiso, for at that peak of ecstatic visionary elaboration, Mediterranean humanity can go no further. The revolution for modern humanity will be to clear the landscape by calling all into doubt, and Descartes will sweep his mind clean of medieval geometries to create the grid against which to perceive Galileo's failing bodies.

 

From analytic geometry to calculus, the genius of modern humanity is focused, not on the static objects held in the geometry of a Platonic ideal realm, but on the dynamics of movement. Plato's circles become Kepler's ellipses. Motion, the narrative that was so inconceivable for Zeno, becomes the beloved of Galileo, Kepler, and Newton. For a few centuries, the notations of movement focus on billiard balls moving in a black space; but in the nineteenth century movement becomes generalized into process, and both thermodynamics and evolution extend the mentality into transformations.

 

Transformations, of course, bring one to the edge of conventional dimensions, and as the narratives of quantum mechanics flirt with objects of perception that can never be seen but only imagined, human beings begin to realize that there is more to consciousness than objects of perception held in three dimensions.

 

The end of modernism comes with the multidimensional topologies of mathematics and physics. At first this finish to modernism is elitist and experienced by only a few physicists like Heisenberg or poets like Yeats, but the rise of electronic forms of communication in our generation has democratized this change of mentality, With the ability to express complex geometries in cathode tubes, computer graphics is beginning to stimulate the processes of visual thinking. There was only so much one could do with chalkboard and chalk, or pencil and paper, but now combinations of music and computer graphics begin to permit new forms of play with multidimensional topologies and ancient yantras. As these forms begin to dance in the imagination, they conspire against materialism by whispering in the scientist's ear, "All this is disguised autobiography, for these crystals are the intelligible bodies of angels and the soul." Like the slave in Plato's Meno, who could reason geometrically because of anamnesis, postmodern humans discover mysteries of consciousness where they least expect them.

 

Even so groping a comparison of mathematical modes of articulation and literary modes of narrative shows us that Lord Snow's famous remark about the "two cultures" of the sciences and the humanities is not helpful in understanding history. Mathematics is relating, genealogy is the logic of one's relations; and both are performances of narrative.

 

Narrative itself is a human response to time, for it is an attempt to escape the infinity of the present as duration by reifying time into a past. Ex-isting means "standing out," "arising out of the indeterminate," or "setting up." Consciousness without an object, without either a sensory construction or a spatial-temporal horizon, would be so maddeningly disorienting as to constitute a condition of absolute terror. Our response to this terror would be to project immediately a spatial-temporal horizon, to project a world.

 

Something like this consciousness without an object happens every night in dreamless sleep, but since the ego is not there to get in the way with its interpretation of terror, the experience is not remembered. Upon slipping out of this state of undifferentiated Being (described as returning to Brahman in the Upanishads), consciousness gathers like a dust cloud collecting in density, and dreams begin to project the world of psyche, that shore between the ocean of Being and the island of the ego. Conscious becomes so enamored with these projections that its attention becomes fixed, and it Wakes up into the projection. First consciousness fixes itself in the psychic world, then it falls asleep and dreams what are memories of the psychic experiences, and then it wakes up into the world of the ego to remember the dreams that themselves are memories of psychic experiences. If consciousness were to move without a transition from the fixed attention of the ego to the undifferentiated Being, it would be interpreted as an experience of terror, a death. But this kind of conscious dying, this mystic death, is precisely what the practioners of meditation strive for. Saint Paul said, "I die daily." But the experience of conscious dying is not exclusively a Christian crucifixion, for students of zazen are awakened at four in the morning so that meditation can begin to wear away the membrane between sleeping and waking, and so that as one is awake in one's dreams and dreaming while meditating, the background to consciousness becomes the foreground as all horizons drop and the ground becomes an open space.

 

Existence is literally a setup, and so our mathematical and literary narratives are repetition compulsions that move back and forth across the threshold of the infinitely extended present. We do the same thing when we scratch an itch or make love: back and forth across the sensitive spot, touching and withdrawing, to enjoy the sense of difference that is, as Bateson told us, the experience of information. Narratives leave the present to touch the present, to explain it, to know it. And whether the narratives say f =ma, or e=mc2, or "In the beginning was the Word," they go back and forth across the erotic threshold that separates eternity and time.

 

And so narratives are not merely about time, they are performances of time: incarnations in miniature that seek to re-mind us literally. As the bard performs his story, so the mind performs its story, the ego. Since the tongue cannot taste itself and the being cannot know itself, we must come at things through reflection and indirection. We tell stories, but the stories are not always directly about what they tell. Hesiod's Theogony, that great climactic work of the mentality of enumeration, is about the evolution of Mind, from the indeterminate, through the psychic realm of gods, and down to the most limited incarnation, the shepherd poet himself.

 

All narratives, whether they are artistic, religious, or scientific, are at their deepest level disguised autobiographies of the human race. At the level of the root idea, the Enuma Elish and the Second Law of Thermodynamics are mythopoeic. And when science tells us who we are, where we come from, and where we are going (as Darwin and Freud tried to do), it is inescapably mythic.

 

Literature and mathematics are related because they both take their toot ideas from myth, but because literature performs the root idea in a personified way, in which the planets, seas, and rivers are experienced as spirits, it is a democratization of myth. Mathematics is a mystery school for initiates, but literature is open even to children. If we look back over the four cultural ecologies, we can see that for each of these epochs, a particular literary masterpiece sums up the adaptation of consciousness to the ecology of a time and space.

 

As an adaptation to an ecology, literature behaves ecologically in more ways than one. Like a forest moving through the stages of succession to climax, literature unfolds through three stages of succession: (1) formative, (2) dominant, and (3) climactic. The formative work enters into a new ecological niche of consciousness, the dominant work stabilizes the mentality, and the climactic work finishes it.

 

The formative work for the Riverine cultural ecology is the Sumerian cycle of poems on the courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi. In this love cycle one can still see the historical horizon of the transition from agricultural village to town, for many of the poems are really work songs that maidens could sing teasingly to men as they would beat the churn up and down to make butter. Other poems are competitions between the shepherd and the farmer for the goddess's favors, but all of the poems are clear celebrations of the new agricultural ways of life that are formative of civilization.

 

The dominant work of the Riverine is the Akkadian poem "Inanna's Descent into the Nether World," a poem in which civilization is now expressed, not in work songs for the churning of butter or celebrations of the shepherd over the farmer, but in priestcraft. The "Descent" is no' villager's poem, but a highly complex investigation into the cosmological dimensions of the planetary balances between order and chaos, civilization and savagery, earth and the -heavens.

 

The climactic work for the Riverine Cultural ecology is the great Gilgamesh Epic, Climactic works, like formative ones, are Janus-headed and face in two directions: they sum up and finish a world view and also point prophetically to a world to come. In its meditation on death and the slaying of the spirit of the forest, the Gilgamesh Epic was prophetic in its study of deforestation, the civilized alienation of the ego, and the limits of masculine military power; and all of these themes were to become characteristic of the tragic history of human experience in the succeeding Mediterranean epoch.

 

The formative works of the Mediterranean cultural ecology are the Homeric epics, The Odyssey quite directly sets up the horizons of the Mediterranean landscape in the voyages of Odysseus, but the epic also establishes the basic theme of the alienation of human consciousness from its source, and the yawning gulf that separates male from female, location from home, The epic forms an archetypal pattern that is to dominate literature for millennia, for contemporary works as different as James Joyce's Ulysses and Nicholas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth are but modern material cut from the ancient pattern.

 

The Iliad, which seems to me much older and more archaic in tone than the Odyssey, is the primary work that establishes the world view of order and entropy, consciousness and violence, history and vanishing. So formative is this particular work that I feel that the roots of philosophy and science are here in this whole work and not in the more recognized fragments of the Pre-Socratics.

 

The dominant masterpiece of the Mediterranean is the Oresteia, for it expresses what is to be the enduring structure of Western culture: the displacement of relationship by abstraction. Instructed by a male god of light, Apollo, the son kills the mother, displaces the rule of ancient Mediterranean custom, and moves out of the tribe into the polis in a celebration of patriarchy, law, and rationality. For the geometrizing mentality of the Creeks, the entire world becomes reorganized, not in the kinship systems enumerated by Hesiod, but in the new mentality of abstraction in which the chorus distances itself from the skene at the same time that culture separates itself from nature in the polis.

 

The climactic work of the Mediterranean, one that completely finishes the mentality in the way that only a great genius can, is Dante's Divine Comedy. The ancient Mediterranean goddess, who had been displaced from the earth, is now set up in the heavens, and Orestes's polis is transformed into Dante's ecclesia. Reason, which had slain the mother of nature through abstraction, is now wed to consciousness through "the love that moves the sun and other stars." The geometrizing mentality, which had initiated a process of distancing from nature, now finds its true ideal realm in heaven. Ratio becomes sublimated into intellectus98, and the souls of alienated humanity gather in the petals of the White Rose. Pattern flowers,

 

The formative work for the Atlantic cultural ecology, one that shows the shift from medievalism to modernism, is Cervantes's Don Quixote, a work that for quite different reasons both McLuhan and Foucault chose as the exemplar of cultural transformation. Inspired by a fantastic literature, the equivalent of the communications media of our day, the solitary knight of the sad countenance rides forth in pursuit of a lost culture. Precisely when the traditional Culture is about to break up, when the universal ecclesia is about to be replaced by a universal economy, and when the aristocrat on his horse is about to be replaced by the capitalist, the last knight rides forth. But Don Quixote is not so much a man of the past as of the future. The individual alone with his fantasies, fantasies that alter his very perception of reality, is not a man of the medieval Or the classical world. He is the first modern man whose world view has been transformed, not by parents or priests, but by the media. Precisely because modernism is a wrenching away of the solitary individual from the traditional community, madness becomes the concern of the new age of the mind. Whether we are gazing at the paintings of Bosch, or hearing the cry of Lear on the heath, or watching Don Quixote wear a barber's bowl and call it Mambrino's helmet, we are trying to come to terms with the manner in which the mind creates reality for itself.

 

The rise of the individual with the new definitions of selfhood is quintessentially a modern phenomenon, and such a cultural appearance is marked by the appearance of new literary genres, such as autobiography. At the formative stage of emergence from tradition, the solitary individual might feel the pull Of madness as the way in which the individual could create a personal cultural envelopment, but as the mind begins to grow confident of itself and begins with Leibniz to celebrate reason as sufficient to understand and control nature, being, very capitalistically, begins to sell its soul for knowing. Knowing begins to eliminate being, creating the tragic irony that knowing really doesn't know, and in the attempt to control nature, the mind simply becomes the captive of instinctive appetites. The dominant work, therefore, of the Atlantic cultural ecology is Faust.

 

But by Faust I do not simply mean the work of Goethe. Levi-Strauss has argued that every variation of a myth is a performance of the myth and that even Freud's theory of the Oedipus complex is a performance of the myth of Oedipus. In much the same way, the works of Marlowe, Goethe, Spengler, Gounod, and Thomas Mann are all chapters of the larger European work that is Faust. Before the West had such creatures as scientists manipulating the genetic code, Renaissance man imagined the alchemist who sold his soul to the devil, and intuited the shape of things to come. In many ways Marlowe's Faust seems to speak to our contemporary situation even more than Coethe's romantic Faust, for Marlowe's man becomes caught up in the banality of power, of fetching tropical fruits in winter or satisfying his lust for control; but the very satisfaction of the desire to control only leads to enslavement. Knowing can never become being; so only the spirit can unmask the covering over with which the mind bewitched itself.

 

The climactic work of the Atlantic epoch is Finnegans Wake. Coming from a marginal culture at the very edge of Europe, James Joyce very consciously finished Europe. First, lie finished the remains of the Mediterranean vision in his Ulysses, a work that ends in the affirmation of the feminine brought down out of Dante's heaven and put to bed. Then, having finished with the voyages of the solitary individual afloat on a stream of consciousness, Joyce went on to "press the transition from print-isolated humanity in its book-lined study to H.C.E., Here Comes Everybody. At the time when the hardy objects of a once materialistic science disappear into subatomic particles, so characters as egos with discrete identities disappear to become patterns of corso-ricorso, and history becomes the performance of myth. Characterization is replaced by allusion, and as pattern and configuration become more important than persons, Joyce brings us to the end of the age of individualism. But like Moses on Mount Pisgah gazing into a Promised Land he cannot enter, Joyce brings us to the end of modernism, but be himself cannot pass over into the hieroglyphic thought of the Pacific-Aerospace cultural ecology to come.

 

McLuhan considered Finnegans Wake to be the prophetic work that pointed to the arrival of electronic, civilized humanity, the creature of changing roles who "mythically and in depth." Obviously, we are now only in the early days of the transition from the Atlantic cultural I ecology of the European epoch to the Pacific-Space cultural ecology of the planetary epoch, and so no one knows for certain just where these electronic and aerospace technologies are taking us. But since I grew up in Los Angeles, and not in Dublin or Paris, I have a few hunches.

 

The emergence of the he new Pacific-Space cultural ecology is related to the historical events of World War II for several reasons. Hiroshima announced the beginnings of the atomic age, and the airplane industries of the West Coast were to be rather quickly transformed into aerospace technologies. With the postwar rise to greatness of Stanford and Berkeley, and with the emergence of Silicon Valley, the Pacific Shift of America from Europe to Japan Was irresistible.

 

Perhaps in the next generation or two, a great artist from one of the cultures on the Pacific Rim will create the formative work of art for this new culture, to do for the Pacific what Homer did long ago for the Mediterranean world. This imagined masterpiece may not be literary, for it is hard to deny that the rise of film, television, and computer graphics has created a new sensibility that cannot be expressed in exclusively literary form, The Homeric epics were popular art forms, ones meant to be recited at social gatherings, and so we should not fear that new popular art forms mean the death of literary culture. When oral culture encountered writing, literature was created. If literature encounters video cassettes that have computer animation wed to music, literature will simply reincarnate into a new form; it will not die.

 

As catastrophe theory continues to evolve into multidimensional morphologies, and as film, television, and computer graphics become democratized through personal computers and VCRs, the right hemisphere of the brain will be stimulated by a new form of visual thinking that I prefer to call the return of hieroglyphic thinking, because this designation suggests a new synthesis of art, science, and religion. I may be wrong about the emergence of a new mentality,

for there is much in genetic engineering and capitalistic ecology that can force nature and culture into mechanistic forms of control. The future may be an earth that is a space colony on earth: a canned civilization of total control and rational management. But if the larger ecology of Mind is always beyond the limits of the controls of conscious purpose, and if wildness and catastrophes are nature's protection against the forms of rationalization that would make an ecology a closed system, then I trust that nature has her Gaian resources to defend herself. If acid rain, the Greenhouse Effect, or other disasters from dioxin or genetic engineering continue to alter the environment drastically, then I believe that the new mentality will finds its kairos, its appropriate season of action.

 

Until such a time of political change or the emergence of an artistic masterpiece that is formative of the new culture, I must make use of what is ready-to-hand. One experimental work that that expressed both a Pacific-Aerospace orientation and visual, mythological thinking was Disney's Fantasia, especially his rendering of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.

 

All scholarship is disguised autobiography; so I am, no doubt, going back to the fact that I saw Fantasia before I knew how to read. For a five-year-old child in 1943, the experience of sitting in a dark cave and watching a vision of the evolution of the earth Was a religious ex I experience No rite de passage for an initiate at Lascaux or Eleusis could have been more transporting than that wedding of Bach, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky to images of the larger universe. Before I had known only a neighborhood in a large city, but when I came out of that cave, I knew that I was part of something much bigger, an entire universe.

 

It is probably for such reasons that I have no Luddite's fear of technology, but feel instead that the new developments in computer animation are the beginnings of a new mentality. I look forward to a time when instead of sitting in front of an electronic typewriter to create, for example, the second chapter of this book, I will be able to sit at a console and compose a video cassette that will have the complex crystals of color, the voice-overs, and the music I choose to accompany them. And then I hope to be able to slip the cassette into a modem on my phone and send it to all the subscribers in the satellite network who care for this kind of thing. We are being told that the age of mass audiences is over and that because there are not that many people out there who care for things as esoteric as ideas, "narrow-casting" is replacing broadcasting; so it seems 2 waste of trees to try to guess how many people will want to buy the book. Better to have subscribers than customers when it comes to philosophy and Wissenskunst.

 

And yet, old capitalistic Disney is there to prove that new art forms need not be elitist. What could be more populist than Disneyland?

 

In an early study of industrial society entitled Hard Times, Dickens contrasted the world of the factory with the world of the circus. The factory was the place of Homo faber, but the circus was the place of Homo ludens, the place where misfits fit, where the body was revealed, where human beings sported with their ancient companions, the beasts; it was the place where feelings and affection could triumph over utilitarian rationality. What Dickens projected as the mirror opposite of Victorian, Manchester has, in fact, now become California. The circus may have faded, but its role as a community of play has been taken over by Disneyland and Disney World. And just as the circus was an affront to Victorian seriousness, so the kitsch of Disneyland is an affront to modern sophistication. And yet, there seems to be something occult about these cartoon characters, something almost religious that is at a deeper level of consciousness than intellectual sophistication. The animated figures (recall the Latin root for animation) seem to be parodies of archetypes that still appeal to the archetypes of the collective unconscious. In spite of the kitsch, the vulgar sentimentalizations of the past, from animal totemism to Greek paganism, the unconscious is called forth. Could it be that the community of the future is not a polis in which abstraction triumphs, but a city of Homo ludens in which incarnation itself is recognized to be the ego as video game of the Daimon? Perhaps the elitist Finnegans Wake, or Ezra Pound's Cantos for that matter, are not that fat apart in structure from populist Disneyland, for in all three artifacts many histories and cultures are simultaneously exposed in a single Space.

 

There is, of course, a shadow side to this Pacific world, and Ronald Reagan is definitely the shadow of Wait Disney. Reagan is the man of no identity but only roles, the man who confuses both Europe and the East Coast by approaching the presidency not as a task but as a performance. Small wonder that President Mitterand of France, the literary intellectual, found nothing he could relate to in the void of character that is the personality of Reagan.

 

If Ronald Reagan is the shadow of Wait Disney, it teaches us not to slip into a futurism in which we imagine that there will be no evil in our hoped-for new culture. There was evil and a dark shadow to the Riverine, Mediterranean, and Atlantic cultural ecologies, and I suspect that there will be a planetary shadow to a planetary culture.

 

The problem of evil, as it is affectionately known in the trade, is a considerable obstruction in the path of futurism, utopianism, or even the larger descriptions of cultural ecology, for if ideologies are expressions of a false consciousness that prevent people from knowing what they are doing, how can choice, of good or of evil, enter into the patterning of behavior, individual or collective?

 

If there can be distinct narrative forms to the modes of mathematical articulation for an epoch, as well as for the archetypal literary masterpieces that sum Up an era, then there should also be rather pronounced shifts in the descriptions of religious experience, in the cultural forms of encountering good and evil, as Western civilization moves from one cultural ecology into another.

 

Deciding what to look for in science or history is, of course, the first step in finding it; consequently, it did not take me long to imagine the following pattern:

 

Religious Mode of Experience

Archetypal Religious Leader

i. Momentary possession

i. Dumuzi

ii. Surrender to authority

ii. Moses

iii. Commitment to belief

iii. Luther

iv. Symbiotic consciousness

iv. The group as an ecology of consciousness

Characteristic Good

Characteristic Evil

i. Humble piety

i. Pride, arrogant assertion of self

ii. Obedience to law

ii. Revolt against authority

iii. Understanding doctrine

iii. Ecstatic escape or transcendence

iv. Universal compassion

iv. Collectivization through terror

 

Re-ligare means "to bind"; therefore, the religious experience is one that binds part to whole, individual to culture, culture to nature. Because knowing is a "fall" from Being in the sense, as Bateson put it, that consciousness only reports on the products of our perceptions, knowing cannot report on the neurophysiological processes with which those products of knowledge are set up. Consciousness, then, will be in its structure an inherently limited horizon. The religious impulse will, therefore, be one that tries to reunite knowing with Being. Since consciousness finds itself in a time frame of the present, the first religious compulsion is to reunite the present with either a prophetically imagined future or, more often, a past antecedent to the "fall" into consciousness. Earlier cultures become the metaphor for

preconsciousness, and part of the atavistic power of religion comes from its ability to evoke memories of earlier states in the cultural evolution of Mind. In the world of the city, it calls out with the imagery of the farmer; in the world of the farm, it calls out with the imagery of the shepherd- in the world of the herdsman, it calls out with the imagery of the cave and the ancient hunt, or with the imagery of the Great Mother who reigned for the millennia before the herdsman discovered paternity and property in keeping watch over his flocks.

 

Religious experience is in many ways incredibly reactionary; it does not suffer well the given conditions of any present. In the world of civilized and conscious man, it evokes the ancient collective mind when consciousness was bound, not by a wall, but by a permeable membrane. And so for civilized man the basic religious experience is to be drawn back in trance, in momentary possession by the ancient goddess or animal spirit.

 

Julian Jaynes sees the origin of consciousness in the sixth century B.C. and claims that before that time the twin hemispheres of the brain were not in communication with one another through the bridge of the corpus callosum, and so experiences of the right hemisphere were perceived to be outside the body in voice or vision. This description is fascinating, for it is a scientific form of paranoia, a form of misplaced concreteness that yet in its paranoia intuits something that is going on and that has been missed by normal observers. Scientific fundamentalism, like religious fundamental mentalism, is always too simple, and Jaynes's attempt to map locations in the brain with states of consciousness needs to be corrected with the more sophisticated neurophysiology of Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela; but Jaynes's perceptions can be seen as a recognition of the emergence of the hard and discrete ego.

 

There is a feedback of civilization onto individuation, and so it is that Bronze Age changes in burial patterns do spell out changes in the ways of life and not just in the ways of death. In megalithic culture the bones are placed inside the tumulus in great anonymous heaps. But in the shift from matrilineal to patrilineal, there is a shift in emphasis to warfare and the military hero who wins himself a personal tomb, and a shift to the accumulation of private property in life that is held by sons who can keep watch over the tombs as the markers of their own dynastic legitimacy,

 

The ancient Neolithic metaphysic of the male as metaphor of vanishing, as metaphor of the instantaneous temporal modality, is still maintained; but now, in the historical turn of the Spiral, the temporality is not associated with just any male who plays the role of the dying god of the dying year; it is associated with a particular male with a particular historical career of conquest. For tribal man, life is a cycle of Nietzsche's Eternal Return; the self is not hard and discrete, and one lives with one's dead, with the animals, with the spirits of place, and with the gods of the sky. Death is no great tragedy, and the funeral (as it still is in Ireland) is one of the dominant celebrations of life.

 

But with the shift from matrilineal to patrilineal, the cycle of the Great Mother is exchanged for the dynastic lines of the Great Father. Private property is won by war and passed on to sons. Religious experience, in this historical context, is to be called back by the goddess to the prehistorical world of the feminine. The linked opposite to accumulation is loss, and so the great problem for male culture, one that is explored in the Gilgamesh Epic, is the problem of death A name is the definition of the ego, but as Gilgamesh and Enkidu go out to make a name for themselves, they discover death. In slaying the spirit of the forest, in cutting down the world of cycles and Eternal Return, they anger the goddess, and she sees to it that Gilgamesh's beloved companion is put to death: not to a male heroic death in battle, but a natural death, that is to say a feminine death, of rotting away in disease and in bed. But the goddess is not able to bring down the whole masculine world, and so Gilgamesh the king Survives, and with him his city and its civilization. The poem ends as it began, with a poetic meditation on the hard wall that divides culture from nature.

 

The hard wall around the city is also the hard armor around the newly emerged self, but this self is a fragile creature that can easily be taken back. Ancient woman as the goddess can easily return from her journey in the underworld beneath civilization to assert her dominance over the processes of life and death. Man will remain the metaphor of vanishing, and dynasties will come and go, but Lilith will always be there to dance in the ruins of male vanities.

 

Different cultures will find different forms of expression to deal with this metaphysic of male vanishing and female continuity, but whether the man as priest puts on woman's dress, or cuts off his genitals to put them on the altar of the Great Mother, or subincises his penis to make it look like 2 vulva, or has his head cut off by a gang of women who fling it back, still singing, on the collective sea, the structural condition of the cultural arrangement is still the same: the ego is being annihilated and pulled back atavistically into the collective.

 

And so for civilized man, the mode of religious experience is momentary possession: momentary possession in sexual intercourse with the goddess (hieros gamos, sacred marriage) or momentary possession in a trance communication with the god (genius loci).

 

The Sumerian figure of Dumuzi expresses a cultural pattern that is still close to the Neolithic. Dumuzi as the shepherd-king is raised on high by the goddess Inanna and then torn to shreds by her demons when he becomes proud and forgetful of the feminine power that put him on the throne. Dumuzi as the male is still dependent on the female; he is not a military hero who sets up a dynasty to bold onto male power through sons.

 

When the civilizational Process has consolidated its hold on human culture, then the mode of religious experience begins to shift. No longer is one simply drawn back into shamanistic possession by animal spirit Or god; now religious experience becomes articulated by a priesthood. Consequently, religious experience begins to be seen as Surrender to authority, as obedience to law. Whether the figure of authority is Pharoah or Moses, the pattern is the same: religious value is expressed in obedience to law.

 

The archetypal figure of this level is indeed Moses, the man with the great historic destiny, the man with the enormous identity, Dumuzi, though proud and forgetful of Inanna, is not greatly individuated. He is still very close to the Neolithic anonymity of the vanishing male god; he is only something because of Inanna. But Moses is so great and so completely individuated that his enormity prevents him from entering the Promised Land. It is only the truly obedient, routine-operational manager Joshua who is allowed to take the people into the land of Israel.

 

In comparing Hebrew and Sumerian mythologies, we can begin to appreciate the difference between a formative culture and a pivotal one within a cultural ecology. The Sumerians and the Greeks are formative cultures, the one of Riverine and the other of Mediterranean. The Hebrews are the pivotal culture in the shift from Riverine into Mediterranean. Pivotal cultures are reactionary in a positive sense, for they articulate the past in a way that allows it to be digested and transcended. The Greeks are the formative force for whit will become natural history, mathematics, and science; the Hebrews are the reactionary force for what will become the Abrahamic religions.

 

The importance of reactionary, pivotal cultures can be seen today in the case of the Japanese. The Californians are the formative force of the Pacific, but the Japanese are the traditional and reactionary force. Therefore, one should expect that Japanese-Californian Zen Buddhism will continue to play a great role in the future. Christianity is reform Judaism; so the future will probably see some version of reform Buddhism emerging in the Pacific Rim that will become the counterbalance to the new technologies, much in the same way that the Abrahamic religions served as the conservative counterbalance to Western science.

 

The importance of reactionary, pivotal cultures is also seen in the case of the English, for in spite of their eighteenth-century Industrial Revolution, they did not create either the Atlantic or the Pacific-Aerospace cultural ecologies, The Spanish and the Dutch were more formative of the Atlantic, and the Americans of the Pacific; but in their

global empire, the British were the great monarchical, reactionary force that struggled to consolidate the world into a vision of moral order.

 

Formative cultures express the creative expansion into new space, whereas pivotal cultures express the consolidation into tradition. The Hebrews are, therefore, concerned with surrender to authority in the obedience to law, but the development of Greek philosophy is to challenge authority and to replace obedience with understanding. For these reasons, I see our conventional designation of Creeks and Hebrews as ancestral to be correct; but their roles in shaping us are different.

 

In the social development of religion, priesthood soon becomes priestcraft, and temples degenerate in the Weberian "routinization of charisma" that turns revelation into bureaucracy. But as old religious forms begin to become overripe and rotten, new forms of religious experience begin to emerge in the new civilizational context of intense individuation. Newly equipped with personal identities, individuals are not so ready to submit simply to obedience to law, and so the mental understanding of doctrine become more critical than simply identifying with a cultural definition of the group through a religion. The covenant of Jeremiah is not handed down on tablets; it is written in the individual's heart.

 

The individual prophet is chosen by Cod, not by the institutions of humans. For a while Samuel tried to interpret his chosenness as the divine foundation of a spiritual dynasty, but as his sons fell and began having intercourse with Canaanite temple prostitutes, it became clear that sons could not bold spiritual power as sons had held political power. In the brilliance of the ecology of Mind expressed in the Old Testament, innovation becomes protected as prophecy is randomized. Man cannot know which one among him will be chosen by God to become a prophet.

 

The Old Testament is a pivotal document in the cultural evolution of consciousness in a score of ways. The Near Eastern monarch was a symbol of the body politic and a cultural definition of identity, but the prophetic leaders of the Old Testament discovered that history is a medium through which the mind moves to its destiny with God. It can be said, then, that the discovery of history is part of an interior process of gaining identity through prophetic recognition of one's relation to the culture, the historical movement, and the messianic destiny that waits at the end of history. In effect, the radical innovation of prophecy, in its challenge of institutional priesthoods, is a revolutionary discovery of individuality. Suddenly kingship, wealth, and tribal lineage are put to the side in a psychological definition of value that affirms the power of the individual to embody the presence of God.

 

Civilizations have parents, and for this being we call the West, Greece is the father and Israel is the mother. When Christianity, as reform Judaism, weds the natural philosophy of the Greeks to the discovery of history by the Hebrew prophets, European civilization is the issue. The pattern is repeated in the Reformation, for when capitalism is wed to Protestantism, industrial civilization is the issue. And now that reform Buddhism is being wed to cybernetics, the Pacific Basin is pregnant with a whole new civilization.

 

Precisely because prophecy is an emphasis on the value of the individual, the individual becomes the space in which the cultural drama takes place. With this emphasis on the growth of the individual mind, the understanding of doctrine becomes critical. The new agon becomes one of prophet against priest, and whether it is a case of Elijah against the prophets of Baal, or Luther against the Pope, the paradigm is the same. When a culture has advanced to the point where private property is mental, then understanding of doctrine challenges the old cultural pattern of Mosaic obedience to law.

 

For the greater part of the world at this moment, this is as far as humanity has spiritually progressed, and the religious warfare in India, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland is the old battle of obedience to law versus understanding of doctrine. And if the paramilitary cults of the extreme Right in the United States had their way, this religious warfare would be brought home with a vengeance. This old cultural paradigm does not want to die from a peaceful old age, but is bent on putting all the infidels to the sword, and since religion, by its very nature, has a strong atavistic power to pull

people back into the ecstatic seizures of the previous level of consciousness, we are not likely to make it into a new Pacific-Aerospace cultural ecology without the religious wars that characterized the beginnings of the Atlantic cultural ecology.

 

But since negation is a form of emphasis, the era of religious intolerance, hysteria, and violence will also serve to turn people away from religion in disgust. Religious warfare is now, and will be most likely in the future, one of the cultural forces that pushes people out of religion into a new kind of scientific spirituality (an ethos already expressed by such people as Whitehead and Einstein) that will be to Protestant fundamentalism what Quakerism is to Roman Catholicism, As the mind of religion takes us into cultural entropy by breaking up into smaller and smaller sects, and as the old pattern of the understanding of doctrine degenerates into the violence of schism against schism (and one can already see this happening in modern Israel), then perhaps some future prophetic ecologist will arise to say, "The sun is One, but many and different are the flowers it brightens." At that point of religious exhaustion, humanity will pass from the stage of the mental definitions of doctrine, from ideology, to an ecology of consciousness experienced through a universal compassion for all sentient beings. The age of religious conversion will be over, and one will accept a sacred tradition as one accepts a favored poet or composer in an artistic tradition: according to one's inner needs at the moment. Spirituality, like artistic or scientific ability, cannot be dynastic, and parents Will begin to realize that they cannot pass on their Catholicism, Judaism, or fundamentalism to their children,

 

As Luther is the archetypal figure of modernism, with his heroic individuality, I imagine that the archetypal figure for the cultural level of universal compassion will be the group, the sangha, or the mystical body of Christ. I see popular art forms such as Philip Class's score for Koyaanisqatsi or Paul Winter's jazz mass Missa Gaia as performances of this archetype. Architecturally, the Lindisfatne Chapel in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of southern Colorado is another invocation of this shift in cultural levels from religion to spirituality.

 

The most important civilizational force in this cultural evolution from religion to spirituality is Western science. The general public feats that science is a threat to religion and the liberal arts because there are always a few simplistic fundamentalists of scientism, people like B. F. Skinner, Marvin Minsky, and E. 0. Wilson, who catch reporters' attention by proclaiming that the mind doesn't exist, or that creativity is a fake and that the brain is a computer made out of meat, or that the state can be replaced by sociobiological management. These statements make citizens feel that their days are numbered and that they are about to become subjects, first of research, then of controls. There is much to fear in the social institution of science, for the sick in the United States tend to lose their civil liberties; indeed, this kind of science is what the Inquisition was to Catholicism: a hideous degeneration of a bureaucracy given too much power. If the state does not intervene to give power to mediocrity, science has certain built-in self-correcting mechanisms that keep it healthy, for science is basically a spiritual enterprise. Science is reform Christianity; it is to Christianity what Christianity is to Judaism, or what Buddhism is to Hinduism: a visionary simplification. Science is totally dependent on a love of the truth and a spirit of fellowship, and if lust for power and careerist ambitions bring about a situation in which scientists start lying to one another, the whole culture falls apart immediately. In religion, priests can lie to one another about whether salvation requires total immersion or only sprinkling; but if scientists start lying about the results of their research, the institution goes into shock, and very powerful forces of self-correction are brought into play.

 

Science can become evil, but so can religion, art, and politics, for anything human can become evil. But what we can see from the cultural movements from one historical level to another is that evil plays a role in the process of manifestation. For each cultural ecology there is a characteristic good and, by linked opposition, a characteristic evil. If humble piety is the good that enables one to submit to momentary possession by the goddess or the god in hieros gamos, or trance, then pride and an arrogant assertion of the self is the evil act that blocks the good. When Dumuzi becomes arrogant to sit on the throne while Inanna goes through hell, he displays the classic pride that goeth before a fall.

 

All of which is familiar enough, but what is not familiar is the fact that this evil is the signal of emergence to the next level of historical order. Pride and self-assertion are needed to move from momentary possession to the stable identity capable of making a commitment to obedience to law. It would seem that there is an isomorphic relation between evil and environmental pollution, and that in both cases a form of noise or dissonance is a signal of emergence from one level of order to another. Similarly, when priesthoods have stabilized religion in the form of obedience to law, then evil becomes revolt against authority. But this kind of revolt points up the mental development of a new relativism, for clearly Moses's revolt against Pharoah is evil in Egypt but good in Israel. And in much the same way, Luther's revolt against the Papacy is seen as good by Protestants and evil by Catholics. So the evil of revolt against authority is actually the signal of the shift to the next level, commitment to belief, with its characteristic good of the understanding of doctrine.

 

For the Atlantic cultural ecology, the good is seen as the understanding of doctrine, and if you are a follower of the Pope, Jerry Falwell, or the Ayatollah Khomeini, that is as far as you wish to go.

 

If the good is expressed in the "true" doctrine, then the evil is ecstatic escape or transcendence of moralistic definitions. For fundamentalists the rock music, drugs, and cults of the young are clearly the work of the Devil. From an ecological point of view, the cults and the counterculture are like weeds in a monocrop field: they are responses to the artificial devastations of industrialization and temporary efforts to rescue the soil as the field moves through succession back to the natural diversity of tall-grass prairie or climax forest.

 

Good at one level of order becomes evil at another, and evil at one level of order becomes good at another. In the age of mental understanding of doctrine, obedience to law is evil, for it aborts the development of the mind. In an age of universal compassion understanding of doctrine becomes evil, for it simply sanctifies murder in religious warfare. But universal compassion is shadowed by what Erich Kahler called "collectivization through terror," a psychological technique in which the frightened and alienated individual is comforted by terror and gathered back into an ideology In which the ego is annihilated by the collective.

 

Terror destroys integrity, the wholeness of autonomous unities; but terror is often used to describe mystical or erotic transfiguration. As Rilke has put it in the Duino Elegies, "Denn das Schone ist nichts / als des Schrecklichen Anfang (But Beauty is nothing but / The beginning of Terror . .).

 

Terror is a crushing integration, the eros of rape rather than love. The difficulty arises when we stop to consider that many religious practices are isomorphic to evil acts for both can work by the logic of inversion, If the normal man eats, the monk fasts; if the normal man accumulates, the monk lives in poverty; if the normal woman makes love and has children, the nun lives in celibacy. For both sanctity and evil, reversal is the pattern. How, then, can one tell the difference?

 

If evil can be the signal of emergence from one level of religious experience to another, and if pollution can be the signal of the emergence of a new level of historical order, then what, in Bateson's words, is "the difference that makes a difference"? How do we know when it is appropriate to practice an evil action to approach a higher good, as when Moses rejects Pharaoh or Luther rejects the Pope? And how do we recognize that an evil act is simply horrible, as when the Israeli terrorists tried to murder all the Arab mayors of the West Bank, or when the Ayatollah tried to eliminate all the Bahais in Iran by firing squad?

 

All the most moving and important performances of knowing in our lives are unknowable. How do we know that we love someone? What is the process of recognition by which we determine that we are in love with one person and not another? It seems as if it were analagous to aesthetic knowledge, a similar process of recognition in re-membered in great music. But what is this discrimination that tells us that Bach is greater metal; that the Cathedral of Chartres is the of an angel, but that Notre Dame is a tourists' that Rockefeller Plaza is a public space, but that the Trump Tower is a vulgar piece of Los Angeles stuck into Manhattan?

 

Aesthetic knowledge is a feeling about knowing; it is a commentary on the processes of perception. Through the functioning of this metalevel of discrimination we can recognize that we can be mistaken in our knowing and even, if we have the kind of aesthetic discrimination called wisdom, wrong in our religious experiences, mistaking some psychic experience, vision, or para-noia, for knowledge, when it is only an interpretation of intimations. Because all these mysterious moments of knowing, in love or art, are unknowable, the unknowing kind of knowledge brings us closer to Being. Normal knowing and opinions, cannot map Being any more than a bucket can sound sea; but aesthetic knowing is the art of swimming, the graceful presence that realizes you do not have to measure the to love it, sail on it, or swim in it.

 

When knowing becomes conscious of its limitations and then turns on them to make the limited process into a dance that talks about the relationship between knowing and the unknowable, it performs Being. This is what both Bateson and Heidegger were trying to get at in affirming thinking: thinking Being. It is difficult to think Being in philosophy, and for me Heidegger's Being and Time is a monumental failure; but sometimes we learn more in life from failures than from success.

 

Thinking Being is difficult in philosophy, but it is easier in music, art, and architecture, and, perhaps, in Wissenekunst. The map is not the territory, but some maps do help us to find our way home; and yet, home is precisely the place where we no longer need maps.

 

Humanity is not yet at home in this world of earth; so We still have need of philosophy. And what Bateson's philosophy can teach us about out battles between good and evil is that "the difference that makes a difference" is difference itself. Evil is the destruction of differences; good is the creation of ever new differences. Differences are the good emphasizes diversity, individuation, integrity and participation in the universal through the unique. Evil is just who Goetbe's Mephistopheles said he was "The spirit I, that endlessly denies, / And rightly, too; for all that comes to birth / Is fit for overthrow, as nothing worth."

 

Evil works through collectivization, not individuation, with the unit crushed into the uniform, the crushed into a cult. This is the difference that makes a difference between isomorphic groups: between the followers of Rudolph Steiner and Adolph Hitler, between the communities of Findhorn and Rajneeshpurain, between a tall-grass prairie and the animal concentration camp of a feed lot in Kansas.

 

Because the good works through the unique and not the uniform, it is not possible to standardize it through time. Each moment and historical situation is unique, and so the good repeated in an inappropriate situation can become evil. It takes a mind to know a difference, and so no catechism or moral standardization can dispense with the need for a mind to know when a situation is good and when it is evil, Abstract justice in one context can become cruelty; liberal kindness in another context can create evil and enormous suffering. The knowledge of the appropriate season of action, the kairos (which is surely ail ecological metaphor if there ever was one), is universal compassion: universal because it is extended to the entire ecology of all sentient beings, and compassionate because such right mindfulness is tough-minded and not sentimental.

 

People who lack compassion often have a secret fear of evil within themselves that they try to mask by loudly screaming and pointing the finger at someone else as being the instrument of evil. I have had some experience with people of this mentality who are members of paramilitary right-wing extremist groups in the American West, so I recognize the orientation when it comes out in a political personality such as the Ayatollah Khomeini. People who scream about others being possessed by the Devil are generally possessed themselves, and their lack of compassion comes about because they cannot confront the evil inside themselves and are trying to murder it outside by becoming a murderer. Jung was certainly right in his analysis of the shadow, for those who can own their own projections, and can see their own shadows, are certainly the ones who can be more secure and forgiving of others. Humans are very social and plastic creatures, and when put into a certain context, they can be capable of any evil, Only when we have compassion for ourselves, by recognizing the capacity for evil within ourselves as well as in the historical process of manifestation, can we begin to move from ideological hysteria to the ecology of consciousness that the Christians call agape and the Buddhists call compassion.

 

This knowledge of the ontological role of evil has been with us esoterically for some time, but it is difficult for an ordinary ego to deal with it. The Ordinary soul wants a simple list of Don't's; it does not want a vision of complexity. However, the knowledge is there in the New Testament, for Judas cannot go out to betray Jesus until Jesus empowers him to do so. Jesus performs a shadow eucharist by giving Judas a sop of bread in vinegar, and only then can the spirit of evil take him over so that he can betray Jesus to bring about the redemption that requires crucifixion. Milton only half-consciously recognized this difficult understanding, for in Paradise Lost he makes Lucifer and Christ associated as the two sides of an unrecognized demiurge. When Lucifer is thinking "one step higher makes me highest," that is when God the Father announces the emanation of the Son. As Milton explores the nature of evil, it is no accident that Satan is the tragic hero of the epic and that God the Father is a boring psychopomp. One can feel no compassion for God, but the increasing degeneration of Satan is tragic.

 

If Lucifer and Christ are twin forces of manifestation, the two sides of the demiurge of creation, then we cannot kill evil without ourselves becoming evil killers. Our only way out of this logical dilemma is to love our enemy, which, of course, is exactly what Jesus told us to do. The fundamentalist, whether Christian or Islamic, sees devils everywhere and becomes what he or she hates.

 

The problem that Milton faced in dealing with evil is one we all face, for we simply cannot function as an ordinary human being endowed with an ego if we accept evil as part of a cosmic process. We cannot simply look at Buchenwald and say, "This is good, for Israel will come out of this." Such a response would be equivocation and not compassion.

 

It would seem that, like a flashlight searching for darkness and dispelling it in the act of looking for it, human beings cannot operate with an ego and come to terms with evil. Our only way of accepting its ontology is to violently reject it Our excretions are intimate and personal and tell much about what we chose to take in as food, but the only proper ecological response to excrement is to keep it away from ourselves. But, to continue the metaphor, if we push it too far away, it accumulates and becomes a greater problem; if we remain conscious of its presence and recycle it, it becomes fertilizer.

 

So, it would seem, that when we repress evil violently, we become violent repressors of others; but if evil is known and put in its proper distance from us, new life springs up as we gain compassion.

 

Today the overwhelming evil is collectivization through terror in all its forms, from political torture to warfare, from thermonuclear terrorizing of the whole world by the military collusion of the "U.S.S.R.," to a poisoning of the biosphere that is bringing the whole human race into one deadly toxic dump called civilization. What is this evil telling us?

 

If evil announces the next level of historical order, then evil is expressing the coming planetary culture. Unconsciously, the world is one, for global pollution spells out a dark integration that does not honor the rational boundaries of the nation-states. And so, industrial nation-states in their fullest development have contributed to their own end. Collectivization, then, must mean that the future is some sort of collective consciousness in which the completely individuated and conscious ego becomes surrounded by the permeable membrane of an ecology of Mind and not by the wall of civilization.

 

Rock festivals in particular, and rock music in general, seem to express this fascination with collectivization. Since we have become an electronic society, a society of information, it is not surprising that the pollution of the new cultural ecology is noise and paranoia. Rock music is about the relationship between information and noise, and if the medium is the message, then the requirement that rock music be loud to the point of physiological damage clearly indicates that noise is the form that creates the collectivization that does not honor the boundaries of biological integrity. At a recent concert in Amsterdam, the Irish rock group U2 was so loud that it registered as an earthquake on the seismographs at the university.

 

Interestingly enough, those fundamentalist ministers on television, such as the Reverend Jimmy Swaggart of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who rant and rave about the presence o Satan in rock music, are recognizing that there is information in what appears to be noise. Reverend Swaggart is like the Puritans of Cromwell's time who shut down all the theaters in England, for he even declaims against gospel music, but he reserves his particularly Amos-like wrath for the abominations of rock. His interpretation of what he senses is, of course, very much like the interpretations of the paranoid, a form of misplaced concreteness; but paranoia often picks up on information the normal rationalist misses. In many ways, paranoia is a response to information overload and too much noise; so it forms along with rock music the dissonance or pollution of a cybernetic society. If Don Quixote was the tragic figure of the age of print, a man whose senses were sent wandering because of the reading of books, I cannot help but see the Reverend Jimmy Swaggart as an equally tragic and quixotic figure, for be has to become a media figure to declaim against media society; but then, Amos ranted, yet he was also the first prophet to start writing his sermons. Nevertheless, Amos the shepherd did not reverse urbanization, and I doubt if the electronic evangelicals will be able to maintain the Reformation culture of what McLuhan called the "Gutenberg Galaxy" when they are bound by the same cables and constrained to become what they bate.

 

The rise of paranoia, from right-wing fulminations against the world conspiracy of the Trilateral Commission to Lyndon LaRouche's hatred of the British Secret Service, is an important signal that the literate, rational citizen of the post-Enlightenment era is being replaced by the subject in a shift from identity through logical definition to identity through participation and performance. In one form of consciousness, identity is seen through similar logical predicates; but in paranoia, identity is seen metaphorically as the participation mystique of common subjects, Looking at the erosion of good pietist values from electronic evangelical broadcasting, and looking at rock festivals, we can see that democracy is in for some hard times.

 

The myth of the Antichrist is that the great collectivizer unconsciously prepares for the enantiodromia, the reversal in the millennium and the mystical body of Christ. The Roman military engineers build the roads, then the missionaries use them to turn the empire into Christendom.. There is a good chance that personal computers and modems could make a Swiss-style, direct participatory democracy more possible, for it is certainly true that the print technology of frequent referenda is driving the average Swiss citizen into apathy, A de facto representational republic is the result of the sharing of information through print in Switzerland; a de jure representational republic was the result of pamhleteering in the United States. However, both could be replaced by new forms of informational integration that are not as collectivizing as the hate-inciting evangelical electronic sermon or the rock concert.

 

Although Reverend Swaggart would like to get rid of black gospel music and white rock, it does seem to be the case that music is one of the most powerful descriptions of cultural transformation. When folk music moved from the country to the city, popular music emerged as a new cultural phenomenon, From the cotton fields of Leadbelly to the New Orleans of Bunk Johnson, jazz is an aural history that chronicles the transformation from agricultural to industrial society. And from the New Orleans of Bunk Johnson to the Chicago of Bix Beiderbecke and the Harlem of Duke Ellington is another chapter in the diaspora. The transition from industrial to postindustrial can be seen in the breaking up of popular music into an ecology of consciousness of incredible diversity. The range of jazz forms from those of Dizzy Gillespie to John Coltrane and Miles Davis is one expression of a culture in which neither the melodic line nor the production line holds values together any longer. And from rock-and-roll to acid rock was another expression that the dominance of the middle class was at an end.

 

From eighteenth-century Samuel Richardson to nineteenth-century Samuel Smiles, industrial society saw the, intense effort on the part of the lower classes to take on the culture of the middle classes. Even the aristocrat traded in his elegant satin for the somber black of the capitalist. Gone was the medieval diversity of tramp and tinker, artisan and tradesman, aristocrat and soldier; arrived was the uniformity of clerk and banker. The man of wealth was no longer an ostentatious eighteenth-century rake, and the worker was no. longer a peasant in rags but a Bob Cratchet of Dickens's A Christmas Carol Furthermore, in style, the distance between rich Scrooge and poor Cratchet is not as great as the distance between lord and laborer in preindustrial society.

 

Now, in out truly post industrial society, what punk music and dress is signaling is the end of the middle Class's ability' to dictate styles of taste and decorum to the social order beneath them. Even more than that, punk dress is signaling a sublimation of British class warfare into information. Since political systems are often parodies of ecosystems, we can see in punk dress all the rich signaling of the animal kingdom, for the stylized agons of fighting rams are not fatal, and the elaborate horns are not designed for combat as much as display. And so it is with spiked hair and metal chains, The "structurally unemployed" of Thatcher's monetarist kingdom have their agon with the postindustrial managerial class, a class that now has no need of them whatsoever: not as slaves, not as peasants, and not as proletarians; but what the English working class has done is rather imaginative, for they have recycled the proletariat and turned it into pure art style, pure information. Noise has become potent information in the form of the global fashion and music industries, and it is appropriate that both the Chelsea School of Art and the punks are on the King's Road. With the recent amplification of music and fashion through the new genre of music video, the size of this global industry is staggering. Consider-how little the English have had to invest in the working class in the form of the dole, and remembering bow much they have wasted in the arms race and in subsidizing nuclear power stations and the Concorde, the return on the investment of the dole in the post-working class is phenomenal. From records, video, film, magazines, and changing fashions of clothes, one can see that there is now a wholly new kind of parasitical media middle class feeding off the actions of the working class beneath it.

 

Ironically, though the young work hard to be visible, the of members of Thatcher's Parliament cannot see that popular singers are now captains of industry; as once were the Josiah Wedgewoods and the Cornelius Vanderbilts, so now the Boy Georges and Michael Jackson Show-business Reagan, however, is more sophisticated than dowdy Thatcher, for he comes from Hollywood and recognizes Michael Jackson to be a media figurehead, and so be received Jackson at the White House like a visiting head of state. And, indeed, Michael Jackson attired in his ceremonial uniform did look like Pinochet.

 

And so if we look without snobbery or Margaret Thatcher's middle-class ignorance at popular music, we can see that it is signaling the emergence of a collective consciousness as the linked opposite to an elitist scientific-cybernetic culture. If music is an expression of the body politic, then perhaps it is telling us something about the possible future of Europe. If the agony of conflicting political nationalisms is turned into the agon of competing artistic nationalisms, then the rich diversity of Europe need not generate social chaos but merely agon-ic display. In the transformation of the working class into the artistic class, there is an analogy of the transformation of political nationalism into artistic nationalism in a global ecology of consciousness. If the Turks in West Germany were to take elements of Middle Eastern music to create a new popular art form, the equivalent of reggae and JuJu music, they could become, not the racistly hated underdogs, but the darlings of the West Germans. Jazz did much for the acceptance of blacks by whites in the United States, and you have to have a cultural figure like Duke Ellington before you can have a presidential candidate like Jesse Jackson, Turkish teenagers are now break-dancing on the streets of West Berlin; so perhaps the young are already signaling back that they have got the message from the kids in the Bronx and are on their way.

 

What all the signaling back and forth indicates is that the social complexity and diversity of the Middle Ages has returned ending the interval of uniformity that started with the Victorians but reached its peak in the age of conformity in the United States of the fifties. It would appear that the complexity of planetary culture, however, is more diverse even than the medieval. Its basic pattern seems to be one of highly energized oppositions: punk teenager and Chelsea pensioner, orange-suited Sanyasins and white-suited astronauts, rock stars and electronic evangelists, invisible artists such as Thomas Pynchon or the Sprayer of Zurich, and a whole parade of politicians, snake-oil salesmen, transvestites, and yuppies With the return of the Middle Ages on the turn of the historical spiral, comes the return of the knight. Gone is the anonymous G.I. Joe of the industrial era; returned is the professional soldier, the elitist ranger, and the SWAT specialist who like a white blood cell is trained to flow through the body politic and take out assassins and terrorists.

 

Will this postcivilizational complexity driven by a runaway capitalism that generates ever new differences, pollution, noise, cults, and technological innovation end in a new state? Will it become an authoritarian state of the Greens in which individuals are not allowed to have cars and numerous possessions? Or will this postcivilization simply spawn a universal facism: a fascism of the Left in some socialist countries, a fascism of the Right in some capitalist countries, and a fascism of the Greens in ecologist countries? Or will postcivilization, in a classical enantiodromia, reverse itself to become the mystical body of Christ foreshadowed by the demonic body of Satan? That is, in fact, what McLuban, the prophet of the electronic global village, thought:

 

Psychic communal integration, made possible by the electronic media, could create the universality of consciousness foreseen by Dante when he predicted that men would continue as no more than broken fragments until they were unified into an inclusive consciousness. In a Christian sense, this is ..... interpretation of the mystical body of Christ; and Christ, after all, is the ultimate extension of man.

 

The world view of humanity in the Atlantic cultural ecology was of objects separated in space. The world view of humanity in the fourth cultural ecology (as experienced by astronauts, such as Rusty Schweickart, or mystics, such as David Spangler) is of presences in an interpenetrating field. How, then, do we live with this knowledge? If pollution, evil, noise, and paranoia are expressions of presences that won't go away, how do we deal with them? Hoffman-LaRoche, even after the accident of Seveso, did not become more responsible with dioxin; it simply hired Mannesmann to take it away, and then Mannesmann hired a truck driver to get rid of it. Neither Hoffman-LaRoche nor Mannesmann wanted to think about dioxin; so the truck driver was free to take the barrels and stick them in an empty shed in a village in France. And that is typical behavior for industrial man: objects are separated by space, and so we can have mansions at one end and deadly poison at the other. But when we realize that pollution is a presence, we have to create only things we can be present with. Dioxin is a poisonous side product in the creation of ugly herbicides such as Agent Orange, and it should, very simply, never be made. If we make such things as Agent Orange or plutonium, they are simply not going to go away, for there is no way in which to put them. If we force animals into concentration camps in feed lots, we will become sick from the antiobiotics with which we inject them: if we force nature into monocrop agribusiness, we will become sprayed by our own pesticides; if we move into genetic engineering we will have genetic pollution; if we develop genetic engineering into evolutionary engineering, we will have evolutionary pollution. Industrial civilization never seems to learn, from DDT or thalidomide, plutonium or dioxin: catastrophe is not an accidental by-product of an otherwise good system Of Progress and control; catastrophe is an ecology's response to being treated in an industrial manner.

 

Precisely because pollution cannot go away, we must generate only those kinds of pollution we can live with. Precisely because enemies won't go away, for the fundamentalists' process of inciting bate only creates enemies without end, we have no choice but to love our enemies. The enantiomorphic polity of the future must have capitalists and socialists, Israelis and Palestinians, Bahais and Shiites evangelicals and Episcopalians.

 

A monocrop of plants does violence to nature, and the pesticides give us Bhopal; a monocrop of culture does violence to human nature and gives us wars and extermination camps. Neither of the industrial operations called Buchenwald or Bhopal were accidents; they were essential descriptions of the industrial mentality, for how we treat a rock or a weed tells us bow we will treat a human being in the future. Until we realize that matter is an illusion and that nature is alive, we will not be able to save our own lives from the violence we inflict all around us. If that sounds like Celtic animism, it is.

THE FOURFOLD PATTERN

 

 

Cultural Ecology

Form of Pollution

I. Riverine

I. Soil Loss

II. Mediterranean

II. Deforestation

III. Atlantic

III. Atmospheric pollution

IV. Pacific-Aerospace

IV. Noise, Paranoia

 

 

Economy (Marx)

Communication System (McLuhan)

I. Asiatic

I. Script

II. Feudal

II. Alphabetic

III. Capitalistic

III. Print

IV. Socialistic

IV. Electronic

 

 

Polity

Mathematical Mode

I. City-state

I. Enumeration

II. Empire

II. Geometrizing

III. Industrial nation-state

III. Equations of motion, dynamics

IV. Enantiomorphic ?

IV. Catastrophe theory leading to processual, multidimensional morphologies and return of mythic hieroglyphics

 

 

Archetypal Religious Leader

Religious Mode of Experience

I. Dumuzi

I. Momentary possession

II. Moses

II. Surrender to authority

III. Luther

III. Commitment to belief

IV. Group as an ecology of consciousness

IV. Symbiotic consciousness

 

 

Characteristic Good

Characteristic Evil

I. Humble piety

I. Pride, arrogant assertion of self

II. Obedience to law

II. Revolt against authority

III. Understanding of doctrine

III. Ecstatic escape or transcendence

IV. Universal compassion

IV. Collectivization through terror

 

 

Climactic Literary Masterpiece

Characteristic Cosmogonies

I. Gilamesh Epic

I. Enuma Elish

II. Dante's Divine Comedy

II. Hesiod's Theogony

III. Joyce's Finnegans Wake

III. Darwin's On the Origin of Species

IV. ?

IV. Disney's Fantasia

 

The world is now an amphictyony of nations, as once Athens and Israel were amphictyonies of tribes. The evolution of amphictyony into polis or nation was a violent one, and looking at Beirut or Amritsar today there is no reason to think that the transition from an amphictyony of nations to an enantiomorphic polity will be peaceful and rational. But if the evil of collectivization through terror is foreshadowing an emergent level of historical order, then there is some hope that humanity may actually make it from one cultural ecology to the other.

 

Each cultural ecology of the past has had its landscape, its form of pollution, its positive unconscious or episteme that united literary and mathematical narratives, and its mode of religious experience, with its characteristic way of encountering good and evil. My purpose in composing a historical narrative in which these patterns are put forward is both personal and social. The personal one is to try to Understand why as a Californian I long for a real world of culture in an imagined "back East" or in Europe, and yet cannot really accept the narrowing of consciousness I find in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, London, Paris, or Bern, Switzerland. Living in California, I imagine. Europe; now, writing this book in Europe, I reimagine the California that I grew up in. As T. S. Eliot said, "And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time." The social reason is to hope that this narrative can make a contribution in the movement from mystique to politique to become a performance of the very reality it seeks to describe.