Imagining offers freedom from the magic of certitude, by recognizing that beliefs begin in images and are always images too, images that have lost their wings and fallen into truths. The angelic aspect of human being is the unbounded imagination.
When consensus within a culture is driven by a desire for certitude, the safety and comfort of offering our agreement with prevailing opinions of a political or social nature, beliefs more easily become confused with truth*, truth then becomes static and personal, rather than an array of personified images or angelic messages.
The concreteness of modern cosmology, where only measured, quantifiable “facts” make up a monolithic reality, assures a never-ending opposition of disagreement, drawing the battle lines between competing visions, not only of what is true and false, but of a very black and white fabric that weaves the story we believe we’re in.
The idea that a truth exists is different from the idea that a truth can be known. For the Greeks, it was the particular burden, emphasis of power, along with place and lineage that gave each god its essence of being. Necessary, as expressions of an invisible world, these gods remained above or below the human world, and our awareness of that setting apart, from our world to theirs, was a humbling factor that informs of one’s place and time as an in-between place; limited, liminal, finite, not to be possessed, but to the contrary, that which possesses us. But this possession is also an embrace, a surround that pulls us away from our human-only world, uniting us not only with life on planet earth, but with all the possibilities that an invisible dimension holds that we can only come to know through reflection upon the images as we experience them.
But in this human-only world, if something can’t be seen, measured or quantified, it either doesn’t exist, can’t be trusted, and most importantly, can’t be exhorted into the safety of consensus. If the gods, and the images they present through our expression, account for the powers that influence us, it hardly matters whether or not they really exist in some tangible way that can be proven. The gods, all that has been written about them, at the very least, express through us something eternal about our condition. Therefore, it matters not whether we believe in them, but that they believe in us.
What Jung called a complex, (Ezra) Pound called an image. For Pound, an image is “that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time.” “The Image is more than an Idea. It is a vortex or cluster of fused ideas and is endowed with energy.”
In our secular post-modern world, could it be that the absence of any powers beyond us heightens our thirst for belief, confusing it with truth because we experience the world entirely from a human-only perspective? Could both cultural and personal suicide along with fantasies of Armageddon be an expression of a loss of the experience of those powers beyond humanity that twist human subjects into just one more object devoid of worth? In a world in which we believe ourselves to be the sole carriers of consciousness, does this existential aloneness lead us to question the reality of our experience of being? If so, we have truly lost our senses, as the pathway to the other, reducing ourselves down to the nightmare of the world as only “me;” my feelings, my awareness, my truths, all of which have usurped our ability to see the other by way of communion, or exchange that can only happen where agency allows the stranger, the unknown to become known through that which differentiates and distinguishes me from you. Perhaps we need less relatedness and more distinctiveness.
And what of death, the dead? Is their absence, the finality of human existence through death, calling into question our very aliveness? For what a strange world it is if everything around us is truly dead except for us. No wonder the need then, to search for physical life beyond our tiny place in the cosmos. With the intrusion of a lack of belief in the invisible realm beyond the physical, we must now find other physical beings to give us back the reality and validation of our own existence.
Perhaps Western culture now finds itself in the most frightening episode of its brief existence. The psychic burden of living such short physical lives has us in a frenzy to now become the very powers once attributed to the gods. Powers that simultaneously create and destroy with an unprecedented fury. Whether it’s the idea that we alone can save ourselves from the wreckage of our own doing, or the idea that we must progress by any means necessary, our lack of felt experience as one creature among many, with an eye for beauty and empathy, has completely escaped us as the narrowing of our world has destroyed the experience and recognition of all except the material, human world of the here and now.
The past, once valued for connecting us to the ancestors, is now filled with familial and cultural ghosts of the sins of the father, that only bring us pain and shame for the wounds we experience as deeply personal, victimizing us with every thought and memory we are stuck with. In a material world, where nothing matters but the physical, there’s no way to see, let alone experience the multidimensional layers of an eternal, archetypal background that binds both our wounds, and the possibility of their healing, to those very ancestors we now spurn. To escape the haunting, we must kill the past with our profane business, drugs, political battles, and forward thinking, where hope tells us that someday, somehow, we will usher in a pain-free existence, a unity of peace, love and well-being for all.
*Curiously, we have more recently chosen to refer to truth as fact, and oppose it to “fake” as in the idea of fake news. But fake’s opposite would more accurately be called “real,” which asserts a dimension of unreality rather than falsity to our current condition.
All quotes from: Hillman, James. Philosophical Intimations (Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman Book 8). Spring Publications.
5 thoughts on “Consensus”
Reblogged this on VIRTUAL BORSCHT.
Every generation lives their Zeitgeist of the day, today it’s popular to believe in ‘facts’ which in reality are nothing but constructs of our own, in an age dominated by technology and science, we believe the answers are there, when if we look at both are nothing but constructs of our own, who someone in the future may choose to deconstruct, take History as oppose to Mythology, now considered a construct of the ancients to explain what they didn’t knew, and the words Historically proven, it is in vogue, when there is not such a thing, take an ‘Historical event’ and seeing, studied, and analyzed by different people it will yield different results, and conclusion based on the bias, and characteristics related to the Historian as an individual, with his own background, and baggage, that will be reflected in whatever conclusions he reach, there is no such a thing as a complete impartial look at events.
In blogging, reading the press, and reading books, it never cease to amaze me, as to how much bias it’s reflected according to the background of the person who wrote it, the same event can be seeing in such different light, and context to be to the point that what we call here news, and facts, somewhere else it’s considered as lies, and propaganda!
And why it should be so different with anything else, like belief in mythological Gods, versus, our contemporary beliefs in science, and technology, and what we refer as a ‘fact.’?
The argument, that truth may lie somewhere in the middle of an argument, it’s also a reflection of someone trying to be fair, and just to both issues, or simply that he can’t make up his mind as to what side to believe.
I am afraid that living in a World of duality, where black, and white, day, and night, etc. It’s necessary to transcend opposites in order to achieve wholeness, and Wisdom.
As for Spirit, it always amuse me how many people choose it as a something to believe, or not, when in reality Spirit is to be deeply in touch with our own subjectivity, as oppose to those with an extroverted view of the World, and a shallow subjectivity.
My opinion of course, someone may have strong arguments against it.
Thank you for your post. 🙂
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Excellent! It’s as if we use the past to convince ourselves that we are better, smarter, more enlightened, instead of finding a way to accept the limits of our perceptions and the trick that language, influence and consensus plays on us.
Thank you for your note!
Thanks John. Agreed that we cannot bring back any belief, whether in God, the gods, non-physical presence, or what have you, once we fall out of belief. For myself, the only truly persuasive force is experience. Having experienced non-physical presence, along with never quite being able to believe that the dreamworld is a brain construct of my own making, allows me to not personalize experience as something that belongs to me.
For all of those who have had some sort of way in; an opening to the world in which we the sense of our own “I” doesn’t turn it into a static conclusive category that we can dominate by definition, something drastic and at times terrifying happens, that needs to happen. I remain grateful.
Thanks for engaging me with your thoughts! I hope that you are well and enjoying some spring weather John.
This post really hits the mark, and it presents us with a sorely needed perspective given the ever-more materialistic secular worldview that seems to be gaining on us these days. We all respect the value that serious science brings to life in the 21st century, and it is still important to examine our beliefs with a critical eye in light of new discoveries which result from modern research and technological advancement. Serious consideration of the ideas expressed in your post is even more urgently needed these days, given the tendency to emphasize “…only measured, quantifiable facts,” as the sole approach to any question facing us.
In many of my own postings, I have urged a consideration of “…all the possibilities that an invisible dimension holds that we can only come to know through reflection upon the images as we experience them.” Perhaps even more urgently needed these days is for each of us to seek the truth about whether we can truly ascertain “…something eternal about our condition.” Even if we can only experience the world “…entirely from a human-only perspective,” it has always seemed to me that our humanity–our very human nature itself–REQUIRES us to consider and reflect upon what our experiences tell us about the nature of the cosmos and of life itself.
As you so rightly pointed out in your posting from August of 2016 entitled “Pathemata:”
“We cannot bring back the gods once their presence is no longer personally felt, but we might come to understand that the source of the material, thingyness of the world comes from a gooey, smeary, animated world in motion much bigger than us, beyond formulas, human concepts and especially language. Human power cannot replace the gods of antiquity, but only displace and misappropriate an inherent power of the cosmos.”
In my view, there clearly MUST BE a part of our world, our existence, indeed, of all life in the universe, which springs from a source “…much bigger than us.” I believe it is knowable and ascertainable if we pursue it with imagination and open-minded searching through reflection, contemplation, and the difficult work of attaining a degree of enlightenment and spiritual awakening, in whatever way seems right to each of us.
Great to read more of your own musings today……..John H.
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