Delving into esoteric literature can be an overwhelming experience that prematurely sets off bullshit detectors which short-circuit one’s awareness of their own cognitive biases.
Curious enthusiasts (like yours truly) stumbling through this paradoxical maze of arcane terms, odd blabbering’s, and fantastical explanations need some sort of guide.
Johnathon Black’s The Secret History of the World is just such a guide.
This comprehensive narrative weaves together disparate strands of esoteric philosophy into something that lay folk can grok.
Black detours down the alleyways of esoterica, walking through the streets of Alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Swedenborg, Egypt and more, to let the reader admire their unique form and structure before merging back onto the main road they all use. Continue reading
In keeping with the recent theme of long-term thinking and deep-time narratives, the cultural historian William Irwin Thompson (W.I.T.) sketches out a compelling mind-jazz mosaic in his article Natural Drift and the Evolution of Culture.
It provides a model for the Evolution of Consciousness over the past few million years. This is a notoriously tricky endeavor because, as Thompson writes:
“It is one thing to talk of the evolution of the small Ice Age horse shown on the walls of Lascaux to the modern long-legged race horse, but quite another to talk of the evolution of Renaissance perspectival painting into the abstract landscapes of Kandinksy and Pollack.”
In Medieval Europe the social world reflected the natural world in a grand yet rigid hierarchy. The psychological benefit of this was a deep sense of security and belonging. One had a fixed place inside a closed world, a world with closure where freedom as we know it didn’t really exist.
Neither did anxiety. Or at least it was kept to a minimum because, as Nietzsche wrote, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
This was starting to change in Europe by the 14th century as the old-guard structure started to break up and the Commercial Revolution started to, well, start. This provides the economic groundwork for the emergence of Capitalism and a whole new psychological atmosphere.
The sense-of-closure that knit together the Medieval world unravels and all the loose strands swarm around the mind-of-the-land and the land-of-the-mind. “Freeeeeeedom…” reigns and it feels kind of constricting.