COVID 19 appeared out of the corner of our cognitive blind spot, what Nassim Taleb has described, in his book by the same name as a black swan moment. Sure we had been warned by the Global Risk Report 2019, put out by the World Economic Forum, but we just were not prepared. And COVID was not the only black swan, there have been more than one surprising, if not shocking, event to wake us up including #MeToo, #ExtinctionRebellion, and #BlackLivesMatter to name only a few. After the police brutality that killed George Floyd I have watched the American Police, the National Guard, and the US military beating, shooting and chasing protesters while a bellicose President cowers in his bunker peeping out his tweets – now is the beginning of another revolution – ‘We really can’t breathe!’ The 1960s have come again. I decided to string together some excerpts from my book to try and explain.
You might be surprised to know that some people were expecting these turbulent times. In WorldBending I discuss the second coming of feminists such as Donna Haraway who dislikes the term the Anthropocene – i.e. the novel and non-analog geological epoch we have begun – Gaia’s response to our messing with her. Haraway finds it distasteful …
because the myth system that relates to the Anthropos is a male ‘setup’ that ends badly. It stars bad actors who have only told one side of the story. The science of the Anthropocene, she argues, has an individual bias, over the collective, that is often incapable of explaining evolution in symbiotic terms, and neglects co-evolution with the nonhumans. Haraway prefers her term the ‘Chthulucene’ that associates with the earth, fertility, and the subterranean psyche. She writes: “I am aligned with feminist environmentalist Eileen Crist when she writes against the managerial, technocratic, market-and-profit besotted, modernizing, and human-exceptionalist business-as-usual commitments of so much Anthropocene discourse.”
The goddess Persephone who was dragged to the underworld by Hades was both the goddess of death, but also the life-giving earth, a goddess of fertility. Her mother Demeter was the Goddess of Agriculture, and the mother of Dionysus also thought to be Orpheus, son of Zeus, and the God of Rebirth, a proto-Jesus Christ. The secret Eleusinian mysteries promised initiates a paradise beyond death. The Judaeo-Christian ‘fathers’ set about ensuring that the earth, and fertility or sex, were associated with Satan, the snake, (also the symbol of Dionysus, Hades, Orpheus, Pluto and Zagreus, all one and the same).
According to Campbell, he contrasts the pagan mythology that associated the earth with a divine presence, against the Christian culture that associated earth with the Devil. In Christianity, not only was the divine associated with the Sky God, the patriarchal God but the Earth Goddess, Gaia, became associated with the underworld, Hell, Hades, the abyss. Campbell also noted that Orpheus/Dionysus in his various pagan guises was not only the Son of God but in the Eleusinian mysteries and Orphic initiations, good and evil were once embodied in one being, “the Devil himself is taken to be the immanent presence of God”. In Christianity God and the Devil were seen as separate personages and this split, as in the split of human versus nature; masculine and feminine; anima and animus, created a psychological rift in the archetype.
The Psyche and the Singularity
According to Jung the archetypes of the gods are found on the scientific principles of cosmological archetypes. In other words, the ancient observations of the heavenly movement of the cosmos, and the astrological correlation on Earth led to the naming and personification of the constellations, thereby instantiating cosmic observations within the myths of the gods. Tarnas, in his book, Cosmos and Psyche, has researched in detail how certain astronomical alignments such as Uranus /Pluto, and Saturn/Pluto correlated with dramatic social, political, physical and cosmological events throughout history. “The nature of the Plutonic-Dionysian principle is to press towards greater intensity, to the extreme, to be compelling, deep—radical as radix, root, grounded in the depths, drawing on the power of the underworld, driving whatever it touches to an overwhelming potency that has a compulsive, destructive, even self-destructive potential.”
Tarnas describes his initial academic embarrassment when he began to research and document astrological correlations between individual archetypes; world bending; world building and world ending. In his extensive documentation of historical figures and events, Tarnas points out the remarkable coincidence of astronomical events and archetypal behaviour. This gives us another interesting perspective on our past, present, and future world bending as the cosmological archetypes connect with our ancient myths and legends.
Tarnas outlines two examples of astronomical patterns: the correlation of the Uranus-Pluto cycle; and the complex interplay of the archetypes affected by the Saturn-Uranus-Pluto cycle. According to Tarnas, the Uranus-Pluto cycle reflects ‘the characteristic themes of the Promethean-Dionysian complex’. He identified these themes in individuals and periods in history; themes such as social justice; political revolution; individual liberty; creative freedom; religious rebellion; romantic and erotic emancipation; innovation and technological revolutions. He examines the remarkable coincidence of the English Revolution when Uranus and Pluto were in opposition (1643 – 1654) and the sexual revolution of the 1960s when the planets were in conjunction. The libertine sex, nudity and free ideas of the 17th-century English Ranters were strikingly similar to the hippies in the 20th century. He also documents the life and work of Karl Marx, who was born in 1818 during the Uranus-Pluto square, “whose life and work was devoted with a kind of elemental intensity to the cause of mass revolution and emancipation.”
Sixty years after the race riots of the 60s, the ecological movement started by Rachel Carson, and the feminist revolution, we are again seeing the coming of the Saturn-Uranus-Pluto cycle. Saturn is the tired and dreary old man Trump who baffles us with his overbearing bullying and incomprehensible senility. His grubby groping of women and his arrogant fat swaggering as he looks down on his ‘children’ tut-tutting the naughty ones and lavishing the loyal with unwarranted authoritarian praise. But the old man’s day is done – if he does get elected again in November 2020 it could just be that Uranus and Pluto are only just coming around again. The old man Saturn might even refuse to stand down. I think the World should call upon the UN to send in electoral monitors to ensure there is no interference foreign or domestic – clearly, democracy has been furloughed in the US.
According to Maxwell in his book, Dynamics of Transformation, even liberal progressive academics have a tendency to review the past as the battlegrounds for novel conceptual revolutions, but, he claims: “[it] seems that those theorists who proclaim that all the great revolutions are done and that history will most likely grind on interminably until the human race destroys the planet not only lack imagination, but they also lack an adequate understanding of the way transitions between world views have generally occurred in the past. In one sense, they are right that the current world view of late modernity has run low on vitality, has reached a stalemate of vast proportions, and that if we do not act soon, tragedy will ensue, and in fact, is already occurring in the increasing extinction of species and the environmental devastation. But such crises generally seem to take place just before the period of release and transcendence occurs; it is not for nothing that the night is noted to be darkest just before the dawn.” It is the look towards the dawn that defines the progressive philosophy of the past, and the speculative realism of the future.
The Revolution Will Be Televised
In 1970 Gil Scott-Heron released his song, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, at a time of global, social, sexual and political upheaval. An African American protest song that incites an anti-TV-consumer revolution :
The revolution will not be right back after a message
About a white tornado, white lightning, or white people
You will not have to worry about a germ on your Bedroom
a tiger in your tank,
or the giant in your toilet bowl
The revolution will not go better with Coke
The revolution will not fight the germs that cause bad breath
The revolution WILL put you in the driver’s seat
The revolution will not be televised
WILL not be televised,
WILL NOT BE TELEVISED
The revolution will be no re-run brothers
The revolution will be live
It would seem that Marx’ s ‘opiate of the masses’ is no longer religion, or TV, but social media, and a constant screen flipping of devices. Scott-Heron warns of hallucinogenic technologies to come, as we retreat from the public square into the safety of our virtual cocoon, in denial of the mess outside.
You will not be able to stay home, brother
You will not be able to plugin,
turn on and drop out
If the revolution will not be televised, how will we participate? In the mid-2000s there was a confluence of negative reports and ideas, with global warming hitting a peak in 2006, just after the release of Al Gore’s documentary, The Inconvenient Truth, and the beginning of the subprime financial crisis in 2007, culminating in the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The result of this confluence has been a growing sense of despair and fear that capitalism might be actually coming to an end. The author of, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, David Graeber asks, “How did we get here?” and goes on to say: “My own suspicion is that we are looking at the final effects of the militarization of American capitalism itself. In fact, it could well be said that the last thirty years have seen the construction of a vast bureaucratic apparatus for the creation and maintenance of hopelessness, a giant machine designed, first and foremost, to destroy any sense of possible alternative futures.”
Graeber believes that the powers-that-be felt compelled to prevent, under any circumstances, the perception that those who challenge the system can in any way win. “To do so requires creating a vast apparatus of armies, prisons, police, various forms of private security firms and police and military-intelligence apparatus, and propaganda engines of every conceivable variety, most of which do not attack alternatives directly so much as to create a pervasive climate of fear, jingoistic conformity, and simple despair that renders any thought of changing the world seem an idle fantasy.”
With or without the COVID 19 pandemic we are going to see more crises to come and with them more riots, revolts, and military responses. #BlackLivesMatter #MeToo and so do all the non-humans in a climate crisis that could see us all screaming ‘I can’t breathe!’ Who knows if they will televise it?