Mainly in Asian countries and communities, 2015-2016 is the year of the Sheep, according to the Lunar calendar. Image Source: CNN.
How do we see Sheeple in the Year of the Sheep? Does the Lunar New Year's conciliatory message resolve the trend toward Millennial alienation, conflict and aggression? Can the values of Asia's Year of the Sheep or Goat, such as pacifism, collective action and creativity, ease the tensions caused by western gnosticism? In yesterday's post, I outlined how gnostic beliefs provide the background "social pathology of the political religions." Gnosticism built the central myth of our time: the four-fold Enlightenment illusion of rationalism, of higher knowledge through conflict, of control of the nature, and of human power over the earth. In today's post, I consider the Lunar New Year's symbols as a solution to this problematic myth, despite the fact that 'sheeple' are ridiculed by today's gnostically-minded.
Image Source: Pyramids and Sheeple.
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Image Source: XKCD.
"Making XKCD slightly worse." Image Source: Simon Software.
The Millennial gnostic perspective attacks 'sheeple.'
First, the myth of our time, the four-fold Enlightenment illusion of rationalism, starting with the Illusion of Rationalism. The widespread Millennial gnostic attitude celebrates whistleblowers, computer hacking, exposed secrets and deifies rationality as paths to ever higher levels of concealed knowledge. This has led to widespread disillusionment and a cynicism that sees evil everywhere. To be a 'sheep' is to trust what authorities tell you. To think that the establishment and system will care for you is to believe in illusions. There is a Twitter feed for gnostic skeptics called The Daily Sheeple.
In the social media world of small, independent egotists, everyone has to be a leader, because following constitutes weakness. Ever-more-exclusive levels of knowledge create new types of social climbing and social ranks. The new classes depend on how 'in the know' you are. These classes build new tyrannies in the guise of liberating or empowering manifestos.
Conflict. Millennial neo-gnostics thrive on polarized mentalities, which are often cast in gnostic terms as male-female conflicts, and without the Chinese yin-yang concept of balance. The gnostic mind is always ready to engage in conflict on behalf of the wise and disillusioned against those who are mired in illusion.
Image Source: XKCD.
Conspiracy theories are common symptoms of the gnostic mindset. The elevated paranoia of the Millennial ultra-rationalist is a wonder to behold. Pick your drug of choice: 9/11; apocalyptic world's end; the moon landings; HAARP; celebrity MONARCH mind control puppets; the Illuminati and their secret Bilderberger New World Order. There are people who 'rationally' believe that the Queen of England is descended from space aliens! Or if being ridiculous is not your thing, there are finer conspiracies, such as the recent Lesbian Jewish Leftist Conspiracy on Reddit, or the fear that anti-Theists have become the new terrorists. For the outdoorsy set, you have WTSHTF. For sophisticates, there is the news item that Hillary Clinton founded ISIS.
Image Source: #wakeup.
Our blindness lies in the belief that we can figure anything out via quasi-rational discussion, and that the 'truth' of that discussion can be verified because it generates traffic and social momentum online and a new social cohesions. Left versus Right. Man versus Woman. Sane versus Deluded. Religion versus anti-Religion. The New Rich versus the 99 Per Cent Poor. Why do so many believe that these constructed linguistic dichotomies map out the world? In the cult of hyper-rationalism, you will never find the true events of history, only competing cultures of truth.
The Creation, the beginning of the antidiluvian (i.e. the pre-Flood) world (1896-1902) by French artist James Tissot (1836-1902). Image Source: Wiki.
Control of Nature. Consider Pacifica's quotation of Marie-Louise von Franz:
“It is too cheap to say that the old alchemist, i.e. the medieval natural scientist of antiquity, projected unconscious images into matter and nowadays we are enlightened and know what the unconscious is, and what matter is, but those poor fellows just did not distinguish between the two, which explains why they were so backward and fantastic and unscientific! The psyche/matter problem has not yet been solved, and the basic riddle of alchemy is still not solved. The answer to the question they pursued we have also not discovered.”
Image Source: cryptidz.
No one can land the Leviathan, Job's biblical beast of the oceans, and conquer him. There is a point where nature will resist and elude the gnostic's rational manipulation and control:
- Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope?
- Can you put a cord through his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook?
- Will he keep begging you for mercy? Will he speak to you with gentle words?
- Will he make an agreement with you for you to take him as your slave for life?
- Can you make a pet of him like a bird or put him on a leash for your girls?
- Will traders barter for him? Will they divide him up among the merchants?
- Can you fill his hide with harpoons or his head with fishing spears?
- If you lay a hand on him, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
- Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering.
- No-one is fierce enough to rouse him. Who then is able to stand against me?
- Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.
- I will not fail to speak of his limbs, his strength and his graceful form.
- Who can strip off his outer coat? Who would approach him with a bridle?
- Who dares open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth?
- His back has rows of shields tightly sealed together;
- Each is so close to the next that no air can pass between.
- They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted.
- His snorting throws out flashes of light; his eyes are like the rays of dawn.
- Firebrands stream from his mouth; sparks of fire shoot out.
- Smoke pours from his nostrils as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds.
- His breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from his mouth.
- Strength resides in his neck; dismay goes before him.
- The folds of his flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable.
- His chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone.
- When he rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before his thrashing.
- The sword that reaches him has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
- Iron he treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood.
- Arrows do not make him flee, sling stones are like chaff to him.
- A club seems to him but a piece of straw, he laughs at the rattling of the lance.
- His undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing-sledge.
- He makes the depths churn like a boiling cauldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
- Behind him he leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair.
- Nothing on earth is his equal—a creature without fear.
- He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king over all that are proud.
Atlantis, the lost Ur-Land of the west: "At the very top of the central mountain, a temple was built to honor Poseidon. Inside, a statue of Poseidon rining a chariot that is being pulled by winged horses (Pegasus) was usually surrounded by the elders and rulers of Atlantis who would discuss laws, pass judgements and pay tribute to the Poseidon." Image Source (2009-present) © Phoenix74n at deviantART.
Power over the Earth. The biggest Millennial gnostic conspiracy theory is the saddest one of all. This is the Atlantean conspiracy theory of the antediluvian world. Millennial gnostics are haunted by the lost knowledge of the ancients. What do the palimpsests in the last book from the last ancient library reveal? What forsaken knowledge did the ancient libraries contain? What thousand-year-old treasures lay in the last museum of dying Babylon, established by Princess Ennigaldi in the Palace at Ur 2,500 years ago? What answers lie frozen in the ice of Antarctica?
Since 1882, interest in the Flood Myth, and the world that existed before the Flood at the end of the Ice Age, has centred on the legendary lost high civilization of Atlantis (you can read the source for that fad, here). Perhaps there were cycles of human civilizations, successively wiped out by a hostile environment. At each supposed turn of this wheel, accumulated human skills and knowledge were lost, and particularly costly was the loss of an Atlantean consciousness.
There must have been some 'key,' thinks the gnostic, some missing code, known to the antediluvians, a code for human history and destiny. That mnemonic code told us how humans are tied to the evolution of this world and what the future of humanity must therefore be. We must know our complete past to envision our extreme future. The conspiracy theory contends that perhaps the ruling few preserved the code. And the actual ruling few, tucked away in their private clubs, may even delude themselves into thinking that they have accomplished this!
The modern Tarot deck is an example of a false Enlightenment claim that a pre-ancient, prehistoric occult 'key' had been salvaged from the Book of Thoth and projected, with medieval alchemical mysteries, onto Renaissance playing cards. The Book of Thoth supposedly contained two magical spells: one taught humans to speak to animals; and the other enabled humans to see the gods. Modern Freemasonry and other private cults similarly hail from the Enlightenment period and cling to the gnostic hypothesis that they preserve scraps of antediluvian knowledge through complex rituals and manipulation of symbols. Theoretically, these arcane rituals and symbols are just elaborate memory aids, to help our memories bridge millennia upon millennia, back to the original 'key.'
If only it were possible. If only it were true. Anyone who studies history knows that contextual consensual meaning shared by people in the past is rapidly lost. We need scholarly footnotes to explain Shakespeare's jokes to us, and they are only four hundred years old. That means that if a legendary 'code' or 'key' to human pasts and future fates existed, and if we had preserved it - however miraculously, murderously and exclusively - we would still find it completely incomprehensible. Even for archaeologists, geologists and geneticists, there is no magic bullet that traces actual historic continuity to the deepest past. As history gives way to legend, we can reinvent the stories we think are essential and tell them to a new generation. Beyond that, humans are trapped in time pockets of limited memory, framed by individual blocks of a few thousand years each. Someone said to me recently: history is a game of broken telephone. Our greatest problem is that we cannot form a complete body of accumulated wisdom by communicating with our ancestors and successors across millennia of experience.
What the myth of lost pre-Flood knowledge and the sunken kingdom of Atlantis really illustrate are the Fortean limits of the Enlightenment's gnostic rationalist experiment, that is, the mundane limits of the modern mind. This is very sad. The yearning for a lost 'key' demonstrates only that we know we have lost something from the past that is essential and irreplaceable, but we don't know what it is. And we will never know. The rational, secularist experiment will never unlock the final secrets of knowledge. It is just as well, because limitless knowledge implies divinity and to seek it is to break humanity's first, cardinal taboo.
That means that the whole ultra-rationalist exercise is somehow profane, and ultimately lacks the part of the conscience that depends on consciousness. The real lost 'key' is a faith in untouched mystery, an acceptance of the unknown that stays unknown. Acceptance of the unknown is not an option these days, because it is considered anti-rational and anti-secular. But perhaps acceptance of the unknown is merely a small human comfort, which eases anxieties created when we try relentlessly to figure out everything.
Gnostics remain trapped in an either/or hypothesis. Either you are 'in the know' and figure out the key to existence, or you are not and do not. One might take the Dickian or Lovecraftian view on pushing further, and counsel caution:
Or one may take F. Scott Fitzgerald's conflicted optimism about reaching higher:"The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."
Optimism brings the gnostic back to competing camps of knowledge; back to conformity and alienation; back to illusion and disillusionment. Neo-gnosticism is Hegelian. It contends that there are two conflicting views of the world, and through the conflict between the two, one reaches a demiurge's theophany, or an epiphany's transcendence to a higher level, a mash-up synthesis of knowledge."Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning — So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
The neo-gnostic belief that sheep are blind weak followers, at best innocent, at worst conformist, dependent, gullible and stupid, who will naïvely be led to the slaughter comes from animal husbandry: 'as sure as little lambs are made, they will be shorn.' Image Source: Tin and Sparkle.
Neo-gnostics go to any length to attack illusion and opposing views because they think that doing this will brute force a breakthrough to the next level of understanding. It is their obsession with a liberating epiphany that makes gnostics so reckless and destructive. Because they are so sure the outcome must be a higher level of 'enlightenment,' they will say anything, no matter how irrational or violently offensive, to create solutions out of existing conditions. And, as I said in an earlier post, gnostics are everywhere! Ironically, the biggest critics of Enlightenment cultists in the so-called Illuminati are hacktivist Enlightenment apostles. It doesn't matter if you are a insider or an outsider, if you are Left or Right or politically something else. If you think you possess privileged information of any kind that gives you the right to attack, control, browbeat or dismiss others in the name of leveraging what you hold dear, you are influenced by neo-gnostic ideas.
But one must not blindly worship any flavour of privileged knowledge in the days of the Information Age and the Knowledge Economy, because Enlightenment transcendence may never occur. Neo-gnostics do not consider that their transcendent synthesis might not happen. There is never a moment in the Millennial gnosis when dumb Hegelianism is questioned. Nowhere is there a sense that contending ideas may eternally coexist. Nowhere, a suggestion that illusions of social consensus have always existed to make society work, in however flawed a way. Nowhere, a realization that one must simultaneously accept and reject those social illusions in order to operate in society at all, and one must do it with one's eyes open. Right now, the illusions are that society is fair; that the government and its citizens are legally secure; that the economy is working well and that economists understand how money works; that politics tells the truth about human relations; that various international diplomatic, military and strategic agendas can be unambiguously correlated to moral truths, etc. Perhaps, one must arrive at a a point where one is completely disillusioned about the social illusions, and yet deal with them in order to survive.
This is where the Chinese values of the lunar New Year can offer some yin-yang balance. The Chinese astrological system would contend that the 'Green Wood Ram' offers a tonic to the trends of recent years, be they recession in west or boom times in the east. Both dearth and profits provide challenges. The lunar New Year represents a belief that different symbolic elements and emotional tendencies ebb and flow to achieve a balanced mood in the world over time.
Years of the Goat and their associated elemental influences under Chinese astrology. Image Source: Senn.
Rather than fixating on conflict, epiphany and transcendence, an illumination of illusion and disillusionment, truths and untruths, demands that we hold all in balance without trying to force an answer. Consider paradoxes, contradictions and inconsistencies, if only to see that they exist for a reason. An eastern symbolic view might say that your truth is someone else's untruth, and the two of you are part of the grand scheme of things.
Image Source: Byrdseed.