May 16, 2017
by Doug “Uncola” Lynn:
Society is a wave. The wave moves onward, but the water of which it is composed does not. The same particle does not rise from the valley to the ridge. Its unity is only phenomenal. The persons who make up a nation today, next year die, and their experience dies with them.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”, paragraph 48.
Our current modes of rationality are not moving society forward into a better world. They are taking it further and further from that better world.
Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, Chapter 10
A MAN’S JOURNEY
On April 24th, 2017, an author and philosopher by the name of Robert M. Pirsig passed from this world. Pirsig, born in 1928, was best known for his 1974 book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” which is a semi-autographical account of his personal philosophical exploration into the concept of “quality”.
At the age of 9, Pirsig’s IQ measured at 170 and, at the age of 15, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota to study biochemistry. After becoming disillusioned with the validity of the Scientific Method’s ability to genuinely reduce seemingly unlimited numbers of hypotheses, Pirsig’s attention diverted from his studies and, within two years, he was expelled for poor academic performance. At the age of 18, Pirsig joined the Army and developed an interest in Eastern culture and philosophy while stationed in South Korea. He eventually returned to college and obtained degrees in chemistry, philosophy, and journalism. He also studied Oriental philosophy at Benares Hindu University in India.
Although initially turned away by 121 publishers, Zen became an immediate best seller and remains today a popular exploration of the Metaphysics of Quality (MoQ). Pirsig’s story describes a 17-day motorcycle trip from Minneapolis to San Francisco taken with his son, Chris, in 1968. Sadly, in 1984 an afterword was added where Pirsig revealed to readers that Chris died in 1979 at the age of twenty-two. He was murdered during a mugging in San Francisco, eleven years after their motorcycle journey there and five years after Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was published. Also included in the book’s main narrative are references to actual events during 1961 through 1963 when Robert Pirsig was institutionalized and received electroshock therapy for a mental breakdown he suffered due to his frustrations in defining, and effectively articulating, the conception of quality.
In the semi-autographical account, Pirsig identifies his motorcycle as representative of the mind; a cumulation of concepts in three dimensions as it were, and broken down into sub-categories according to either its Components or Functions. For example, in the illustration of a motorcycle, the subcategories under Components could be envisioned as a flow chart and structured into the classifications of Power Assembly and Running Assembly, et al.
This structure of concepts is formally called a hierarchy and since ancient times has been a basic structure for all Western knowledge. Kingdoms, empires, churches, armies have all been structured into hierarchies. Modern businesses are so structured. Tables of contents of reference material are so structured, mechanical assemblies, computer software, all scientific and technical knowledge is so structured – so much so that in some fields such as biology, the hierarchy of kingdom-phylum-class-order-family-genus-species is almost an icon.
Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, Chapter 8
Robert M. Pirsig & Son, Chris, on the 1964 Honda CB77 Superhawk
Pirsig further characterizes the human experience as being viewed through the lens of two separate modes of understanding which he identified as either Romantic or Classical:
A classical understanding sees the world primarily as underlying form itself. A romantic understanding sees it primarily in term of immediate appearance. If you were to show an engine or a mechanical drawing or electronic schematic to a romantic it is unlikely he would see much of interest in it. Is has no appeal because the reality he sees is its surface. Dull, complex lists of names, lines and numbers. Nothing interesting. But if you were to show the same blueprint of schematic or give the same description to a classical person he might look at it and then become fascinated by it because he sees that within the lines and shapes and symbols is a tremendous richness of underlying form.
The romantic mode is primarily inspirational, imaginative, creative, intuitive. Feelings rather than facts predominate…
The classic mode, by contrast, proceeds by reason and by laws – which are themselves underlying forms of thought and behavior.
Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, Chapter 6
Pirsig additionally speculated how the Romantic and Classical worldviews affected cultural change during the turbulent 1960’s:
The ‘generation gap’ has been a result of it. The names ‘beat’ and ‘hip’ grew out of it. Now it’s become apparent that this dimension isn’t a fad that’s going to go away next year or the year after…
What you’ve got here, really, are two realities, one of immediate artistic appearance and one of underlying scientific explanation, and they don’t match and they don’t fit and they don’t really have much of anything to do with one another.
Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, Chapter 5
Furthermore, Pirsig identifies inconsistencies of those holding the Romantic worldview as tending to take technology for granted, whereas those living in rural areas often have a more respectful, and therefore healthier, approach to modern conveniences:
They [Romantics] depend on technology and condemn it at the same time… They’re not presenting a logical thesis… But three farmers are coming into town now, rounding the corner in that brand-new pickup truck. I’ll bet with them it’s just the other way around. They’re going to show off that truck and their tractor and that new washing machine and they’ll have the tools to fix them if they go wrong, and know how to use the tools. They value technology. And they’re the ones who need it the least. If all technology stopped tomorrow, these people would know how to make out. It would be rough, but they’d survive.
Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, Chapter 4
Most importantly, though, and perhaps even unintentionally, Pirsig reveals the importance of language (rhetoric) behind the formulation, conceptualization, and analysis of metaphysical concepts:
What I’m driving at… is the notion that before the beginning of the earth, before the sun and the stars were formed , before the primal generation of anything, the law of gravity existed….
If that law of gravity existed, … I honestly don’t know what a thing has to do to be nonexistent. It seems to me that law of gravity has passed every test of nonexistence there is. You cannot think of a single scientific attribute of non-existence that that law of gravity didn’t have. Or a single scientific attribute of existence it did have. And yet it is still ‘common sense’ to believe that it existed.
…We believe the disembodied words of Sir Isaac Newton were sitting in the middle of nowhere billions of years before he was born and that magically he discovered these words. They were always there, even when they applied to nothing. Gradually the world came into being and then they applied to it. In fact, those words themselves were what formed the world.
Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, Chapter 3
In order to bring together those with diverse perspectives, Pirsig believed the answer could be found within the Metaphysics of Quality; specifically, towards the understanding of values and, in his later writings, even as a path to an increased comprehension of morality.
Quality is not a thing. It is an event. It is the event at which the subject becomes aware of the object… The Quality event is the cause of the subjects and objects, which are then mistakenly presumed to be the cause of the Quality!
Robert Pirsig, paper on “Subjects, Objects, Data and Values”, 1995, p.12
In other words, the existence of quality may presuppose the conception of time; yet it does not create experience. In his later writing, Pirsig identified Dynamic Quality as the “pre-intellectual cutting edge of reality” (i.e. – immediate, undivided experience); and Static Quality as any concept extracted from experience which can be defined. These would include in their ascending order of morality: inorganic (non-living things), biological (living things), social patterns (behaviors, habits, rituals, society), and intellectual patterns (ideas).
Dynamic Quality is like hearing music and appreciating it before understanding “why”, or prior to assigning a Static Quality designation of “good” via comparisons of previous conceptual patterns.
Towards the end of Robert Pirsig’s 1992 book, “LILA: An Inquiry into Morals”, he condenses his entire Metaphysics of Quality into a single sentence: “Good is a noun”.
Therefore, when considering the Metaphysics of Quality, it remains ever the question of values; also understood as ethics.
Today, however, in the Western nations, it seems “good” remains subjective, and ever in the eye of the beholder. When considering the rising crescendos of chaotic culture clashes now corresponding to the steadfast advancement of a New World Order, there are those who hold onto the Classical worldview via observation, logic, reason and dialectic; and then, there are the Romantics within the same societies who view the world, subjectively, through emotion, intuition, imagination, and rhetoric.
What does the future hold? To better understand, we might first look to the past utilizing conceptual classifications codified within an ideological hierarchy designated as Generational Theory.
TIME, CYCLES, TURNINGS
In the books, “Generations” (1992) and “The Fourth Turning“ (1997), written by the historians William Strauss and Neil Howe, recorded cycles of history are identified, and categorized, across multiple cultures and eras. Both books analyze the timelines of historical events and correlate these to the specific life-cycles of people in the form of generational “types”. Strauss and Howe additionally address the concept of time in the context of both circular and linear perspectives. In so doing, they describe what is called the “saeculum”; or a “long human life” measuring approximately 80 to 90 years and comprised of four turnings, each lasting around 20 to 22 years.
Just as there are four seasons consisting of spring, summer, fall and winter, there are also four phases of a human life represented in childhood, young adulthood, middle age and elderhood. As each phase of human life represents approximately 20 years, so is each generational archetype identified within historical cycles, or turnings, as follows.
Each generation experiences the historical turnings according their life stage; and the Seasons (i.e. order of Turnings # 1 -4) are identified by each generation as they reach middle-age. Amazingly, history shows a consistent pattern in how the generations both cause and affect historical events. The patterns develop based upon how each generation interacts with the other and this also has documented consistencies that are delineated by the authors.
At any given “turning” during the saeculum, the set order of the generations on the age ladder is called a “constellation” and all rotate within a “cycle”.
In America, since the end of the late sixteenth-century, there have been four full “cycles” , or saeculums, as follows:
1.) Colonial Cycle
2.) Revolutionary Cycle
3.) Civil War Cycle
4.) World War Cycle
In every Fourth Turning, or Crisis period, within all of the above cycles, American society experienced great upheavals and war.
For example, during the Fourth Turning Crisis of 1929 through 1945, America experienced a financial crash, a great depression and a world war. During this period, the Prophet generation was entering Elderhood, the Nomad generation were middle-aged and the Hero generation fought WW II as young adults while the Artist generation were children during that time.
When the Crisis (Winter) era of financial hardship and war was over, the Spring of another First Turning began as the Hero generation led America into a season of unparalleled prosperity from 1946 through President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. It was then the baby boomer (Prophet) generation began to affect society as young adults. The boomers rocked the nation with new age flower-power, feminism and civil rights. Thus began the Awakening that lasted through Ronald Reagan’s first term that ended in 1984, when the Third Turning, or Unraveling, began. The Fall Season of the Unraveling ended with the subprime mortgage financial crisis of 2008 and this began America’s current Fourth Turning; a Crisis period which could last through 2030.
Ironically, it is always the civic-minded Prophet generation that grows up pampered in post-Crisis eras. They self-indulgently challenge the status quo as young adults, assimilate in middle-age and then, in their Elderhood, lead the nations to war once they assume positions of political power.
In the saeculum before last, the Fourth Turning came early, when the Prophets were middle-aged. Strauss and Howe claim this actually magnified the Crisis period during the Civil War. In the early 1800s, it was the Transcendentalists who were the Prophets of their day. They advocated for both the welfare of society, and nature, against the framework of the Industrial Revolution. They campaigned for various social causes including feminism and abolition. They railed against oppression in all of its various forms. And, it was they who led the nation into war. By the mid-nineteenth century, America was divided geographically north and south by the conceptualization of race, state’s rights, and federalism.
In our current generational cycle, it was the Baby Boomers who advocated for civil rights, feminism and abortion. It is still the boomers who continually rail against oppression in all of its various forms against the framework of the Technological Revolution. And, it is they who are now leading the nation into war. By the mid-twenty-first century, America is divided geographically by blue versus red counties, by opposing positions on illegal immigration, state’s rights; and unprecedented power consolidation in the nation’s capital, Washington DC.
SHIFTS, MOVEMENTS, REVOLUTIONS
The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain in the mid to late 1700s and eventually expanded to America thus transforming rural, agrarian societies into thriving urban enclaves complete with exciting new inventions, mechanized factories, assembly-line mass production and economic opportunity. It also delivered low wages, harsh working conditions, child labor, and pollution. There were those who lamented the sounds of steam engines overriding the blessed quietude as freely offered by nature’s God and more than a few who questioned the busy idolatry of urban living. These were the Transcendentalists.
As Idealist generations are known to do, the Transcendentalists attempted to affect culture by transforming thought. They emphasized individual truth, internal reflection, and harmony with nature and sought to live in pursuit of specific values, to wit, non-conformity, simplicity and self-reliance. The Transcendentalists embraced the importance of the individual, primarily in relation to nature and nature’s deity, the Over-Soul. This was a term coined by the author Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882), who is considered the central figure of Transcendentalism. Emerson, like his father, was a pastor in the Unitarian Church.
In Emerson’s essay, “Nature” he eulogized the patterns of Creation in all of its forms including its highest expression, mankind. In his essay on “Self-Reliance”, he stressed the need for mankind to look inward for knowledge and guidance and to reject any dependence upon conformity.
Another key figure within the Transcendentalist movement was Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862), who wrote the book “Walden”. This book was an account whereby the author recorded various ruminations during the turning of four seasons while living a year in relative isolation in a cabin built with his own hands. The rudimentary lodge was situated on the shore of Walden Pond, a lake located near Concord, Massachusetts on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Thoreau moved into his new life on Independence Day, July 4th, 1845 and thus celebrated his independence from society’s pressure to conform.
Ironically, Thoreau’s father was a pencil maker, and it was young Henry David who actually formulated a way to bind clay to graphite making the Thoreau company America’s largest pencil maker. When he later rejoined society, Henry David Thoreau continued to contribute to Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand of capitalism by keeping his hand in the “I, Pencil” business for most of his life.
He also solidified his reputation within the burgeoning Transcendentalist movement, when many of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s followers encouraged Thoreau to publish various essays in The Dial, a Transcendentalist magazine established by Margaret Fuller, the famous feminist and abolitionist who was greatly influenced by the idealism of Emerson’s essay on Self-Reliance. In fact, while referencing springtime and turning, Emerson once wrote to Ms. Fuller regarding his aspirations for The Dial which later appeared in its first volume:
And so with diligent hands and good intent we set down our Dial on the earth. We wish it may resemble that instrument in its celebrated happiness, that of measuring no hours but those of sunshine. Let it be one cheerful rational voice amidst the din of mourners and polemics. Or to abide by our chosen image, let it be such a Dial, not as the dead face of a clock, hardly even such as the Gnomon in a garden, but rather such a Dial as is the Garden itself, in whose leaves and flowers and fruits the suddenly awakened sleeper is instantly apprised not what part of dead time, but what state of life and growth is now arrived and arriving.
The Dial, “The Editors to the Reader” Volume I. July, 1840, No. 1
In many ways, the Transcendentalists were ahead of their time. Amos Bronson Alcott, another friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson and considered “devoutly Transcendentalist”, started an elementary school in 1934 and eliminated physical discipline in order to help each child discover their inner greatness. His assistant from that school and sister Transcendentalist, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, later established America’s first kindergarten in 1960. Amos Alcott was the father of Louisa May Alcott, the famous children’s author who was also a feminist and an abolitionist.
Additionally, the Transcendentalists engaged in one of America’s first ventures into socialism and communal living with the Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education, an experimental utopia that failed a few years after it was founded due to financial difficulties and that fact that many of the Brook Farmers did not share the workload equally. In Emerson’s later essay entitled “The Conduct of Life” he claimed the initiative failed because people did not “sacrifice” enough.
The Transcendentalist considered the individual as the center of reality and nature as the manifestation of God on earth. In fact, the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau would be welcome bookshelf additions within the offices of today’s Green Party and Sierra Club.
Yet it was the American poet and Transcendentalist, Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892), who was greatly influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson and considered by many to be the answer to Emerson’s call for a new American poet who, instead, became a kindred warrior with his soon to be fallen “O Captain”, Abraham Lincoln. Like many of his generation, Whitman abandoned his Leaves of Grass where he celebrated his own individuality, America in general, and the mysteries of life, death, resurrection, and reincarnation, for “Beat! Beat! Drums!” a battle cry and call to arms at the beginning of the Civil War. The rest, as they say, is history.
Ironically, in reviewing the map of all the twists and turnings less than a century later, the scenery again began to look eerily similar.
When Elvis Presley performed on the Ed Sullivan Shew, it was the below the surface, out-of-sight frictional turning, gyration and circling of one man’s now iconic pelvis that sparked another generational movement. Next came The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Woodstock, free love, drugs, sex and Rock and Roll. Songs were sung by The Four Seasons and soon were opened The Doors of perception for Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in order To Kill a Mockingbird in a strange Catch-22.
Just as a rolling a stone gathers no moss; neither could this generation stay silent or still. Their ideas rocked the world with Dr. Spock induced self-actualization; peace signs, mother nature, the population bomb, holes in the ozone, global warming, artic ice melt, feminism, racial equality and animal rights. “Make love, not war”, they said. So in the years that followed, America experienced a proliferation of day-care and nursing home providers as the hippies left every morning to their jobs wearing tennis shoes; and jeans on casual Fridays.
In the years following World War II, seventy-six million boomers benefited from an era of unprecedented economic growth to which they embraced, whole-heartedly, in an orgy of extraordinary consumerism and ego-centric hedonism. With remarkable aplomb, and in just a few decades, they seamlessly transitioned their nation from unparalleled material prosperity, to the largest debt bubble in world history. At the same time they made a tremendous impact on society regarding race, women’s and gay rights, multiculturalism and sexuality; all under the umbrella of what has now become known as political correctness.
Unlike the Transcendentalists of the nineteenth-century who were alarmed by the Industrial Revolution and called the individual back into harmony with nature and nature’s God, today it is the Boomers who are at the center of the Technological Revolution, taking charge, and looking to blend mankind into one universally harmonic, hive-mind of conforming Technocracy.
And if Straus and Howe are correct, it is the Boomers who, in this Fourth Turning, will soon lead America into worldwide war.
DESTINATION IN SIGHT
In an earlier piece, I wrote regarding two authors whose classic novels warned mankind of dual futures; namely, Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” and George Orwell’s “1984”. In the essay that followed, the unwavering individualism of two capitalist American icons, Frank Lloyd Wright and Ayn Rand, was explored and their personal lives were compared to the ideals underlying their art.
In both of Orwell’s and Huxley’s dystopian futures, the utilization of language as thought control were prevalent themes and, in the case of Orwell’s nation-state of Oceana, the INGSOC party members were made to believe that two plus two equals five.
This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars. Their every truth is not quite true. Their two is not the real two, their four not the real four…
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”, paragraph 9.
In society today, it appears life does imitate art as people in most westernized nations conform to identity politics, the hive-mind of political correctness, biased media programming, the Technocracy, internet censorship, and totalitarianism. Whether tyranny is delivered by the corporate fascism of economic Darwinism, or via party collectivism, it is the micro-machinations of technology which separates this Fourth Turning from all previous cycles.
Unlike when Robert M. Pirsig road-tripped into the motorcycle of the mind, technology is no longer merely “tolerated” by those with Romantic worldviews. Quite the contrary. Today, Technology is considered art. Following the innovative footsteps of capitalist archetypes in the pattern of Frank Lloyd Wright, it was the Boomer individualists like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who combined micro-technology and art in their own respective ways. Computers, tablets and phones today allow people to personalize the preferences of their lives; even while communing with nature, or in a manner of self-reliance and isolation that Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau could never have imagined.
Technology today has allowed the citizens of the world increased freedom ranging from how one earns a living to aligning their own respective media consumption while positively impacting society through the diligent application of their personal “likes” and up-votes. We now carry devices connected to a worldwide web complete with entertainment venues, maps, weather radar, listings of our personal contacts, various means of communication, and multi-functional cameras with audio and video capabilities.
Yet, unlike Robert Pirsig, who could tune and adjust his motorcycle in three-dimensions, the technology of today appears to work only through magic which surpasses the understanding of most; except for, perhaps, the very few who worship like monks of old, or mad scientists, in hidden laboratories deep within monastically shining, corporate headquarters formed by glass and steel.
That’s all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel. There’s no part in it, no shape in it that is not out of someone’s mind….. I’ve noticed that people who have never worked with steel have trouble seeing this – that the motorcycle is primarily a mental phenomenon. They associate metal with given shapes – pipes, rods, girders, tools, parts – all of them fixed and inviolable, and think of it as primarily physical. But a person who does machining or foundry work or forge work or welding sees ‘steel’ as having no shape at all. Steel can be any shape you want if you are skilled enough…
Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, Chapter 8
Each machine has its own, unique personality which probably could be defined as the intuitive sum total of everything you know and feel about it.
Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, Chapter 4
Deus ex machina. God from the machine. But now across the globe our luminescent toys have turned on us and carry with them grave consequences. In America, the ramifications include the surrender of our Fourth Amendment rights as we descend down the rabbit hole into electronic enslavement. Both at home and abroad our devices include the aforementioned, self-contained audio and video recording capabilities. Moreover, whenever we step into the public arena of any city, public transport, entertainment venue or workplace, we enter into a world of near-universal societal surveillance; hidden and conspicuous cameras, closed-circuit video systems, and in some cases, even palm and fingerprint readers, facial recognition devices and retinal scanners.
Furthermore, just as Huxley and Orwell prophesied, even our very ideas and language are molded into conceptual hierarchies and often monitored according to rigorous orthodoxy. Increasingly, speeches on college campuses are being shut down, or canceled, as politically conservative speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos and Anne Coulter have been shown the exit door of college safe rooms. Even as political rhetoric is meeting with violent protests as value systems clash across the nation. To some, the ideology behind a “border wall” symbolizes fascism and hate. To others, it is the essence of constitutional legality and national sovereignty.
In the year 2017, the political left fears fascism in favor of an ever-elusive collectivist dystopia where the individual is diminished and personal discernment is discouraged. Doublethink abounds as evolutionists embrace genetics, yet political correctness precludes even the mere mention of the topic in regards to race relations. Playing children pointing their fingers as guns are now prosecuted for going armed with intent. Those who oppose illegal immigration or gay marriage are called haters; those who question the science of global warming are called deniers; those who challenge the official government narrative are labeled conspiracy theorists, or truthers; and any reporting other than the daily propaganda spewed forth by the monolithic, multi-national corporate media is branded as fake news.
In a Brave New World of hyper-regulation, widespread surveillance, oppressive Agenda-21 edicts, sustainable development and green initiatives; burgeoning genetic modification, societal stratification, mushrooming pharmaceutical narcosis, boundless entertainment, militarized police and the debt-based acquisition of entire sovereign nations; it all seems to be happening less by accident and more by design.
When the Bretton Woods fractional-reserve global banking system collapses and the bankers foreclose on the earth; the world citizens will be seeing pandemic rioting in the streets. Instead, however, they should shift their gaze slightly sideways to see the ones wearing the black government-issued riot protection gear, body armor, and face plates; with AR’s slung-over their shoulders while watching the drone feed of the street theatrics as they congregate around the Humvee.
It makes one wonder why the secular humanists, who feign such affection for mankind, advocate for either Orwell’s Oceana or Huxley’s Brave New World in lieu of Norman Rockwell’s America and the unparalleled lift to mankind as provided by capitalism paired to the morality of constitutional law. It IS about freedom and freedom’s antithesis, “control”. Perhaps control is fueled by fear, or sadism, or some combination thereof.
Today we see political leftists disrupting town hall meetings as national borders evaporate before third-world immigration; the disintegration of Western institutions and Cloward-Piven driven welfare proliferation straining societal structures and collapsing the ideological hierarchies of those who wish to be free to innovate, create, or lead lives of quiet inspiration; against those maintaining corporate or government theocracies whereby men dictate to other men cradle-to-grave orthodoxies. Once the values of liberty, self-reliance, accountability and autonomy are removed from the individual, republics can only implode; or explode. And, then in the remaining vacuum, either by fascism or communism, will the elites in power rule.
With no conceptual unity gathered around a framework of constitutional law, the house divided will fall. Then there will be a new unity predicated upon new values. There will be order from the chaos and new ideological alignments. Most likely a new world order founded upon neo-spiritual, or new-age, economic and political value systems. Just as President Abraham Lincoln, in 1862, signed the Morrill Land-Grant Act into law to fund various institutions of higher learning; in a similar way, so could Green Economy decrees one day monetize the entire earth, as commercial real-estate, to subsidize the new world system.
And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort and advancing on Chaos and the Dark.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”, paragraph 3.
Christianity will need to be removed from the equation because, at its core, in its pure form, it is exclusionary. After all, the eponymous founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, said He was the “only way” to heaven and this directly challenges the Tao of the New World Order. The Jews and their nation-state of Israel must also go because they represent the old ways of an ancient Zionist deity; and neither their religion, or there laws, can coalesce with the world administration under new management. Israel may just one day remain as the last democracy on earth.
As stated heretofore, Robert M. Pirsig summarized his Metaphysics of Quality, in the following short phrase: “Good is a noun”. That may be, but perspective is a bitch. If MoQ redefines art, religion and science as quality, then who decides? The individual? Society? The nation-state? Moreover, will discernment even be permitted in the Brave New World?
…but how are you going to teach virtue if you teach the relativity of all ethical ideas? Virtue, if it implies anything at all, implies an ethical absolute. A person whose idea of what is proper varies from day to day can be admired for his broadmindedness, but not for his virtue.
Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, Chapter 29
In his book, near the end, Pirsig refers to Homer’s Illiad at the siege of Troy when the wife of Hector pleaded with her husband not to fight because she knew the fight would make her a widow and her son fatherless. In turn, Hector, laughing, offers her little comfort and reaches for his young son:
At once shining Hector took the helmet off his head and laid it on the ground, and when he had kissed his dear son and dandled him in his arms, he prayed to Zeus and to the other Gods…, grant that this my son may be, as I am, most glorious among the Trojans and a man of might, and greatly rule in Ilion. And may they say, as he returns from war, ‘He is far better than his father.’
Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, Chapter 29 (from Homer’s Illiad)
Pirsig identified Hector’s courage, and desire for betterment, as “virtue”. The Greek word is “arête”, which also translates to “excellence”; which Pirsig considered to be a historical correlation to his own conceptualization of Quality.
If this is the case, then it begs the question: What fills time and space when vacated by excellence? Or, stated another way, what remains in the absence of “good”?
Well, obviously, if quality can be measured in “good”, then negative measures are valid as well; even unto the complete absence of good. This means as individuals choose, society follows. And when individuals yield, freedom surrenders to the controllers who will gladly fill the time and space continuum with unadulterated power.
Mankind decides where to turn at every fork and every corner in the drive through time. Mental “maps” are useful in determining direction and in finding the right destination, or path. In reading the daily headlines, it now appears that Man may have taken a wrong turn, somewhere, quite a while ago. Perhaps, then, it is time for someone to map an account of heaven on earth where the good people win, and truth and justice prevail, forevermore. Or, maybe it’s already been written but not enough believed. Or, it could be that mankind just can’t agree to jack shit.
Whether by the lens of the Romantic or the Classic worldview, people follow whatever, or whomever, they believe. Some on the path towards truth, or beauty, or excellence; whereas others simply submit to authority out of fear, or apathy, or lethargy; never knowing the Greek word for authority is “exousia”, which translates to “lordship“.
In the end, however, the majority of mankind finds value, often unto adoration, or even worship, in that which is served by their time and talent. It means on the road to any destination; towards excellence or mediocrity; good or evil, virtue or debauchery, ethics or relativism; stability or chaos; freedom or oppression; war or peace; law or anarchy; towards either a constitutional republic, a theocracy, a scientific dictatorship, or a soul-crushing totalitarian state, at every turn, on every path, and around every corner; all debates are rooted in theology. One way, or the other.
3 thoughts on “An Inquiry into Values: Men and the Art of Life-Cycle Governance”
A lot of tying together of history. Is the bottom line natures fourth cycle of winter will always correspond to a cycle of chaos which will result in war in the human experience of a Fourth Turning? Is it inevitable because man cannot transcend human nature? Interesting the very intertwining term “human nature”.
Since this appears to be the case and each progressive Fourth Turning has been more destructive with this one possibly being exponentially so, it appears the near annihilation of the human species will be the result, how could it be otherwise?
It appears “Mutually Assured Destruction”, will not be a deterrent as the term “first strike” has become prevalent.
Was Einstein right, “World War lV will be fought with sticks and stones”? From there will it all just start over?
Fascinating. Thank you for the thought provoking essay.
Thank you Willie. Excellent perspectives and questions. Strauss and Howe did say that Fourth Turnings are necessary, like winter, in the annual cycling of the seasons. Yet, in many ways, that seems like telling the citizens of ancient Pompeii that Mount Vesuvius was just another volcano and not to worry.
Well, too bad he missed what he could have had with Christ and the Biblical wisdom he could have found in the Psalms and Proverbs, and the deep philosophical points in Ecclesiastes. And avoided the same deep dive with the drive to understand salvation and its prelude in Genesis. The art he could have seen in the harmonious fine-tuning of the universe itself, in Pirsig’s “classical” sense as described here, the music in it the atoms, the elaborate structures used in life.