an evolutionary interpretation of 9-11 & the gnostic art to come
by Martha Senger
Almost three weeks have passed since September 11. I write now at a picnic table at a winery in the Napa Valley where a cup is set out for donations to help the victims of the terrorist attack that leveled the World Trade Center in this pseudo-bucolic oasis moved, like the rest of the world, to a different consciousness – a shared awareness of an event that has changed forever the context in which we’ll look at things. People everywhere try to resume their lives as they were before the blasts but there’s no turning back to that time.
Why is this so? Can’t we expect that, once the people who committed this horrific act are identified and somehow brought to justice that the world will return to some degree of ‘normalcy’?
To hold this expectation is to misunderstand the shift in context that’s taken place the past two weeks. From a simplistic view of the world we have been shocked into an awareness that nothing is as it was before and never will be again.
In short, there has occurred by means of this dreadful occurrence a sudden, indeed apocalyptic shift to a qualitatively different frame of reference as we were quite literally drawn up out of our autonomous individualities into an intersubjective mode of being and time.
What’s astonishing to me is not only the horror of the event, but in retrospect, its inevitability when considered in the context of the evolutionary phase shift our time is not only witness to but participant in. For 9-11 can only be supplied with an adequate ontological, epistemological, and cosmological context by placing it within the context of an evolutionary trajectory. That is, of the necessary complexification involved in the evolution of energy in the cosmos, including human life and thought, in keeping with the complexifying arrow of time.
Viewed from this context which can only be seen as eschatological or with an ultimate end in view, I can conclude nothing less, or more demanding of our powers of interpretation, than an intervention on the part of the cosmos itself. That is of Spirit itself using this extreme sacrifice of life with its overwhelmingly poignant connectivity between souls to break through our era’s ever-increasing alienation, commodification, and insensitivity to life needs to awaken humanity to an altogether different understanding of what life’s about and how it forms itself.
Already a more complex consideration of the unjust relations between the haves and have-nots of the world has begun to arise on this account, despite the hardwired tendency of bureaucracies and the media to engage in reductionist either-or analyses of complex things and situations. But the highly charged dichotomies between those who dwell in the lap of material luxury and those who suffer its deprivation are now actively engaged, never again to be muffled by the media who have contributed so disastrously to the collective dumbing-down of the ‘developed’ world whose ‘progress’ is bought at the price of the social, cultural, and economic suffering of all the rest and the looming destruction of the planet’s ecosystems.
This is only the beginning, not just of the fight to turn back terrorism but to route out its causes. Causes that have their historical root in the objectifying, dominating character of patriarchal thought and behavior which has prevailed for the past several thousand years.
What it will take to turn it around is a mode of being and thinking that is based on radically reconnecting the deep analogue knowledge of the body with the brain’s conscious, digital processing and ‘bootstrapping’ the collective unconscious with its aesthetic imperative into conscious, or rather superconscious, awareness.
In contrast to Kant’s epistemology in The Critique of Pure Reason that set the stage for the schizoid subject-object split of the modern era by separating a once unified mode of knowing truth, morality, and beauty into the disconnected categories of science, art, and law, Heidegger, in Kant and The Problem of Metaphysics, pointed out that Kant had originally posited the transcendental imagination s the synthetic, formative faculty that united the categories, a bold synthesis he later backed away from apparently out of fear of appearing to denigrate the role of reason in the cognitive
Heidegger thus re-established aesthetic cognition as the mode of knowing that integrates the apriori realm of forms with the content-realm of nature and sense in a time-creating synthesis of past and future -a transcendental, de-re-forming now. This interpretation brings shared forms of feeling, both conceptual and physical, to the fore, allowing the archetypal imagination to break through and found an integral reality principle in synch with nature’s own order/chaos co-patterning; a dialectical process that supercedes the oppressive rationality and religion of the patriarchs.
Such an integral aesthetic sensibility rescues matter – mater – the generative matrix of life – from the twin dualisms that oppress it: mechanical materialism and fundamentalist religion, both of which imprison the feminine ‘holy middle’ that lets in the ‘Other’. As physicist David Bohm wrote “matter mediates the transcendent.” Thus what’s called for to reverse the downward spiral of history is a higher reason, one that springs from the rhythmical, golden mean proportions of our shared sense of the beautiful which, as Schiller taught, leads to freedom.
As a guide we’ll thus need to look beyond autonomous, alienated art to the causally formative principles that underlie not only art and philosophy but the nonlinear sciences as well – to chaos mathematics, postmodern psychophysics, cultural anthropology, and the redemptive hermeneutics of the poetic
In this deepening inquiry, we will discover the nature of the teleological attractor that is acting now to draw us into its higher dimensional embrace along a fractal double-spiraled path and learn to ‘surf’ the time-waves of symbolic meaning as they unfold between the infinite and the finite, the past and the future, in an unceasing distillation of object into subject and matter into resonant forms of mind.
The shift is quantum. We are what must enter into, become agents for, this mutational movement to a higher state of matter and consciousness. Or by our blindness be agents for devolution, a failure to synchronize with the higher evolutionary impulse that has caused more than one civilization to implode and collapse.
Evolution will not be stilled. The human experiment may. It depends on our ability to imagine and construct a new mythic way of life that integrates nature and culture, psyche and planet. In just the short time that’s passed since September 11, millions have movingly expressed their feelings, often compressing them poetically as if that were the only way to speak the depths of what they were experiencing. This itself is a manifestation of Spirit as it returns among us to gather in all the meaning that has been lost these past millenia.
In A Vision, poet William Butler Yeats recorded a geometrical figure that was given to his wife through automatic writing in which line (symbolic of time) and plane (symbolic of space) are combined in a double cone or gyre which must expand or contract according to whether mind grows in objectivity or subjectivity. In the course of a 4,000 year cycle (they were told) humanity had evolved from subjective embeddedness in a symbol-laden whole to a state of dis-embedded intellectual objectivity – a cycle that had now reached its limit and was due to reverse itself in a new gyre as the present limit gives birth to a counter movement – an influx of a higher dimensional subjectivity that appropriates alienated objectivity into itself. As Yeats wrote –
“The approaching antithetical (subjective) influx and that particular antithetical dispensation for which the intellectual preparation has begun will reach its complete systemisation at the moment when, as I have already shown, the Great Year comes to its intellectual climax. Something of what I have said it must be, the myth declares, for it must reverse our era and resume past eras in itself; what else it must be no man can say, for always at the critical moment the Thirteenth Cone, the sphere, the unique intervenes.”
In Hyperspace, physicist Michio Kaku recently made a prediction that seems an uncanny echo of Yeat’s prophecy and the impending collapse of the present world order: “Our six-dimensional twin universe may gradually expand as our four-dimensional universe collapses.”
If we’re able to see such an evolving telos in the present catastrophe, nurture an ongoing depth of dialogue that explores and mediates the contradictions as they present themselves, we can bootstrap Yeat’s multiform influx and hasten the arrival of a new gyre of history and time by aligning ourselves with the aesthetic patterns of the multidimensional universe unfolding in our midst. I see this in the form of an intersubjective, aesthetic praxis that synchronizes with the divine imagination as it fractally distills the archetypal patterns of a gnostic art to come in which knowing and action become one. An art that, as Heidegger predicted, reveals how things as a whole are and is thus capable of starting history again.
The day after 9-11, I wrote this poem -
at an apocalyptic angle of entry
american airlines flight 11 ended secular history
with a sacrifice the likes of which have never touched the shores of
but still-flawed experiment in democracy
the misproportioned melting pot of america
an alchemical vessel now sorely to be tested
will this sacrifice suffice to temper it?
these thousands of lives that are – as mayor guiliani said –
“more than we can bear”?
a few of the millions of words that have sprung forth since tuesday
from a wider united body that’s spread throughout the world
a universal polis that transcends borders, race, and time
history stopped short by terrorists, an explosion that rocked the world
we reel, shock upon shock, with no familiar ground on which to stand
the everyday world upended
at an angle eerily like that of the boeing 767 with 81 passengers on board
that struck the north tower of the world trade center
opening a fiery gash sending metal glass & flesh alike
into smithereens –
smithereens yet to be unearthed
from beneath the towers leveled by the blast
“like a rocket explosion, only in reverse” somebody said
nothing left intact enough to rescue let alone identify
only a sacred circumference of shared soul
like the dow jones average
and countless lives
by religion run amok/the tie that binds twisted into hate
just before my roommate called to tell me what had happened
i stood in the shower wondering what it would take to bring it down
– the dow jones average that is –
& rescue the american (indeed the global) populace from the
mindless expansion/commodified clutch/that reduces all values to ash
an ash wholly unlike that left beneath the twin towers:
a holy ash now rising in a double gyre of light
as six thousand souls enter eternity & open heaven
pulling us in with their suffering & their sight:
setting up wave patterns ~ symbolic syntheses ~
resounding round the world
a conversation that won’t stop, i’m convinced,
until a common dream is recollected, a transfigured world said
and form – which has been in exile since the 17th century –
reunited with life
a compressionist manifesto in keeping with the arrow of time
as it dissipates the entropy of a matter-overladen world
in a sudden distillation/gathering in
after aeons of expansion, a singular contraction; the curve of the
cosmos doubling back;
alpha-omega conspiracy revealed; big bang not to crunch
but a new beginning
from the flames a future flower: the transcendental real
a phase transition physicists call it
a symmetry break within a false vacuum
when pent up forces break out seeking a lower energy state
& escape to a higher aesthetic dimension that’s waited curled up for aeons
its hidden symmetries restored by a shock that’s fractalized hearts
“humanity is experiencing an evolutionary shockfront”
wrote physicist john platt
“and may quickly emerge into coordinated forms such as it has never
implicit in the biological material all along.”
September 30, 2001
Drawing from The Mystic Spiral by Jill Purce
Double Gyre graphic from A Vision by William Butler Yeats