Op. 12

 

THE TRANSCENDENTAL FUTURE

 

Philosophical Dialogues

 

Copyright © 1980-2010 John O'Loughlin

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CONTENTS

 

1. Introduction: The Ultimate Purpose

2. Spiritual Truth for Third-Stage Man

3. Environmental Transformations

4. The Transcendental Future

5. From the Ego to the Superconscious

6. The Rise of Transcendental Art

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INTRODUCTION: THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE

 

Is there an ultimate purpose to human evolution, and, if so, what?  This is a question which serious writers have been asking themselves for some considerable time now and providing a variety of answers to, according to their individual bents.  For some, the answers have been flatly negative.  For others, by contrast, highly positive.  There are those who believe that evolution is a haphazard affair without any ultimate purpose, and others who are convinced that it signifies an important trend in the direction of greater spirituality.  There are those who believe that evolution is drawing to a close, and others who are convinced that it still has a long way to go.  No matter how diverse the opinions or answers may happen to be, the question remains one to which writers generally apply themselves either negatively or positively, pessimistically or optimistically.  It induces a 'yes' or a 'no' response, rather than incertitude.

     In this essayistic introduction and most of the ensuing dialogues, I propose to take a 'yes' stance and investigate one or two of the possibilities which human evolution may undergo during the course of the next few centuries.  I am going to assume that there is an ultimate purpose to evolution which takes the form of a spiritual transformation of mankind into the Divine, but I'm not going to pretend that such a transformation will come about merely in the course of a few decades.  If there is a progressive advancement from matter to spirit, it is not one that proceeds quickly but, rather, in accordance with the overall pattern of higher evolution from ape to man and then on to whatever lies beyond him.

     Yes, I am going to contend that we began in very unspiritual circumstances, progressed, via our ape-like ancestors, to beings capable of religious experience, and are still progressing, slowly but surely, from the cultural state in which we have intermittently existed for the past 6-7,000 years towards a higher state of predominant spirituality, after which the material aspect of our being may disappear altogether as we merge into the omega absolute of pure spirit, following transcendence.  If that sounds like Vedanta, then so be it!  But I am not going to pretend that the ultimate purpose of evolution will be achieved before some considerable period of time has elapsed - enough time, in fact, to enable us to transcend our current identity.  For at present we are still men, not godlike entities, and so we shall remain until such time as the next great spiritual revolution and/or evolutionary leap comes about.

     We are men, and therefore victims of and participants in history.  History largely hinges, we learn from Spengler, a prominent philosopher of history, upon cultures rising and falling, upon a succession of cultural developments - some great, the majority small.  It appertains to that compromise between the sensual and the spiritual which is man.  Before the compromise, there is no history.  Likewise there can be no history after it.  Ape and Superman (to use a Nietzschean term) are each devoid of history and, consequently, of culture.  Only man makes history, which will be the greater the more finely balanced the compromise between the sensual and the spiritual.  Therefore history must continue, in one form or another, until man is extinguished in the Superman.

     But what of cultural history, the history pertinent to great cultures, which Spengler considered the only true one?  Does what he saw as the decline of the West, the last great culture to have appeared in the world, signify man's approaching end, or is there likely to be another such culture in the near future?

     Of great cultures there have been, according to the aforementioned philosopher, seven or eight, and of this relatively small number the Christian, or Western, was in his opinion the greatest, having had the most far-reaching effects on the world and achieved cultural wonders unprecedented in the entire history of man.   It was the last of a succession of great cultures and the most extensive of them all.  No previous culture had developed art or music or literature or sculpture or architecture to such a high and complex level, and it is difficult to imagine any subsequent culture surpassing it.  If we try to imagine a hypothetical future culture producing great art, we are immediately confronted by the immense difficulty of trying to imagine paintings or music or literature of a superior order to the greatest works of each genre currently in existence.  We would have to reconcile ourselves, under duress of this hypothesis, to the implausible possibility of artists producing works superior in essence to Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Van Eyck, Breugel, Dürer, Poussin, Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo, et al.  Composers producing works superior in essence to Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Weber, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, et al.  Writers producing works superior in essence to Chaucer, Dante, Rabelais, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Milton, Bunyan, Swift, Goethe, Dickens, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Balzac, Flaubert, et al.  Needless to say, we are unlikely to succeed in doing that!  And so, its being supposed that the arts have attained to their egocentric zenith in the last great culture known to man, we must assume that the cultural process, properly so-considered, has come to an end, never to be supplanted by another such development in the near or distant future.

     For what would another culture require in order to establish itself on a proper footing with cultural development generally?  It would require nature, above all regular contact with the best possible type of nature - a type peculiar to temperate rather than tropical zones.  A great culture is unlikely to arise in climates which are either too hot or too cold, too fierce or too sultry.  It requires proper nourishment, and this can only be obtained in certain regions of the world.  Rule out those regions, such as Western Europe and North America, where the representatives of the last great culture still exist, or those regions, including China and India, where an earlier cultural people developed and declined, and what is left?  Very little, indeed!  Hardly anywhere which is not either already in the hands of the last cultural people or, alternatively, in the hands of an earlier cultural people who have since abandoned or are in the process of outgrowing their culture.  Apart from this, one finds regions which are not in the best of geographical positions to foster a great culture.  There is something inferior about the climate and the consequent state of nature there.  One cannot imagine the world's greatest art ever arising from such places.

     But if the proximity of temperate nature is a necessity, indeed a precondition, of higher cultural development, then its abundance is no less so.  Thus arises our next objection to the likelihood of subsequent cultural development.  For wherever man lives in large numbers, these days, nature is on the defensive, is being ruthlessly exploited and destroyed by him.  The larger the cities become, the less does nature come to play a part in the lives of their citizens, with a consequence that cultural activities decline.  And because the world is becoming increasingly urbanized and mechanized, there would seem to be little chance of another culture arising.  The incentive for it is just not there.  Consequently we need not be surprised if the age of separate cultures is at an end.

     But what of the world's future, now that we are outgrowing our traditional provincialism and growing into a cosmopolitanism based on the technological advancements and inventions of the West?  Is man drawing to his end?

     There are two ways of looking at this question, and in both cases I would be inclined to grant man the benefit of the doubt and to accord him a survival beyond the cultural phase.  In the first case, I would imagine him capable of surviving the catastrophe of a nuclear accident and/or war, even if millions of his kind don't.  But in the second case, I would imagine him incapable of transforming himself into the more-than-human over the next few decades.  Consequently, the end of man would seem to lie too far into the future for us to have either serious qualms about or any great hopes for his self-overcoming.  In the meantime, however, it isn't impossible that he will survive his own self-destructive tendencies and extend his knowledge of space to a point which may well bring him into contact, whether on a friendly or a hostile basis initially, with other beings (aliens) in the Galaxy.

     Conceived in material or scientific terms, evolution should embrace an expanding knowledge of the Universe, and thus confine man to the roles of victim of and participator in the struggles for survival which will probably take place there.  Conceived, on the other hand, in spiritual or religious terms, evolution should signify a growing knowledge of spiritual potentialities, and thus involve man in an inner journey towards his Final End through a condition which completely transcends the mundane.  If, however, man is first destined to come to grips with the Galaxy, then it's difficult to imagine his transformation from the human plane to the superhuman one taking place before he has done so.  As such, one is inclined to push this hypothetical transformation quite a long way into the future!

     But why assume that man will be transformed anyway?  What is there to prevent us from considering his present form the final one?  Well, let us briefly take a look at the history of his development.  He began - did he not? - where the ape-like ancestor came to an end.  The ape-like ancestor may have developed from something earlier or lower, but, as far as we're concerned, it suffices us to consider it the forerunner of man - the animal beginnings.  Thus from the unspiritual, predominantly sensual life of the ape surrounded by nature-in-the-raw, man emerged as a compromise between matter and spirit because he could to some extent master nature, and thereby surround himself with civilization.  He built villages, then towns, and finally cities, and the more he advanced, the less animal he became and the closer he drew to the superhuman, which stems from large cities.  In the pre-cultural stage he is smothered by nature and thus remains, to a significant extent, its victim.  In the cultural stage, however, he exists on equal terms with nature, thanks to his growing ability to create a world of his own in opposition to it.  Villages and towns are a pleasant reminder of man's power and province.  They prevent him from feeling the might of nature breathing down his neck and driving fear into his soul.  But if nature-in-moderation is the motto of cultural man, then the motto of post-cultural man is effectively victory-over-nature, and the larger his towns and cities become, the more evident does this victory appear.  Now it is man who plays the bully, as he continues to extend his power at nature's expense.  The compromise is gone and, with its departure, man finds himself one stage closer to the Superman, to the spiritual transformation which will put an end to his humanity.

     Thus from the pre-human ape-like creature there emerged man, and from him there should emerge the post-human godlike being who will signify the termination of his evolution.  From predominant sensuality one proceeds to a sensual/spiritual balance, and from that to a spiritual predominance.  From the subhuman to the superhuman via the human.  In the first, or subhuman, stage there is only the fight for survival carried-out in the crudest terms.  In the second, or human, stage the fight for survival is no longer as crude as before but, though still existing in various degrees, is accompanied by evidence of man's growing spirituality - in short, by culture, which proceeds from its humble beginnings in the predominant sensuality of the pre-cultural to the balanced greatness of the culture-proper, before declining, with the post-cultural, into the predominantly spiritual.  However, in the third or superhuman stage there is neither a fight for survival nor culture but continuous self-realization.  For the temporal world has largely been overcome in the interests of the eternal one, and man, the doer of deeds, has ceased to exist.

     What, exactly, his successor will look like it is of course difficult, if not impossible, for us to imagine at this juncture.  But we needn't be particularly surprised if 'he' should transpire to being as different from man as man was from his ape-like predecessor.  If the pre-cultural lasted many hundreds of years, then there is no reason for us to suppose that the post-cultural, which began in the nineteenth century, won't do so either.  For we are still, to all appearances, a long way from becoming the superhuman beings that evolution would seem to be working towards!  A few of us may be slightly closer to that transformation or be more spiritually advanced than the majority, but most human beings can hardly be regarded as incipient or even potential Supermen!  Alas, the faces and mentalities of the local road sweepers, dustmen, butchers, grocers, window cleaners, etc., are not guaranteed to inspire one with any great confidence that humanity is about to be transformed into something higher and more spiritual!  If one is reasonably realistic, one can only conclude that the post-cultural stage of man should have quite some way to go, before the next hypothetical stage of evolution makes its first appearance in the world.  Thus we need not fear any impending demise of our sensual habits!

     Yet, paradoxical though it may seem that humanity in general is heading towards a future transformation, it nevertheless does remain a fact that our relationship to the world has been steadily changing ever since we began, and will doubtless continue to change for as long as we continue.  There can be little doubt that human evolution is a fact, even if we aren't altogether convinced, at present, that we are destined to transcend our humanity at some unspecified time in the future.  What has happened to man over the past 6-7,000 years of cultural development is staggering enough, and reveals to us, particularly in its more recent Western manifestations, the cultural heights to which he can rise through living in harmony with the most suitable type of nature.  If there was a golden age of man, it could only have been during the heyday, so to speak, of his greatest cultures, not antecedent to them in the pre-cultural stage, or subsequent to them in that of the post-cultural.  For early man, surrounded by too much nature, could not attain to the balanced compromise between matter and spirit which makes for the grandeur of cultural man, or man in his prime as man, while late man, surrounded by too much civilization, has outgrown that compromise and thereby established himself in a lopsided, predominantly spiritual context which is the converse of early man's predominant sensuality.  He has passed from the instinctually-tinged spirituality of temporal religion to an intellectually-tinged spirituality which, whether in the guise of mysticism, spiritualism, academicism, or puritanism, characterizes our time.  From the standpoint of man, this third or post-cultural stage of his development does indeed signify a decline, a decadence.  But from the standpoint of man's hypothetical future transformation into the Superman, it must be regarded as a phenomenon bringing him one step closer to evolution's ultimate designs.  For what can the final post-human stage represent if not the most extreme opposition to nature conceivable, the ultimate victory of a higher life-form over nature?  After all, if one begins like an ape, with subservience to nature in the form of animal sensuality, and progresses to the human stage which, in its prime, signifies a balanced compromise with nature, how can the third or final transformation of the being called man not signify a complete independence of nature in the form of a supernatural severance from the sensual?  And what is that if not the ultimate spirituality, a spirituality which transcends the sensual spirituality known to man in his prime as man?  For cultural man is ever the finest compromise between the animal nature-bound past and the godlike transcendent future and, as such, his spiritual endeavours can be no more than a pointer to that ultimate spirituality which would seem to lie in-wait for his post-human successors.  Whatever he does is tempered by the sensual, is rooted in his animal past, with his dependence on nature.  But in his highest cultural achievements, be they the great ceiling paintings of Michelangelo or Tiepolo, the great musical outpourings of Bach or Mozart, the great literary writings of Bunyan or Milton, he is already depicting the future course of humanity, albeit through sensuous means and forms, towards its ultimate goal in spiritual union with the Divine.

     If there is one symbol, above all, of man's aspirations towards his future transformation, it is that of the Risen Christ Who, in His Ascension into Heaven, symbolizes the triumph of the supernatural over nature, which is termed the miraculous.  In its transcendentalism, Christianity has aptly symbolized man's spiritual aspirations, whilst its mundane side has constantly reminded him of his sensual origins and consequent dual nature, pitting the light of heavenly redemption against the darkness of worldly animality.  Now that we are outgrowing our cultural traditions, however, these reminders are becoming less necessary and therefore less frequent, as the aspirations towards our spiritual transformation grow more earnest with the influence of urban civilization, which is bringing us one step closer to it by further isolating us from nature and thereby reducing our sensual capacities.  While man remained in harmony with nature, balanced between body and spirit, Christianity remained the true spokesman of his dual condition, reminding him of his 'sinful' (sensuous) nature but, at the same time, pointing him towards his future spiritual salvation.  Curiously that salvation is now closer to us than when Christianity was at its height.  But the traditional Christian way of conceiving of it is no longer relevant, because we have outgrown the environmental conditions in which Christianity flourished, and cannot therefore regard it from a strictly Christian standpoint.  Naturally, this doesn't mean that Christianity was mistaken in its concept of a future salvation in God, but simply that it could only illustrate this salvation in the sensual/spiritual terms peculiar to man at that stage of his evolutionary development.  At the time in which it flourished, Christianity was the most apt representative of man's spiritual aspirations, the only possible representative of them under the circumstances of his allegiance to nature.  But now that we have evolved to a point where the great sensuous mother of us all is on the defensive, as we increasingly isolate ourselves from her, so it stands to reason that Christianity should be left behind with our previous harmonious condition, left behind as a testimony to it, to man in his prime as man.  For now that we are in the post-cultural stage of our development it isn't the religion of balance, with its sensuous representations, to which we relate, but the religion of spiritual lopsidedness or, rather, a biased spirituality, the transcendentalism which stems from our growing isolation from nature and necessarily excludes sensuous representation of the spiritual.

     Thus the evolution of man through the three stages of his being, from pre-cultural to post-cultural via a cultural stage-proper, is accompanied by a religion germane to each stage of his development.  In the pre-cultural stage we have, in accordance with his subservience to nature, a religion glorifying the sensual aspects of life which, in its various manifestations, we may call paganism.  Then comes the cultural stage in which, in accordance with his growing knowledge of nature and ability to tame it to some extent, we have a religion which, while rooted in the earthly, aptly expresses his aspirations towards the Divine, and so takes the form of Christianity or Buddhism or some such cultural religion.  Finally, in the post-cultural stage of his development, in which he is increasingly becoming the enemy of nature, a being who predominantly lives in isolation from it in giant cities, we have a religion reflecting his growing concern with the purely spiritual aspect of life, a religion which is the complete converse of the pagan worship of sensuality with which he began his religious advance, and therefore a logical development beyond the dualistic religion that supplanted it. 

     Thus from the old fertility rites and phallic worship, man progressed, via religions like Christianity and Buddhism, to the modern transcendental preoccupations with the spirit, the Holy Ghost, in which there is not a hint of sensuous representation.  From the phallic Father to the Holy Ghost via the Risen Christ - such is the path of human evolution from the senses to the spirit.  The Risen Christ is indeed a beautiful symbol of man's ongoing spirituality, but the very fact of its ongoing  renders such a symbol inadequate to contemporary man, whose spiritual evolution has attained to a point where bodily representations of the evolving spirit are less credible than a transcendentally abstract conception like the Holy Ghost.  In the Holy Ghost there will be no bodies, not even the beautiful body of the radiant Christ.  Evolution is on the side of the spirit!

     So we need not be ashamed of the decline of our Christian culture, for, objectively considered, the progression from an instinctually-bound spirituality towards a more abstract, intellectualized spirituality isn't a tragedy but a very positive indication of man's ongoing spiritual evolution.  It will not serve our best interests to cling to the past, as if the past was all that really mattered!  For whether we like it or not, we shall be swept along by the evolutionary current which is driving us towards our ultimate goal, our ultimate salvation, in God. 

     That the past has produced many wonderful cultural interpretations of our aspirations towards the transcendent, we shall not deny.  But it is not for us to worship the past because of this, as though it were an end-in-itself rather than a means to a higher end.  Traditional religion and the art that accompanied it are simply milestones on the road to man's ultimate home, and accordingly have to be left behind, like all milestones, if they are not to become an idolatrous weight around one's neck.  The future will have no need of such milestones, less because it will be a bad or an empty time in which to live than because it should bring man closer to his ultimate home in the pure spirit of true divinity, and thus eventually transform him into that spirit.  So of what use would traditional religion or art be to a future which is their fulfilment?  Truly, they have 'had their day', and we should be grateful for it.  For we are already in a better position to really understand God than were our more sensual forebears, whose sensuality obliged them to depend on symbols, or sensuous means of representing the spiritual.  But the spirit cannot really be represented by anything but itself, and this we have come to realize, this we are now in a position to realize, having abandoned so much of our former sensuality.

     Not surprisingly, science is also affected by our ongoing evolution.  For where it formerly conceived of matter simply as matter, then as tiny atomic particles joined together into molecules, it now conceives of matter in terms of particles and wavicles, thereby testifying to the spiritual direction of our evolution.  Need we be surprised if, at some point in the not-too-distant future, it sacrifices particles altogether and thereupon conceives of 'matter' simply in terms of wavicles, assuming it still recognizes the existence of matter?  For the modern revolution in materialistic science is no less significant than the revolution in our religious concepts, and can only point towards the general trend of human evolution on this planet - a trend profoundly related to our changing social environments.

     The fact that a writer like D.H. Lawrence rebelled against this trend is well known.  For, looked upon from the viewpoint of the senses, it would appear detrimental to man as we have traditionally known him, and indicative, moreover, of a collapse of the old values.  But Lawrence's way leads back, ultimately, towards the beasts.  It is a way that is truly against the grain of human evolution.  Opposed to the way of the devil's advocate, however, is the way that Aldous Huxley finally advocated and understood to be the path along which humanity was slowly advancing - the path to God.    

     That there may have been some uncertainty, at one time, as to which of these two influential authors was on the right path, we needn't doubt.  Fortunately, we are now in a much better position than were most of their contemporaries to judge correctly and, in judging from an eternal rather than a narrowly temporal point-of-view, it shouldn't be too difficult for us to come down in Huxley's favour.  We may admire Lawrence his neo-pagan rebellion against the trend of evolution, but we cannot accord it an objective justification.  For the phallic ideal of Lawrence's mundane past is now dead.  It is towards the ultimate reality of Huxley's transcendent future that we are slowly advancing.

 

 

SPIRITUAL TRUTH FOR THIRD-STAGE MAN

 

NICHOLAS: (Flicking through a volume of Lady Chatterley's Lover) So you really think that D.H Lawrence was the devil's advocate?

BRIAN: Not literally, of course!  But certainly in a manner of speaking.  To be more precise, I would regard him as the advocate of a return to paganism, rather than of an advancement towards transcendentalism.

NICHOLAS: (Visibly puzzled) Paganism?

BRIAN: Yes, which is another way of saying nature and the sensual.  Lawrence's god, being dark, was antithetical to Huxley's.  The god of Lawrence's religiosity reigned supreme over nature, affected men's loins, and endorsed strong emotions.  Quite the opposite, you see, of the transcendental conception of divinity.  Lawrence chose to dwell on the primitive level, as it were, of the Father.  Huxley, by contrast, preferred to dwell on the more evolved level of the Holy Spirit, or, which amounts to approximately the same thing, the Clear Light of the Void.  Lawrence, being plebeian, had a typically sensual conception of divinity, whereas the nobler Huxley's conception was purely spiritual.  It's the difference, if you like, between a man governed by his body and one governed by his mind - the difference, in effect, between the masses and the intelligentsia.  Perfectly logical, in fact!

NICHOLAS: So it would seem.  And yet if Lawrence wasn't exactly the devil's advocate, why do you choose to frown upon him?  Is it simply because you pertain to that relatively small percentage of persons who are governed by their minds instead of their bodies?

BRIAN: Not simply, but partly.  Yes, I am a member of the intelligentsia, if rather unofficially and unorthodoxly so, and therefore I cannot be expected to share Lawrence's enthusiasm for the 'dark gods of the loins' and other such quasi-pagan abstractions.  But apart from that, there is another and profounder reason for my rejection of Lawrence, which is that his philosophy runs contrary to the grain of evolution, against the progress of man from predominantly sensual beginnings in nature to predominantly - and, eventually, it is to be hoped exclusively - spiritual endings in large-scale urban civilization.  We are moving, believe it or not, on an upward path from subman to superman, and at this very moment in evolutionary time we are closer to the hypothetical culmination of our evolution in the godlike than to our ape-like beginnings.  Naturally, we are still men, and such we shall doubtless remain for some time to come.  But, thanks in large measure to our ongoing urbanization, we are in the third stage of human development and, as such, closer to whatever may lie beyond it than at any previous time in the history of man.

NICHOLAS: You mean that we are on the threshold of some kind of biological and/or spiritual mutation from man to superman?

BRIAN: Not as yet exactly on the threshold, but certainly heading in its direction.  You see, we began our human pilgrimage under the sway of nature, which is strictly sensuous.  But, as men, we were destined to pit ourselves against it, at first very slowly and unconsciously but, nevertheless, in accordance with the essence of man, which is spiritual.  Even at that early stage of his evolution, man felt the pull of his spirit in opposition to the predominantly sensual identification with nature of the apes or, for that matter, his ape-like predecessors, and thus initiated civilization, or the establishment of a world uniquely belonging to man - a world which included religion.  Being surrounded by so much raw or relatively untamed nature, however, it isn't surprising that his earliest religious impulse acquired a predominantly sensual character and accordingly manifested itself in fertility rites, phallic worship, pantheism, blood sacrifices, etc., in which the spirit of man, or religion-forming impulse, was subordinated to his body, and thereby confined to an acknowledgement of the Father, or some such pagan equivalence.

NICHOLAS: Like the 'dark gods' of D.H. Lawrence?

BRIAN: Precisely!  It is fundamentally to this earliest stage of man's religious evolution that Lawrence's philosophy relates, a stage when the spirit was dominated by nature, and man was accordingly harnessed to a worship of sensuality.  So you can see how reactionary it is, and how anyone who realizes that evolution is not working against man but, rather, in his deepest interests, should be extremely wary of it!  For it isn't our fate to regress to the beastly but to progress to the godly, and this we won't do by following Lawrence.  We have outgrown the first stage of our religious evolution, and there is absolutely no possibility of our ever returning to it.  Willy-nilly, evolution drives us on.  All we can do now is to carry on with our progress.

NICHOLAS: And this evidently leads us further away from the sensual allegiance to the Father or, rather, Creator of our pagan ancestors, and closer to the spiritual concept of God which Aldous Huxley advocated?

BRIAN: Indeed it does!  Though not without an intermediate, or second, stage of human development as characterized by the great world religions, such as Christianity and Buddhism, which signifies a kind of compromise between the sensual and the spiritual.  It is at this dualistic stage of his evolution that man is in his prime as man - finely balanced between the two antitheses.  For he has evolved beyond the paganism of early man through the environmental progress he has made in his struggle with nature, and has now established his civilization to a degree where the natural is no longer as influential as formerly, having been pushed back and thinned out, so to speak, to make room for his villages and towns.  Man's spirit - which is, after all, what distinguishes him from the brutes - has succeeded in freeing itself from subservience to nature and, in the process, managed to direct its religious impulse towards the transcendent, the Holy Spirit, and thus establish itself on a higher plane.  But whilst it may have freed itself from subservience to nature, it has by no means triumphed over the natural realm, as Christianity is only too keen to point out, and so allegiance to the sensual still exists, if no longer as strongly or partially as before.  It is when this compromise between the dual tendencies of man is at its finest and most balanced ... that one attains to the high-point of a great culture, which is nothing less than a record of man in his prime as man.  Here is the point at which man's artistic or expressive capacities are at their greatest, since he is now enabled to depict his spiritual strivings in the sensuous images of his partly sensual nature, and thereby give them tangible form.

NICHOLAS: Which is doubtless where all the great paintings of madonnas, angels, visitations, transfigurations, crucifixions, etc., come into the picture, so to speak.  Man's spiritual aspirations given bodily form.

BRIAN: Absolutely!  And that is why we get the paradoxical compromise between the mundane and the miraculous - the concepts of the Immaculate Conception, Resurrection, Transubstantiation, Ascension, etc., not to mention the delightfully sensuous nature of so many madonnas, angels, saints, saviours, etc., which the greatest painters and sculptors chose to depict.  There is more than a hint of soft pornography about various of those high-flying angels whose heavenly garments flow gracefully with their movements and offer us discreet glimpses of beautiful limbs.  And what about those numerous damnation scenes in which the Damned are pitchforked into Hell in the nude, and often exposed to our eyes in postures which are anything but spiritual?  Being damned for their sensual crimes, they are appropriately sensuous, and we recognize in them that section of humanity which is closer to the earlier, predominantly sensual stage of human development.  In the time-honoured distinction between 'the quick' and 'the slow', they represent 'the slow', who have not kept abreast of evolutionary strivings and are accordingly damned.  Only 'the quick' can hope for salvation in the Beyond, those who put their trust in the transcendent - the spiritual as opposed to sensual allegiance.  For it is towards the transcendent that human evolution is slowly proceeding, and in which it will attain to its ultimate salvation in the godlike beatitude which lies beyond the merely human.

NICHOLAS: Thus the Day of Judgement is no mere figment of the imagination but, presumably, something still to come?

BRIAN: Yes, in a manner of speaking.  Though not, by any means, in the exact terms which Christianity has outlined.  For we should not confound such a Judgement Day with the appropriately sensuous symbols employed in its depiction!  What we are really dealing with here is the final stage of human evolution - the transformation from man to superman, in which spirit, represented in Christian symbolism by Jesus Christ, is wholly triumphant, and man thereby attains to salvation in the transcendent Beyond.  However, it may well transpire, at that more evolved juncture in time, that some men, insufficiently spiritual, will be unable to achieve this transformation, this mutation onto the highest plane of existence, in which case they will probably be confined to the world of time and suffering, and their confinement, in contrast to the pure godlike beatitude experienced by those who have climbed onto the Eternal Plane, may be interpreted as a kind of damnation.  For, as Aldous Huxley rightly said, man's Final End must reside in unitive knowledge of the Godhead, though it doesn't necessarily follow that all men will attain to such an End.  Again there will be 'the quick' and 'the slow', with the relevant consequences attending each.  But the real mistake, concerning the Last Judgement, would lie in taking the Christian symbolism - beautiful and appropriate though it was at the time of its conception - at face-value, and thus confounding it with the reality which lies beyond, and which it strives to convey in sensuous terms.  The consequences of doing so could only be extremely foolhardy and pitifully beside-the-point, leading one to imagine Christ literally making His second appearance in the world, with the Second Coming, in order to divide the chaff from the wheat and thereupon establish His 'Kingdom of Heaven' on earth.  Symbolically, this is perfect.  For the principle it strives to convey of the ultimate triumph of the spirit over nature is wholly in accordance with the trend of evolution and demands our utmost respect.  But, conceived at a time when man was in the second stage of his religious evolution, it is inevitable that the sensuous representation of the spiritual principle, viz. Jesus Christ, should pertain to human understanding as it was at that stage of its development and not at the present stage, where, on the contrary, the spiritual principle demands a literal representation or, rather, no representation at all.  For we have outgrown the symbolic stage of our evolution and thus entered the third and final stage of it, wherein civilization has the better of nature instead of existing, as before, in a balanced compromise with the sensuous world.

NICHOLAS: You mean the subsequent enlargement of our towns and cities has further limited or curtailed nature's influence, and accordingly engendered a different religious impulse.

BRIAN: Yes, absolutely!  Which is why Christianity has been increasingly on the decline since the eighteenth century.  For Christianity is the religion appertaining to man in his prime as man, balanced between flesh and spirit.  But with the expansion of urbanization, this balance has been upset in the general direction of greater spirituality, so that the sensual side of man is subordinate to the spirit and approximately in the position the latter was in when man lived as a nature-worshipper.  In entering the third stage of our religious evolution we are the converse of the first stage, and our religious impulse is appropriately transcendental.  In isolating ourselves from nature we are drawn away from the Father and closer to the Holy Spirit, in consequence of which the Christian compromise is no longer relevant, since possessing too much sensuality for our tastes.  We don't require symbols now, because they are simply a means of expressing the spiritual in sensuous terms, and we are too spiritual to appreciate them.  Our traditional instinctually- and emotionally-charged religious impulse has been superseded by an intellectually abstract one, in which the Holy Spirit becomes our concept of divinity, as we cease to think in terms of bodily representation.  For throughout the Christian era men did conceive of God in bodily terms, and this we can no longer do, this we no longer wish to do, having abandoned the sensual life to a much greater extent.  Admittedly, there were transcendentalists of one persuasion or another in Europe during the heyday, as it were, of Christianity.  But they were exceptions to the rule, outsiders or elitist individuals for whom the orthodox had little sympathy.  In a sense, they were forerunners of the contemporary revolution in spiritual values - freaks in the general pattern of religious evolution.  But today transcendentalism is rapidly on the rise, and so much so that it won't be long before transcendentalists become the rule and anything else the exception.  For there can be little doubt that our latest relation to divinity is here to stay, to develop and reach its peak, in strict accordance with the artificial dictates of our urban environments.  There can be no return to Christianity now that we have progressed to our final stage!  Hence it is to meditation that we must turn for the key to our future salvation in the transcendental Beyond.  For, contrary to conservative opinion, the recent expansion of meditation in the West does not so much signify a bogus or decadent religious development as the logical and inevitable spiritual outcome of our industrialized society, and consequently the ultimate form religion should take.  It is a consequence of evolution, and therefore not something of which we progressives should be ashamed.  And evolution, as I'm sure you are aware, proceeds upwards - upwards from the beasts to ultimate divinity; from the frantically negative sensual religion of early man to the negative/positive compromise of middle man, and from that to the gracefully positive spiritual religion of late man.  From bestial negativity to celestial positivity, with all due gradations of human negativity and positivity coming in-between.

NICHOLAS: So we have recently entered the positive stage and thus drawn one stage closer to the Holy Spirit?

BRIAN: We are certainly drawing closer to the Holy Spirit, but we are by no means in the positive stage, which would indeed be that of ultimate divinity.  As long as we remain men, which should be for some time to come, we shall be partly negative, though not, of course, to the same extent as our cultural or pre-cultural forebears.  Instead of being predominantly negative, as were they, with their work and art and sport and war and sex, we shall become increasingly positive, draw progressively nearer, with each succeeding generation, to the pure beatitude of the supreme existence which still lies beyond us.  Our machines will increasingly carry the burden of our negativity, as we proceed into the future, and thereby make it possible for us to spend more time simply meditating our way towards unitive knowledge of the Holy Ghost.  But as long as we remain men - and this should be perfectly obvious - there can be no question of our becoming divine.  Man is man at any stage of his evolution, though never more so than when he composes great music or writes great literature or paints great paintings or involves himself in any other form of great creative work.  For such work is the hallmark of man, especially man in his prime as man, not of the Superman that lies beyond him.  And even the (from an egocentric standpoint) lesser creative work of predominantly intellectual and spiritual man will not entitle us to consider either him or it truly godlike, even though it may be the closest man has yet come to such a state in his physical actions.  For man is never closer to himself than in his actions, and all physical actions, no matter how clever or socially beneficial, take one away from the Holy Spirit.  It is only in meditation that man will come to know the Godhead, and thus cease to be himself.  But pure spirituality is still some way into the future, so we needn't fear anything for our manhood at present.

NICHOLAS: That comes as quite a relief to me, I can assure you!

BRIAN: Yes, I thought it would!  Though I am confident that it would come as an even greater relief to most healthy, attractive young women!  However, joking aside, it should be emphasized that pure spirituality, if and when it comes to pass, will be vastly superior to any of our physical doings, even the most agreeable of them, and therefore something that is unlikely to cause its experiencers any serious regrets.  They will be too blissfully absorbed in the higher state to care anything about the world of men - a world which, so far as they're concerned, would have completely ceased to exist.  In the meantime, however, we must bear the burden of our human status and carry-on with our physical actions, the bad as well as the good, while the new religious impulse takes root in us and slowly expands towards our ultimate salvation.  Christianity has 'had its day' and this is something for which, despite all the works of great art it inspired, we should be sincerely grateful, since we can now look towards a brighter future, one in which art will eventually cease to be necessary and, no less significantly, cease to be possible.  For as Tolstoy indicated, art is essentially a means of conveying feelings and emotions, preferably the noblest and most pertinent to any given culture, through symbols.  It is a phenomenon dependent upon and linked to the sensuous, so that when man's sensual/instinctual capacities decline, with the advancement of civilization, and his spiritual/intellectual ones take over, then the age of great, or egocentric, art comes to an end.  A new age of post-egocentric, intellectually-oriented art takes its place, until such time as even that ceases to be practicable and art disappears altogether.  What one increasingly finds nowadays in the realm of art is thought, i.e. philosophy, technology, psychology, sociology, etc., as befitting beings dominated by their intellect and consequently under the sway of a higher spirituality than the instinct-bound spirituality of the great artists of the past.  It is the intellect rather than the id, or instinctive will, which is destined to condition our responses to life over the coming decades, and this will merge with and eventually give way to the still-higher spirituality of pure knowledge, leading, in due course, to man's Final End in total union with ultimate divinity.  So do not brood over the death of traditional art as though it were some terrible tragedy!  For it is only through the demise of such art that we can hope to live on a higher plane - freed from the lower, sensuous spirituality it represents.  Great egocentric art has already come to its end and, eventually, post-egocentric art will follow suit, to be respectfully buried in the giant curatorial mausoleums of mankind's cultural history as tokens of our more sensual past.  And thus the way will be cleared for us to proceed with our intellectual and spiritual preoccupations in the optimistic spirit of post-cultural man - a spirit diametrically antithetical to the pessimism of our pre-cultural ancestors, and no longer indulgent of the dualistic compromise on which our more recent cultural forebears built their great culture.  It won't be the novel, the play, or the poem that will characterize our creative urge in this third stage of evolution, but the essay, dialogue, and aphorism - the philosophical genres of beings liberated, through large-scale urbanization, from the tyranny of their emotional instincts and placed firmly under the control of their spiritual intellects.  Like art, literature and music will completely die out, great music and literature having already done so, their post-egocentric successors soon to follow suit.  After all, regarded from another standpoint, can one really expect the arts to live-on indefinitely?  Aren't there enough great paintings, symphonies, concertos, drawings, etchings, novels, plays, songs, operas, poems, sculptures, etc., in the world already?  Not to mention all the comparatively mediocre works which have either come down to us from earlier times or proliferated during the course of this century?  Surely one cannot continue hoarding them up in the world, as though there was an unlimited supply of space!  Obviously a halt has to be called sometime, and we are closer to it now than at any previous time in the history of man.  The future will have no use, you can be certain, for art of any description!

NICHOLAS: Which is probably just as well, if the subject-matter of the bulk of it is anything to judge by!  But even if, as I'm now inclined to believe, art is destined to perish, what makes you so confident that man will survive?  After all, we still live in the shadow of nuclear obliteration, and it isn't a shadow that permits one to be particularly optimistic about mankind's future, is it?

BRIAN: No, maybe not in the short term.  But that isn't to say that man won't survive the effects of a nuclear accident and/or war, and therefore is destined to perish along with his traditional creations.  In the unlikely event of a nuclear war, it stands to reason that large numbers of human beings would perish, just as they have perished in or through wars from time immemorial.  But I can't for one moment believe that humanity in toto would perish, as some present-day pessimists are only too apt to imagine.  It would be entirely against the grain of human evolution, which is leading man from a lower to a higher state, leading him beyond the phenomenon of war towards an era of eternal peace.  No, if he is destined to perish as a species it won't be in consequence of nuclear war, but through his metamorphosis from man to superman, which we earlier discussed and briefly referred to as constituting, in post-Christian terms, a kind of Last Judgement, in which the temporal world of man in his third stage of evolution will be superseded by an eternal world of pure godlike beatitude.  It could well be that we are on the verge of the most radical revolution in the entire history of mankind, but I don't see that such a possibility should induce us to assume that mankind is on the point of perishing.  On the contrary, it seems more probable that the old Judeo-Christian world will ultimately come to an end in that event, thereby clearing the ground, so to speak, for the widespread acceptance of man's third-stage religion - the religion centred on meditation and leading, inevitably, to the transcendental Beyond.

NICHOLAS: So you don't believe that mankind is on the verge of nuclear annihilation?

BRIAN: No, I don't.  Like Koestler, I believe in short-term pessimism but in long-term optimism.  It is precisely in the transitional stages between the old religious impulse and the new one that most confusion and uncertainty is apt to arise, as our recent history adequately attests.  But it is our duty as intellectuals to lead as many people as possible out of that confusion and uncertainty towards the brighter future in which their salvation resides, and thus to assure them that, in spite of all the vicissitudes or apparent setbacks with which contemporary life may confront them, human evolution is slowly winding its way towards a future consummation in the post-human absolute.  History is on the side of the spirit, and it is the spirit of man that will ultimately triumph - not in any fictitious Beyond, such as one might be led to believe in, à la Malcolm Muggeridge, through a misconception of Christian symbolism, a more or less literal belief in that symbolism instead of a figurative interpretation of what, in sensuous terms, it was striving to convey at that particular stage of human evolution, but, rather, in the very genuine Beyond of our future transformation from men into godlike beings, which will be a consequence of our technologically-biased urban lifestyle and the transcendental religion appertaining to it.  Man, to cite Nietzsche, is something that should be overcome, and we are now some way on the road to overcoming him.  Only when he is completely overcome, however, will we fully enter the long-awaited transcendent Beyond which our ancestors have been dreaming about, in various ways, since the spirit first liberated itself from heathen subservience to nature.  But we needn't pretend that we are on the verge of that dream just because we have entered the third and final stage of human evolution.  We may be closer to it than man has ever been before, but it should be fairly evident, from a glimpse at the world around us, that we still have a long way to go in order to attain to our ultimate salvation in unequivocal spiritual triumph.  There are still buildings to demolish, new buildings to build, machines to invent, drugs to discover, meditation techniques to learn, further aspects of nature to overcome, space explorations to make, technological improvements to effect, racial frictions to eradicate, and so many other things to do before we arrive at our heavenly destination.  But even if we must face-up to this sobering thought, at least we can be assured that there is a purpose, a justification to our activities, that progress is a fact, and that we are slowly but surely working-out our destiny, in accordance with evolutionary requirement.  Even The Hour of Decision, that largely reactionary work by Oswald Spengler, was a part of our destiny which had to be worked out and proven inadequate, before we could proceed beyond the narrowly temporal view of culture it takes to a much wider view of human evolution, in which the decline of individual cultures is regarded as part of a greater, more comprehensive development in human progress, rather than simply seen as a lamentable tragedy to be bewailed and if possible - which, incidentally, it never can be - prevented.  No, it isn't for us to lament over our cultural decline, but to grasp the full implications of what it signifies in terms of our ongoing spiritual development - a development which has no further use for traditional modes of cultural expression.  Spengler had a task to fulfil and we may congratulate him for fulfilling it.  But his is not the last word in the struggle for Truth, which must continue as long as man exists and cannot possibly come to a halt, not even where the efforts of such distinguished thinkers as Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Arthur Koestler, Louis Mumford, Aldous Huxley, Teilhard de Chardin, and Arnold J. Toynbee are concerned.  For it is the task of the outstanding minds of each generation to carry the torch of Truth one stage further in the direction of that ultimate truth which will reside in the transcendental Beyond and have no need of verbal justification, being its own silent witness.  Neither will this ultimate truth be clouded or diminished by illusion, which inevitably characterizes and accompanies, to varying extents, our struggle for intellectual truth.  In the Beyond there will be no place for that conflict of opposites, no opportunity for sensual illusion to mar the pure face of spiritual truth, since antitheses will have been transcended in the One, and the One will reign supreme.  But that, as already noted, is some way into the future, so, in the meantime, we must persist with the truth relative to ourselves, as third-stage men, and thereby endeavour to overcome what illusion we can.  Now the truth relative to ourselves is by no means the truth relative to man in his previous two stages, when he looked upon life and God from either a predominantly sensual stance, as in the first stage, or a balanced sensual/spiritual stance, as in the second.  It is a truth superior to the lower truths of both these stages and, as such, isn't something that we should regard as a misfortune or decadence in relation to the past.  D.H. Lawrence tried to relate to the first stage of human development - that of paganism, with its phallic worship and fertility rites.  So much for Lawrence!  Malcolm Muggeridge related to the second stage of our development - that of Christianity, with its preoccupation with sin and death, culture and faith.  So much for Muggeridge!  But Aldous Huxley related to the third stage of our religious evolution - that of a mystical acknowledgement of and allegiance to transcendentalism, with its key to our ultimate salvation in a future spiritual transformation.  What could be more logical?  Clearly, Lawrence was a reactionary, Muggeridge a conservative, and Huxley the only true leader of the three, the only one to point towards the future and thus lead men away from the down-dragging and static currents of the age.  That is something worth knowing, you know!

NICHOLAS: Yes, I guess I shall have to agree with you, even though I rather like Lawrence.  Perhaps he appeals to a certain nostalgia in us for our distant, pre-cultural past?  Still, it just goes to show how wrong one can be in determining who is or isn't an intellectual leader!  I had always taken Lawrence for one, you know.

BRIAN: Well, now you know better, don't you?  You ought to have a sufficiently comprehensive criterion to enable you to distinguish between the reactionaries and the progressives, thus avoiding unnecessary confusions.  And watch out for the traditionalists as well, since they won't point you in the direction evolution is taking either, but will simply strive to impose their limited notions of salvation upon you.  Always fight for the truth, but make certain that it appertains to man at this stage of his evolution, not to a previous one!  For there are all too many people who are convinced that there is only one truth and that they have it, even though circumstances indicate that their particular stage of truth is no longer relevant - indeed, may even be several centuries out-of-date!

NICHOLAS: Or even thousands of years - as, presumably, in Lawrence's case?

BRIAN: Yes, absolutely!  Fortunately for humanity, however, there are still intellectual leaders in the world, and they are in it to do a specific job, irrespective of whether or not the bulk of mankind approves of it.  Life isn't static but evolutionary, and it is the task of intellectual leaders to remind people of that fact and to lead them in the right direction, which, in effect, is the only possible direction, since they themselves are led by the pressures of intellectual evolution.

NICHOLAS: How right you are!

 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL TRANSFORMATIONS

 

JOSEPH: I have recently read that the decline of Christianity in the West was due, in large measure, to the rise of the big city, which is hostile to the context of environmental compromise in which Christianity originally flourished.  Apparently, the predominantly artificial environment of the city signifies a step beyond the dualistic, provincial framework peculiar to cultural man, and is accordingly indicative of a higher stage of evolution.  Where, formerly, Western man was approximately balanced between nature and civilization, the sensual and the spiritual, he now exists in a spiritually-lopsided position (or, at any rate, most of those who live in big cities do).  So he has grown beyond the dualistic, anthropomorphic religiousness appertaining to a less-urbanized context and thereby exposed himself to the possibility of a new religious awareness - one reflecting his isolation from nature, and consequently testifying to his spiritual advancement.

RICHARD: Quite true!  And this new awareness is transcendental as opposed to anthropomorphic, and therefore hostile to the sensual.  It is an awareness superior in essence to anything that has preceded it, constituting the final stage of Western man's spiritual evolution.  From predominantly sensual beginnings in nature he has progressed to predominantly spiritual endings in the big city, the dualistic compromise coming in-between, when man was in his prime as man - approximately balanced between his two selves and therefore not lopsided on the side of either the beastly or the godly.  But the path of evolution is leading him towards the Holy Spirit, and so post-Christian man is somewhat closer to that blessed consummation than were his Christian predecessors, whose anthropomorphism invariably kept them bound to the sensual.

JOSEPH: And when he attains to his consummation in transcendent bliss, he will presumably cease being human?

RICHARD: Yes, he will have outgrown the three stages of human development and entered the post-Human Millennium, which is the post-Christian equivalent of Heaven - the coming time of happiness in the transcendental Beyond.

JOSEPH: Why post-human?

RICHARD: Because he will no longer be man but superman and therefore beyond the merely human.  We use the word 'millennium' because we do not want this transcendental Beyond to be confounded with or mistaken for any posthumous afterlife, such as the word 'Heaven' might lead one to do.  You see, Heaven is inextricably linked to Hell.  But we are outgrowing the dualistic framework of Christianity and consequently drawing closer to our ultimate salvation, which is in the future.  So we prefer to substitute Millennium for Heaven, in order to avoid the dualistic connection with Hell which almost invariably presents itself when the word 'Heaven' is mentioned.  With the post-Human Millennium, on the other hand, there is no possibility of Hell simultaneously existing.  People will either climb onto the higher plane or fail to climb onto it, as the case may be.  But we must assume that there will be more incentive for them to transcend their humanity than to keep it, and therefore that most if not all of them will make the necessary change.  Thus the Christian Last Judgement would seem to be too dualistic in conception to be quite relevant to the climax of human evolution, in which only a post-Human Millennium will prevail.  As the middle development in Western man's ongoing spiritual evolution, Christianity was obliged to acknowledge mankind's past as well as to anticipate its future, and this past, in which sensuality predominates, is juxtaposed with the future in depictions of the Last Judgement.  Consequently, it is open to misinterpretations of simultaneity which, in actual fact, it doesn't really warrant.  For, in reality, Hell is a context out of which mankind is slowly climbing, whereas Heaven is a context towards which it aspires.  It is the difference between pure sensuality and pure spirituality, the diabolic beginnings and the divine endings, with three stages of human development coming in-between.  Now, obviously, first-stage man, surrounded and dominated by nature, was closer to Hell than Christian or second-stage man, who had pushed nature away from himself to an extent which made it possible for him to differentiate between the sensual and the spiritual, and thus aspire, no matter how intermittently or half-heartedly, towards the transcendental Beyond.  And third-stage man, it logically follows, is closer to that Beyond than were his Christian predecessors, who were still tied to the sensual to an extent which made it necessary for them to fear Hell and thus maintain a dualistic framework of religious awareness.  So third-stage man doesn't fear Hell, since he is too far away from it, but directs his attention towards Heaven or, rather, the post-Human Millennium, which exists as his goal and ultimate salvation.  He dispenses with dualism in his drive towards spiritual perfection - a perfection destined to take place in a transcendent context which should not be confused with some afterlife.  After all, what has the Second Coming of Christian symbolism to do with a Beyond in that traditional sense?

JOSEPH: You tell me.

RICHARD: Very little!  For why should Christ, as the symbolic representative of the spirit, bother to come back to earth if people were already being judged, following death, in an afterlife?  Why should he bother to judge the living when they would all be judged at death anyway - as, apparently, millions and millions of people had already been, prior to His Second Coming?  It simply doesn't make sense.  So, obviously, the Christian symbolism refers, in the context of Christ, to the ultimate triumph of the spiritual in life, which we can now regard as the post-Human Millennium.  As for judgements in the afterlife, I just don't believe in them.

JOSEPH: Which induces me to assume that you don't believe in the Afterlife or, more specifically, in an afterlife which presupposes more than just the condition of non-being, following life?

RICHARD: Indeed not!  In point of fact, I believe that people have often misinterpreted Christian symbolism and thereupon confounded Heaven with something that occurs following death, rather than in a futuristic context towards which humanity are slowly advancing here on earth.  I absolutely reject this posthumous conception of Heaven, for which, incidentally, Christianity wasn't entirely to blame.  After all, Christianity has pointed man towards his future salvation in the Beyond, though this was often mistaken for an afterlife state by the Christians themselves.  Now if people get consolation from thinking in that myopic sort of way, good luck to them!  We needn't feel particularly sorry on their account.  As far as the truth is concerned, however, we can hardly concede that they had it!  Self-deception is one thing, the truth quite another!

JOSEPH: Then what about Aldous Huxley, whom you are always talking about these days?  Surely, if you don't believe in the Afterlife, you won't approve of his conception of life-after-death which, as I understand it, was founded upon The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or Bardo Thödol?  Surely you would have to reject his belief in a posthumous Clear Light and possible union of the departed's spirit with it?

RICHARD: Oh, I most certainly do!  I reject not only his belief in a posthumous Clear Light, as you so eloquently describe it, but also the accompanying belief in reincarnation - reincarnation apparently being reserved for those who posthumously reject the Clear Light and opt to return to the world.  It seems to me that Huxley was inclined to take a sort of Christian instead of post-Christian view of the Beyond, by conceiving of it as following death, rather than in the post-human life of the Superman.  One dies and, following a short transitional period, is then confronted by the Clear Light, which, according to Huxley, one either accepts and therefore merges with, or rejects and consequently returns, sooner or later, to the ego-bound world.  Well, I cannot go along with that assumption, no matter how much I may admire Huxley in certain other respects.  Writing when he was, in the thick of the transition between the Christian and post-Christian worlds, it is perhaps not surprising that his mysticism should have had a Christian slant, and thus related salvation to a posthumous merging with the Clear Light.  But I don't believe that such a hypothetical procedure is the context in which it occurs.  On the contrary, it seems to me that salvation is very much an affair of human evolution towards a higher spirituality attained to on this earth, in the future.  It is essentially a climax to our evolution, the mutation, if you prefer, from man to superman, in which the body will be completely transcended and the spiritual life duly reign supreme.  So we have to live for the sake of that more fortunate generation who will effect man's transformation to the post-Human Millennium, and thus vindicate all our evolutionary struggles, justify all previous propagation.  Our sons will be one step closer to the post-Human Millennium than ourselves, and their sons will be closer to it than them, and so on, until the ultimate transformation.  But we won't enter the transcendental Beyond, neither now nor, in my opinion, following death.  All we can do is have faith in the future and work towards making it possible.  As, however, to our ultimate salvation in the Afterlife - that I must confess to having grave doubts about!  If, in dying, we encounter a darkness and 'sleep the long sleep', then I don't think we shall have any great cause for complaint.  It will be acceptable for us, as corpses, to leave the affairs of this life behind and take a well-earned rest.  Even if the kernel of our being, the will as 'thing-in-itself', to cite Schopenhauer, is indestructible and therefore survives death, it would almost certainly do so without consciousness, and consequently without a knowledge of where it was and why it was there.  It would be completely at home in the eternity of nothingness that follows life, oblivious of this world and bereft of any desire to return to it.  And because, deprived of consciousness, it wouldn't know where it was, it would hardly be exposed to the spectacle of the Clear Light and the possibility of either merging with or rebelling against it - as the case may be!

JOSEPH: Contrary to the speculations voiced by Aldous Huxley in his novel Time Must Have a Stop, in which its principal character Eustace Barnack, having died in the lavatory of his country house, finds himself confronted by the Clear Light and, unable to reconcile himself to it, persists with the personal ego-bound state of the Afterlife until such time as he can contrive to return to the world, as a child of the Weyls?

RICHARD: Yes, contrary to speculations based on the Bardo Thödol, which Huxley was inclined to take too seriously, it seems to me.  Had he read Schopenhauer's Parega and Paralipomena, he might have subsequently modified his speculations or not even entertained them at all.  As things transpired, however, he pressed-on with a belief in the posthumous survival of consciousness which I can only regard as irrational, not to say implausible.  For how can visionary consciousness possibly exist independently of the intellect and the proper functioning of the brain?  And what is more - why should it?  What purpose would it serve?  What would one be doing in a hypothetical Other World that would make such consciousness necessary?

JOSEPH: Perhaps deciding whether to merge with the Clear Light or return to this world in the guise of a new-born infant.

RICHARD: Indeed, that would be a good enough reason to retain such consciousness if that is what actually happens.  But does it?  Can it, when, by all rational accounts, the loss of intellect, with death, should deprive one of visionary consciousness?  No, I don't see that it can.  The idea of an isolated mind, as it were, being subject to the intrusion of a Clear Light in the post-death state seems to me quite absurd.  One wonders where this Clear Light is supposed to exist.  And one wonders even more where the consciousness that perceives it is coming from, how such consciousness can exist without the assistance of a brain.  Yet this hypothetical consciousness is supposed to be able to reject the Clear Light, if it prefers to, and dream its own dreams until such time as, having grown weary of dreaming, it elects to find itself a new body - and presumably accompanying brain - on earth!  Well, this belief in reincarnation is even stranger and more absurd to me than what precedes it.  For how can a given consciousness - the ego-bound consciousness of Eustace Barnack, let us say - be itself one moment and, with a return to this world, someone else the next; be a knowing mind that wills itself a suitable married couple and subsequently become the child of that couple - altogether bereft of recollections of its temporary stay in the Other World?  The idea scarcely merits dwelling on, so preposterous does it appear in the light of rational inquiry!  After all, propagation is an affair of parents, isn't it?  An affair, if we may believe Schopenhauer, in which the will comes from the male and the intellect from the female, and consequently where there is no room or place, in the child's psyche, for any external, otherworldly intervention.  For if a so-called soul, as will and intellect combined, is to effect a return from the Afterlife and impose itself upon a suitable couple of prospective parents, what purpose, one wonders, would their own reproductive seeds serve?  Why, indeed, should they possess any such seeds at all?

JOSEPH: You tell me!

RICHARD: Obviously not as mere decoration, but in order to propagate their own kind.  And that does mean their own kind, not the kind of someone or, more accurately, some thing which has rejected the Clear Light and elected to return to this world in the guise of their child!  So I cannot place much confidence in the concept of reincarnation, as propounded by Huxley.  Neither do certain other speculations deriving from The Tibetan Book of the Dead particularly appeal to me.  If my wife were dying, I certainly wouldn't spend hours at her bedside encouraging her towards some hypothetical Other World, as Huxley did with regard to his first wife.  I would just let her die quietly and peacefully - without mystical accompaniment.  I would want her to be resigned to losing her consciousness at death, resigned to sleeping the long lifeless sleep of oblivion in the eternity of nothingness, and thus putting the cares and pains of this life behind her.  I wouldn't want her to feel that she had a moral obligation to live-up to, in the post-death state.  For the prospect of such an obligation would only serve to put unnecessary strain on her last hours.  No, I would want her to have the peace that the dying deserve - freed from the imperious or meddlesome clutches of the living.  And I would hope, too, that some years before her death she had learnt to differentiate between the post-death state, which is really no Beyond at all but a nothingness, and the post-human state towards which humanity is slowly advancing, so that, mindful of the fiction of a posthumous afterlife, she needn't be in any doubt as to her impending fate.  Then she could discard the fears which sometimes beset the dying as they imagine themselves being judged for their sins and, in the event of negative judgement, summarily pitchforked into Hell.  But Hell is something in the distant pre-human past, not something still to come!

JOSEPH: Not even with the possibility of a nuclear war?

RICHARD: No, though that, needless to say, would be hellish enough!  But it would constitute only a temporary hellishness out of which we would eventually arise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the past and press-on with our destiny towards a higher spirituality.  We would press-on in accordance with the one-sided spirituality appertaining to third-stage, big-city man, and so adopt a post-dualistic attitude to divinity.  We would not endorse anthropomorphism but only transcendentalism, as appertaining to the third and highest part of the Trinity, which will inevitably lead to the long-awaited triumph of the spirit, represented in Christian symbolism by the Second Coming, and to the establishment, thereafter, of a post-Human Millennium.  Now just as we would be obliged to dispense with anthropomorphism, that compromise between body and spirit, so we would be obliged to dispense with democracy, the dualism appertaining to second-stage cultural man.

JOSEPH: You mean we are heading towards a future based not on democracy but on totalitarianism?

RICHARD: Yes, that is my belief.  After all, aren't politics and religion fundamentally two aspects of the same coin, conditioned, at any given time, by the nature of the environment in which a given people happens to live?  How therefore can you press-on with a one-sided spirituality in the big cities and not have a politics complementary to it, a politics which is as much a consequence of the environment as the religion?  You can't have third-stage religion and second-stage politics?  That would be quite illogical, even if a minority of intelligent people may now be responding to the city environment in an appropriately spiritual manner, and consequently be practising a form of transcendentalism in the capitals of the democratic world.  Until Christian churches disappear and Christianity is officially superseded, the transcendentalism of this intelligent minority is bound to remain an unofficial break with tradition upon which the Christian Establishment, in its advocacy of anthropomorphism, can only frown.  It cannot be sanctioned as the official successor to Christianity, and therefore it can only exist as a kind of spiritual outsider in the West, even though it may be more pertinent to the particular environment in which it is practised than the traditional religious integrity.  But that, I believe, is merely a temporary situation.  For the evolution of man continues to proceed within the overall structure of Western society, and eventually that structure will be obliged to come to terms with the extent of his spiritual evolution and officially recognize the transformation from second- to third-stage life.

JOSEPH: I do hope you are right!

 

 

THE TRANSCENDENTAL FUTURE

 

ARNOLD: It would seem, if what I've heard about you is true, that you regard democracy merely as a transitional phenomenon leading to something higher, a midway stage, as it were, between man's predominantly sensual past and his predominantly spiritual future, in which a variety of contending parties struggle against one other in a kind of twilight zone of democratic balance, until such time as the balance swings so much in favour of the progressive party that a new phase of evolution gets under way in the form of transcendental totalitarianism - the equivalent, in evolutionary terms, of the Light.

KEITH: Yes, I regard democracy as a kind of twilight between the darkness of royalism and the light of socialism, a kind of egocentric state between the subconsciousness of Western man's beginnings in subservience to nature and the superconsciousness of his endings in transcendental bliss.  Early man lived most of his life in the subconscious realm of sensual identification with nature.  He put the spiritual aspect of reality into the sensual and thereby embraced an animistic/pantheistic concept of divinity.  For him everything was essentially dark, fearsome, and cruel.  His subconscious projections led him to worship the Lawrentian 'dark gods of the loins', rather than any transcendent deity, and therefore to respect a predominantly sensual mode of political administration roughly commensurate with royalism.  There could be no question of a political opposition existing in a society so much under the tyranny of nature, where the spiritual was embodied in the sensual.  So early man lived in a kind of perpetual darkness of royalist allegiance.  But gradually Western man - and we may as well focus our attention chiefly on the evolution of Europeans - broke free from this sensual tyranny and established civilization to a degree whereby he could differentiate between the sensual and the spiritual, and thereupon assign to each a separate realm - the former mundane, the latter transcendent.

ARNOLD: And thus Christianity arose as the religion reflecting Western man's new-found freedom from subservience to nature and consequent spiritual aspirations towards the transcendent?

KEITH: Yes, Christianity was duly accepted because its compromise integrity reflected the evolutionary situation of Western man as a being divided between sensuality and spirituality, a being halfway-up the ladder of human evolution, so to speak.  And, in due course, his evolutionary position in relation to nature led him to endorse democracy, led to democracy, which is essentially a compromise between royalism and socialism.  Thus a kind of twilight era of political balance was established, in which the parties of the Left vied with the parties of the Right for ultimate control of the parliamentary framework.  Now very gradually, following a progression from dictatorial capitalism to a democratic balance between capitalism and socialism, the left-wing party began to tip the balance in favour of socialism, and so inaugurated the phenomenon of democratic socialism, with which we in the West are sufficiently well-acquainted this century not to be in any degree surprised by.  So now the twilight zone of democracy-proper has given way to a brighter zone of the political spectrum which, in due time, should give way to the Light itself, and thus reflect the era of transcendentalism.

ARNOLD: Hence the egocentric stage of Western evolution will be superseded by allegiance to the superconscious - the self-realizing consciousness of third-stage man?

KEITH: Absolutely!  Christianity, with its allegiance to a personal anthropomorphic deity, will be eclipsed by the blinding mysticism of the Inner Light, as the regular practise of meditation paves the way for man's ultimate salvation in the post-Human Millennium.  Western man will no longer pray, as has traditionally been the case in the egocentric world of second-stage cultural life, but will simply meditate his way towards direct experience of what, in the superconscious, is potentially divine.  He will follow the historical example, in short, of the spiritual masters of the Orient, and accordingly relinquish the egocentric claims of Christianity.  He will focus his attention upon the Holy Ghost, the third and highest part of the Trinity, and thus dispense with the Father and Son of his previous two stages of religious allegiance.  For the Father is really pantheism, the Son anthropomorphism, and the Holy Spirit alone transcendentalism - the blessed equivalent to the Huxleyian Clear Light of the Void.

ARNOLD: Hence religion, like politics, is conditioned by the nature of the environment, and may accordingly be said to evolve from the dark to the light via a kind of twilight, or Christian, stage coming in-between.

KEITH: Precisely!  Though the twilight stage also evolves from a predominantly dark state on the border, so to speak, with paganism to a predominantly light state on the border with transcendentalism, as can be borne out by the early-Christian emphasis on the Virgin Mary, which is given priority in Catholicism, and the late-Christian emphasis on Christ, which is given priority in Protestantism.  It is a shift from the sensual to the spiritual, the symbolically mundane to the symbolically transcendent.

ARNOLD: You mean Protestantism may be equated with a kind of religious democracy, in contrast to the religious autocracy, as it were, of Catholicism?

KEITH: Yes, up to a point!  For Protestantism signifies a later stage of religious evolution than Catholicism, being the product of a more artificial drive.  It has become the Christianity of the more industrialized nations of the West, like England and Holland, who wrested power from the Catholic and traditionally more agricultural nations like France and Spain, and have accordingly dominated European affairs since approximately the seventeenth century.   Puritanism signified an attack on the sensual, even to the extent of prohibiting the sensuous representation of religious subjects, which is basically why there is so very little indigenous religious art in Protestant countries, what little they do possess mostly stemming from pre-Protestant times.

ARNOLD: So Protestantism can be regarded as the logical successor to Catholicism and forerunner of transcendentalism, the religious equivalent, in a manner of speaking, to democratic socialism?

KEITH: Yes, that is roughly how I see it, at any rate.  As something more artificial in essence than the more sensual Christianity out of which it grew, a transitional phenomenon between second- and third-stage development, between churches and meditation centres.  For there are quite a number of what one could call prayer centres being built these days - buildings which spring from the urban environment and testify to an architectural style applicable to a post-Christian age, a style that can only be equated with third-stage life.  For churches-proper can only be built in a context conducive to the furtherance of Christianity, a provincial context - as opposed to the urban context in which most of us live these days - wherein Christianity logically prevails.  As such, they will reflect allegiance to the typical church style and consequently be recognizable as churches.  But an environment inherently hostile to Christianity, with its sensual/spiritual compromise, can hardly be expected to encourage or facilitate the erection of genuine churches!  Consequently, whatever is built in that environment, for purposes of Christian worship, is more likely to be closer in conception to a meditation centre than to a church, even though the official line may suggest the contrary.  Needless to say, the widespread practice of meditation in buildings specifically designed for that purpose cannot be encouraged until we officially move up the ladder of human evolution to its third and final rung.  So the new so-called churches will doubtless continue in the vein of transition from Christianity to transcendentalism, as before.  But, like democracy, Christianity is on the way out - of that you need be in no doubt!  Nothing but the complete destruction and disintegration of our great cities could do anything to reverse the trend of evolution away from the subconscious and towards the superconscious.  For it is in the superconscious that our future salvation resides, not in the egocentric life of the Christian past.  As such, it is in our deepest interests to do everything we can to further it, to make certain that our cities aren't allowed to crumble into ruin but continue to expand, in accordance with the extent of our financial and technological resources.  For, in the final analysis, it is the city which makes third-stage life possible, insofar as it isolates us, to an increasing extent, from the sensuous influence of nature and thereupon imposes increasingly artificial lifestyles upon us.  It is the city that will bring us to ultimate divinity, enabling us to free ourselves from nature's pagan clutches and attain to the post-Human Millennium in spiritual salvation.  Thanks to the city, Christianity and democracy are destined to be superseded by the politico-religious integrity appertaining to third-stage life - the post-dualistic reflection of lopsided spirituality in which relativity will be transcended.  The Son of God will be superseded by the Holy Spirit, just as, in politics, that old democratic competitive/co-operative compromise between capitalists and socialists will be superseded by maximized co-operation.

ARNOLD: So the evolutionary journey that began in feudal competition, and is now passing through the twilight compromise, will eventually culminate in unequivocal socialist co-operation.  And that will eventually bring us to the climax of our evolution?

KEITH: Indeed it will!  For in the battle between darkness and light, the darkness is destined to be vanquished!  Nothing can prevent us from going forwards to our ultimate goal in the transcendental Beyond.

ARNOLD: I begin to realize how wrong I was to assume, as formerly, that democracy was the best that could be expected in political terms, and that the freedoms it permitted, i.e. the right to vote for one of a number of different parties, free speech, freedom of the press, etc., were inviolable.  I used to think that democracy signified the apex of political evolution against which it was unwise to rebel.  For rebellion, if successful, could only lead to totalitarianism, and that was something to be avoided, since the source of abuses of human freedom.  But now that I have come to learn that political evolution is a fact which cannot be denied, and that there is a vast difference between royalism at one end of the political spectrum and socialism at the other, my previous supposition relating to the nature of democracy seems to me quite absurd, much as though one should wish to stop halfway-up the ladder of political evolution under the delusion that the halfway stage was in fact the top when, in reality, it was anything but that!  It is as though a pupa should prefer to remain at the chrysalis stage of its evolution than go on and become a butterfly, should prefer the lifestyle of a chrysalis to that which stood above it!  Quite an absurd and contemptible viewpoint, to say the least, but one to which I wholeheartedly subscribed until you came along and enlightened me, liberated me from my constricting delusion.  And I hope to God you enlighten others as well, enlighten them before it is too late and they have to learn political evolution the hard way.  Democratic freedoms may be a good thing, but if what you say is true, then it is patently obvious that they can only be good for a given period of time - namely, during the transitional stage of evolution between the politics of the predominantly sensual environment and the politics of the predominantly spiritual environment which characterize the inception and culmination of civilized evolution.

KEITH: Yes.  For when the transitional stage is over - as it soon will be in the West - there can be no place in life for democratic freedoms, because we shall have evolved beyond the traditional dualism which justified and necessitated them.  Life will have become so biased in favour of the spirit, so much a consequence of large-scale urbanization, that there will be no possibility of a democratic capitalist party existing, and consequently no cause for democracy.  The party of the body will have been completely triumphed over and, as such, only the party of the spirit will prevail, signifying the end of the twilight era of democratic compromise and the inception of the era of Light - the era towards which all true progressives aspire, as holding the key to the transcendental Beyond.  In that fortunate era, the further development of co-operation will establish the brotherhood of man, a brotherhood founded upon egalitarianism, where the distinction between exploiter and exploited ceases to exist, there being no place for that economic competitiveness which characterized the era of royalism in particular, but the aristocratic/bourgeois, bourgeois/bourgeois, and bourgeois/proletarian phases of democracy to varying extents.  With the ultimate victory of the proletariat, however, the opposition will cease to exist, and thus only co-operation prevail.

ARNOLD: And who, precisely, are the proletariat?

KEITH: Simply those who genuinely subscribe to the advancement of the spirit and relate to the age in which they live, relate to the twin ideals of co-operation and transcendentalism.  One need not be an uncouth labourer.  One can be the most intelligent and tasteful of persons, the most handsome or pretty, as the case may be.  All that's necessary is that one wholeheartedly believes in the highest values of the age and lives to put them into practice, lives to be an integral part of third-stage life.  For the victory of the proletariat is the ultimate social victory, against which there can be no justification for or possibility of revolt.  From a society dominated by the aristocracy, we evolve to a bourgeois democratic society, which passes through the three phases I alluded to a moment ago, and from there we climb-on up the ladder of political evolution to the proletarian society of third-stage man, in which dualistic confrontation ceases to exist.  When the swing of the evolutionary pendulum from competitiveness to co-operativeness is complete, man will be on the verge of his ultimate salvation in spiritual beatitude.  With economic co-operation on the political plane and spiritual meditation on the religious one, he will eventually attain to the long-awaited transformation from man to superman, and thereupon enter the post-Human Millennium.  His evolution will then be complete, for the spirit will reign supreme, freed altogether from the sensuous influence of nature.  Man, remember, is something that should be overcome, but it is only through a combination of socialism and transcendentalism, call it Social Transcendentalism, that he will eventually overcome himself and thereby attain to the goal of human evolution in the Nietzschean 'great noontide' of the post-Human Millennium.  To live predominantly in the superconscious rather than in the ego, or conscious mind, is the destiny of our race, the true hallmark of third-stage man.  As yet, we are still too close to the ego for comfort.  We have quite a way to go before we arrive at our ultimate destination in transcendental bliss.  But we can be assured that we are evolving in the right direction, even if rather slowly.

ARNOLD: Though some people would appear to be evolving in the right direction more slowly than others?

KEITH: Indeed!  And not just individually but collectively as well.  In point of fact, there is a very important fact to bear in mind as regards evolutionary progress, which is that the environment in which a given people live inevitably conditions, to varying extents, their overall level of politico-religious awareness, so that a people accustomed to a rural environment are going to be at a lower level of evolution than a people accustomed to an urban one, and will consequently be ill-qualified to endorse or relate to exactly the same politico-religious integrity.  And, of course, a people who live in the desert are going to have a different scale of spiritual values from a people accustomed to the jungle.  Obviously, one cannot force the same level of awareness upon everyone.  For some peoples are currently more sensual than others, some are currently more spiritual than others.  World transcendentalism cannot come about overnight, but only gradually, in accordance with the approximate level of spiritual awareness prevailing in different parts of the world.  It may be possible to superficially force transcendentalism upon a people.  But, deep down, if they are insufficiently evolved, they will reject it and/or pervert its essence to something more akin to their own socio-environmental integrity.  At heart, they will remain sensual royalists or dualistic democrats, unable to suddenly transform themselves into the most spiritual of men!

ARNOLD: That I can well believe!

 

 

FROM THE EGO TO THE SUPERCONSCIOUS

 

TONY: It seems to be a popular illusion, these days, that because Christianity is dead or in terminal decline, we are abandoning religion and accordingly going backwards.  It is as though, with the demise of Christianity, one should lament over the dreadful tragedy which has befallen us.

STUART: And you don't see it like that?

TONY: No, I don't see it as a tragedy at all.  Rather, as something for which to be grateful, not, however, because Christianity should be regarded, in somewhat Nietzschean vein, as having been a bad thing - which it by no means entirely was - but simply because it means that we are progressing towards something higher and better, to a new religious awareness which is destined to supersede the old, dualistic one.  We are abandoning Jesus Christ for the Holy Spirit, abandoning dualism, based on the ego, for transcendentalism, centred in the superconscious, and are accordingly growing closer to our ultimate salvation, a salvation which Christianity itself foresaw, in its own symbolic fashion, and therefore should endorse.

STUART: You mean that, strictly speaking, Christians ought to be relieved that the Church is in terminal decline, instead of worried - as many of them now are?  In other words, they ought to encourage us towards the heavenly goal which Christianity anticipated, instead of imagining that only Christianity can take us there, and that its decline is consequently something to be lamented?

TONY: Yes, in a manner of speaking.  Though I am aware that there is a degree of confusion and despair at the root of the pessimism which seems to characterize the thinking of so many of us these days.  But I don't think we need fear that, whatever the fate of Christianity, religion is a dead issue.  On the contrary, the pessimism of a Huysmans or a Malcolm Muggeridge can certainly be countered with the requisite enlightenment concerning the overall course of evolution and the necessity of our going beyond Christ, in order to attain to the salvation which the Church has promised us for so long!  Let the Church have the rest it deserves, after the long struggle it has waged on behalf of the spirit through the centuries!  Its function as a midway stage between paganism and transcendentalism was admirably sustained.  We couldn't have managed without it.  But such a function cannot continue for ever, and now that we are entering a transcendental era - as confirmed by the rapid growth of interest in meditation - it should be apparent that the decline of the Church is a logical thing, an inevitable part of our destiny, about which we needn't be, in any degree, ashamed.  Even professed Christians, if they aren't to get in the way of their faith, should begin to see it as such - to see in the decline of belief in Christ the rise of identification with the Holy Spirit.  At least that should apply to the more spiritually evolved of them, whose minds are coming increasingly under the sway of the superconscious.

STUART: I seem to recall that, in The Anti-Christ, Nietzsche regarded the development from a dualistic religious framework to a transcendental one as a regression, the concept of a good God signifying, in his estimation, a weakening of the spiritual strength of a people, a failure of the will to power, rather than an improvement.

TONY: Yes, it is indeed ironic that the author of the book to which you allude should have unwittingly advocated a Christian standpoint in his assumption that man 'has as much need of the evil God as of the good God'.  After all, Christianity did in fact represent that very assumption - the figure of Christ being opposed by the Devil in one context and endowed with a good/evil integrity Himself in another, as, for example, in His capacity of banisher and redeemer at the Last Judgement.  But Nietzsche didn't really understand Christianity, and consequently what he says about it is often erroneous, as in the example you allude to, in which he identifies the highest religious awareness with a combination of love and fear, only to condemn Christianity for not representing it.  But that is precisely what Christianity does represent, being the midway-point between the religion of the subconscious, in which fear predominates, and the religion of the superconscious, in which only love prevails.  To Nietzsche, however, the progression from a God of Hate to a God of Love via a dualistic compromise would have signified a regression, which just goes to prove how devilishly wrong he could be!  For, in reality, the progression to a good God represents the zenith of religious evolution, not, as he foolishly imagined, its nadir!

STUART: Doubtless he would have preferred us all to be quaking beneath the anger of some wrathful deity in the future, offering up blood sacrifices as a means to securing some paradoxical salvation?

TONY: Which, fortunately, won't be the case; for in the superconscious there will be little room for either fear or hate.  Naturally, we will still be dualists to some extent, even in the more advanced stages of transcendental life.  For man is ever a dualist and cannot possibly, while he yet remains human, be anything else.  He may be predominantly evil in his early development, balanced between evil and good in his middle development, and predominantly good in his late development, as between pagan, Christian, and transcendental alternatives, but he will always possess some kind of dualistic integrity.  Only at the transformation-point to the Superman, which should signal his entry into the post-Human Millennium, will he become entirely good, entirely spiritual, and thus abandon the last vestiges of his humanity.  Until that time comes, however, he will always be at least partly sensual, partly evil, as befitting the nature of man.

STUART: Yet, at this point in time, he should be more good than evil, considering that, according to your theory, he is in transition between the ego and the superconscious?

TONY: Yes, I would be inclined to think so, though only, of course, on the basis of a generalization appertaining to those of approximately the same cultural integrity.  For we are certainly more spiritual than our Christian forebears, particularly those of 7-800 years ago.  And they would have been more spiritual - and hence better - than their pagan forebears of some 2-3000 years ago, and so on, right back to the earliest men who, on the strength of their predominating sensuality, were undoubtedly the most evil.

STUART: And before them?

TONY: Well, naturally, the beasts out of whom man evolved, or is alleged to have evolved, would have been even more evil, because so sensual and absolutely lacking in spiritual values.  The earliest men, living most of their lives in the subconscious, would at least have had some contact with the spirit, a faint glimmer now and again, perhaps, of something deeper than themselves, which it was obligatory to fear and, if possible, appease.

STUART: Not the very earliest men, surely?  After all, there is quite a difference between men of, say, 30,000 and men of about 3000 years ago, quite apart from the distinction between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, as between two entirely different species.

TONY: Of course there is!  But what particularly distinguishes a man from a beast is his religious sense, or capacity for worship.  So if one is to refer to the earliest-known bipeds as men, then one must accredit them with at least a faint glimmer of religion, even if, by later Christian standards, it was extremely mundane.  Now if early men lived entirely in the subconscious, they wouldn't have been capable of having a religious sense at all.  For it is from the superconscious that the light of spirit comes, the feeling for gods and supernatural powers in general.  Thus there must have been some connection between the subconscious and the superconscious even in the most primitive men, if only somewhat tenuously.  But, being so much more under subconscious influence, they were obliged to animistically treat the 'intimations of immortality' they experienced as part of the sensual, palpable world, rather than as something completely distinct from it in a separate, transcendent world - an Other World.

STUART: Which presumably continued to be the case, to varying extents, right up to the time of Christianity and its inherent dualism?

TONY: Yes, until such time as, by dint of gradual expansion, the superconscious began to play approximately as great a part in man's religious awareness as the subconscious, and a kind of dualistic balance was struck between the two chief realms of the psyche in the ego, or conscious mind, which, contrary to popular assumptions, isn't really a distinct realm of the psyche at all, but a compromise region in which both the subconscious and superconscious minds struggle for supremacy.

STUART: You mean that the ego corresponds to Christianity and democracy, in that it signifies the fusion of two essentially antithetical minds in part of an evolving spectrum of psychic development?

TONY: Indeed I do!  For just as Christianity signifies a religious transition from paganism to transcendentalism, and democracy a corresponding political transition from royalism to socialism, so the ego represents a psychic transition from subconsciousness to superconsciousness - the essential dualism of life acquiring a tripartite appearance with the transitional stage coming in-between, just as the dark and the light are fused in the twilight, and thereupon assume a new appearance.

STUART: So the ego corresponds to a kind of twilight zone of the mind brought about by the fusion, or balanced clash, of the two great adversaries - the evil subconscious and the good superconscious, the bridge to the sensual and the bridge to the spiritual.  Really, that is a most paradoxically illuminating theory!

TONY: To be sure!  And the superconscious is destined to triumph, as the decline of our traditional religious and political allegiances adequately attests.  For, thanks in large measure to the expansion of our urban environments in recent decades, a majority of us are now more spiritual than ever before, and thus psychically better than ever before.  We are no longer balanced between the sensual and the spiritual, like our Christian forebears, but biased on the side of the spirit, not, as yet, to any appreciable extent, since we are still in transition between the ego and the superconscious, but nevertheless to some extent - to an extent, I would argue, which should give us cause for hope concerning our future progress.  The psychic twilight is becoming progressively lighter, as we draw closer to the superconscious and accordingly have more to do with it than ever before.

STUART: Although it must be said that quite a few people, including the illustrious likes of Freud, Jung, Adler, Reich, et al., preferred to dwell on the subconscious this century, and seemingly related more to the past than to the present, which, in an age of transition to something higher, seems rather strange, to say the least.

TONY: Yes, it does in a way.  But it is indicative of the fact that we are no longer tied to the subconscious to the extent of our Christian forebears, but can look down on it, so to speak, from the predominantly analytical level of the superconscious, and accordingly treat it as a foreign body or, at any rate, as something to be investigated rather than simply experienced.  Formerly, people would have been too much its victim, too closely attached to it, to be able to detach themselves from it to the extent of the great psychologists you mention, and thereby impartially investigate it from the transcendent vantage-point of another person, another mind.

STUART: The modern split mind?

TONY: Quite!  Although it is as well to remember that, in man, the mind, or psyche, has always been split, always divided into two parts, though people formerly lived mostly in the subconscious part and weren't particularly conscious, in consequence, of the split.  At least this is true of most people until the age of Christianity, which, as we noted earlier, signified a greater balance between the two parts of the psyche.  But the notion of the modern split mind is really something of an exaggeration or overstatement.  For, in reality, the Christians were more split than ourselves.  Having evolved beyond their psychic balance in favour of the superconscious, we are simply more intellectually aware of the split, since the recipients of more light.  Hence the sharp rise of psychology in the twentieth century, the looking back or down on the subconscious that it largely entails.

STUART: One is reminded of what Arthur Koestler wrote, in Janus - A Summing Up, about the emotional old-brain requiring to be brought under greater control, in order to preclude the possibility of further eruptions of those irrational tendencies which he alleges to have been responsible, hitherto, for the greater part of human suffering ... in the guises of war, rape, crime, mindless violence, etc., and at the slightest provocation.  It would seem that our 'divided house', to use his phrase, should, in its alleged imbalance on the side of the old brain, be regarded as constituting a kind of biological mistake which ought to be rectified, apparently, by the introduction of some new anti-emotion pill, in the interests of mankind's future survival.  For if the rational new-brain continues to be dominated by the emotional old-brain to the extent it appears to have been in the past, we could well fall victim, so Koestler contends, to mass suicide through nuclear war in the not-too-distant future.

TONY: Well, however that may be, I don't think we need assume, like Koestler, that the old brain and/or subconscious part of the psyche is quite as powerful as formerly - not, at any rate, among the more civilized peoples of the world!  On the contrary, our evolutionary progress is all the time drawing us away from the old brain and further into the new brain, further into the superconscious, so that its traditional hold on us is, by and large, a thing of the past, scarcely to be feared in the present.  Indeed, the very fact that Koestler could come to the conclusion that the old brain required to be brought under greater control ... is sufficient proof of our growing bias on the side of the new brain, and once again reflects the tendency of modern man to look down upon the subconscious from the vantage-point of a higher mind.  Only a man who had evolved beyond the balance between the two brains, the two minds, would be in an intellectual position to criticize and oppose the old brain in Koestler's manner.  One could hardly expect a Christian to do so, still less a pagan!  So, much as the old brain may still have some influence on us, it is by no means one that is likely to grow stronger but, on the contrary, progressively weaker, in accordance with our ongoing transcendental evolution.  Thus the alleged need for a special pill to give the new brain greater control over the old one would seem to be quite superfluous, insofar as we are steadily gaining greater control over it through the artificial influence of our industrialized and urbanized civilization.

STUART: Then what about the biological mistake which our 'divided house' apparently constitutes, in Koestler's considered opinion?

TONY: Frankly, I don't believe there is one!  For the age-old opposition of the subconscious to the superconscious, even when there is an imbalance in favour of one or the other, strikes me as being perfectly in accord with the dualistic nature of human life - a nature, however, which is destined to be transcended, through the victory of the superconscious, at some future point in time.  Early man, you will recall, lived predominantly in the subconscious and was correspondingly more instinctively emotional than middle man, who lived in a balanced context of transition between subconsciousness and superconsciousness, Hell and Heaven, Satan and Christ.  Late man, on the other hand, will live - and is already beginning to show signs of living - in the superconscious predominantly, and therefore will be more spiritual than middle man, whose dualistic condition precluded him from ever transcending the emotional to any appreciable extent.  But at the climax to our evolution, represented in dualistic terminology by Heaven and in transcendental terminology by the post-Human Millennium, we shall cease being dualistic altogether and thus live wholly in the superconscious, as befitting the Superman.  Then the journey from the diabolic beginnings to the divine endings will be complete, and man will cease to exist.  The 'divided house' will have been completely overcome in the interests of the spirit.  Needless to say, we still have some way to evolve before that happens!

STUART: So it would seem!  Clearly, the ego, or conscious mind, isn't quite the antithesis to the subconscious it was once considered to be, but only the fusion-point, as it were, of the two psychic adversaries - the dark and the light.  And the latter is destined to triumph.

TONY: Indeed it is, as our latter-day consciousness more than adequately attests.  You can be sure that the conscious mind of today, signifying a kind of superconscious one-sidedness, is very different from the consciousness which, in the heyday of pagan civilization, betrayed a subconscious one-sidedness.  Unlike our distant ancestors, we don't live predominantly in the dark, shaking or cringing before the old evil powers which obsessed their minds and induced them to offer-up blood sacrifices as a mode of propitiation.  We have no taste for the Lawrentian 'dark gods of the loins' - not as a rule, at any rate!  Although it has to be admitted that there are people for whom the subconscious has proved of overriding interest this century, not least of all the great psychologists themselves.

STUART: Whose investigations of the subconscious presumably ran contrary to the grain of evolution?

TONY: Yes, in a manner of speaking.  Though, as I remarked earlier, it is only in such an incipiently transcendental age as this that it becomes possible to take an objective interest in the subconscious and consequently regard it as a kind of foreign body.  But you can rest assured that the historians and analysts of the deeper psyche, such as Freud, Jung, and Reich, stand in a poor relation to such spiritual leaders as Huxley, Isherwood, and Heard, whose work on behalf of the superconscious puts the subconscious preoccupations of the above-mentioned psychologists in the psychic shade, both literally and metaphorically.  Only transcendentalists are worthy of the claim to genuine spiritual and intellectual leadership, certainly not the foremost psychologists!  The latter, by contrast, stand in a reactionary relationship to the age, signifying, in their concern with the instinctual life, a retrogression to primitive criteria.  Indeed, one cannot be surprised that Huxley should have had a distinctly cool attitude towards psychology in general.  For a man who spent so much of his time writing on behalf of the superconscious could hardly have been expected to possess any real enthusiasm for those who dwelt on its antithesis!  One recalls his dislike of Jung's symbolism, the emphasis Jung placed on so-called sacred mandalas and kindred archetypal patterns in the pursuit of spiritual illumination, as an illustration of the incompatibility between his own rather more advanced abstract spirituality and the subconsciously-influenced, emotionally-tinged symbolic 'spirituality' of the psychologist.  And one can't imagine Jung's strong interest in alchemy - that atavistic sublimation of animism - particularly appealing to him either!  Indeed, it may well transpire that the great psychologists will appear demonic to the eyes of a future generation, who will see them as the twentieth-century equivalent to the Black Magicians and Sorcerers of the Middle Ages.  After all, Freud's overriding interest in sex and Jung's more than passing interest in alchemy, not to mention astrology and the occult in general, can scarcely be described as typifying the direction of evolution towards spiritual transcendence!  One cannot be surprised that the superconscious was largely if not completely ignored by such men, or that they came to oppose the subconscious with the ego!  For the superconscious would scarcely have cast a favourable light upon their manifestly retrogressive predilections!  Only a psychologist could have come-up with the disgraceful contention, voiced by Wilhelm Reich in The Murder of Christ, that the Saviour regularly had and endorsed sex.  From a theological standpoint, about which we can only suppose Reich to have been entirely ignorant, the idea of a carnal saviour is monstrous, betraying a total disregard for the symbolic status of Christ as spiritual leader or exemplar, and a no-less total ignorance of the path of evolution!  For if Christ had sex, if He is to be regarded as a sensual being, then what kind of spiritual example can He be expected to set to the millions of people who aspire to following in his divine footsteps?

STUART: Not a particularly credible one, I should think!

TONY: Indeed not!  For the essence of Christianity lies in regarding Christ as a godlike being, nay, as the Son of God, rather than as an ordinary sensual man subject to the carnal appetites of ordinary men!  Thus when, in accordance with theological wisdom, Christ is elevated to the status of God, it is ridiculous to consider Him sexual.  As if the road to salvation lay in the advocacy of sexual pleasures, instead of in the overcoming or reduction of them through civilized spiritual progress!  Truly, there is nothing if not a gross affront to human evolution in Reich's - as in D.H. Lawrence's - advocacy of regular sex as a means to salvation!  But one must assume that, at heart, the age is too wise, too much the heir of Christianity, to be particularly impressed by such neo-pagan delusions.  And the same, I would imagine, applies to psychology in general.  For, if I may be permitted to quote from Dr Faustus here, we are 'entering upon times, my friend, which will not be hoodwinked by psychology' - extremely ironic as it is that Thomas Mann should have put those memorable words into the mouth of the Devil!  But it is also true to say that we are entering upon times which will not be hoodwinked by Mephisto, considering that he is destined to be left behind, together with the psychologists, in the dungeon of the subconscious, as we proceed further into the superconscious and thus draw closer to our ultimate salvation in transcendent beatitude.  No longer will man have 'as much need of the evil God as of the good God', as Nietzsche contended, but only need of the good God - the Holy Ghost, in which love alone prevails.  That man should formerly have had need of a dualistic religious awareness ... is perfectly understandable.  But to infer from that fact that he should therefore always have need of it, is to betray an ignorance of what man actually is, that is to say, a being transitional between the beastly and the godly.  One might as well suppose that he will always have need of great egocentric art - despite all the evidence to the contrary which already presents itself.  All Nietzsche really meant by man, in the above-mentioned aphorism, was second-stage cultural man, man torn between the dark and the light.  That, fortunately to say, is only man in his prime as man, not man biased towards the godly and therefore at his highest stage of evolution.  But cultural man in the West is being superseded, as you well know, by post-cultural man, and so the traditional arts are in decline, if not already extinct.  For the period of egocentric art only comes to pass when a people are balanced between the subconscious and the superconscious, the sensual and the spiritual, neither before nor afterwards.  And now that most of us have evolved beyond that balance in favour of the superconscious, we can only produce transcendental art - art which is less sensual than its egocentric precursor but, for that very reason, on a higher rung of the evolutionary ladder and consequently closer to ultimate divinity.  For, paradoxical as  it may seem, post-cultural man is spiritually superior to cultural man and therefore not given to sensuous representation of the spiritual to anything like the same extent.  Thus, for him, egocentric art is something to look down upon rather than look-up to, as though from the pre-cultural viewpoint.  For him, the sensuous content of great art is unworthy of true spirituality; it is merely a compromise between the Devil and God, rather than a reflection of the Holy Ghost.  God clothed in the flesh isn't a thing he can regard with complacency, for he knows only too well that true divinity must ultimately transcend the flesh, being purely spiritual.  And so, cut off from the sensuous influence of nature to the extent that he now is in his great cities, he turns away from egocentric art, as from an irrelevance, and proceeds with the art pertinent to himself - a predominantly, if not exclusively, spiritual art whose essence is abstract.  For beyond Christian art there is transcendental art.  But beyond transcendental art there is only God, purely and simply!  Even the bright, light-suggesting pitchful circularities of the latest avant-garde works will cease to be viable as, eventually, we abandon art altogether and give ourselves up to the pure contemplation of abstract spirituality.  In the meantime, however, the production of transcendental art will doubtless continue, and continue to reflect our mounting allegiance to a God of Love in the superconscious.  There can be no possibility of art subsequently relapsing into the old Christian dichotomy of Devil and God, a dichotomy which engendered some of the finest egocentric art in the entire history of cultural man, but a dichotomy out of which we are progressively emerging, thank goodness, in a new and superior guise.  The battle against the subconscious may still be far from over, but, for a growing number of us, it is already more than two-thirds won!

STUART: What more can one say?

 

 

THE RISE OF TRANSCENDENTAL ART

 

BERNARD: It would appear, if I've understood you correctly, that the regular use of electric light corresponds to our mounting allegiance to the superconscious, and thereby attests to our spiritual progress away from the dark of the subconscious, in which our distant ancestors spent most of their lives.  Generally speaking, we are incapable of tolerating too much darkness.

ADRIAN: Quite so!  And for the basic reason you mentioned: our mounting allegiance to the superconscious.  As soon as it gets dark in the evenings we switch on our bright electric lights, draw the curtains to shut out the darkness, and carry on with our lives as though nothing had happened.  Instead of being victims of the dark, we are increasingly becoming its masters and able, in consequence, to transcend it.  Where, a few centuries ago, man lived as much in the dark as in the light, he now lives mostly in the light, a light which begins with the natural light of day and continues, when that fades, with the artificial light of night - the electric light-bulbs and/or fluorescent tubes of our dwellings.  Only when we are obliged, through tiredness or habit, to go to bed and submit to sleep ... do we turn off the light(s) and abandon ourselves to the darkness.  And usually quite begrudgingly at that!

BERNARD: As I can adequately confirm, since, by nature, a poor sleeper but a good waker.  It isn't often that I get more than five hours' sleep.  So I usually find myself confronted by an early-morning darkness which tends to bore and oppress me.

ADRIAN: Well, it could actually transpire that even your short sleep will be considered excessive by a future generation who, living under more advanced transcendental criteria, may have learnt to manage with considerably less.  Perhaps they won't even sleep as long as four hours on average.

BERNARD: You mean the further we progress into the superconscious, the less likely it is that we shall require as much sleep as formerly, and the more likely, in consequence, that we will curtail our sleep as much as possible?

ADRIAN: Yes, that sounds a reasonable supposition to me.  After all, we no longer sleep quite as much, on average, as did our distant ancestors, who mostly lived in the dark, in any case, so why shouldn't future generations sleep less than us?  Indeed, what is to prevent one from assuming that, at the turning-point of our evolution to something higher than man, we shall give-up sleeping altogether, having learnt, over the preceding decades, to manage with progressively less?  For sleep is certainly a manifestation of subconscious life, and the further away from the subconscious one evolves the less need one has of it, the less one is under its sway.  Eventually one will completely transcend it, just as one will transcend all those dualistic aspects of life which have traditionally characterized our lifestyles as men and moulded society accordingly.  Not only will one transcend sleep, but also such attributes of conventional human life as illusion, evil, pain, sadness, sensuality, vice, and ignorance.

BERNARD: Surely not for some time yet?

ADRIAN: No, of course not!  But we are already transcending them to some extent, as our latter-day predilection for transcendentalism adequately attests.  We are no longer finely balanced between the conflicting dualities of human life - unlike, to all appearances, the vast majority of our cultural forebears - but have become decidedly lopsided on the side of the positive attributes, viz. truth, goodness, pleasure, happiness, spirituality, virtue, knowledge, etc., and are destined to become progressively more so as the decades pass.  Thus we have sound reason to assume that we shall eventually transcend the negative attributes altogether, and thereupon enter the long-awaited heavenly peace of the transcendental Beyond.

BERNARD: In which, presumably, there will be no sleep?

ADRIAN: None whatsoever!  For the subconscious will have been overcome in the ultimate victory of the superconscious.  No longer will one be tormented by dreams.  On the contrary, one will become the blissful recipient of the peace that surpasses all understanding, the permanent wakefulness in the light of ultimate truth.  But ultimate truth isn't something that can exist while man is yet subject to illusion, as to some extent is still the case today.  It lies at the end of the long road of his evolutionary journey from the dark to the light.  It is the overcoming of all dualism.

BERNARD: So modern man, being mainly on the side of truth, is less given to illusion than ancient man, who mainly lived in his subconscious.

ADRIAN: He is less given to all modes of darkness, whatever their nature.  He isn't content with illusion, but must get to the truth of matters to the degree that his current stage of evolution permits him.  Only the truth can satisfy him.  For he has long ceased to be predominantly under the baneful influence of the subconscious.  Illusion is contemptible.  Only the truth ennobles, corrects, makes well.  Even if he initially suffers from it or fears its consequences, he must come to recognize it as a means to his ultimate salvation, the road to spiritual victory.  For there is no other way but the way of truth!  Illusion is destined to perish, not least of all in the realm of art where, to all appearances, it has been steadily on the decline since approximately the seventeenth century.  For egocentric art largely depends on the subconscious for its illusory material, depends, more specifically, on a balance between subconsciousness and superconsciousness, the latter providing the necessary inspiration to animate the former.  Now when that balance has been tipped in favour of the superconscious, it stands to reason that traditional art will suffer, having less connection with the subconscious than formerly, while being subject to a greater influx of truth, spirituality, intellectuality than before - egocentric art declining in proportion to the rising influx of these higher constituents of the psyche.  But, on that account, the resulting creations are morally and spiritually superior to what preceded them during the heyday, so to speak, of representational art, and thus stand on a higher level of evolution - one which can only be surpassed by the demise of art altogether.

BERNARD: You mean the greater part of, say, twentieth-century art in the West is spiritually superior to the greatest art of the Middle Ages, both earlier and later?  That a contemporary abstract expressionist work, for example, is morally superior to the great religious works of painters like Michelangelo, da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, and Tintoretto?

ADRIAN: Indeed I do!  For the abstract preoccupations of modern art most certainly attest to a higher stage of evolution than did the concrete preoccupations of such masters as you named, and are accordingly more transcendental.  You smile, but I assure you that, paradoxically, the decline of the sensuous in art marks a progression which only the most reactionary or stupid of people would deny!  Now a great deal of twentieth-century art may be inferior to 'great art' from the strictly dualistic standpoint of balance between the sensual and the spiritual, as of the concrete technical ingredients underlining this balance, but, exceptions to the rule notwithstanding, it certainly isn't inferior from the objectively truer standpoint of the spirit.  Au contraire, it more than adequately reflects our ongoing evolution away from the old dualistic world, in which the sensual played such an important role in opposition to the spiritual.  No longer is art torn between the mundane and the transcendent, but is decidedly biased towards the latter.  Its bias tends towards the abstract, away from the concrete.  Thus it is spiritually superior to whatever preceded it during the era of dualistic art.

BERNARD: So an abstract expressionist work by, say, Jackson Pollock is spiritually superior to a representational work by, say, Tintoretto, portraying the Resurrection?

ADRIAN: It is, since the former is predominantly transcendental, whereas the latter is a compromise between the mundane and the transcendent, being largely representational, and hence a reflection of egocentric dualism, as relative to Christian man.  Now the Pollock may not contain any specific religious implications, but the very fact of its abstraction renders it pertinent to an age which is no longer dualistic but spiritually-orientated, and therefore effectively transcendental.  No abstract expressionist canvas would have been understood or tolerated in, say, the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries, when men related more to a balanced condition between the subconscious and the superconscious in their egos, and therefore could not have conceived of any such canvas at the time.  Indeed, had they been confronted by a Jackson Pollock or, for that matter, a Mark Tobey, an Arshile Gorky, a Willem de Kooning, they would have considered it a mess - something akin to an artist's experimental palette, on which any number of diverse paints were juxtaposed or blended together.

BERNARD: Which is, after all, exactly what many people consider it to be these days!

ADRIAN: Perhaps.  But that is only because they fail to grasp what it signifies in moral terms, and are all too prone, in consequence, to judge such a modern work by the standards of the past, instead of seeing it in its proper light in relation to the present.  Admittedly, it is a less complex art, as a rule, than the art conceived when Western man was in his prime as a cultural being.  But partly on that account it is on a higher, post-egocentric level of evolution, such as can only be understood and upheld in an early transcendental age.  On the other hand, a late transcendental age wouldn't uphold any art - not even the most abstract.  But at present such art is literally the best that can be produced, or almost so.  It is a species of painterly creation of which we can justifiably be proud, since it proves that we are closer to our ultimate salvation in transcendent bliss than were our cultural forebears.  Now when art dies out altogether, we shall be even closer to it.  So let us not delude ourselves into imagining that the decline of egocentric art is something to be regretted!  On the contrary, such a decline testifies to our spiritual progress, a progress in large measure initiated by Turner, who anticipated the Impressionists by some forty years in giving the most radical of his works a distinctly spiritual bias, virtually eliminating the material in a haze of colour and/or dazzling aurora of light, as one finds in works like Tree, Sunrise between two headlands, Rain, Steam, Speed, Light and Colour, Shade and Darkness, and Norham Castle, which are among the first to betray a distinct predilection for the abstract over the concrete.  But if Turner was the greatest representative for his time of the direction of evolution away from the sensual and towards the spiritual, then, following Gericault's lead, Delacroix was undoubtedly the greatest representative of the reactionary current of Romanticism which focused, all too intently, on the fleshy, the material, the violent.  Works such as Dante and Virgil crossing the Styx, Massacre at Chios, The Death of Sardanapalus, Liberty Guiding the People, Lion Hunt, Attila and his hordes annihilating the culture of Italy, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, Sea of Galilee, and White Stallion frightened by Lightening, betray a turbulence akin to the demonic, so greatly is the subject-matter, whether in terms of activity or posture, in the grip of the tortuous!  Placed beside Giotto's great fresco of the Last Judgement in the Arena Chapel at Padua, each of these works by Delacroix, who patently didn't live-up to his name, would approximate in essence to the portrayal of Hell to the left of the Cross where, in complete contrast to the blissful passivity of the Elect and Saved in the realm of Heaven to its right, the Damned writhe tortuously in the clutches of demons, and only agony prevails.  Thus if evolution is to be conceived in terms of a progression away from the hell of the sensuously Damned and towards the heaven of the spiritually Saved, one can only conclude that the most typical of Delacroix's paintings, in rebelling against the classical ideal, flew in the face of evolution and consequently constituted a kind of down-dragging force of demonic activity against the increasingly passive trend which modern life, in particular, may be claimed to signify.  Indeed, when viewed from this transcendental perspective, the entire romantic movement can be said to have constituted a thorn-in-the-side of human evolution, insofar as it replaced such passivity as had already been portrayed in art with its own turbulence, thereby dragging art away from the role of spiritual leadership to which it had aspired under the guidance of essentially religious painters, and forcing it closer to the hellish, obliging it to depict sensuous crime or tortuous activity, to the detriment of spiritual enlightenment.

BERNARD: But what about the great landscape painters of the period - men like Gainsborough, Constable, Friedrich, Millet, and Corot, each of whom gave a considerable amount of creative attention to the landscape without going out of their way to make it turbulent?  Surely they can't be classified with Delacroix?

ADRIAN: Naturally.  But the very fact that they gave so much attention to nature places them on a rather mundane footing, and can only lead one to the conclusion that, in the absence of transcendentalism, their work isn't of the highest order of spiritual leadership either, but stands in a distinctly anti-evolutionary, down-dragging relationship to the age.  It won't be by living in harmony with nature that man attains to the goal of human evolution in transcendent bliss, but only by overcoming it and thereby setting himself on a higher plane - the supernatural plane which lies beyond nature, and which Christianity has been pointing him towards ever since he grew out of his pagan subservience to nature-in-the-raw, in beast-like sensuality, and became capable of distinguishing between the mundane and the transcendent.  But the pernicious influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, with his 'back-to-nature' creed, undoubtedly had a bearing on the arts, and what follows is therefore a kind of spiritual abdication, a short reprieve, if you prefer, from the exigencies of our evolutionary aspirations towards the transcendent, and a return to a kind of pantheistic identification with and love of nature which smacks of neo-pagan apostasy.  Now while the Church was especially influential this couldn't have happened, at least not on the scale it did throughout the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries.  But in a transitional age from one stage of man's religious awareness to another, from Christianity to transcendentalism, there is certainly room for confusion, or various interpretations as to what is actually happening, which makes it possible for certain people to spuriously regress to standards and attitudes, formerly condemned, on the false assumption of progress.

BERNARD: Hence at some point in the transition between Christianity and transcendentalism it was possible for pantheism to rear its worldly head in a manner which would have been unthinkable in a more settled age?

ADRIAN: Precisely!  Though for the most part only superficially - as a taste for nature excluding religious commitment!  For in an age which had already begun to shake off its faith in Christ, one can hardly expect people to put it back into nature, to regress to animistic or pantheistic beliefs founded upon a greater allegiance to the subconscious than they, at that more advanced juncture in time, would have been in a psychic position to experience!  Fortunately for us, faith in Christ declines not because one is regressing towards the damnation of the subconscious but, rather, because one is progressing towards the salvation of the superconscious, and therefore isn't in a position to endorse anthropomorphic, dualistic conceptions to anything like the same extent as one's Christian forebears.  Once one has outgrown the egocentric balance between the two main parts of the psyche, one can only press-on with the psychic one-sidedness that prevails in its stead, and this is precisely what we have been doing during the past 150-200 years, though not always consciously or with positive commitment.  Fortunately, however, the predominantly sensual work of the Romantics, particularly of the Naturalists and Delacroix, was but a brief and spurious return to pre-Christian sentiments.  For the post-Christian phase of our evolution was already taking shape in the largely spiritual canvases of Turner, and, following his lead, the Impressionists went on to establish the sovereignty of the spiritual over the sensual in no uncertain terms before the close of the nineteenth century!  Thus modern art, reflecting our transcendental bias, begins with Turner, whose work, while not attaining to a truly abstract status by dint of its historical limitations, nevertheless signifies an unequivocal break with the dualistic tradition which appertained to the by-then outmoded Christian stage of Western evolution.  From now on it is the Holy Ghost that presides over the production of art, encouraging it towards a more radical abstraction in the course of transcendental time.  And so from Impressionism, with its tendency to disintegrate matter in a ghostly haze, we proceed to post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Tachism, Op, Pop, Kinetics, post-Painterly Abstraction, and so on, with increasingly transcendental implications.  Admittedly, there are backslidings or retrogressive tendencies at work here and there - artists or movements that are less transcendental than their immediate precursors.  But, by and large, the trend of evolution persists, causing the abstract to prevail over the concrete in fidelity to the spiritualistic Zeitgeist of the age.  Already the development of increased abstraction has brought painterly art to its ultimate abstraction - a monochrome canvas, and thus to its final consummation.

BERNARD: And a monochrome canvas would presumably signify the most spiritual of artistic developments to which Western painterly art has evolved?

ADRIAN: Yes, though I can't help sharing your slightly ironic amusement at my expense, since the concept of a monochromatic canvas signifying art is relatively new to us, and therefore difficult to swallow in the face of traditional painterly norms.  But the fact nevertheless remains that art must attain to a transcendental culmination, and thereby completely abandon the concrete.  For the more spiritual we become as a consequence, in large measure, of our environmental isolation in big cities from the sensuous influence of nature, the less place or cause there will be for that sensuous interpretation and representation of life, in all its manifestations, which art has traditionally provided.  With the growth of a superconscious allegiance, the concerns of the ego inevitably wither away, as, to all appearances, they continue to do anyway.  Thus there will be no possibility of a return to the concrete in art, no possibility of a resurrection of former values.  Once one has abandoned the subconscious to any significant extent, there is no going back to it.  That, after all, would be against one's deepest interests!

BERNARD: Which are?

ADRIAN: For man to attain to his ultimate salvation in the post-Human Millennium, and thus outgrow his humanity.  And that does mean to outgrow his predilection for art, no matter how good or bad it may happen to be.  Thus he will abandon both extreme abstraction and, no less importantly, the disruption of the concrete world as manifested by, amongst other things, surrealistic transcendentalism.

BERNARD: What, exactly, do you mean by surrealistic transcendentalism?

ADRIAN: Simply the discrediting of the material world through the uncanny juxtaposition of unrelated objects and/or the distortion of individual objects, so that everyday realism is subverted and the imaginary or artificial prevails.  Hence surrealistic transcendentalism, which reflects our growing freedom from the tyranny of the natural-world-order and consequent anti-natural and, hence, transcendent aspirations.

BERNARD: A kind of À Rebours of the visual?

ADRIAN: Yes - Against Nature rather than Against the Grain.  Though if you translate the title of Huysmans' classic novel in the latter fashion, with an implication of reactionary conservatism, you will have to admit that its protagonist, Des Esseintes, was only 'against the grain' as far as his mystical Catholicism and nostalgia for the Christian culture were concerned, certainly not as regards his artificial lifestyle, which, as subsequent trends in art and life have adequately confirmed, was very much with it!  For, viewed from the secular rather than narrowly religious angle, it should be apparent that Des Esseintes was less a reactionary conservative than a revolutionary liberal, pointing man, in his own somewhat eccentric fashion, towards a future salvation in anti-natural transcendentalism.  Yet that would scarcely be the whole picture, since, from a religious standpoint, Huysmans' sophisticated protagonist was most certainly 'against the grain', and thus a reactionary conservative.  For contemporary eyes, however, I think the fundamental ambivalence of Des Esseintes' lifestyle should be resolved, as far as possible, into a perspective favouring his revolutionary side, so that Against Nature can be deemed the more relevant title.  Hence instead of focusing our attention upon his outmoded Catholicism, our transcendental bias should lead us to see in him a champion of modern transcendentalism and a kind of prophet of Surrealism, like Lautréamont and Raymond Roussel, two authors whose great works Les Chants de Maldoror and Locus Solus triumph over the natural, everyday world to an extent virtually unprecedented in the entire history of Western literature.  And, in painting, this same honour has been achieved by artists like Ernst, Magritte, Fuchs, and Dali - the latter achieving it most spectacularly in certain of his mature works which, in abandoning the earlier concerns of Surrealism, have pioneered a post-Christian reappraisal of Christian themes in quasi-transcendent terms.  Such works as the Assumpta Corpuscularia Lapislazulina, The Ascension of St. Cecilia, The Annunciation, Nuclear Cross, Madonna of the Sistine Chapel, and Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus), testify to a molecular, or nuclear, approach to matter rather than to the traditional concrete one, as practised by the great religious masters of the past.  Clearly, Salvador Dali's religious paintings are more spiritual, on this account, than those of his Christian predecessors, even if, from a strictly transcendental standpoint, they are somehow anachronistic in an age of mystical abstraction.  What particularly justifies and redeems them, in contemporary eyes, is the unprecedented molecular technique, which enables us to review Christian themes and reflect on the spiritual reinterpretation it affords - the nuclear disintegration of matter aptly corresponding to our transcendental bias.

BERNARD: And presumably no less so in a work like Galatea of the Spheres, which, in its apparent secularity, is perfectly relevant to the age?

ADRIAN: Indeed it is, though, once again, from the standpoint of a disruption or disintegration of the concrete, rather than of an eruption or integration of the abstract - the scientific as opposed to strictly religious angle, which corresponds, so I maintain, to surrealistic transcendentalism.  But the disruption of the concrete, no less than the eruption of the abstract, is destined to be transcended, as we abandon art altogether and draw one step closer to our ultimate salvation in the post-Human Millennium, the transcendental climax to evolution.

BERNARD: Which brings us back to what you were saying earlier, about man outgrowing illusion, whether aesthetic or otherwise, in the course of his long journey towards ultimate truth.

ADRIAN: To be sure!  The fact of our growing allegiance to the superconscious makes it imperative for us to live more fully in the light of truth.  And not only in that light but also, and no less relevantly, in the light of electric light-bulbs and fluorescent tubes, which prevents us from being smothered by the darkness of night, and thus enables us to extend our day.  Our bias on the side of the light may still be less than complete, but it is growing stronger all the time - of that there can be little doubt!

 

    

LONDON 1980 (Revised 1981-2010)

 

 

THE TRANSCENDENTAL FUTURE

 

 

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