THE IMPORTANCE OF TECHNOLOGY
Philosophical Dialogues and Aphorisms
Copyright © 2011 John O'Loughlin
PART ONE: DIALOGUES
1. The Importance of Technology
2. Two Kinds of Writer
3. Philosophical Truth
4. Towards Ultimate Oneness
5. Three Types of Decadence
6. Apologia Pornographica
7. Literary Equivalents
PART TWO: APHORISMS
8. Aphorisms (1 - 84)
PART ONE: DIALOGUES
THE IMPORTANCE OF TECHNOLOGY
GRAHAM: Isn't the dialogue genre a little out-of-date now, and therefore unlikely to appeal to a mass public?
KENNETH: I doubt whether it's out-of-date, but you may be right in supposing that it won't appeal to a mass public. Ordinarily the masses are more interested in fiction than in fact, in illusory entertainment than in truthful enlightenment. They have little taste for philosophy or higher thought. Consequently they tend to prefer novels to dialogues. But that is no reason why dialogues shouldn't be written. One is simply appealing to a more intelligent public.
GRAHAM: Yes, but who honestly writes dialogues these days anyway?
KENNETH: Khrishnamurti, for one. I, for another. There are doubtless others as well, though I don't make a point of reading them.
GRAHAM: And do you regard the dialogue as viable a means of expression as the essay?
KENNETH: I would say that a dialogue which contains original thought or pertains to higher truth is no less worthy of attention than an essay which does the same. It isn't so much the genre that matters as ... what one does with it. Even a prose poem can be something well-worth reading if the man who writes it is a poetical genius and can tell you things that no-one else could. The writer makes the genre, not vice versa. Better to read a dialogue by a genius than an essay or novel by a mediocrity!
GRAHAM: I take your point! So presumably you appertain to the category of dialogists of genius?
KENNETH: That's not impossible. After all, I have a philosophy to expound, and that helps somewhat. My philosophy goes equally well into dialogues, essays, short prose, novels, or aphorisms. When I become tired of one genre I gravitate to another, thereby maintaining my taste for philosophy and preventing it from going stale or sour or whatever.
GRAHAM: And what, pray, is this philosophy?
KENNETH: That evolution is essentially a struggle from alpha to omega, as from the Devil to God.
GRAHAM: Is that all?
KENNETH: I was putting it as succinctly as possible. I haven't told you how I conceive of the Devil, nor what God will be?
GRAHAM: Then please do!
KENNETH: The Devil is the sum total of primal stars in the Universe and is therefore divisible. God will be the pure spirit that emerges from human spirit at the climax of our evolution, and will therefore be indivisible. The Devil is Manifold, but God will be One.
GRAHAM: I see! And what about Jesus Christ?
KENNETH: Christ is the anthropomorphic, dualistic deity relative to an egocentric stage of human evolution. Christ is man as God. Yet He isn't literally and ultimately God, but a humanistic deity coming in-between two absolutes - the alpha absolute of the Cosmos and the omega absolute of the Holy Spirit, which is in the process of evolution throughout the world and, in all likelihood, the Universe as a whole. God as such doesn't exist. Only the Devil.
GRAHAM: So you are evidently an atheist?
KENNETH: Precisely! I don't confound the Creator with God, which, by contrast, will be the ultimate creation ... of man. I realize that the Creator is God's antithesis, since the alpha absolute.
GRAHAM: Why absolute?
KENNETH: Because beneath the dualistic compromise between sensuality and spirituality which is found in organic life, particularly human life. The stars are sensual absolutes, and so the Devil, being synonymous with the stars, is the alpha absolute, existing through its own means independently of external assistance. Our sun, which is but a component of the Devil, produces energy through the so-called proton-proton reaction which converts hydrogen into helium, the gas of hell. Other stars follow a similar process, burning up in the course of time. None of them can last for ever, since they are the antithesis of Eternity, which will be manifested in the Holy Spirit. This latter manifestation will expand throughout the Universe through all eternity, eventually replacing the stars, and so bringing the Universe to perfection. If the alpha absolute is beneath dualism, then the omega absolute will be above it.
GRAHAM: And so God is beyond man, never something that is a part of him or anterior to him.
KENNETH: Yes, strictly speaking! We are not God and neither do we have contact with God. If we are spiritually earnest and therefore dedicated to the cultivation of spirit, we have contact with that, in ourselves, which is spirit and not with the omega absolute, which will eventually arise out of it ... at the climax to our evolution. God is not in us but only what is potentially God, which is spirit, the essence of the superconscious.
GRAHAM: So, presumably, no man can claim to be God or one with God?
KENNETH: Not with absolute justification! We can only build towards the establishment of God in the Universe, not personally identify with Him.
GRAHAM: But how will we build towards such a divine establishment?
KENNETH: By continuing our evolutionary progress along lines designed to free us from nature's influence and enable us to cultivate as much spirit as possible - in a word, by the further development of civilization. For nature is the main offspring of the Devil. It is a wholly sensuous, subconscious phenomenon. Now it seems to me that we are here to battle against it and eventually attain to the supernatural. This would seem to be our privilege and responsibility as men. We may stem from the Diabolic Alpha to the degree that we are dependent on and under the influence of nature, but we also aspire towards the Divine Omega by striving to overcome nature and, more importantly, cultivating spirit. We are 'born under one law [but] to another bound', as Huxley was fond of reminding us, quoting from that poem by Fulke Greville, I think it was. Thus there are two ways of building towards God - the indirect way, which entails a struggle against nature, and the direct way, which entails the cultivation of spirit. Broadly speaking, one might argue that the West has hitherto given priority to the former and the East, by contrast, to the latter. Yet both ways are absolutely necessary and equally important! By themselves, in isolation, neither of them can effect a future transformation to the supernatural. The coming together of both the East and the West into a unitary synthesis is the cardinal fact of our time, the inevitable evolutionary step beyond the independent existence of the two approaches to salvation. In sum, the indirect approach of striving to overcome nature through technological, industrial, urban, scientific, and social progress must be put to the service of the direct approach ... of cultivating spirit through transcendental meditation. Only then will we be on a direct course for the millennial Beyond.
GRAHAM: And presumably this direct course will be a consequence of the fusion of East and West into a new civilization?
KENNETH: Yes, the transcendental civilization of post-dualistic man. However, we are still quite a way from such a civilization at present, especially in the West, where dualistic criteria continue to prevail. Obviously, it will be necessary to outgrow and clear away the existing civilization before another and better one can be put in its place, yet this won't happen overnight. I foresee the triumph of socialism to pave the way for this new civilization. Socialism will lead to transcendentalism, and that, in due course, will lead to the millennial Beyond.
GRAHAM: How, exactly, will it do that?
KENNETH: By making transcendence possible. As I said, there are two ways of building towards God, and both of them are absolutely necessary. Let us start where dualistic civilization leaves off, with the indirect method ... of socialism. Here we witness the development of urbanization, industrialization, science, and technology to unprecedented heights, as man struggles to overcome nature and thus free himself from its clutches. One might term this phase of post-dualistic evolution the New Barbarism, since there is little or no place in it for transcendentalism. Here man builds towards God without necessarily realizing it, since social and economic concerns are paramount. The genuine socialist is an enemy of traditional religion in all its guises, and wishes to rid the world of every last shred of religious superstition. Salvation is in the hands of man, and socialism is the means through which it will be realized. But the socialist doesn't think in terms of salvation in a heavenly Beyond. On the contrary, he thinks in terms of a classless society here on earth, in which men live in harmony with one another and with their environment. This is what the typical socialist, be he European or Asian or anything else, thinks about salvation, and instead of Heaven he uses the term 'Millennium', which is intended to designate - over and above epochal parameters - the coming time of happiness on earth. This attitude, which is perfectly logical in its context, I call the New Barbarism, and it signifies a transitional phase between the end of dualistic civilization and the beginning of the transcendental one to-come. With the birth of the latter, however, socialism will embrace transcendentalism, and so make feasible the direct method of building towards God. This method should become the post-dualistic religious norm, and it would differ from traditional transcendentalism by being the inheritor of the technological, industrial, and social progress to which the predominantly socialist stage of evolution had given a boost. Meditation would not then be impeded in its efficacy for cultivating spirit by the natural body, but should become progressively freer of such an impediment through the assistance of technology, which would gradually replace the natural organs with artificial ones, eventually making for a situation where the brain was artificially supported and no-less artificially sustained. Hence the overcoming of nature would not just be confined to the impersonal environment, but would have extended into the personal environment of the body, thus freeing the spirit from sensual constraints. Technology wouldn't simply free man from the burden of cultivating animals and crops for their food-value; it would free him from the necessity to eat and drink, thereby rendering him completely independent of nature. Oxygen could be supplied to the brain via special containers, whilst a mechanical heart, or pump, would keep the blood flowing through the brain via plastic tubing. Ultimately nothing would be left of man except the brain, and most probably just the so-called new brain, the most advanced part of the brain, with a consequence that he would be able to dedicate himself exclusively to the attainment of salvation in the millennial Beyond.
GRAHAM: What a staggering prospect! The gradual phasing-out of the body until nothing remained but the brain?
KENNETH: Indeed! And one might argue that, with the gradual 'withering' of the state as a compromise between socialism and transcendentalism, something analogous to a 'communist' Millennium would have properly arrived as the final phase of the transcendental civilization, in which everything was geared to man's eventual attainment of spiritual transcendence. For once man had been rendered incapable of rebelling against progress, there would be scant need of a security apparatus to ensure the prevention of counter-revolutionary 'wrecking' tendencies. A man elevated to the status of an artificially-supported brain could hardly be expected to wreck anything, least of all the technology at his disposal! So the state would inevitably 'wither away' as a coercive and supportive agent, once its goal of maximum security had been reached. People would no longer be thinking in terms of how to perfect the machinery of state while simultaneously protecting the cultural or religious achievements of the transcendental civilization, but be exclusively concerned with attaining to definitive salvation at the climax of evolution. Religious concerns would completely supplant political ones, in this latter phase of post-dualistic civilization. Inevitably, man would become God, become part of the omega absolute, and thus leave the material world behind him, as would his counterparts elsewhere in the Universe. Such is the ultimate implication of Teilhard de Chardin's convergence to the Omega Point, as expounded in Activation of Energy. Each individual spirit would tend towards maximum unity in the Oneness of the Holy Spirit, as it abandoned the separate brain of the individual meditator at the moment of transcendence.
GRAHAM: And soared heavenwards, like a comet or rocket?
KENNETH: I don't know about that! But certainly it would gravitate towards its destination in space at a suitable remove from the sensuous presence of individual stars, which constitute Hell. Perhaps for thousands or even millions of years Hell and Heaven would coexist in the Universe. But eventually, following the inevitable collapse of all the stars, only Heaven would prevail, bringing the Universe to perfection.
GRAHAM: So you don't object to the concept of Heaven, but are of the belief that it will one day become a reality?
KENNETH: No, I don't object to it! What I object to is the Christian way of conceiving of it, a way which is inherently egocentric, and related to the idea of a posthumous salvation, or salvation following death. These days such a conception is no longer valid because the world is tending in an increasingly post-egocentric direction. One would indeed be deluded to imagine that, after a life of sensual self-indulgence or attention to natural obligations like drinking and eating, never mind urinating and defecating, one was entitled to absorption into a realm of pure spirit! Believe me, Heaven could not be entered so easily! No, at death the spirit is overcome by the flesh and simply dies. It isn't saved.
GRAHAM: Then how are we to save it?
KENNETH: By gradually getting rid of the flesh and prolonging the duration of life, as I have already said. At present we lack the requisite technology to save the spirit, although we are nevertheless increasing the average life-span of man, which is a step in the right direction. Yet no amount of pampering or doctoring the body will prevent it from eventually succumbing to the fate of old age, which is dissolution and death. So the ultimate solution to prolonging the life of our spirit must reside elsewhere - namely in the phasing-out of the natural body through technology. Only then will the human life-span be considerably extended, thereby providing man with sufficient time for the cultivation of an advanced degree of spirituality, a spirituality which will culminate in transcendence.
GRAHAM: Even with the existence of the old brain?
KENNETH: No, as I intimated earlier, the old brain would probably have to 'go the way' of the rest of the body if spirit, which reposes rather more in the new brain, as superconsciousness, was to be cultivated to a transcendent degree. There may well be a period of time when the old brain won't be subject to technological interference, in response to both an inability to successfully deal with it technologically and the course of events inevitably having to proceed by degrees rather than in leaps and bounds. One must envisage an initial coexistence of the different brains in which some form of egocentric consciousness will be retained, and the subconscious accordingly continue to exist. Meditation will assist in the cultivation of the superconscious, or spirit, and so, too, should synthetic drugs like LSD, which make for transcendent visionary experience in the lower regions of the superconscious.
GRAHAM: But not, apparently, in the subconscious?
KENNETH: No. The subconscious appertains to the sensual realm of dreams and sleep, not to the realm of transcendent visionary experience. To approach it in a waking-life context it's only necessary to take one or another of the natural drugs, like tobacco, hashish, opium, et cetera, which stem, in a manner of speaking, from the sensuous roots of the world in nature, and so facilitate varying degrees of downward self-transcendence, to coin a Huxleyite phrase. However, no transcendental civilization could encourage the consumption of such drugs, and so it would be to the lower regions of the superconscious that synthetic drugs appealed, expanding consciousness upwards in the direction of pure spirit. Of course, one cannot run before one has learnt to walk. Consequently a period of acclimatization to the lower regions of the superconscious would have to precede complete absorption into its higher regions. The eventual separation of the new brain from the old brain would doubtless further this end, but one could only be led to it by degrees, as one gradually learnt to adjust to upward self-transcendence and simultaneously acquired greater control over the subconscious influence of the old brain. No-one can escape from his past all at once, especially when that past is a psychic/organic one which has lasted for many thousands of years. One must first be weaned away from sensual consciousness in the milk of a synthetic drug like LSD, before one can hope to face the light of the higher superconscious and, ultimately, the Supreme Being itself, as one's spirit merges into it, following transcendence. Otherwise one would experience the fate of Huxley's Eustace Barnack, one of the leading characters of Time Must Have a Stop, who, following death, was unable to tolerate absorption into the Clear Light of the Void, in consequence of having the burden of his past egocentric consciousness upon him. Now although the concept of such a posthumous encounter with the Clear Light ... is no better than the Christian belief in a posthumous heaven, the situation which Aldous Huxley describes isn't without some applicability to what I have just said about the need to approach salvation by degrees, considering that Barnack was somewhat less than psychically prepared for Eternity. He would inevitably be obliged, in the moral nature of these things, to return to the world in the guise of a new-born infant and work towards his self-improvement, before any possibility of subsequent unification with the Divine could be expected. However, reincarnation isn't a doctrine to which I literally subscribe, since I contend that, at death, the spirit simply dies. But Huxley was expounding Hindu belief and apparently believed in it himself, as his own experiment with a dose of LSD, while dying, would seem to confirm. He imagined it would assist his passage into the Beyond(!), and so died in the egocentric tradition of short-term, or posthumous, salvation. He might as well have remained a Christian, as experimented with oriental religion!
GRAHAM: Yet it does have some applicability to the future, doesn't it?
KENNETH: Insofar as meditation is concerned, yes, I believe it does. But, then, so does Christianity, to the degree that it posits salvation in the Beyond as the goal and true resting place of human striving. Where it is mistaken, in my view, is in its short-term, egocentric view of the Beyond. So the time has come when a new religious orientation, compatible with a long-term or millennial view of the Beyond, must arise to supersede the old one. The genuine Christian will contend that Heaven already exists, since composed, as it were, of the risen presence of Christ. Such an egocentric, quasi-mystical view is upheld, for example, by Teilhard de Chardin, despite his long-term philosophy of the Omega Point. But, of course, Christ is simply an anthropomorphic deity relative to a humanistic stage of evolution, not the omega absolute as such, and so we can be certain that he doesn't literally reside there, since he would have lacked access to the technology which makes transcendence truly possible, just as we do some 2,000 years later. Even as a symbol for our future transcendence, the concept of the Risen Christ is inadequate in this post-egocentric age, seeing as its anthropomorphism is incompatible with spiritual transcendence as such, which could not have bodily form.
GRAHAM: You mean that pictorial or aesthetic representations of the Ascension exclusively appeal to an egocentric consciousness, in which the body has as much importance as the spirit, and are accordingly irrelevant to a more evolved mentality?
KENNETH: Yes, precisely! The truly modern man cannot take such anthropomorphic representations seriously. And when that man is a socialist he is inclined, in consequence, to turn against the whole concept of heavenly salvation, as though the Christians were simply deluded to conceive of it in the first place. But they were not madmen or fools to adhere to this concept for the better part of two millennia, and we would be oversimplifying the issue to assume otherwise! They were on to something important all right, but necessarily regarded it from an egocentric standpoint. However, we are now in a better position and therefore ought to be able to find room in our minds for a more objective, long-term view of Heaven ... as something that will follow the Millennium-proper, as the spiritual culmination to evolution. But by 'we', I don't mean pedantic upholders of Christianity, wherever they may be in the world. I refer to those who are still evolving and capable of changing with the times; those who are destined to work at constructing the transcendental civilization, no matter how indirect or materialistic their current approach to God-building may happen to be. I have no time for opponents of progress!
GRAHAM: I begin to understand what you said, at the start of our discussion, about a dialogue being as good as its writer. If all dialogues were like yours, I would read nothing else.
KENNETH: How flattering! But I never said I was just a dialogist!
TWO KINDS OF WRITER
CHRISTOPHER: I recently read a journal by Eugene Ionesco, in which Jean-Paul Sartre was described as petty bourgeois, and as a petty bourgeois, moreover, who was envious of the grand bourgeoisie. Would you agree?
CHRISTOPHER: What do you mean by 'of a different kind'?
LAWRENCE: Just this: that there are always two kinds of bourgeoisie, which, at the risk of oversimplification, we may call the spiritual kind and the materialist kind - those in the former category including priests, teachers, artists, writers, judges, et cetera, and those in the latter category including businessmen, doctors, scientists, technologists, politicians, et cetera. The spiritual kind live in the realm of ideas and produce books, sermons, lectures, lessons, papers, et cetera, whereas the materialist kind live in the realm of concrete phenomena and produce or uphold a variety of material products ... ranging from pills and lotions to vacuum cleaners and computers. Sartre, being a writer and thinker, appertained to the spiritual category of bourgeois, even though, within that category, he was more of a materialist or, at any rate, had a materialistic bias, as his copious political writings adequately attest. He belonged to a subcategory composed of writers like Koestler, Camus, and Orwell, rather than to that of writers like Gide, Huxley, and Hesse, in whose books religious concerns tend to preponderate.
CHRISTOPHER: And you would say he was a grand bourgeois?
CHRISTOPHER: I see! He was a grand bourgeois in relation to lesser or younger writers. But where would that place him, in your estimation, with regard to a materialistic grand bourgeois, like a wealthy businessman?
LAWRENCE: I would say that, since the spiritual should take precedence over the material in any morally objective appreciation of the world or of the people in it, the spiritual kind of bourgeois is generally a superior kettle-of-fish to his materialist counterpart, in consequence of which a writer of Sartre's standing should be regarded as a higher kind of man than a businessman, no matter how successful the latter may happen to be. Whether he should also be regarded as such in relation to an outstanding statesman ... is another matter; though I would be inclined to grant him the benefit of the doubt! There is only one category of man to whom a truly great writer may feel inferior, and that is the priestly category, especially those in the upper echelons of it. A holy man, or sage, is superior to a writer, although this doesn't necessarily apply to a Christian priest who, even when well-advanced in his vocation, may well be inferior because what he stands for, namely the Christian religion, is becoming increasingly anachronistic or irrelevant, and the role of spiritual or moral leadership has accordingly passed elsewhere. It is somewhat unlikely that a man like Sartre, who was a Marxist-turned-Existentialist, would regard any of the upholders of Christianity as his intellectual or moral superiors! On the contrary, if he looked up to anyone at all, it would have been to certain statesmen of a revolutionary stamp, like Mao or Castro. For he was, after all, a predominantly materialistic, and therefore political, type of writer.
CHRISTOPHER: Yes, I entirely agree! But how therefore would he compare with those writers, such as Huxley, Hesse, and Gide, whom you have dubbed predominantly spiritual, and hence religious? Would a similar distinction apply?
CHRISTOPHER: So you would regard Huxley, for example, as a superior type of writer to Sartre, because he gave greater importance to essence, or the spirit, in his writings?
CHRISTOPHER: As, I should imagine, were you, whose bias is towards the spiritual, and who may well become a grand bourgeois in your own profession one day, assuming you become world famous.
CHRISTOPHER: I am almost disposed to believe it! Though one must also bear in mind the nature and quality of any individual master's works, surely?
CHRISTOPHER: No, I guess not. But you can always go beyond Miller by improving on the quality of your truth.
GARY: Someone told me, the other day, that you don't believe in sexual equality, being of the opinion that it is a sort of modern myth.
OLIVER: She was right to tell you that! I don't believe in it.
OLIVER: Very well! Men and women are fundamentally different creatures, and so they must remain until such time as technology may decide otherwise. Women signify appearance over essence and men, by contrast, essence over appearance.
GARY: Which means, I take it, that women are more beautiful than men, and men more intellectual than women. The former are more sensual, the latter more spiritual.
OLIVER: Yes, generally speaking, that is indeed the case! One might argue that whereas women stem, in their greater sensuality, from the diabolic roots of life in the Cosmos, men aspire, in their greater spirituality, towards the divine blossom of life in the Beyond. Women remain rooted in appearances, in accordance with the dictates of their natural beauty.
OLIVER: No, but we must ignore the exceptions in the interests of an overall rule. Philosophy deals with the general, not the particular.
OLIVER: Traditionally men and women are contrary phenomena, and therefore unequal. We habitually speak of 'his better half', but, in reality, the reverse is usually the case, insofar as women are less spiritual than men. Custom, however, dictates otherwise, male vanity requiring the illusion of female superiority for convenience's sake. To admit the truth would be demeaning for a man and humiliating for a woman.
OLIVER: Quite so! However, now that we have acknowledged the traditional dualism between men and women, we are obliged to come more up-to-date and thus face-up to the contemporary situation, in which the sexes are increasingly being regarded as equal. Why is this?
OLIVER: Because, my dear chap, we no longer live in a balanced environmental context between nature and civilization but are becoming increasingly lopsided on the side of civilization - in other words, because we live in a world which is no longer dualistic but post-dualistic, growing estranged from the sensuous influence of nature.
OLIVER: On the contrary, this is something to be grateful for, especially if one is a man, since it confirms the fact that we are gradually evolving towards the supernatural with the help of our expanding urban environments. Yes, we are progressing towards God, and because of this we live in a society which is becoming ever more spiritual, ever more biased towards essence. Small wonder, therefore, if men and women are increasingly being regarded as equal! For women are also experiencing the consequences of civilized evolution and becoming less sensual and correspondingly more spiritual, as they grow isolated from nature in our great cities. They are gradually being regarded as 'lesser men' rather than simply as women, in deference to the post-dualistic status of the age. We treat them as equals because they are no longer, in the main, what they used to be, no longer diametrically opposed to us in the context of a less-evolved, and therefore more natural, civilization. They want to wear the pants, to work outside the home, to become professionals, to buy themselves what they like, to travel abroad at will, to prevent traditional marital obligations from dominating them, to subvert nature through contraception, to participate in sports, to drive their own cars, to cut their hair short - oh, to do so many things which suggest a spiritual rather than a sensual turn-of-mind. And this is a good thing, this is something we men can be proud of, since we are largely responsible for the development of civilization to a point where women are virtually obliged to behave like men. And so we treat them as equals. Not many men would automatically offer their seat to a woman in a crowded bus or train these days, and this, believe it or not, is a reflection of the fact that we are inclined to regard women as equals, as 'lesser men', rather than to emphasize a distinction between the sexes, as formerly.
OLIVER: Ah, you've anticipated my argument! I admitted to you earlier that I don't believe in sexual equality, and I stand by what I said. We treat women as equals because of the post-dualistic status of the age, which makes it both logical and expedient to do so. There is no reason why we shouldn't, since they increasingly behave like men. However, as to a literal equality between the sexes, it no more exists now than when dualistic distinctions were paramount. For that same evolutionary coercion, stemming from the growth of cities, which has spiritualized women to the contemporary level ... has further spiritualized men, thus making them even more aware, even more intellectual, than they would otherwise be. Instead of a male stasis, as it were, while women have progressed or, rather, been coerced away from their sensual traditions, men have also experienced the influence of their changing environments, thus progressing ahead of women into higher levels of authority. One might say that whereas women are now so many clerks, men are so many managers or executives. Thus instead of drawing closer together, the sexes have progressed at equal distance apart along a post-dualistic region of the evolutionary spectrum. Women are therefore 'lesser men' and, on that account, not to be treated as women ... but as equals!
OLIVER: So it might appear on the surface. And so for a relatively small minority of exceptional women, like Emily Pankhurst, it doubtless was and continues to be! But, overall, this isn't really the case. The feminist movement subscribes to a myth, a theology, in the sense that Schopenhauer would have used the term, which is designed to coat the bitter pill of male coercion with the sugar of self-willed progress. Yet, really, a philosopher's task isn't to defend or expound the popular myths of the age, but to reveal the truth for the benefit of that relatively small percentage of higher minds who are capable of appreciating and coming to terms with it. One is like Roland Barthes, exposing the popular myths in the interests of the truth. Yet this isn't to say that one wishes to force one's findings upon the masses. As Schopenhauer well knew, they are as entitled to their various myths as we philosophers to exposing them for the benefit of the Few, in order to keep the light of truth alive. A myth may be expedient to the Many for a given period of time, but it mustn't be allowed to usurp the domain of truth. The world could so easily become a madhouse, bumbling-on in the dark, if no place, no matter how small, was reserved for the truth. We philosophers endeavour to lead the Few towards truth, since we cannot lead everyone towards it.
OLIVER: And too humiliating, since the masses, and women in particular, need their High Priests to soothe them with the mitigating illusions and half-truths of contemporary myth. To some extent a High Priest should be accessible to truth and not be entirely at the mercy of his theology. For a theologian who is completely the victim of his illusions and delusions is not only a potential danger to the truth, but a potential danger to the Few as well, and can easily become akin to a raging lunatic. He must be restrained before too much mischief is done at the expense of the higher men - a subject about which Nietzsche had more than a few words to say, since priests have more than once put philosophers to the stake for refuting their myths. Fortunately for philosophers, however, the Christian myth is no longer anywhere near as influential as formerly, even where priests are concerned, and so they don't have to worry so much about clerical censorship these days. Instead they have other myths to contend with, including the Marxist and feminist ones, which pertain to contemporary 'theology'. For theology, remember, appeals to the Many, philosophy to the Few. Theology is alpha, philosophy omega. Marx may have been a philosopher, but Marxism is a theological simplification of Marx.
GARY: And yet, as evolution progresses and one theology supplants another, surely there is more overall approximation to truth?
OLIVER: There is indeed! But then philosophy continues to evolve too, so that, at its furthermost contemporary level, it is no less inaccessible to the Many than formerly. A contemporary theology can approach the level of a previous philosophy, but it can't get to the level of contemporary philosophy. Just as men and women evolve apace, so do theology and philosophy, continuing to remain unequal. Now just as, in Hindu myth, a man who has lived egocentrically cannot unite, following death, with the Clear Light of the Void, so a man of egocentric disposition, balanced between the subconscious and the superconscious, cannot relate to what the foremost philosopher is contending about his particular grasp of truth. There is an equivalence here between a light which is too clear and a truth which is too strong. Hence theology is required, in order to convey a diluted version of the truth to the masses. But such a version cannot arise from nowhere. It must come from a stronger, purer concept of truth, and thus from a philosopher originally. You can see how dangerous to evolutionary progress it can be when theologians, wallowing in self-delusion, put philosophers to death or otherwise impede them. By disposing of philosophers they run the risk of cutting themselves off from the truth and floundering, without a guiding light, in the relative darkness of their particular theology. Evolution can be set back decades, if not centuries. And this applies as much to Marxist theologians as to any previous ones, who can all-too-easily make the same mistakes, with similar fatal consequences!
GARY: Presumably those philosophers who live in Marxist states should have access, through special depositories, to the Few, who will accordingly be kept in touch with stronger doses of the truth than their work-a-day theology would allow?
OLIVER: Yes, and not only those philosophers who live in Marxist states but, more particularly, those who live outside them, whose truth may be no less relevant, in the long term, as the basis for the subsequent development of theology to a higher and more truthful level. No state, no matter what its official theology, can afford to live without philosophers. For they act as a guiding light to the Few, who, whether as statesmen or professors, scientists or economists, artists or priests, must subsequently set about modifying the particular theology with whose preservation they have been publicly entrusted. Thus there should be a continual interaction between philosophers and leaders, so that the theology is constantly upgraded and not allowed to become fixed in a permanent mould ... at the risk of becoming stale and anachronistic. There must be continual evolution.
OLIVER: Only to the extent that the philosopher serves to enlighten the leadership. For when a philosopher takes it into his head to govern outright, as did Plato for a time, the result is more likely to be chaotic than beneficial! Plato made the mistake of taking his own advice too literally. But actual governance must always be left to politicians, the Few, and not be usurped by those whose provenance it is to remain at an intellectual remove from the real world. Admittedly, there have been one or two notable exceptions that, like Marcus Aurelius, were able to combine theory with practice. But, as a rule, this isn't the case. The philosopher's proper sphere of influence lies in the theoretical domain, not the practical one! He should leave the actual governance of the state to others, since his duty is to understand the world rather than to change it, even if his understanding of it may lead to considerable governmental change.
GARY: What happens when the philosopher is so brilliant, his grasp of truth so firm, that not even the Few can appreciate or stomach it? I am especially thinking of Nietzsche.
OLIVER: Such cases don't occur all that often, but, when they do, a wise leadership will draw what truth it can from the philosopher concerned, and leave the greater part of his teachings to posterity. That is preferable to dismissing him outright, seeing that one day his truth, which should be roughly compatible with the truth, will be fully intelligible and recognized at its true value.
GARY: And this, I take it, also applies, in some degree, to your own philosophy, which is occasionally too truthful for even the strongest stomachs, or perhaps I should say minds, to digest? What you say, for example, about men and women being unequal certainly isn't reflected by contemporary feminist theology, is it?
OLIVER: No, but then there is little reason why it should be, at this point in time. For my philosophy appeals more to a few of the Few than to the Few as a whole, if you follow me, and therefore isn't all that likely, at present, to have much influence on the modification of contemporary theology. That must come about in the future, as my work becomes more accessible to the leadership. Currently it is known only within the rather restricted circle of my friends and acquaintances, who don't hold responsible public positions. But I can bide my time.
GARY: Presumably without taking much interest in the High Priests or, rather, Priestesses of feminist theology, who would appear to be the biggest dupes of the age?
OLIVER: Quite! I leave them to their rhetorical patter and attend to my affairs, in pursuance of higher degrees of truth.
OLIVER: Oh, that society is tending in an increasingly spiritual direction and, if all goes well, will continue to tend in such a direction in the more distant future, inevitably reaching a point where women effectively cease to exist, as appearance gives way to essence to such an extent ... that nothing demonstrably sensual remains. The subsequent climax of evolution, in which human spirit will become transcendent and therefore divine, can only be a supermasculine affair, devoid of even the faintest shred of sensuality. For irrespective of what the Pope may have had to say about the probability of men and women retaining their sex in Heaven, I, being a post-dualistic philosopher and not a humanistic theologian, contend otherwise. Just as I contend that Heaven will come at the climax of evolution rather than following individual death. And, coming then, it will not only be completely beyond women but ... completely beyond men as well, since humanity will have become God, not be existing in any recognizably human form within the presence of God as anthropomorphically conceived of by Christians.
OLIVER: Yes, I believe that, from a post-dualistic standpoint, he most certainly was! But, from a Christian anthropomorphic standpoint, he was absolutely right, absolutely consistent with the humanistic beliefs of dualistic civilization. He would have been wrong had he spoken like a transcendentalist, and especially like a transcendental philosopher. For then one would be perfectly justified in wondering what business he had being pope. But, of course, he is consistent with Christian theology, and therefore not an impostor. The fact that, as a post-dualistic philosopher, one may not agree with his beliefs oneself ... is another matter, and hardly one that we need enlarge upon here! Suffice it to say that my concept of the Beyond is radically different from his. It is closer to Nietzsche's.
OLIVER: Yes, transcendent spirit, to use a term I recently coined as an alternative to holy spirit, which will arise from the new brain following the period of intense cultivation of spirit which I call the post-Human Millennium. We men may be a long way from being actual candidates for Heaven at present, but we are at least nearer to it, now, than any previous generation have ever been, bearing in mind the increasingly post-dualistic development of the age. As Blake once wrote:-
'Till I turn from Female Love,
And root up the Infernal Grove,
I shall never worthy be
To step into Eternity.'
Now what his concept of Eternity actually amounted to, I don't pretend to know. But he was at least right to contend that sex is incompatible with Heaven.
GARY: So, evidently, the spiritualization of the female is a step in that post-sexual direction?
OLIVER: Yes. And so is our gradual progress away from literal sex through the sublimation provided and encouraged by various forms of erotica, which transfer sex from the body to the head and thereby spiritualize it. Even the recent growth-industry in plastic inflatables, otherwise known as 'sex dolls', is indicative of a trend in the general direction of overcoming the natural by the artificial and so transcending traditional norms. Eventually there won't be any sex at all, not even of the sublimated variety. For technology will have phased-out the natural body in the interests of spiritual progress. Neither will there be any women, even if women's brains or, rather, brains that may once have belonged to women are retained. For it isn't so much the brain which distinguishes a man from a woman ... as the psychology imposed upon it in response to the possession of a given body. Free a female's brain from her body and it will eventually become spiritualized, conscious not of appearance over essence but of essence over appearance.
GARY: And assuming appearance was reduced to the physiological existence of the brain itself, in conjunction with an artificial support/sustain system, there would presumably be a considerable imbalance in favour of essence?
OLIVER: Indeed there would! And in accordance with the supermasculine dictates of a society evolving towards ultimate essence, which is nothing less than God. At present, however, we must resign ourselves to unisexual trends and the liberation of women from traditional roles. We may be some way from a supermasculine society, but what we have now is certainly preferable to dualism and its social concomitance of sexist discrimination. If a majority of women are still fundamentally appearance over essence, it is because, despite dressing and acting increasingly like men, they retain their natural bodies, and those bodies are sufficiently attractive to draw male attention and oblige men to force consciousness of appearance back upon them at the expense of essence. A man, on the other hand, doesn't attract so much physical attention, since he wasn't meant to be beautiful, but intellectual. He can afford to cultivate essence to a greater extent.
OLIVER: Yes. Though, as I have already said, it is important these days to treat women as if they were equal to men, and this may sometimes involve one in not taking as much notice of their beauty as may formerly have been the case ... in the heyday of sexist dualism, so to speak. For what one is really doing, in treating a woman as an equal, is looking upon her as though she were a man, albeit a lesser one. That is really what, in response to the post-dualistic nature of the age, this drive towards sexual equality really amounts to, these days. However, not until the last vestiges of the natural body have been artificially supplanted ... will women really become men or, rather, supermasculine. Then a true equality will exist, because transcending sex. Yes, an equality of brains is really what we are tending towards, superior to that of bodies. And beyond that, my friend, lies the goal of our evolution in spiritual unification with God. Transcendence!
TOWARDS ULTIMATE ONENESS
ROBERT: Religion is one of those subjects about which there can be so much doubt and dissension, so many conflicting opinions and contradictory arguments. For instance, there are people, traditionally regarded as mystics, who maintain that one can have direct contact with God and, conversely, others of a less mystical persuasion who categorically deny this.
FRANCIS: I agree. There are any number of contradictory views on the subject, which is but a reflection, I suppose, of different stages or degrees of religious awareness among the disputants. Personally, I side with those who maintain that we cannot enter into direct contact with God. For, so far as I'm concerned, God doesn't exist but is in the making, as it were, through the development of human consciousness. Those who assume the contrary would seem to be either deluded into mistaking their own little quota of spirit for God or into equating God with the Universe, and thus with some transcendent other with whom they can commune.
ROBERT: And you disagree with both attitudes?
FRANCIS: I do indeed! For, in the first place, I wouldn't confound what, as human spirit, is potentially God with God per se. And, in the second place, I wouldn't confound God with the Universe, and thus imagine myself communing with the stars, which are effectively the Devil. The Devil does, of course, exist in this cosmic context, but not as something with which one can commune! On the contrary, stars don't bother themselves about human prayers or wishes. They are beneath consciousness, existing on a deeply subconscious level of intense sensuality, devoid of thought. We can never approximate to their primal level, no matter how hard we may try. For, as men, we belong to a much later and more evolved stage of evolution, in which sensuality is far less intense. As men, we are on the way to becoming God.
ROBERT: Yet, presumably, not entirely free of the Devil's influence?
FRANCIS: By no means! We have to continuously struggle against it or, more precisely, that which stems from the Devil in the forms of nature and its sensuous offspring, including the flesh. This is essentially what evolution is all about - a struggle to free ourselves from the mundane and attain to the transcendent, or that which, as pure spirit, would be God.
ROBERT: I recently listened to a modern-jazz album on which people were singing about being one with the Universe and dancing with the stars.
FRANCIS: Ugh, devil music! I trust you didn't like it?
ROBERT: It was rather boring, to tell you the truth. But I wasn't quite sure what my religious position was in regard to it at the time.
FRANCIS: Well, you can rest assured that there can be no unity between man and the Cosmos, since stars are the Devil and, being antithetical to God, appertain to separateness and diversity. A downward self-transcendence induced by a potent natural drug or even by sleep may constitute a tendency in the Devil's direction, so to speak, but can never actually bring you into unity with the Devil. Nothing defies the idea of unity more!
ROBERT: But what if, in experiencing a mystical state-of-mind, you project a feeling of unity and togetherness onto the Cosmos, so that you actually feel that the Universe really is One. I mean, surely such a state of mind, experienced on a few occasions by no less a writer than Aldous Huxley, is valid in itself?
FRANCIS: Doubtless it is! And it constitutes the kernel of Wordsworth's mysticism, albeit as applied rather more to nature than to the stars. But it hides the truth from its recipient by inducing him to identify with that which is really the opposite of God. For the state of mind to which you allude appertains to upward self-transcendence in the lower reaches of the superconscious and invariably induces feelings of Oneness, in response to the spiritual, as opposed to sensual, nature of that mind. But when projected onto one's surroundings, be they mundane or cosmic, such a state of mind can only lead the beholder to the false assumption that they are one with him and he one with them. In reality, however, nothing could be further from the truth! For stars remain stars and nature remains nature, apart from man and an obstacle, fundamentally, to his spiritual progress. An impartial, objective viewpoint confirms this fact all too clearly, whereas, under mystical pressures, one will incline to deceive oneself as to the unity of the whole.
ROBERT: And yet, even supposing what you say happens to be true, the mystical state-of-mind is surely no less valid for all that?
FRANCIS: Oh, absolutely! For it inclines one in the direction of God, of ultimate spiritual unity in the future Beyond, and necessarily causes the mind to embrace what is foreign to it as kindred and congenial. Doubtless supreme divinity, when it finally comes to pass, will co-exist with the stars without being in any sense aware of their presence as a distinct force in the Universe, because it will be too absorbed in the ultimate consciousness of its inner unity as transcendent spirit. But man, being a long way from such consciousness even in his occasional mystical states-of-mind, remains aware of external cosmic or natural reality, and falsely assumes oneness with it. Supreme being ... above egocentric or visual consciousness ... would be aware of nothing but itself, and therefore it wouldn't take note of the diabolic components of the Universe, be they stars or planets, moons or comets. Eventually everything that pertains to the Devil would pass away, dissolving into dust and nothingness. God, however, would remain, and with His sole existence the Universe would be brought to the perfection of spiritual oneness, which even the last remaining star would deny so long as it continued to exist. But God would of course be oblivious of its presence and in no degree inclined to identify with the remaining star or stars. The omega absolute would be above what mystics habitually succumb to, in their egocentric projections of higher states-of-mind onto external reality. With God, there is no consciousness of the other. Only awareness of the highest degree, which transcends opposites.
ROBERT: Yet, on a much inferior level, that is precisely what the mystical experience enables people to do, by embracing the Devil, as it were, as one with themselves.
FRANCIS: To be sure! But such an experience is crude compared with the consciousness which is beyond any form of identification of the not-self with the self. With God, there would be nothing but the self, the not-selfs being outside and beneath the picture, so to speak, which is composed of pure spirit and not diluted, to any degree, by optical or visionary experience. Man can never know that pure consciousness because he remains chained to the phenomenal world through the senses, and therefore isn't able to completely transcend visionary awareness. At best, he may experience a momentary glimpse of the higher, non-representational consciousness. But such a glimpse is incompatible with the Divine per se, which would be transcendent and composed of the entire superconscious mind of which the evolutionary universe was capable of producing in an intensity of bliss far beyond mortal experience or comprehension. The individual mystic inevitably remains chained to his individuality, his intimation of the Infinite necessarily limited to the capacity of his psyche for upward self-transcendence. He isn't communing with God when he experiences a mystical state-of-mind, but simply with that which, as spirit, is potentially divine. Mystics have often deluded themselves on this point, unconsciously belittling and reducing God to the relatively humble level of their particular mystical experience. We, however, should guard against making the same mistake! For, in reality, God doesn't yet exist in the Universe, since we have still to transform ourselves from men into pure spirit and thereby create divinity. This can only happen in the future, following the phasing-out of the natural body through technological means, which the further development of civilization to increasingly-artificial stages of evolution inevitably presupposes. When we have dispensed with every last vestige of the sensual world, both externally and internally, we shall be ready for the transcendental Beyond.
ROBERT: To the extent that we on earth are still insufficiently spiritually advanced to attain to the transcendent plane, and couldn't have done so in the past, when technology was either non-existent or extremely crude and, in any case, never used in the connection to which you allude, I agree with you that we haven't yet created God in any ultimate sense - with reference, in other words, to a divinity whose being is supreme. We have, of course, created God in the anthropomorphic sense of endowing man with divinity and worshipping him, in the person of Jesus Christ, as the Son of God ... the Father, which you would doubtless agree was a step in the aforementioned direction?
FRANCIS: I would indeed! A step away from pagan identification with or propitiation of the Creator, which is diabolical, towards the literal creation of God from human spirit. An in-between egocentric realm in which a diluted paganism is combined or alternated with a diluted transcendentalism, and the paradoxical result is called Christianity. That was certainly a stage on the road to our ultimate salvation from the flesh, which has still to come.
ROBERT: Yes, but what makes you sure that no other people elsewhere in the Universe have gone way beyond us in evolutionary terms and already literally created God, so that a degree of transcendent spirit currently exists somewhere? I mean, you haven't even raised the possibility of advanced life forms on other planets, so how can you be sure that God doesn't exist?
FRANCIS: A good question, and one that demands an equally good answer. Consequently let me say I very much doubt that, assuming intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the Universe, any other people, as you say, would already have evolved to a truly transcendental status. For we have neither seen nor heard anything of them, and that would surely be improbable where truly-advanced peoples were concerned! As you doubtless know, what applies on the microcosmic level also applies, to varying extents, on the macrocosmic one, and vice versa, so that the tendency on earth of evolutionary progress to manifest itself in a gradual struggle towards world unity and uniformity of belief should also apply to the Universe as a whole where, to coin Teilhard de Chardin's phrase, a 'convergence to the Omega Point' would presumably be in simultaneous operation. Our struggle towards salvation in the transcendental Beyond leads us to concern ourselves with the entire world population, not just a tiny percentage of it, and this must surely be true of other civilized peoples in the Universe as a whole, assuming such peoples to exist. When more is known about the Universe than at present, and we have regular contact with people or whatever from other planets, we shall be in a better position to gauge the extent of a 'convergence to the Omega Point' with regard to the Universe in general, rather than to just one tiny fraction of it in particular. At this point in time, however, I doubt whether any other 'people' have literally created God. For we haven't been brought into contact with a superior alien civilization, and therefore we have no reason to believe that, at present, such a civilization exists or, indeed, has ever existed. So I remain an atheist with regard to the assumed existence of the Supreme Being, absolutely convinced that, so far as man is concerned, we haven't created ultimate divinity, and relatively convinced that no-one else has either. Besides, one could argue that even if, by some remote chance, an alien civilization considerably more advanced than us had evolved to a transcendental culmination, the resultant globe of pure spirit which now existed somewhere in the Universe wouldn't be God as such, but only the beginnings of God - a relatively small globe of spirit composed of all the spirit which that particular civilization had made transcendent but, nevertheless, a long way short of the total assimilation of spirit into a uniform globe towards which the potentially transcendental civilizations in the rest of the Universe would eventually contribute, and hence to the completion of God.
ROBERT: This argument is becoming slightly too academic for my liking! What you're saying, I take it, is that God wouldn't really exist in toto until such time as every advanced civilization throughout the Universe had contributed their share of transcendent spirit to its total spiritual mass, so to speak.
FRANCIS: Yes, that is approximately my argument, and it is a pretty complicated one, I'll concede. But, then, the Universe is a pretty complicated place, and so is the evolutionary struggle. There are also further complications concerning its final nature. For when we bear in mind the immense scale of the Universe and begin to consider the possible number of habitable planets in it, we cannot, surely, bring ourselves to believe that we will gradually get to know about every single one of them and become familiar with all of their various life forms. It stretches the imagination to its limits to believe that, one day, we will know everything about and everyone in our own galaxy, never mind the Universe in general, in which there are literally millions of galaxies. So let us assume that we won't come into contact with the inhabitants of remote galaxies, but will be confined, instead, to exploring and unifying, on a spiritual level, this galaxy. Now other intelligent life forms in it would probably be doing something similar, and so a 'convergence to the Omega Point' would be put into effect on the level of the Galaxy and, in all probability, of individual galaxies generally, where similar criteria may be assumed to apply.
ROBERT: There is always the alternative possibility that we will be content to live in the united world we have created for ourselves on this planet and mind our own business, as we dedicate ourselves to the cultivation of pure spirit.
FRANCIS: True. But, knowing man, I rather doubt that he will be entirely immune to the lure of discovery and exploration, where other planets are concerned. Of course, life on earth will doubtless continue to progress and therefore concern itself less and less with appearances, no matter how fantastic, and more and more with essences; less with the outer and more with the inner. Yet that shouldn't rule-out the possibility of interplanetary communication. For man wouldn't want to turn his back on the rest of the Galaxy at the risk of leaving himself exposed to alien invasion. He wouldn't relish having what progress he had achieved put in jeopardy as a consequence of alien interference. However, let us confine our argument to long-term progress and assume that transcendence, when it eventually comes to pass, will occur on a galactic rather than a universal level, so that instead of converging to a common central area of the Universe, spirit will tend to form locally, as it were, and thereby exist, in the region of this particular galaxy, as a part of ultimate divinity or, better, a potential component of ultimate divinity rather than as the Omega Point itself, which would of course be ultimate Oneness.
ROBERT: In other words, you are contending that, because the Universe is so vast, the convergence towards the Omega Point will more than likely take place by degrees even on the transcendent plane where, presumably, various galactic contributions of spirit would co-exist independently of one another, following their respective births, so to speak, on a local level. What that doesn't tell one, however, is how, having evolved to so many separate globes of pure spirit, these potential components of the Omega Point will subsequently merge into ultimate Oneness.
FRANCIS: Ah, you've anticipated my argument! I was going to contend that spirit is inherently expansive and convergent, and that each separate galactic contribution to the ultimate establishment of God would tend to converge towards other such contributions in a continuous process of convergence and expansion until, with the successive mergings of individual globes of spirit into larger wholes, the time finally came when even the most originally distant contributions were fused together, and the Omega Point was thereby established. Only then, once ultimate Oneness had come to pass, would God actually exist, in complete contrast to the innately separative, divergent, contractive nature of the innumerable stars, which correspond, so I contend, to the Devil. Yet, by then, I wager that most if not all stars would have collapsed and disintegrated, leaving the Universe to the spiritual perfection of God's Oneness. For, having come fully into being as the end-product of manifold convergence, God couldn't continue to expand indefinitely through the infinity of space if the Devil was in the way, so to speak, and thus an obstacle to His divine expansion. As spirit expands in the Universe, so the stars contract, burning-up at the phenomenal rate of millions of tons of their matter a second. Inevitably they must contract out of the Universe altogether, leaving room for the continuous expansion of transcendent spirit, and ultimately God, in the blissful being of its pure indivisibility.
ROBERT: A very interesting theory! And one, moreover, which, despite its mystical pretensions, leads me to assume that God would make the Universe increasingly precious, as more and more space became filled, as it were, with His blissful presence. We are, indeed, a long way here from traditional theories of the Beyond, especially where you contend that the Omega Point wouldn't properly exist until the establishment of ultimate Oneness, and that such an establishment would be more likely to come about by degrees rather than all at once, given the immensity of the Universe.
FRANCIS: Yes, and also the fact that evolution proceeds by stages anyway, so that a leap from this world or even this galaxy to an ultimate merging with spiritual globes from other galaxies would seem to be rather drastic, to say the least! We would, I think, be wiser to vouch for a gradual 'convergence to the Omega Point' in the transcendental Beyond, as separate globes of transcendent spirit slowly converged towards one another from all quarters of this immense Universe, with the objective, one might say, of establishing supreme being in all its final Oneness. These individual globes of pure spirit wouldn't be aware that they each constituted only a potential component of God, as they converged and expanded. For transcendent spirit, from whichever corner of the Universe, would be totally self-absorbed in the contemplation of its own spiritual perfection and, consequently, unaware of anything outside itself, whether of the diabolic or the divine. One might suppose, however, that with each additional accumulation of transcendent spirit from other regions of the Universe, the overall condition of any particular spiritual globe would not only become more perfect but more blissful as well, so that expansion acquired fresh incentive, in heightened awareness, for further expansion, and so on, until all such globes became One, and thus attained to an optimum perfection in the ultimate awareness of the Omega Point. Perhaps, after that, expansion would not so much intensify the level of being as ... spread it over ever wider and deeper areas of space, as more space became available, following the contraction and eventual dissolution of the stars.
ROBERT: The mind fairly boggles at the thought! It is as much as I can do to imagine a tiny globe of transcendent spirit emerging from the brain or whatever of a meditating person, never mind the larger galactic globes to which a vast combination of such transcendences would apparently give rise! I cannot even imagine what transcendent spirit would look like, never having seen human spirit.
FRANCIS: Something rather pure and centripetal, I suspect, in marked contrast to the impure, centrifugal light of the sun. But by the time we attain to the transcendental Beyond, you can be sure that nothing recognizably human will be left of us. For, with transcendence, man will become supernatural and thus completely independent of the natural world, knowing nothing but the bliss of total salvation. And that bliss can only become more perfect, as the transcendental Beyond becomes ever more unified in continuous expansion. That is the promise of the transcendental future.
ROBERT: You have convinced me, as no-one else could, that the Christian civilization must be superseded by a civilization leading straight to Heaven through the literal creation of pure spirit.
FRANCIS: Yes, we won't be worshipping the diabolic Almighty or the humanistic Christ in the future, but be directly aspiring, through self-realization, towards the divine Holy Spirit. We shall be God-builders in the highest, most true sense of the word.
ROBERT: Verily have you spoken!
THREE TYPES OF DECADENCE
HENRY: I have often heard the word 'decadent' used in connection with the arts and, in particular, the art of painting, but I am still not absolutely sure what it signifies. After all, there are various interpretations of the decadent, including that which pertains to a turgid, obscure style of painting.
FRANK: Yes, though the most significant interpretation of it is undoubtedly that which suggests a falling-away from something higher, a decline in standards. That is what I usually think of when I hear the word 'decadent'.
HENRY: And what type of art would you classify in this manner?
FRANK: Basically non-Christian art which has little relation with its time.
HENRY: I'm afraid that I don't quite follow you.
FRANK: Well, let's divide the history of Western art into three phases, viz. an aristocratic, a bourgeois, and a proletarian. The first phase came to a head with the gothic, and resulted in the early-Christian art of the Middle Ages. One thinks of Martini, Giotto, Van der Weyden, Van Eyck, Memling, Bosch, et al., as representative of the flowering of Christian art in the aristocratic phase of Western civilization, which stretched from approximately the 11th-15th centuries. However, with the Renaissance we arrive at the first manifestation of Western decadence, and are accordingly confronted by a rediscovery of and return to ancient classical art. The intrusion of paganism into the Christian culture marks the aristocratic decadence, which was to last into the sixteenth century and take the form not only of a partial resurrection of ancient Graeco-Roman paganism but ... a fresh interest in Old Testament themes as well. One might cite Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael, Correggio, and Giorgione as leading practitioners of this first decadence, even though their work was by no means exclusively decadent.
HENRY: Yes, I agree! The return to pre-Christian subjects or themes can only be interpreted in terms of a falling-away from the high achievements of early-Christian art, which you characterized as gothic. But, presumably, we next enter a phase of bourgeois art?
we do! Now
this phase, beginning with the Reformation and stretching into the
century, may be characterized as baroque and be regarded as a
though far from exclusively, Protestant phenomenon.
For there were indeed many Catholics of the
Counter Reformation at work in this second phase of religious
the least of whom were Titian, Tintoretto,
Poussin, and El Greco.
Yet even Catholicism undergoes modifications under the influence
Protestant criteria, so that it increasingly approximates to a
humanism, and gives rise to a correspondingly optimistic art, eschewing
earlier emphasis on sin and death in favour of life and salvation. However, it is primarily to the northern
countries like Holland and Belgium that we must turn for the most
of bourgeois Christian art, as manifested in many of the
pictorial works of Rembrandt and Rubens, as well as in the uniquely
of masters like de Witte and Saenredam,
works, focusing on church interiors, shine with the light of Protestant
HENRY: And what would you generally consider the pre-Raphaelites, whose works appeared later in the century, to have been?
bourgeois decadents, because so often returning
to the Middle Ages in their rebellion against contemporary industrial
civilization. In a sense, they were
misguided progressives rather than strictly decadent, since they wished
escape from bourgeois materialism and champion spiritual values. But instead of progressing towards the
higher, non-representational spirituality in art which an industrial
makes possible, they regressed to an attempted resurrection of medieval
spirituality, albeit purged of gothic pessimism and elevated to the
neo-gothic optimism of Victorian society, in which the pleasant side of
medieval life, as envisaged through nineteenth-century eyes, tends to
predominate. But while their volte-face
is preferable to a wholesale immersion in Graeco-Roman
Testament antiquity, it is certainly less good than the strictly
contemporary spirituality being developed by, amongst others, Turner
Impressionists, who were aligned not so much with bourgeois decadence
the new proletarian phase of religious evolution in art.
With the development of abstraction under
Turner and the nebulous disintegration of the material world which
Impressionism presupposes, we are in the third and highest phase of
production, in which the religious tends to prevail over the secular. The battle in
HENRY: And presumably in England, Alma-Tadema, Lord Leighton, Poynter, and other such painters of pagan antiquity were the Academicians' decadent counterparts?
FRANK: Indeed they were! So you can see that bourgeois decadence is really quite different from what it is generally considered to be in countries, for example, where Soviet Communism has officially prevailed. It is something that pre-eminently pertains to the nineteenth century, and then only to those artists who specialized in pagan themes, not to those who, like Turner, Constable, Monet, and Van Gogh, pioneered proletarian transcendentalism.
HENRY: A transcendentalism, I take it, which has subsequently become the mainstream movement of twentieth-century art?
at any rate in the Western world. In
the (former) Soviet East, however, it is
the secular, utilitarian art of Socialist Realism which has
prevailed, as relative to the materialist side of proletarian
revolution. Because a political revolution
HENRY: So an unofficial spiritual revolution exists within the West which is tolerated and even encouraged by the bourgeoisie because it doesn't directly threaten them, as would a political revolution?
FRANK: Yes, precisely! This is why we have the paradoxical situation of avant-garde art being produced in the West and, on that account, mistakenly regarded in the East, traditionally, as a manifestation of bourgeois decadence. Yet the fact that this art exists in the West is by no means a guarantee that it's bourgeois. On the contrary, it testifies to a proletarian transcendentalism which co-exists with bourgeois civilization, but always in the role of an outsider. Strictly speaking, there isn't any modern bourgeois art. For with the decadence of a given class-stage of aesthetic evolution, one arrives at the end of the particular contribution of that class to the arts. After the sterile academicism of fin-de-siècle decadence had run its dreary course, the evolution of art continued, with the twentieth century, in increasingly proletarian terms.
HENRY: Even as regards Modern Realism, which eschews the abstract in favour of contemporary representation?
FRANK: Yes, even then! For the secular is no less legitimate than the religious, and consequently entitled to a place in the development of modern art. Provided the artist concentrates on subjects or themes pertinent to contemporary industrial society, his art is relevant to the age and takes its place on the secular side of proletarian art as a kind of Western equivalent to Socialist Realism. A lesser type of aesthetic production to transcendental art the result may be! For, in any objective scale-of-values, the religious should take moral precedence over the secular. But it is by no means irrelevant to the age, just because it takes a representational form. If non-representational painting preponderates in the West, it is because we live in an unofficially religious age, one that was initiated, during the last century, by the spiritual revolution introduced into art by painters like Turner, Monet, Van Gogh, and Pissarro. The political revolution introduced into Russia by Lenin, Trotsky, and the lesser Bolsheviks, early in the twentieth century, subsequently gave rise to an official secular age in which Russia existed until the collapse of the Soviet Union, and which caused the representational to preponderate. In the East it was official means that prevailed. In the West, by contrast, unofficial ends. Consequently the one tended to contradict and castigate the other, each of them thinking poorly of the opposite type of art. Just as representational artists in the East tended to be critical of avant-garde artists, so avant-garde artists in the West tended to have a poor opinion of representational artists. Yet they were but two sides of the same coin - the coin of proletarian art in both its spiritual and materialist manifestations.
HENRY: So the modern age isn't decadent after all, at least as far as art is concerned, but intensely youthful and progressive?
FRANK: Not as youthful as 60-70 years ago, when abstract art was relatively new, but certainly maturing into a higher spirituality, as confirmed by the most recent experiments in light art - that quintessentially transcendental genre. Indeed, with the acceleration of evolution which modern life has engendered, we have already witnessed the appearance of proletarian decadence in one or two exceptional cases.
HENRY: Such as?
the neo-Christian works painted by
HENRY: And yet, when Western artists call themselves Communists but continue to produce avant-garde art, as did Picasso and a number of Surrealists, surely there is a contradiction involved?
FRANK: Of course there is! For Communism pertains to a materialist society founded on the canons of Marxism-Leninism, and Communists should therefore eschew all contact with spiritual or avant-garde trends. Being a Communist is, in effect, to be a modern barbarian, outside the pale of civilization. But being a Transcendentalist isn't to be a bourgeois, as some orthodox Communists seem to think, but a proletarian revolutionary within the Western context. For the only revolution to have occurred in the West, outside the domain of technology, is the spiritual one initiated by the leading painters of the late-nineteenth century, which has resulted in the development of an unofficial art in the avant-garde context. Naturally, Socialist Realism would also be unofficial in the West. But for most proletarian artists it is both safer and financially more expedient to remain in the avant-garde camp, without undue risk of bourgeois repression. Also one could argue that, from the historical standpoint, it is more natural to do so, insofar as the development of Transcendentalism in the West is the obverse of Socialist Realism in the East, and follows as a logical consequence from the absence of a political revolution. A Western social realist, like Lurçat or Fougeron, is by definition as much an outsider in relation to the tradition of revolutionary spiritual art in the West ... as an Eastern avant-garde artist, like Stepanov or Bitt, in relation to the tradition of revolutionary materialist art in the East. Consequently it is expedient for a majority of artists to remain within the confines of their respective proletarian traditions, rather than to go against the grain of their particular society. The fact that a number of avant-garde artists in the West have considered themselves Communists is just another of those ironical paradoxes of the twentieth century. Obviously they weren't Communists in any strictly Marxist-Leninist sense, for their art betrays the fact. They were simply Transcendentalists with communist sympathies, which isn't an uncommon situation among the Western revolutionary proletariat! Considering that Picasso was at work in an avant-garde context long before the October Revolution (1917) and subsequent endorsement, by Stalin, of Socialist Realism as the only acceptable art in a communist state, one cannot be surprised if, having already gained a reputation in the West for his particular contribution to art, he continued to produce work of an avant-garde nature, in preference to Socialist Realism, during the latter part of his career. One might say that habit and conditioning were against his doing anything else, as must also have been the case for most of his contemporaries. Besides, when he did make a somewhat belated attempt at producing Socialist Realism in the rather benign form of a portrait of Stalin, the Soviet authorities judged the result technically inadequate and rejected it. A man who had spent so much time distorting faces in his semi-cubist portraits could hardly be expected to produce one that matched-up to the eulogistic requirements of Socialist Realism! So, despite his political sympathies, he remained a Transcendentalist.
HENRY: And what about his art in relation to proletarian decadence - I mean, did he produce any decadent works as well?
FRANK: Yes, but scarcely of a neo-Christian order! Being in many respects a typically Mediterranean type, he preferred to relapse into neo-pagan themes from time to time, as confirmed by his drawings of nymphs, satyrs, and Graeco-Roman heroes. Not that he treated this return to pagan antiquity in a bourgeois manner. On the contrary, he always employed a modern technique - as, for example, in the series of drawings depicting pagan orgies and heroes, which are very minimalist. Thus he remains, in these works, an exponent of proletarian decadence, even if a rather untypical and, as far as subject-matter is concerned, slightly bourgeois-oriented one. However, the majority of his pictorial works aren't decadent but distinctly modern, especially the semi-cubist Expressionist portraits of his late period. There is nothing decadent about distortions of the natural, irrespective of what reactionary philistines of an overly objective or autocratic nature may like to think. Rather, such distortions correspond to a perfectly legitimate function of that branch of modern art which, whether in the context of Expressionism or Surrealism, would seem to be encouraging a break with the natural-world-order and consequently facilitating man's progress towards the transcendent. Now this particular branch of modern art may not be the highest, but it is certainly far from being superfluous or irrelevant! Time will, no doubt, vindicate its evolutionary status, in the development of proletarian art, as both an integral and progressive manifestation of post-dualistic criteria.
HENRY: That I can well believe! Though, to be honest, I still find it difficult to reconcile myself to the view that modern art is essentially proletarian, perhaps because I regard artists coming from a middle-class background, like Dali and Picasso, as effectively bourgeois.
isn't the social background of an artist that matters,
but the kind of art he produces. If it
is post-dualistic or transcendental, then it is proletarian art, and he
be regarded as a proletarian artist. The
age of bourgeois art, properly so-considered, has long since passed and
never be resurrected. The present and
the future belong to proletarian art, and in the ultimate civilization
will be official, not, as is currently the case in the West, unofficial
therefore outside the pale of institutionalized proletarian religion. Essential art will take its rightful place
above apparent art, as the religious art of the future proletariat. But contemporary artists won't be cheated out
of their aesthetic contribution towards the formation of this
civilization! They shouldn't be mistaken
for decadent bourgeois artists in their concentration on avant-garde
art. They should be seen in their true
light - as
Western revolutionaries. And even
proletarian decadence, to the limited extent it now exists, shouldn't
confounded with its bourgeois precursor.
For, in truth, there is a significant difference between the
neo-Christian works of
HENRY: Not to mention between Picasso's neo-pagan works and those of the fin-de-siècle academicians you mention.
FRANK: Oh, absolutely!
VINCENT: I can't help feeling that too many people are perverting themselves through pornography of one sort or another these days. You can't enter a newsagent’s shop without encountering various manifestations of magazine pornography, from soft to hard or, at any rate, moderately hard. For many men, such magazines must be a glaring temptation!
MICHAEL: Indeed! And I have been tempted by various magazines myself, in the past.
VINCENT: Doubtless with the fatal consequence of perverting yourself thereafter!
MICHAEL: Primarily to avail myself of the pictorial services of such sublimated whores as caught my eye, if you must know.
VINCENT: Sublimated whores?
MICHAEL: Yes, the modern type of prostitute par excellence, the one who offers her physical charms to all who are prepared to pay to see them, though only, of course, on a sublimated basis. No longer woman in the flesh but woman in the photo, whom one experiences indirectly, as an abstraction, through the eyes. Pornography is the medium through which the contemporary prostitute reveals herself.
VINCENT: And what about the traditional type of prostitute, whose body is to be had in the flesh?
MICHAEL: She is fast becoming obsolete, an anachronism which the age protects itself against through the law. She is becoming a member of that old-fashioned club of social dinosaurs. She no longer commands the prestige of her professional ancestors. Rather, it is the modern or sublimated whore who stands in the sexual limelight, to be admired by literally millions of men right across the globe. No traditional whore could boast of such an achievement, not even the great Sarah Bernhardt, who is reputed to have been loved by thousands, taking the word 'loved' in its physically operative sense.
VINCENT: Frankly I have no taste for whores, ancient or modern! My wife is all I need and, fortunately, she prevents me from following the example of those millions of men who buy pornography and inevitably pervert themselves, becoming voyeurs, masturbators, and hell-knows-what-else besides!
MICHAEL: Permit me to say that your standpoint is quite misguided.
VINCENT: Oh, in what way?
MICHAEL: You look upon proper, sane behaviour from a naturalistic point of view, and are consequently led to infer that any deviation from the natural, no matter how exciting or engrossing, is a perversion, to be avoided at all costs. But such a point of view is only compatible with a rural or provincial mentality, a mentality which has been shaped by nature's abundant proximity ... in the guise, needless to say, of assorted vegetation. It is incompatible, if I may say so, with an urban mentality, or one shaped by the comparative scarcity of external nature and the corresponding abundance of the artificial, as manifested in the man-made.
VINCENT: True. But to live in the city is to live in a perverted context and not to assess life through nature's immutable criteria. If it leads to one's treating perversions of the natural as a mark of progress, as your standpoint would seem to imply, then all I can say is that one would be better off living in the country, like me, where nature is never very far away and one can therefore relate to what is, after all, the most sensible and sane view of life.
MICHAEL: I'm sorry, Vinny, but this bourgeois complacency of yours just doesn't work with me! What you're effectively saying is that to live in the country is to live as man should live - not cut off from nature. But such a point of view is at best relative, at worst downright mistaken! Evolution, you see, is a fact, and because life is essentially an evolutionary struggle, those evolving are the ones who really live. The others, tied to their rural or provincial environments, become in the course of time social dinosaurs, with views that reflect not evolving man but static man - man who has reached a certain point and refuses or is unable to go any further, largely because his environment conditions his thinking and thereby prevents him from taking a more progressive stance. You would appear to be one such man, trapped, through force-of-habit, in your provincial conditioning. Rather than viewing pornography as a manifestation of sexual progress, a means of transcending the natural, your environmental conditioning and background lead you to view it as a manifestation of sexual perversion, to be spurned in the interests of 'correct living'. Given the circumstances under which you live, you are perfectly entitled to this view. But considered from any higher and more radical standpoint, one can only conclude it to be severely limited, in accordance with the relative criteria of static man.
VINCENT: All right progressive man, since you are resigned to your city perversions and have no use for provincial criteria, what exactly is it about these pornographic magazines that renders them agents of progress?
MICHAEL: Precisely what one of my earlier statements led you to infer - namely, that they contribute towards the overcoming of the natural and are relevant to an environment in which nature, in its external forms, has been largely overcome, in any case. What one gets from the alluring spectacle of pornographic images is the substitution of sublimated sexuality for concrete sexuality and the consequent elevation of sex from the body to the head, which is to say, from the flesh to the intellect.
VINCENT: How can you possibly speak of the 'consequent elevation of sex from the body to the head'?
MICHAEL: Because I live in an environment which enables one to grasp the meaning of life from a post-dualistic rather than a dualistic angle, and thus to see what the necessary outcome of evolutionary progress must be. And that outcome, believe it or not, must be the complete overcoming of the flesh ... in the attainment of the transcendental Beyond. For if there isn't a spiritual climax to evolution, then evolution is a mockery - nay, a myth, a fiction! Fortunately for evolving humanity, however, evolution isn't a fiction but a fact, and one that presupposes our evolving away from the flesh in the direction of greater degrees of spirituality. Pornography is, I believe, a stage in this direction, and the more men experience 'sex in the head', to use a phrase the reactionary D.H. Lawrence found so abhorrent, the less they will experience it in the body, and the closer will they draw to the complete overcoming of sex in the future post-Human Millennium.
VINCENT: Including, presumably, the sublimated variety?
MICHAEL: Yes. For, at that more fortunate juncture in time, men will have been programmed for the transcendental Beyond and accordingly be elevated to the blessed status of so many static units of potential transcendence, freed from everything but the brain and, ultimately, just the new brain, which will be artificially supported and sustained through the agency of a highly-sophisticated technology. Without a body, even sublimated sex would cease to be relevant, and so, eventually, the mind would be purged of sexual preoccupations.
VINCENT: The mind positively boggles!
MICHAEL: Doubtless yours more than mine, since we live in somewhat different environments. But I sincerely believe that my prophecies will be vindicated. For there is only one way to attain to salvation, and that is by overcoming the flesh.
VINCENT: And how do you suppose these artificially-supported brains will be arranged at that 'more fortunate juncture in time', when man is set directly on course for his Final End?
MICHAEL: Not separately but collectively, in accordance with the tendency of evolutionary progress to manifest itself in increasing degrees of approximation to the projected unity of the transcendental Beyond. I envisage entire clusters of brains being supported and sustained from a single central source, so that the analogy with a Christmas tree comes to mind, in which the tree's branches act as supports for the many coloured lights being sustained from a single external source. One can view the Christmas tree as an intimation of things to come, a projection of post-Human Millennial life. The brains will correspond to the electric lights, their supports to the tree's branches, and what sustains them to the electricity source. They will be clustered together as the closest possible approximation, on earth, to the envisaged spiritual unity of the transcendental Beyond, and will doubtless have a greater capacity for cultivating spirit on this collective basis than ever they would have on a separate or individual one. Thus the linking-up of numerous brains in this Christmas tree-like fashion will result in a being far superior in essence to a man, with his single brain, and therefore closer to the Supreme Being which transcendence will ultimately engender - a supreme level of being composed of all the transcendent spirit the evolving Universe can furnish. Furthermore, there is a distinct technological advantage to be gained from linking numerous brains together on a single support apparatus, which is that everything can be run from one energy source, thus minimizing or even eradicating the possibility of individual malfunctionings ... such as might accrue to separate sustains. Besides, evolutionary progress presupposes centro-complexification, to use a term favoured by Teilhard de Chardin, so it is virtually inconceivable that numerous separate sustains would be brought into action when one central sustain-system could do the job so much more efficiently, thereby making possible the closer arrangement of the individual brains on a single, many-branched support.
VINCENT: One is reminded of a light sculpture by Otto Peine, the German artist, in which numerous small electric-light bulbs, sprouting from a central support, form a kind of large globe of light.
MICHAEL: Yes, I think I know the work you are alluding to, and a fine example it is, too, of the way in which contemporary art, when truly significant, anticipates the future, serving as a guide to subsequent development. If you substitute brains for light bulbs, then you have an inkling of what highly-civilized life will amount to in the millennial Beyond, that precondition of the transcendental Beyond.... Not that there will be only one large support for our envisaged conglomeration of brains. In all probability, there will be many such supports right across the world, each city having its own support or supports, depending on the size of the population and the number of brains any given support can manage, not to mention the number that can reasonably be sustained from a central sustain-system peculiar to each support.
VINCENT: And if the support would be a kind of many-branched apparatus, of what, exactly, would the sustain be comprised?
MICHAEL: Principally a large powerful artificial heart, or pump, which would serve to pump blood, or some substitute thereof, through the brains via artificial blood vessels, or plastic tubing, which would convey fresh oxygen to the brains from oxygen tanks positioned in the immediate vicinity of the support. Whatever nourishment, in the form of synthetic stimulants, the brains required could also be pumped into them in this manner.
VINCENT: And who would supervise these arrangements to ensure that nothing broke down or that the oxygen containers didn't run out?
MICHAEL: Presumably everything would function autonomously under the supervision or, rather, surveillance of special computers assisted, where necessary, by robots. There would be scant need for men to concern themselves with the proper functioning of the sustain apparatus, at any rate, since theirs would be the brains being supported. All they need concern themselves with would be the cultivation of pure spirit in the superconscious and the eventual attainment to transcendence. They wouldn't be conscious of their physical environment in this more advanced stage of the post-Human Millennium, since egocentric consciousness would have been outgrown following the surgical removal of the old brain, which, in psychological parlance, may be equated with the subconscious. But getting to that more advanced stage would take some time; it couldn't be brought about overnight. A state of mind approximating to the clarity of the transcendental Beyond couldn't be embraced prematurely, as oriental mysticism has adequately confirmed through the twin doctrines of reincarnation and karma - doctrines which, though not to be taken literally, do underline, in a metaphorical kind of way, the necessity of gradual self-improvement. However, gradual self-improvement isn't something that can be effected though meditation techniques alone. One must also bring technology to bear on the problem, so that self-improvement may be seen to extend to the gradual phasing-out of the natural body through artificial replacements. The Orient has been traditionally too lax in this matter, stressing the spiritual at the expense of the technological. The Occident, in developing technology, has taken the opposite course. Only the coming together of the two approaches to life into a higher synthesis, with scope for mutual development, will make the goal of evolution in spiritual transcendence possible. Too exclusive a concentration on either the one or the other, meditation or technology, will simply result in failure.
VINCENT: All this takes us rather a long way from the subject of pornography, doesn't it? For me, a static man of the provinces, it is all rather baffling and against my middle-class grain. I cannot force myself to share your opinions, even though there may be some truth in them. I haven't experienced that Nietzschean ‘revaluation of all values’ which living in the city apparently encourages. I still belong to that old world in which nature remains the touchstone for evaluating conduct, and the artificial isn't allowed to intrude to any great extent - certainly not to the extent that it displaces the natural and becomes the leading string, so to speak. I cannot look upon pornography with the satisfaction you evidently feel on the basis of the fact that it signifies a negation of the natural and, consequently, a mode of sexual redemption. To me, it remains a temptation to perversion.
MICHAEL: Then I am sorry for you, Vincent. You are simply a social dinosaur, a man who refuses or is unable to evolve. Your opinions are gradually being overruled by those of us who live in the majority context, the city, and accordingly feel obliged to carry on the struggle to attain to the supernatural. You shut yourself off from the city and all it stands for, because it is becoming increasingly enigmatic to you, increasingly fearsome. You tell yourself, for the sake of a comforting illusion, that the proletariat are poor unfortunate devils who have no option but to live there, largely because they cannot afford such suburban-style accommodation as you, with your bourgeois wealth, inhabit in the country. Good, tell yourself that, if it helps make your own position any easier to bear! But don't expect me to share your opinions, as if I were a naturalistic country-dweller too! Long confinement in the city has taught me to look at life from a more radical angle, and nothing could now convince me that evolution can proceed in any other way than up through the city and city humanity. The future belongs to the proletariat, of that you can rest assured, even if the present is officially under bourgeois control and to some extent still reflects dualistic values. Yet even you cannot entirely escape the city's influence on the provinces. There are aspects of your life, I am sure, which are no longer quite middle class.
VINCENT: Maybe there are, but I never allow them to worry me too much. I know my essential position and I stick to it. Maybe that is because I have no real option. Nevertheless it suits me, given my provincial background. I wouldn't wish to exchange my concrete sexual habits for the sublimated, spiritualized sexuality to which you apparently subscribe.
MICHAEL: No, and I don't suppose you would wish to exchange your church-going habits for a regular stint of transcendental meditation either?
VINCENT: I don't go to church all that often, actually.
MICHAEL: Really? I am surprised at you! You consider yourself a bourgeois and you don't go to church all that often? Bad form, old boy! The twentieth century would seem to have undermined your class integrity and deprived you of an essential ingredient in the composition of your nobility.
VINCENT: What-on-earth are you talking about?
MICHAEL: Well, you know that bourgeois nobility is confirmed by dual allegiance to parliamentary democracy and Christianity, particularly of the nonconformist variety, don't you?
VINCENT: Do I?
MICHAEL: To be properly integrated as a bourgeois noble, you’ve got to be both a dependable voter, preferably for the Tories, and a regular church-goer, or Christian.
VINCENT: Then I'm afraid that I may not be properly integrated, since I lack faith in Christ.
MICHAEL: Dear me! That can only mean you are a decadent bourgeois, an all-too-prevalent species of modern bourgeois who has fallen under the malign influence of neo-barbarism and consequently come apart from the Church. You cling to your class on the tenuous basis of property and a periodic vote in the ballot box. But your nobility is severely tarnished by the absence of the faith! One might almost say it no longer exists. You are caught-up in the evolutionary no-man's-land between past and future as a kind of religious nonentity, hanging on the barbed wire of disbelief. The more orthodox members of your class would certainly frown upon you. There are still quite a number of fastidious bourgeois nobles around, believe it or not, whose lifestyles would be incomplete without at least one appearance in church a week. Their faith may not be as strong now as it used to be, but at least they know who they are and what they must do if they are to remain respectable members of their class. There is no-one who could point a finger at them and say: 'You're no longer genuinely noble because tainted by neo-barbarism!' They will always say 'Our Lord' when referring to Christ. For that is essentially what Christ is or should be - namely, the religious focus of bourgeois nobility.
VINCENT: Well, perhaps I am a little out-of-focus these days, since influenced by the city in some ways. How about you, are you in-focus?
MICHAEL: You know perfectly well the answer to that question, since I lectured you quite extensively on the nature of future religion, which will be a combination of high technology and meditation. Like you, I am also a lapsed bourgeois, though, unlike yourself, I have spent so much time living in the city that I am almost a proletarian; probably am a proletarian, even though I never rub shoulders with the workers or speak with a cockney accent spiced with four-letter expletives. My upbringing was strictly suburban, strictly Christian.... Even now, I occasionally find myself slipping into middle-class views. But I know that my nobility, if ever it existed, no longer exists in any strictly bourgeois sense, and that some time ago I joined the ranks of those who live in the evolutionary no-man's-land between one nobility and another.
VINCENT: And what, exactly, will this other nobility be?
MICHAEL: In a word, proletarian.
MICHAEL: A type of nobility compatible with an urban environment, which will only come into being with the future adoption, by the proletariat, of transcendentalism as the complementary religion to the politics of socialism. Until the people are regular and earnest practitioners of transcendental meditation in an institutionalized context, they won't be civilized but ... relatively uncivilized, which is to say, less than noble - in a word ignoble or plebeian, with an overly objective stance in life.
VINCENT: I see! Well, if that's the case, they are likely to remain uncivilized for some time to come, aren't they?
MICHAEL: Until such time, in fact, as the next civilization gets properly and officially under way, which won't be until after the new Dark Ages of materialist barbarism have passed and proletarian man turns away from the materialistic view of life towards a view embracing religion. But when this final nobility comes to pass, you can be certain that it will be superior to any previous kind of nobility, whether bourgeois or aristocratic. It will be a nobility from which transcendent spirit will eventually emerge, a nobility leading directly to God. For man, remember, has always been a god-builder, even if he hasn't always been able to build God literally. In his earliest, or pagan, stage of religion he built towards God in materials - for instance, stone or wood - and took the resulting statue for God, saw God in the statue. Because at that time life was more under the Devil's influence than subsequently, his religious sense reflected the root nature of evil by being aligned with many gods, numerous statues of different gods. For the Devil, curiously, is cosmic, and nothing could be more numerous or separate than the stars. Thus early man's endeavour to build towards God was severely hampered by his close proximity to nature, as by the Devil's influence, including that component of the Devil which is the sun, and could hardly be claimed to reflect a direct, literal route to the Supreme Being, or the creation thereof.
VINCENT: This is presumably during the aristocratic stage of nobility, when allegiance to some form of paganism was required?
MICHAEL: Yes, though it also extends into the Christian stage through early Catholicism, with, of course, the requisite political allegiance to autocratic rule. Even today the class-conscious aristocrat is more likely to be Catholic than Protestant. However, with regard to the ensuing Christian stage of building towards God, it becomes apparent that man has acquired a dualistic religious sense and therefore progressed away from the predominating materialism of his pagan forebears. Now that villages have expanded into towns he is no longer under nature's influence, nor under the Devil's, to quite the same extent, but can detach his worship from the statue and make do with fewer gods. Thus instead of worshipping God in the statue, the statue becomes merely an image of God, as conceived by the Christians, which serves to remind the worshipper that God's essence resides elsewhere, namely in post-resurrectional Heaven, and should not be imputed to the statue in the manner of pagan idolatry - a principle which also applies to the lesser deities of the Christian pantheon, viz. the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the leading apostles, et cetera.
VINCENT: So at that juncture in time man is set on course for literally building towards God, because he has weakened the influence of materialism over himself and thus found place in his devotions for a separate, spiritual concept of the Divine?
MICHAEL: Precisely! And in the ensuing Protestant stage of religious evolution man gains a further victory over materialism by cutting-down still further on the number of deities, while simultaneously reducing his dependence on the statue to a bare minimum - in certain more radical sects virtually dispensing with the image altogether. However, this bourgeois stage of religious evolution is precisely what proletarian man must subsequently transcend, as, thanks in large measure to the extent of his remove from nature in the city, he gets down to the honourable task of literally building towards God through a combination of technology, to phase-out the natural body, and meditation, to directly cultivate spirit. Thus you can see that religious evolution still has quite a long way to go, and that the inherent God-building tendencies in man will be put to their best, most fruitful use in the future. Just as Protestant man dispensed with a number of Catholic deities in his struggle away from the manifold diabolic roots of the Universe, so transcendental man will dispense with the remaining Protestant gods in his aspiration towards the unified divine culmination of evolution. There is a profound logic to life, and no-one, no matter how reactionary, can ultimately deny it! Vested interests in the worldly status quo won't prevent the truth from triumphing in the end. For we live in an age when the old gods are either toppling or being toppled, and must accordingly avail ourselves of the truth if we are to survive. And by 'we' I especially mean the proletariat, those city men who will form the final nobility. All credit to the bourgeoisie for what they achieved in effecting religious progress. But theirs is not the last say, believe me! Progress must continue.
VINCENT: Which presumably implies that city people should continue to have recourse to pornography, as a means of gradually freeing themselves from the natural and evolving towards a condition in which even sublimated sex ceases to apply?
MICHAEL: Yes. They must disentangle themselves from the sensual in the interests of spiritual progress. Looking at photographic reproductions of sublimated prostitutes may not be to everyone's liking, but it will certainly suit those of us who are in the vanguard of evolution. It will suit those of us who don't imagine that, by using such reproductions, we are perverting ourselves but, on the contrary, simply experiencing a higher order of sexuality - one purged, as it were, of sensual dross. In this respect, sublimated whores are certainly more angelic than their materialistic predecessors!
VINCENT: You have almost convinced me, decadent bourgeois that I am, though I fancy that plastic inflatables, or so-called 'sex dolls', would be more in my line.
MARK: I used to believe, like Oscar Wilde and a fair number of nineteenth-century intellectuals, that man was at bottom good. But these days I'm not so sure.
COLIN: To me, the idea that man is naturally good is one of the worst illusions of the nineteenth century! For the more natural a man is, the more correspondingly evil is he. At bottom, man is anything but good. Rather, he is sensual, lazy, mean, vindictive, mendacious, lecherous, violent, and quite a number of other disagreeable things to boot! No, if you want to discover what is good in man, you must consider what progress he has made towards a more artificial state-of-affairs. You must look at the extent to which civilization is manifest in him, consider what he has done to overcome and transcend nature. The pernicious idea that man is naturally good stems, in large measure, from Rousseau and his cult of the 'noble savage'. Sheer nonsense, of course! Nonetheless, a fair number of people have seen fit to believe it.
MARK: Well, you and I evidently know better. We needn't make any rash attempts to return to nature in order to purge ourselves, as it were, of civilized values, like D.H. Lawrence.
COLIN: No, we must look to the progress of civilization as a means to making us better, to gradually overcoming our baser self. Everything that is good has to be struggled after, it doesn't come naturally.
MARK: So, presumably, all religious, political, aesthetic, social, and scientific progress presupposes a struggle?
COLIN: Indeed it does! And a very difficult one at times, too! Like those fish that swim against the current, we have to struggle against nature if we are to progress upstream, so to speak. For that is the only way to get beyond nature and thus embrace the supernatural, which is commensurate with salvation.
MARK: A statement that doubtless applies as much to literary progress as to any other?
COLIN: Certainly! Literature is only meaningful to the extent that it reflects contemporary progress away from earlier values and norms. Once literature was a matter of illusion, with imaginary characters, settings, plots, et cetera, in an unashamedly narrative unfolding. Now, on the other hand, it is increasingly becoming, in the hands of the better writers, a matter of truth, with autobiographical, philosophical, propagandist, and factually descriptive content. It hasn't ceased to be literature just because it now takes quite the opposite form it used to - any more, for that matter, than art has ceased to be art with the development of non-representational tendencies. Rather, it is the highest kind of literature that has ever been written, because factual rather than fictitious, subjective rather than objective. These days I dislike the term 'fiction' immensely, since it connotes with something outmoded, anachronistic, bourgeois, commercial. Naturally it is still being written and read, but not by the more enlightened or evolved people! If the latter read literature at all, it's more likely to be of the factually subjective variety, whereas the less enlightened require objective fictions, since they are accustomed to being phenomenally selfless rather than noumenally selfish, and only really relate to the objective.
MARK: No doubt, women figure prominently in the latter category?
COLIN: They do, which isn't altogether surprising since the majority of women live a century or two behind men intellectually. For whereas men were into fiction in a big way during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, these days women are the main readers and writers of fiction, men having, in the meantime, evolved to more strictly intellectual, philosophical, factual works. That is basically as it should be. For there is ever a gap between men and women, a gap which only the most mendacious or stupid of people would attempt to deny! However, instead of being a straight sexually dualistic gap, these days, it is one formed on the positive, masculine side of the dualistic divide, so that the balance of the sexes has tipped over, as it were, in favour of the male, and women are increasingly being regarded as 'lesser men', actual men having effectively become, through a corresponding evolutionary progression, 'greater men'.
MARK: And these 'greater men' are more likely to read novels by, say, Henry Miller or Arthur Koestler than by Agatha Christie or Barbara Cartland, and her cartload of books, are they?
COLIN: Oh yes, that has to be admitted! I, myself, waded through the bulk of Henry Miller's literary oeuvre some years ago, and very fond of it I was too! As an artist, Miller undoubtedly ranks with the most subjective writers of the century.
MARK: And do you really consider him an artist, not just, as some people would contend, a writer?
already remarked, the criteria of literature may undergo radical change
the demands of contemporary life, but that doesn't prevent the result
being literature in any higher sense, nor its creator from being an
artist. To be sure, Henry Miller may
have scorned the traditional criteria of novel-writing more
thoroughly than a majority of his contemporaries. But
is simply a reflection of his
greatness as a modern author, and shouldn't lead us to regard his work
literature - as autobiography rather than novel-writing.
Autobiography there is certainly no shortage
of in Miller's work, but it tends to take the place of fictional
becoming their factual replacement. So,
of course, does the philosophical content, which becomes an
accompaniment to the autobiography, preventing the monotony that would
otherwise arise. Perhaps there has
always been a philosophical content in the best literature, which, if
so, is to
be commended, since it testifies to a straining towards supernatural
subjectivity and, hence, the Holy Ghost.
With the twentieth century, however, it has gradually expanded,
the point, in novels like Huxley's
MARK: Yes, I entirely agree! But literature continues to progress and presumably the more autobiographical and/or philosophical it becomes, the higher it stands in relation to the past.
COLIN: Yes, that is my view
at any rate! Henry Miller's novels
continued to develop in subjective terms, showing little or no interest
traditional criteria. Curiously it is
often the way with Americans that they latch-on to new trends with an
and thoroughness which Europeans rarely if ever experience, or only
to gradually ... after the Americans have paved the way.
Miller's novels stand head-and-shoulders
above those of the majority of his contemporaries and are scarcely
even now, some decades after his last important work.
In England, there was Huxley who, though less
radical than Miller, showed a willingness, with time, to expand his
philosophically, so that his late-period works, written, interestingly
in America, rank as his best.
MARK: Though, in England, we don't seem to have an equivalent of Henry Miller, do we? I mean, we haven't yet produced an artist with such a radically autobiographical and philosophical style.
disagree! As the
British equivalent to Henry Miller I would suggest the late Malcolm Muggeridge, who, curiously enough, was Miller's
contemporary. Now, as an artist, he is
underrated by the literary conservatives, which isn't altogether
since they cannot conceive of literary excellence in factually
but are all the time measuring artists according to the fictional
the past. And yet, from the contemporary
autobiographical and philosophical standpoint, there can be few
MARK: And yet there is also about Muggeridge something of the enfant terrible, the rebel, the outsider, the guilty conscience of his class which, even now, prevents him from being entirely respectable from a middle-class point of view. It is as though his public reputation largely rested on notoriety in controversy, and had to be sustained on that basis, so that, as you implied, his Christianity was rather unorthodox and he remained something of a rebel even in old age.
COLIN: An opinion which may also be said to apply to Henry Miller who, as an American, represented a still more radical deviation from the norms of bourgeois propriety. Yet even though neither of them could be wholly tamed and forced into the fold of complacent bourgeois respectability, nonetheless they remain firmly anchored to their class and are now regarded as honourable, distinguished members of it. No doubt, every class requires internal critics and guilty consciences to keep it in check or, at the very least, remind it of what it's doing to itself by rejecting spiritual values, and the middle class are clearly no exception! How long it will be before the working class acquire their Millers or Muggeridges remains to be seen. Though, if Solzhenitsyn is anything to judge by, it won't be for some time yet - not, anyway, until they are wholly triumphant.
MARK: Assuming they ever will be!
COLIN: Frankly, I have no confidence in the presumed permanence of bourgeois civilization! And neither, may I add, did Malcolm Muggeridge, whose controversial reputation enabled him to suggest possibilities for the future transformation of Western society which no orthodox, right-thinking bourgeois would even have countenanced, let alone uttered! The notion, for instance, that Western civilization is destined to be superseded by some experiment in collective living ... is far from alien to Malcolm Muggeridge's mind, which was well furnished not only with Marxist scholarship, but with Spenglerian scholarship moreover. He was certainly no stranger to The Decline of the West.
MARK: Neither, incidentally, am I, though I disagree with Spengler on a number of counts, and am more inclined, in light of the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, to identify experiments in collective living or other significant social changes which may be in store for Western civilization with closer European integration and the development of a federal Europe. However, the real trouble with the West, and particularly England these days, is that it is too negative, shying away from progress and change as from a nightmare or fearsome obstacle. A man like you, who in many respects is too intellectually lucid to be content with the usual welter of platitudinous beliefs and opinions, is virtually doomed to a living death here.
COLIN: I take your point with regard to myself, but I don't entirely agree with your assessment of England, widespread though it tends to be among the more adventurous spirits. This country is by no means the negative place it is often regarded as being. On the contrary, it is precisely the opposite quality which makes it objectionable to you - namely, the fact of its positivity. For it is now resting on its laurels, so to speak, and availing itself of what it has achieved in the past, making the most of its particular stage of civilization. You see, positivity is aligned with passivity, not, as may at first and more naturally appear the case, with activity or doing. It is precisely the latter which is always negative. For it stems from the infernal roots of life in the Cosmos, which constantly seethes with external activity, and there is nothing more negative than stellar energy. Now whereas positivity tends to make for a passive or conservative society, in which revolutionary change is frowned upon as an unwarranted interruption of the experience of being ... compatible with the degree of civilization manifest there, negativity, by contrast, presupposes an active or revolutionary society bent on effecting widespread change, both internally and abroad. Of all the major countries in the world at this juncture in time, Russia is undoubtedly the most negative, the most active, while the Western nations, and Britain and America in particular, remain the most positive, America doubtless more positive than Britain, given its penchant for extremes - a penchant which led Henry Miller to embrace Buddhism, the most being-orientated of all religions, whereas Malcolm Muggeridge was content to avail himself of the blessings of Christianity, which has usually emphasized doing at the expense of being, phenomenal selflessness at the expense of noumenal self. Paradoxically, however, the extremism of America can also mean that, in certain other contexts, there is always more negativity prevailing there than is generally the case in Western Europe, since it is more fiercely Jekyll and Hyde than the latter on account of its 'communistic' culture, of which film is the epitome and effective nature of the 'American dream'. But this fact doesn't detract anything from my contention. For, despite its negativity, America remains committed, through its puritan roots, to dualistic civilization, and can thus be counted among the ever-dwindling number of positive states. It wasn't America that invaded Afghanistan, and the chances are that it won't be America that invades any other country in the near future [This was written some years prior to the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq - author's note]. America can only react to invasion, as in relation to Communism in South-East Asia, and it will doubtless continue to do so wherever Western interests are perceived to be under threat, as was the case in the Gulf.
MARK: Curiously, I was reading a book by the American journalist Janet Flanner the other day, in which she remarks how, just prior to the Second World War, Europe was fundamentally divided into two camps of conviction - the active Nazi/Fascist camp on the one hand, and the passive Democracies of France and Britain on the other, the former regarding war as a summon bonum, the latter, by contrast, as a summon malum. The Nazi/Fascist camp still had something to achieve, namely the conquest of Europe, whereas the Democracies, having long since passed the belligerent or expansionist phase of their evolution, were content to rest on their laurels, to use your cute phrase.
COLIN: Yes, which simply confirms what I have been saying about the respective natures of positivity and negativity - the former having passive associations, compatible with expiring civilization, and the latter ... active associations, compatible with neo-barbarism. Hitler gambled on overthrowing Western civilization and lost, largely because he made the fatal mistake of taking on a stronger barbaric country in the process. Had he not been so greedy in regard to Nazi ambitions, he might have succeeded in destroying the Democracies, Britain included. But he wanted to destroy the Soviet Union as well, ostensibly because Germans needed more living space but largely, I suspect, because that country harboured an ideology directly alien to his own, a sort of proletarian autocracy no less militarist, in its own fashion, than was the bourgeois autocracy which Hitler forged in reaction to Communism, with himself cast in the role of a sort of Western saviour with Cromwellian, Napoleonic, and Bismarckian ancestry.
MARK: So you don't agree with Malcolm Muggeridge, to bring him back into the picture, that Soviet Communism and National Socialism were but two aspects of the same thing - the Slavonic and Teutonic versions, respectively, of dictatorial socialism.
COLIN: Not quite, though I concede that Muggeridge had a point if we substitute autocratic neo-barbarism for dictatorial socialism, in that both regimes did represent such a phenomenon in relation to democratic civilization. Yet although there were superficial analogies between Stalin's 'Socialism in One Country' and Hitler's National Socialism, we shouldn't be led to overlook or underestimate the profound differences that existed between the two movements - differences, we may infer, which would have become very apparent had either country succeeded in overrunning the world. For whereas Soviet Communism, even under Stalin, would have led to the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and to the gradual restructuring of capitalist economies in the proletarian interest, German Nazism would simply have resulted in the subjugation of defeated peoples in the German interest. There, if anywhere, lies the essential difference between Soviet Communism and Nazism - the one revolutionary in its social aspirations on behalf of the proletariat, the other reactionary where Marxism was concerned and therefore harking back to the age-old policy of conquerors to subjugate the conquered in their own interests. Thus Nazi hegemony of Europe would have resulted - and to a certain extend did result for a limited period of time - in the transformation of the vanquished into so many slaves of the 'Master Race'. Soviet hegemony, on the other hand, was designed to free the masses from bourgeois oppression and, consequently, to further the cause of a brotherhood of man. That is no small distinction!
MARK: Though one may perhaps be forgiven certain doubts as to the authenticity of whatever claims Stalin might have made as regards the latter ambition. His was by no means orthodox Marxism!
COLIN: To some extent that is perfectly true. Though it is easy, these days, to exaggerate Stalin's discrepancies at the expense of his achievements, which, from an historical viewpoint, were quite considerable. The concept of 'Socialism in One Country' isn't as irrational or counter-revolutionary as some people, more usually Trotskyite, have imagined. On the contrary, it is the most realistic of attitudes to the development of socialism, given the firm entrenchment of bourgeois power in traditionally democratic countries like Britain and France, where private ownership tends to be the prevailing norm. Lenin, himself, was initially too idealistic with regard to the simultaneous spread of Communism to various industrial countries in the West, as if industrial advancement alone were sufficient to guarantee proletarian revolution! Trotsky shared the same misguided idealism, though it was tempered, in his case, by the possibility of Soviet intervention in foreign countries to assist the worker's struggle on the basis of 'Permanent Revolution'. But the fledgling Soviet Union was in no position to militarily involve itself in other countries' affairs, following the traumatic experiences of both the First World War and the Civil War, and so Stalin's concern for consolidating Soviet power at home inevitably won the day over Trotskyite idealism. Internationalism is all very well as an idealistic ambition, but it cannot be made the basis of world revolution.
MARK: No doubt, that is something Hitler must have realized when he opted for nationalism as the means not only of effecting Germany's economic recovery, but also of avenging Germany on France and the Democracies in general for the humiliating consequences of the Versailles Treaty.
COLIN: Yes, one can only conclude that Hitler was first and foremost a German patriot bent on securing German interests at the expense of Germany's enemies, with scant regard, in consequence, for international ideals. Internationalism would have seemed to him somehow beside-the-point in the context of Germany's humiliating treatment at the hands of its Western opponents, the willingness of German communists to identify with their French or British counterparts being an obstacle in the path of German vengeance on the Democracies. So, from Hitler's patriotic viewpoint, they had to be got out of the way, as, on a similar though by no means identical account, did the Jews. The fall of the largest communist party in Western Europe, during the 1920s and early '30s, can only be properly understood in light of Germany's Versailles humiliations and the widespread sympathy with nationalism that duly followed. Vengeance rather than reconciliation would have struck a deeper chord in the average German psyche, particularly when acquainted, like Hitler or Goering, with the First World War. And, doubtless, the rout of Trotskyism in the Soviet Union had an influence on the course of political events in Germany, making the Nazi/Soviet Pact of 1939 virtually inevitable. The fact that Hitler was opposed to Marxism, however, needn't surprise us, since Marx was a Jew and no Jew could have served as Hitler's mentor! This was undoubtedly another contributory element in the development of Hitler's politics, and one of the reasons why he wanted to crush the Soviet Union as a matter of course. That he ultimately failed in his objective is no great cause for regret, in view of what a long-term Nazi domination of Europe would have entailed. But he did succeed in liquidating the majority of European Jews and thus, as Sabastian Haffner points out in his penetrating little book The Meaning of Hitler, in fulfilling, or almost fulfilling, one of his major objectives - a fact we may well regret! The negativity of Nazi Germany certainly had its diabolical consequences.
MARK: And so, too, I suspect would the negativity of Russia in any future war.
COLIN: Possibly, though we mustn't assume that negativity in a nation inevitably leads to Hitlerian consequences. It can be a factor in world progress if used in the service of a liberating, revolutionary ideology. Hitler's negativity, as we've seen, was put to the service of an enslaving, reactionary one, the unfortunate consequences of which are still, to a certain extent, with us. We must hope that, now that Stalinism seems to have died from old age in Eastern Europe, the components of the former Soviet Union won't degenerate into ethnic bumptiousness and chauvinism, like a fascist state. Fidelity to the ideal of a brotherhood of man will be the touchstone by which to evaluate the authenticity of their democratic claims. If proletarian autocracy is truly dead in Europe, then we shall have real grounds for optimism concerning the future!
MARK: And presumably that applies to the future of literature as well, which should continue to evolve to greater heights of truthfulness.
COLIN: I sincerely hope so! After all, we can't leave the last words with Henry Miller and Malcolm Muggeridge, much as we may admire them. Life must continue, and men grow better. Which is to say, ever more civilized and, hence, artificial!
PART TWO: APHORISMS
1. The sun is not the Devil but a component of the Diabolic - a part of the alpha absolute.
2. No man can see Hell in its entirety, though he can usually see a part of it when he beholds the nearest star and/or stars.
3. To look upon the Devil as God is only permissible during a limited period of evolutionary time.
4. Likewise it is only permissible to pay deferential respect to the Infernal, in the guise of the Creator, for a limited period of evolutionary time.
5. The Father, being a Christian anthropomorphic euphemism for the Devil - and most especially, I contend, for that part of the Devil which corresponds to the sun - is deserving of our respect throughout the duration of dualistic civilization, but not after it has passed!
6. Thus although the planet will continue to spin through space as formerly, and men feel that its cosmic stability is still guaranteed in the future, they won't give thanks for this fact to the Father. Rather, they will exclusively turn towards the creation of God ... the Holy Spirit.
7. Post-dualistic civilization will therefore be devoid of both unconscious paganism and conscious Christianity. It will be solely concerned, by contrast, with superconscious transcendentalism.
8. What makes Christianity unacceptable from a post-dualistic standpoint is the fact that it is insufficiently transcendentalist; its dualism, in diluted paganism, curtailing the degree of transcendentalism permissible.
9. To say post-dualistic is equivalent to saying post-egocentric, meaning a consciousness biased on the side of the superconscious, not balanced between the subconscious and the superconscious in dualistic egocentricity.
10. A consciousness biased on the side of the superconscious only becomes possible in an urban context, where the man-made has displaced the natural to an extent that civilization preponderates over nature in the ratio of at least 3:1.
11. Civilization may be regarded, in this urban context, as a manifestation of the materialistic supernatural. Such a 'supernaturalism' can only precede the spiritual supernaturalism which is its logical consequence.
12. A profounder concept of civilization is one that equates it with a society in which politics and religion are complementary ... on a uniform level of evolution.
13. Thus civilization, in this profounder sense, presupposes an official religion, even when that religion has ceased to correspond to majority requirements or interests, and the civilization in question is accordingly decadent.
14. Pitted against decadent civilization is barbarism, which tends to its destruction. In the modern age, a barbarous country is one in which religion has been officially dethroned and outlawed. This primarily applies to traditional religion, such as Christianity or Buddhism, though it may also extend to revolutionary religion, e.g. transcendentalism, and hence to 'God-building' in general.
15. Being materialistic, a Marxist-Leninist society is liable to make no distinction between traditional religion and its revolutionary successor but, rather, to pronounce condemnatory judgement on all religion, whatever its nature.
16. It is perhaps inevitable that a Marxist-Leninist society should do this, given the materialistic basis of communist ideology, which claims to be scientific.
17. A superior world-view to Marxism-Leninism will distinguish between traditional religion and the revolutionary, transcendental religion which is destined to replace it. This world-view would not therefore be against religion per se.
18. For it is not religion which is destined to perish, but a particular stage of religious evolution.
19. If in the transitional period between the death of an old civilization and the birth of a new one, there exists an 'internal proletariat' of spiritual inclination and an 'external proletariat' of materialist inclination, as Toynbee maintains, then it should be noted that the converse of these antithetical manifestations of proletarian life is also to be found, so that the West, for example, may be said to harbour an 'external proletariat' of materialist inclination, and the East, by contrast, an 'internal proletariat' of spiritual inclination. These latter proletariats will, however, have been in the minority in their respective societies traditionally.
20. There is also, it should be added, a proletariat which is neither 'internal' nor 'external', in the strict Toynbeean sense of those terms, but simply proletarian, i.e. devoid of either strong religious or political convictions. Such a 'lumpen proletariat' may well constitute a majority.
21. To criticize the barbarism, especially in its physical manifestations, of barbarous countries from a civilized standpoint ... is simply to project one's civilized criterion into contexts to which it doesn't apply - in a word, to meddle.
22. The freer the society the more truth it can take. Conversely, the less free the society, the more does truth have to be diluted by illusion.
23. Dualistic society cannot be expected to imbibe truth in strong doses. Only a post-dualistic society can lead one to the ultimate truth which, as Truth, would be God.
24. What makes the term 'God' so suspect, these days, is that it has been associated for so long with the Devil, in the guise of the Father, and with Christ, the relative anthropomorphic deity of the Christians.
25. And yet the term 'God' can still have meaning and respectability, from a post-dualistic standpoint, if exclusively associated with the Holy Spirit, and thus projected, as the goal of human striving, into the future.
26. The Nietzschean assertion that 'God is dead' should not be taken to apply to the Holy Spirit (which in any case doesn't yet exist) but primarily to Christ, as god of the Christians, and secondarily to the Creator, Who is no longer to be regarded as God but simply as the Devil or, better still, the stars.
27. When we speak of the stars we are using scientifically factual language. When, however, we equate the stars with the Devil we are entering the realm of religion and using not fictional but theological language, since theology has to do with metaphorical extrapolations from the Given.
28. Everything returns to religion; for at the end of the evolutionary road we shall be immersed in transcendent spirit which, as God, would be at the furthest possible remove from the stars.
29. Evolution is therefore a journey, as it were, from the impure light of the stars to the pure light of the transcendental Beyond, which is to say, from the sensuality of the alpha absolute to the spirituality of the omega absolute.
30. Science can never penetrate to the essence of nature but only deal in phenomenal appearances, the reason being that the 'essence' of nature is apparent, not essential.
31. Essence is spirit, and can only come out of nature with the birth of the supernatural at the climax of evolution. To penetrate to the noumenal essence of the supernatural, one must utilize the highest religious approach, which is to say, the direct cultivation of spirit through transcendental meditation. Scientific inquiries are irrelevant.
32. One should not confound what will be transcendent, in the transcendental Beyond, with what already exists, in space, as the stars. There is nothing transcendent, i.e. beyond nature, about the stars. For, as the roots of nature, they are the most fundamental and primal of all existences.
33. One might liken the sun of any particular solar system to the roots of a flower, the planets to the stalk, and the highest life form to be found on those planets to the blossom. Eventually, however, this life form will evolve beyond the blossom and thus become transcendent - wholly detached from nature.
34. Science is a means of investigating, understanding, exploiting, and overcoming the material world. It has nothing whatsoever to do with spirit, the development of which should be entrusted to religion. But it can indirectly assist the development of spirit - through overcoming nature.
35. Thus arises the future prospect of technological transcendentalism, or science in the service of religion. The phasing-out of the natural body will be entrusted to science, while religion simultaneously attends to the development of spirit.
36. The crisis of twentieth-century science stems, in the main, from the void left by traditional religion and the futile attempts being made by science to fill it. Instead of concentrating on natural appearances, science has felt obliged to substitute itself for religion in the hope of coming to terms with supernatural essences. Such an obligation, however, can never be fulfilled, and it is the dawn of this realization which has made for the contemporary crisis. Needless to say, the sooner science is freed from its existential perversions and enabled to proceed to the service, no matter how indirectly, of revolutionary religion, the better it will be for everyone, scientists included!
37. By splitting the atom, man can destroy nature, but he cannot thereby create God.
38. Yet nuclear energy, in whatever context, is an indisputable achievement of modern science. It is the only kind of energy fully commensurate with contemporary life, an energy created by man rather than wholly dependent upon nature.
39. Forms of energy extracted from nature via the sun, the wind, the sea, the earth, fire, et cetera, are but a stage on the road to energy being produced independently of nature - through technological progress.
40. All natural forms of energy are inherently inferior to artificial or, to revert to a term used earlier, materialistically supernatural kinds of energy, and should be superseded by the latter as a matter of evolutionary course.
41. The exploitation of nature is undoubtedly a necessary process of human evolution, but so, too, is the process of becoming independent of nature through the development of technology.
42. Natural energy keeps one the slave of nature, whereas artificial energy enables one to transcend it.
43. It is perhaps necessary that the twentieth century, in developing socialism, should have also developed - and still be developing - an alternative ideology with, nevertheless, certain political affinities with socialism. Necessary, above all, to the extent that, in rejecting materialism, it should endorse a new religious sense - something, however, not always guaranteed, as the examples of recent history attest!
44. Not that such an alternative modern ideology should necessarily replace socialism. Rather, it should seek to co-exist with and influence socialism for the better, which is to say, away from the closed materialist view of history towards an open transcendentalism, such as would be compatible with the next civilization.
45. Perhaps we should rather distinguish between one mode of socialism and another, reserving for the Stalinist mode the description of scientific socialism, or communism, while allowing for the possibility not only of political socialism, but of religious socialism, since socialism would seem to be one of those terms which are as generically broad, in their ideological implications, as royalism and liberalism.
46. Unlike communism, socialism has strong economic implications, and it seems to me that socialism stands to communism as capitalism to liberalism, or feudalism to royalism, with a strongly bureaucratic status.
47. The essential difference between fascism and socialism, in its Marxist manifestation, is that whereas the former would enslave the conquered for the benefit of the conquerors, the latter should liberate the masses from bourgeois oppression, and thus further the ideal of a brotherhood of man.
48. A political movement is only as good as the man who leads it.
49. Politics is only justified as a means to an end - the end of the State and the beginning of the post-Human Millennium.
50. The post-Human Millennium will only come fully to pass, however, when all men have been programmed for transcendence in the exclusive spirituality made possible by the artificial replacement of the natural body through extensive technological progress.
51. As so many meditating brains clustered together on artificial supports, the psychic components of the post-Human Millennium would be at their closest possible approximation, on earth, to the ultimate spiritual unity of the transcendental Beyond, completely oblivious of their external surroundings.
52. The faith and confidence which man now places in his machines will be considerably greater in the post-Human Millennium. For his brain will be entirely dependent on the proper functioning of the artificial sustains, and would not survive without their functioning correctly.
53. Doubtless, computers will be on-hand to verify the proper functioning of the sustains and delegate appropriate tasks, where necessary, to robots. Human brains will thus be dependent on these technological marvels, with considerable confidence in them.
54. Even now the confidence that man places in his machines is by no means inconsiderable, and augers well for the future.
55. The old brain/subconscious mind will eventually be disposed of, after the manner of the rest of the sensual body, making possible the transcendence of egocentric consciousness in the spiritual consciousness of the new brain/superconscious mind.
56. Formerly, psychologists conceived of the psyche as divisible into a subconscious and an ego, or conscious mind. The idea was that the ego sat atop the subconscious, like the tip of an iceberg showing above the water, a tiny fraction of the entire phenomenon.
57. We must reject this absurdity in favour of the contention that egocentric consciousness is but the result of a fusion between the subconscious and the superconscious which varies according to the extent to which either part of the psyche prevails, in overall consciousness, at any given point in evolutionary time, this variation being partly conditioned by changing environmental factors and partly attributable to a variety of individual ones.
58. Thus arise three basic types of human consciousness: the pre-egocentric, the egocentric, and the post-egocentric.
59. The first type corresponds to an environment in which nature prevails over civilization, i.e. the man-made, in the ratio of at least 3:1, with a consequence that consciousness tends to reflect a similar imbalance in favour of the subconscious, and there arises a religious sense corresponding to the pagan.
60. The second type of consciousness corresponds to an environment in which nature and civilization are approximately in balance, giving rise to a consciousness in which the two parts of the psyche form an egocentric equilibrium, and there arises a religious sense corresponding to the Christian.
61. The third type of consciousness corresponds to an environment in which civilization prevails over nature in the ratio of at least 3:1, and there arises a religious sense corresponding to the transcendental.
62. Before pre-egocentric consciousness there is only the beastly consciousness of a psyche almost entirely under subconscious dominion, as with the animals, and beneath that the even more subconsciously-dominated (unconscious) 'psyche' of the plants.
63. Beyond post-egocentric consciousness there is the possibility of pure consciousness, or superconsciousness, leading on, via transcendence, to the even purer consciousness of the Supreme Being.
64. To conceive of a projected antithesis to the stars, which are antithetical to such a consciousness, is to posit the pure spiritual consciousness of a supreme level of being in the (future) transcendental Beyond.
65. To conceive of a projected antithesis to the plants, which are unconscious, is to posit the pure consciousness of the artificially-supported clusters of new brains in the second phase ('communist') of the post-Human Millennium.
66. To conceive of a projected antithesis to the animals, with their rudimentary consciousness, is to posit the radically post-egocentric consciousness of human brains artificially supported and sustained in the first phase ('socialist') of the post-Human Millennium.
67. To conceive of a projected antithesis to the pagans, with their pre-egocentric consciousness, is to posit the post-egocentric consciousness of transcendental man.
68. Thus degrees of consciousness can be pin-pointed, as it were, along a spectrum of evolving consciousness from A - Z, or alpha to omega, with correlative antithetical positions marked on route.
69. When one contemplates a tree or bush in blossom, one is effectively looking at the antithesis to our projected cluster of artificially-supported new brains in the 'Communist' Millennium. The artificial supports will correspond to the branches of the tree, and the brains being supported to the leaves on those branches. The tree reflects the crude, sensual communism of the lowest life form; the cluster of new brains, by contrast, will represent the refined, spiritual communism of the highest life form - highest, that is to say, short of the formless transcendent spirit of the omega absolute, which would be purely essential.
70. Likewise a Christmas tree, suitably attired, provides one with an intimation of things to-come, albeit on a much higher and more direct level than a natural tree. For whereas the leaves of the latter are sustained naturally, through the agencies of sunlight, rainwater, et cetera, the lights of the former are sustained artificially, through electricity, and may thus be said to represent not so much an antithesis to the projected Millennial context as ... a crude intimation of it. Better still when the Christmas tree's branches are synthetic, making the overall effect more transcendent and therefore closer, in essence, to a post-Human Millennium.
71. At Christmas, there should be as many artificial lights in operation as possible. A time of spiritual intimations!
72. It would be a good thing too if, in the future, synthetic drugs were to take the place of natural drugs, so that people could experience a degree of upward self-transcendence in the lower, visionary regions of the superconscious.
73. Synthetic drugs, like LSD, would condition man away from his subconscious and thus slowly lead him, in visionary rapture, towards the pure light of his superconscious.
74. This gradual break with the subconscious would be the necessary prelude to the eventual removal, by qualified technicians, of the old brain, as men matured into a transcendent consciousness.
75. And from transcendent consciousness to complete transcendence, or attainment to the transcendental Beyond, would simply be a matter of time.
76. We cannot be absolutely certain that transcendence would lead directly to the omega absolute, but, assuming the immensity of the Universe precluded this, must rest on the hypothesis that it would, at any rate, lead directly to the transcendental Beyond - to a Beyond which could be one of a number of 'globes' of pure spirit simultaneously converging - and expanding - towards other such 'globes' in a process of bringing about the ultimate unity of the Supreme Being.
77. Only once the ultimate unity of the definitive 'globe' of pure spirit was established, would God be definitive, in complete antithesis to the separate, manifold constitution of the Devil, or stars.
78. With the eventual disintegration and disappearance of the alpha absolute(s), the Universe would be brought to perfection in the indivisible unity of the omega absolute.
79. A perfection which would last for ever and continue to indefinitely expand throughout the void of infinite space.
80. For the omega absolute, in being the complete antithesis of the alpha absolute, could only expand, never contract.
81. Thus the Universe, composed of transcendent spirit, would grow ever more perfect as the immeasurable extent of the omega absolute continued to expand.
82. No man can set limits to the Supreme Being, which is the supreme level of being.
83. Yet no man would be there to watch the Infinite expand through space, as men now watch the gradual contraction and divergence of stars from their various observatories. All men or, rather, their post-human successors would be experiencing the bliss of transcendence in their supernatural manifestations.
84. For whereas one can only investigate the appearance of the Diabolic through science, the Divine can only be experienced, in its essence, though religion - alpha and omega, external and internal, phenomenon and noumenon, Devil and God.