The Ever-Present Origin

By Jean Gebser; Noel Barstad et al. | Go to book overview

they positive or negative--unless certain still valid concepts, attitudes, and forms of thought are more closely scrutinized and clarified. Otherwise we commit the error of expressing the "new" with old and inadequate means of statement. We will, for example, have to furnish evidence that the concretion of time is not only occurring in the previously cited examples from painting, but in the natural sciences and in literature, poetry, 73 music, sculpture, and various other areas. And this we can do only after we have worked out the new forms and modes necessary for an understanding of aperspectivity.

The very amalgamation of time and the psyche noted earlier, with its unanticipated chaotic effect as manifested by surrealism and later by tachism, clearly demonstrate that we can show the arational nature of the aperspectival world only if we take particular precautions to prevent aperspectivity from being understood as a mere regression to irrationality (or to an unperspectival world), or as a further progression toward rationality (toward a perspectival world). Man's inertia and desire for continuity always lead him to categorize the new or novel along familiar lines, or merely as curious variants of the familiar. The labels of the venerated "Isms" lie ever at hand ready to be attached to new victims. We must avoid this new idolatry, and the task is more difficult than it first appears.

Let us again look at our example of the fusion of time and the psyche: as long as time is dredged up from oblivion and thrust into visibility in bits and pieces, our preoccupation with the past aspect of time will bring on further chaos and disintegration. But the moment we are successful, like Picasso, in wresting past "time"-- that is latently present time--from oblivion via its appropriate structure and means of expression, and render it visibly anew and thus present, then the importance we accord to the earlier times and their diverse structures of consciousness will become apparent in the development of aperspectivity.

If we fail to recognize this still potent past legacy, it may at any time become critical and threaten to overwhelm us; and this would prevent us from perceiving the new with the requisite vigilance and detachment.

Because of this, we will examine in the following chapter those incisive occurrences that have manifest themselves (to use our term) as mutations of the consciousness of mankind. The results of these mutations are latent in each and every one of us in the form of the various consciousness structures and continue to be effective in us. It is our hope that this brief outline of the nature of the unperspectival and the perspectival worlds has clarified one point: the degree to which the aperspectival world must be built on the foundations of the perspectival world if it is to surpass it. And as we expand and extend the temporal breadth and depth of its temporality, the bases for the aperspectival world will become broader and increasingly supportive.

1
As we shall see later in our discussion (Part I, chapter 3), the unperspectival European world was preceded by a world we would have to call the "pre-perspectival." As a first orientation in this discussion of the European worlds, however, the three named will be sufficient, and consequently we have limited ourselves to only these three.

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