The Ever-Present Origin

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

space just as the Greeks would have been lost in the soul without the set, idealized points.

Now that this spatial world threatens to come apart because the forces it has unleashed are more powerful than man who realized them, the new capability is being formed in him which is awakened by precisely those seemingly negative powers and forces. Just as sense-directed thought--which was able to prevent the Greeks from perishing in the inner world of awakening consciousness (the soul)-- was awakened by the ruptured mythical circle, so too could "senseful awaring" be awakened by the bursting spatial world: a "perception" able to sustain us against perishing in the consciously realized external world of matter.

We must not forget that the splintered spatial world of our conceptualization is the assurance of the possibility of a space-free aperspectival world. If we succeed in regarding events from the vantage point of mutation, it will be evident that the comparison made above is not a question of repetition, but of a "new" event. From the earliest times until the present the structures have increased, and it is our task to achieve the latest incrementation for the time being by integration.

When the Mexicans in their deficient mythical-magic structure encountered the mentally-oriented Spaniards, the magic-mythical power failed in the face of mental strength; clan consciousness failed in the face of the individualized ego- consciousness. If an integral man were to encounter a deficient mental man, would not deficient material power fail in the face of integral strength? Would not the individual ego-consciousness falter in the face of the Itself-consciousness of mankind? the mental-rational in the face of the spiritual? fragmentation in the face of integrality?

It is today no longer a question as to whether "reforms" are of use; this is evident from the course of our discussion. Yet one question remains: what can man do to bring about this mutation? To this we have already hazarded an answer: we must know where we are to effect events, or to let them take their course; where we are merely to "be aware" of truth, and where we may "impart the truth." For we too presentiate the whole by realizing that we are to the same degree active as well as enduring and passive, past as well as future. Man is in the world to sustain it as well as himself "in truth," not for his or its own sake, but for the sake of the spiritual present. It is this spiritual present which elevates wholeness to transparency and frees us from our transient age, for this age of ours is not the present but partiality and flight, indeed, almost a conclusion. Only someone who knows of origin has present-- living and dying in the whole, in integrity.

1
In his address "Die Abstraktion in der modernen Naturwissenschaft," Werner Heisenberg has eloquently demonstrated the eminent value of the free application of abstraction; it is reprinted in Orden pour le merite fUür Wissenschaft und Künste: Reden und Gedenkworte, IV ( 1960-61) ( Heidelberg: Schneider, 1962), p. 139-164.
2
It is only natural that temporal limitation provided the "gap" or caesura whose possibility or eventuality was suggested by Helios' interruption of his course at the birth of the mental world. Moreover, mythical occurrence is not a closed eventuation, and the psyche is not a self-contained unit but rather a self-complementarity. If mythical occur-

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