(415-418) Gebser's Five Stages 415

Yin craves the assistance of Yang
In the creation of literature.
Literature craves publication.
Publication craves literature.

We can see now, even through our materialistic scientific eyes, that we are facing a global crisis. We are sacrificing the cycle of life itself for mere comfort. I am as guilty as anyone, especially since I live in the United States which consumes over a sixth of the world's natural resources. "What if everybody did that? Would it still be right?" The emissions from my car, along with millions of others, are creating something similar to past natural disasters which dramatically changed the climate of the earth and killed most of its creatures. It seems more immoral that we supposedly conscious beings are are the cause of mass destruction. Whenever we build we are also displacing a habitat.

The myriad things
Are thus marked out and blazed abroad.

Philosophy (including comparative philosophy) as conventionally construed in the modern world since Descartes cannot adequately deal with the environmental crisis. Rather it is a part of the crisis and cannot itself be used as a way of dealing with the crisis. So with all other specializations which are the result of the Weberian process of 'rationalization' which has turned out to be a Freudian defense-mechanism of a highly neurotic world system. Environment ethics is symptomatic of the crisis.

Gerald Larson, "Conceptual Resources in South Asia for 'Environmental Ethics' or the Fly is Still Alive and Well in the Bottle" Philosophy East and West vol. 37, no. 2 April 1987, p. 154.

The three-yearly sacrifice will be auspicious
If there is no negligence;

Jean Gebser in his book, The Ever Present Origin,describes the history of civilization as an unfolding of consciousness. He outlines five stages which seem to be similar to my allies. There are as follows:

ARCHAIC - in which the human has not yet emerged from animal consciousness.
MAGIC - the unity of all things as mediated through emotion and expressed instinctively.
MYTHIC - the awakening of soul through differentiation characterized by polar complementarity as mediated by imagination; past-oriented.
MENTAL - characterized by discursive thought and will, duality, reconciliation through synthesis, and future directedness.
INTEGRAL - characterized by diaphaneity, suprarationality and integrality.1

These five stages correspond to the Lizard, Lion, Dog, Mockingbird, and Birdman respectively. Gebser does not see the unfolding as an evolution in the sense that the later stage is superior and, thus replaces all the preceding, but as an integrated whole. As a culture, we seem to be suffering the over emphasizing of the mental processes. Hopefully we are moving toward the integral stage in which all the stages are recognized and appreciated.


What of the silken threads
To wrap around the jade ornaments?

Gebser describes how the emerging integral structure manifests itself as an irruption of time into the modern consciousness: the three-dimensional mental-rational structure which has spatialized time merely quantitative clock time is invaded and disrupted by the fourth dimension. Gebser gives examples of how the irruption of unmastered time threatens to destroy space and its framework:2


Great literature unadorned
Is like the stump of a severed foot.

In Dadaism, for example, it destroyed the structure of the sentence; in Expressionism and Surrealism it disrupted the spatial structural context, exploded the pictorial content, and mutilated the form; in psychoanalysis it is a constant threat to consciousness because of the psychic inflation and disruption of the fabric of rational thought. In biology the unmastered time initiated an unchecked increase of concern with "life force" or elan vital, and for a long time biology was exposed to the danger of extreme vitalism. Even in physics the irruption of time has brought the threat of the ultimate destruction of matter and space, as demonstrated by the atomic bomb.3


The vast amount of literature lacks pattern;
Throw restraint into the river.

I am certainly the "grandchild" of Dadaism. As I have said before, Cage was very influenced by Marcel Duchamp and I was very influenced by Cage. In the Novena for the Order of Euphonius I proposed the return to an Augustinian concept of time which is a series of nows rather than the clock-like time which binds us in its custom. Many artists in this post modern era are struggling with becoming "integral" within a modern and "mental" context. We react by returning to primitivism and indulging in our interactions with the unconscious through drugs and our art.

1 Gebser, Jean. The Ever-Present Origin, Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1984.
2 Kealey, Daniel A. Revisioning Environmental Ethics, State University of New York Press, 1990.
3 Gebser, Jean. The Ever-Present Origin, Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1984.

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