cluetrain stopping on an empty platform
Numinous Lunacy & the Sanctimonious Narcissism
of the NewAge++
I want to know what love is...
Many people helped me to survive the experience this book attempts to capture and make sense of. I was not and am not an objective observer. Going back further, before writing books was even a remote fantasy, I participated in many of the beliefs and practices I critique here. It's possible that I'm just working off my <cough> karmic debt.
Tracing the historical development of these strange beliefs began for me, as it would for many, in the '60s. Magical mystery tours of all sorts, psychedelics of every stripe, and of course tons of self-canonized psycho-spiritual gurus: Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Alan Watts, Joseph Campbell, John Lilly, Oscar Ichazo, Claudio Naranjo, Werner Erhard, Fritz Perls, Stanislav Grof, Ken Wilber, Robert Bly, Marilyn Ferguson, Sam Keen, Jean Houston, Abraham Maslow... the list is endless. However, the New Age++ didn't begin in the 1960s. Hardly. To begin our backward reconnaissance, the next chapter focuses on the last individual in the above list: Abraham Maslow -- long before he ever hit Esalen.
Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man by Sam Keen
The Puritans came to America with a sense of calling, of having been chosen for great things. Then things faltered a bit, spiritually speaking, until Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield kicked off The Great Awakening. Its effectiveness was indisputable; its excesses notable. A second round of evangelical Awakenings got started in New England in the 19th century. And then there was Tom Wolfe's essay on "The Me Decade and the Third Great Awakening," which, simply put, is about narcissism.
And what will the Real Me be like? It is at this point that the new movements tend to take on a religious or spiritual atmosphere. In one form or another they arrive at an axiom first propounded by the Gnostic Christians some eighteen hundred years ago: namely, that at the apex of every human soul there exists a spark of the light of God. In most mortals that spark is "asleep" (the Gnostics' word), all but smothered by the facades and general falseness of society. But those souls who are clear can find that spark within themselves and unite their souls with God's. And with that conviction comes the second assumption: there is an other order that actually reigns supreme in the world. Like the light of God itself, this other order is invisible to most mortals. But he who has dug himself out from under the junk heap of civilization can discover it.
Transcendentalism was tangled up with the changes in American society leading to the Second Great Awakening. It's chief proponent was Ralph Waldo Emerson, whom a lot of people at the time thought was talking pure nonsense. In hindsight, we can appreciate that he was talking nonsense -- and a pernicious form of it. Emerson's best pal, Thomas Carlyle, wrote "Occasional Thoughts on the Nigger Problem," which even back then caused a few cases of apoplexy. The ever cryptic and often confused Ralph Waldo hawked "Self Reliance" and the "Oversoul" to a fledgling nation because... well, it's not entirely clear why. Something to do with a bad translation of the Bhagavad Gita and possibly one too many hits on the local hemp.
"...this Transcendentalist approach to spirituality is a method that can be practiced by Christians, Buddhists, Taoists, Witches, and Religious Humanists alike, so it unifies us a Unitarian Universalists, even as we travel our own religious paths."
Transcendentalism for the New Age
Jane E. Rosecrans, Ph.D.
A Sermon delivered at Unitarian Universalist Community Church
Glen Allen, Virginia, February 6, 2005
Seismic theological rumblings, tectonic cultural plate shifts. Social Darwinism and "scientific racism." The popularly appropriated if wrongly grasped concept of "fit" and "fitness" -- as in the survival of the fittest -- eventually lead to such scholarly works as The Origin of Porch Monkeys. The largest deconstruction of human narcissism since Copernicus and Galileo. Third stone from the sun, all dressed up and no place to go. Orphans long before Nietzsche broke the news about God. So of course the next step was to sort people into higher and lower, more civilized or more savage. But speaking of Nietzsche, now there was an idea! Why not start a Master Race?
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and her vast influence. The Aryan race. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Rudolf Steiner's spinoff, Anthroposophy, and its survival in contemporary Waldorf Schools.
From Phineas Parkhurst Quimby to Unity Church. to be completed...
The funny, slightly smelly role of aestheticism. T.S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound, Virginia Woolf. Art for the Elite's Sake. The strange story of my night at the movies. Plus, who knew that this crowd was heavy into eugenics, the occult and all sorts of weirdball spiritualism? Actually, this is quite well known in certain academic circles, but this news, for the most part, hasn't yet filtered down to us peons -- another cute aspect of the high modernist avant garde worldview.
One right way. Efficiency experts and streamline design. Cold Spring Harbor Lab. Henry Ford, the Jews, and Adolph Hitler.
to be completed...
After WWII, much that smacked of Nazism -- Aryan this and that -- was suddenly very uncool. Yet you can walk into any Barnes & Noble store today and pick up a full set of Blavatsky's works. Or Rudolf Steiner's. Sure, you can also buy a copy of Mein Kampf, but in the latter case, Hitler isn't in the New Age section. The eugenic and racist themes of much that passes for what Border's today calls "Metaphysical Studies" are more shrouded in obfuscation than the occult codswallop in which they're embedded. Caveat emptor. Except our Mystic Bourgeoisie emptors don't seem to give a good caveat. In The Well of Remembrance: Rediscovering the Earth Wisdom Myths of Northern Europe former Tim Leary pal Ralph Metzner writes: "...the Nazis appropriated certain themes that they claimed to have found in Germanic myth and combined them with illusory assumptions about Aryan racial supremacy. One could say that the Nazis laid a curse on Germanic mythology." Conversely, one could say that talk about a "Germanic psyche" (p. 10) is a load of racially attuned (let's call it) Jungian bilge.
any clue's good enough to hop a train for...
when the train left the station it had two lights on behind... the blue light was my baby and the red light was my mind...some of these book covers are merely here for spot color. others are highly relevant to the text. beware.
love in vain
r. johnson / stones
here's one that will be important to the story in its later phases.
The Unity Movement: Its Evolution and Spiritual Teaching
the gates of consciousness
among the first glimmers of "transpersonal psychology"
and the science
Ayn Rand and erstwhile lover Nathaniel Branden produce The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism. Branden parlayed this into his current role as the self-described "Father of the Self-Esteem Movement."
Everything is an addiction. The intense focus of relationships. The irrelevance of relationship. The ever lurking danger of The Other.
In Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life, Thomas Moore explicitly praises narcissism. In their rush to cash in on this publishing phenomenon, other writers of the Jungian persuasion float titles like Sacred Selfishness: A Guide to Living a Life of Substance. And various brawny lads offer self-help for accessorizing the anemic soul. Anything Celtic. Anything Gnostic. Nordic wet dreams. White is the new black yo.
the brawny co-authors of King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine
Achieving perfection: what personality disorders? The moral and intellectual bankruptcy of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. World's most shallow analogy: brains are like computers. Drinking the artificial intelligence kool-aid. Get a hobby. Get a goal. Get ahead. Gone is any sense of human depth, along with any concern for past trauma, biographical or historic. Dialectic Behavior Therapy, the latest wrinkle in this context-free form of Pavlov for People combines Zen with CBT to promote that good-feel living in the now. Whatever it was, get over it. Move on. This therapy-induced amnesia is especially handy for certain forms of political reorganization focused on social fit and corporate productivity.
Don't get me wrong. Some of my best friends are white. Come to think of it, I'm white myself. Damn. I should take better advantage of my privileged position. But somehow, in Boulder, I just don't feel I've achieved the high level of whiteness I see reflected in the attitudes and random posturings of the local Burghers. And how does this relate to the foregoing? Boulder is the mother of all lodestones for the Mystic Bourgeoisie. It's not that the NewAge++ aren't well distributed -- they're everywhere -- but without living in Boulder and seeing the phenomenon up close and personal in concentrated form, I would never have begun the research for this book. Clearly, it's been an inspiring environment for our theme.
"The racial makeup of the city is 88.33% White..."
source: Wikipedia, from the 2000 Boulder census
Bowlby, attachment "theory," etc. -- to be completed...
one of the approximately four jillion books by the so-called father of self-esteem
perhaps the cover of the French translation explains it best
but wait. if Atlas Shrugged, i'd have to say our coverboy doesn't quite "get it"
the unlikely story of how America slipped the surly bonds of earth & came to
believe in signs & portents that would make the middle ages blush
this site is a labor of love. i.e., if you love me enough, I'll be able to complete it. send proof of love via buttons above. please. if you can. thanks.
SPECIAL THANKS TO
New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)
Friday, July 8