Let me get started by positioning the point at which “Of the Refrain” enters into the discussion. It opens up in the middle of the world that I have just painted using Whitehead’s concepts, a cosmos in which two immanent powers (God & World) enter into communication with each other, a cosmos in which consciousness flickers along and between the feelings that are an expression of the world in flux. The ‘refrain’ defines a point at which consciousness and feeling find a rhythm between themselves that puts them in sympathy with the immanent powers composing them.
With the two interpenetrating domains in play, it’s time to turn to the wind-up that ends Whitehead’s account by focusing on what the most intense expressions of the interaction between God and World looks like (350–51). It’s a dynamic process (no surprise), but Whitehead does suggest a basic fourfold pattern that describes it. It is along this axis that complex and durable spiritual entities form, most importantly our selves. That process (not the subject of the process) loops back upon itself, the result being the initiating element in another dynamic process.
Of late, I keep coming back to Althusser’s conception of interpellation. The basic idea is simple enough—namely, that your subjectivity becomes constituted on the receiving end of an ideological system that expresses itself through and in the apparatus of political power. When you are called a criminal, you are made a criminal, subjected to practices that compel you to accept that assignment, not just performatively, but in your own self-conception.
However far our gaze penetrates, there are always heights beyond which block our vision.—Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (Corrected Edition), 342
Enough with the throat clearing; let me get down to business with Whitehead. I am not sure how long this is all going to take, or how many posts it will run. Maybe this will take three posts and a couple weeks, maybe it will take eight posts and a few months. Gender transition, too, is something of a wild card in all this, requiring a significant share of my intellectual and emotional resources; I may not always have the time or energy to work on this. This will need to take as long as it takes.
Alfred North Whitehead’s summation in Process & Reality forms the foundation for my own here. I spoke of the dikenga as a vital element in my coming to terms with it, but Whitehead’s work is also a sophisticated latter-day articulation of quite ancient and widely-dispersed philosophical intuitions. Those intuitions are not developed in precisely the same way in all places, but where they are developed and preserved, we find sympathetic parallels with Whitehead’s work, parallels which allow me to place otherwise disparate religious and spiritual practices built in response to those insights into dialogue with Whitehead.
Here that parallel with Gnosticism. Here, too, why I suspect that what I am writing here and what gets written over at Hermetic Lessons intersect, even where our terminology and points of departure are at variance.
Now that I have cleared out my drafts folder, published or trashed everything there, and emptied the trash, I am ready to start in on the summation proper. The summation will present an organic and (hopefully) dynamic model that moves beyond the more partial conceptual frames that I have employed here over the last few years. Metaphor and metonymy, witch and wizard, gnosis and doctrine, duality and triplicity, will find their ground.
There are a few major periods of work on this blog, which I tend to think of broad trajectories or arcs of effort. Across each of those arcs, I am thinking my way toward something which, once I reach, sets me free to think toward something else. Themes and texts cross-link those arcs, making them fairly repetitive, hopefully in a good way, with each arc developing what is a minor chord in another arc. There is also a perspective, a disposition, that drives more than a little of this work, but I don’t want to talk about that here; that will take up a good bit of what will define closing time. Continue reading “Periodizing This Blog”