Ancient Wisdom: Paradise and Hell Entwined in Pulsating War

Balance and reviving inundations are deemed heretic and will not be tolerated, writes Alastair Crooke.

“I am angry. I am angry that so many refuse to open their eyes to what is happening today in France, and around the world”. She adds: “I am really passionate about this: I sense you feel this passion”.

Of course, there is amongst people generally a numbness, bemusement and (also) a deep fear of poking one’s head out from the ‘narrative trench’ in which we sit – and where, enclosed by high trench walls – we experience a modicum of safety. Best not to range too far from that!

Narrative warfare however, has taken a new turn, with western political parties, mass media and platforms not just abandoning argument, but in emulation of the Grand Inquisitors, firing-off volleys of charges (witchcraft, heresy, etc) without real basis – with the aim, as Lyndon Johnson taunted, of ‘making the sonofabitch deny it’. Of course, then as now, it is impossible to prove the negative: Admit to woke heresy and be burnt alive, or deny it until every bone is cracked on the media ‘rack’.

The point is that de-platforming, boycotts and shaming of individuals or parties as supremacist or racist, in today’s climate, are seen to work: They can be leveraged through the tech-platforms to such a degree that critical thinking can be not just suppressed, but individuals and parties shamed and ‘cancelled’; and swept off from the political ‘board’ entirely with a swipe from weaponised narrative.

This one-sided approach envisages no truck with opponents, save to accept their unreserved recantation; or to light the bonfire beneath the feet of their careers. The point here, is that ‘between-ness’ becomes heresy, and so too, is the understanding of polarities – the understanding that duality is deeply a part of human experience, as much as the double helix resides in our DNA. History teaches us that such radical one-sidedness almost invariably tilts toward intolerance, repression and ultimately, violence.

Which brings us back to the lady’s lament above at the arid, desiccated, political landscape sweltering under the brassy sun of Apollonian ratiocination, devoid of passion, very masculine, and empty of human empathy.

Shakespeare touched on this issue of human empathy – at a moment in history that resonates with ours today – through his focus on the Great Goddess: the symbol of feminine sensuality and power: the symbol of renewal (renewal of life at its most basic). The myth behind Venus and Adonis and that of another poem Lucrece, Ted Hughes argues, reflects precisely the schism of cultural war of Shakespeare’s times: Protestants and Catholics, both seeing each other as ‘devilish’ and heretic, with no compromise possible except cancellation.

In the first poem, Aphrodite, goddess of ‘this world’ and symbol of the ideal, virtuous woman, is compelled by circumstance to give this chaste, ‘preppy’ young man, Adonis, into the care of her polar ‘opposite’, Persephone – the goddess of the ‘otherworld’ (or, of primal unconscious sexual energy, we might say today). The sensual Persephone however, falls for the young Adonis – and desires him unreservedly. She refuses blank to hand him back to Aphrodite, and Zeus is forced to intervene with a 50/50 custody judgement.

But then, the tables turn. And the respectable Aphrodite ‘of this world’, wants to keep this chaste youth with her, and not to expose him to the sensuous, primal aspect to Nature in the ‘other world’. The weak-willed Adonis acquiesces, and renounces Persephone’s claims on him.

Persephone enraged, savages the youth in the form of a wild boar, killing him (the unconscious rising up to force his transformation through death). Hughes notes that by Newton’s day, the conception of ‘Truth’ (today ‘Science’), was seen to have radically purged itself of any taint of human subjectivity, to emerge as a new brassy sun scorching away dualism to leave a desert.

Today, we are amidst a new aridity, a new desert. We are invited to ‘Re-set’ into ‘socially responsible’, techno-robotic capitalism. Socially responsible capitalism isn’t some new notion. The idea harks back, as Joaquin Flores notes, to the centrist wing of fascism some 90 years ago: “It is to wit the embodiment of the last century’s corporatist and technocratic ideal, until about the 1970s – when Friedmanism [neo-liberalism] became de rigueur”. Now, social responsibility is again being trumpeted as the reason why socialism must be viewed as wholly inappropriate, since what is good for corporations, surely must be good for society, since we all yearn for stability.

It is not market capitalism – that has long been strangled in the US by the Fed. The term ‘capitalism’ is used by today’s ideologues to maintain ideological continuity, rather than to stand as a plausible definition. The camouflaged aim however, under the sugar-coating, is to manage a strictly post-capitalist society. This would be one which develops new coercive and depopulating technologies towards that old maxim that ‘everything must change, so that things remain the same’ (i.e. so that the present rulers remain – but undergo ‘a make-over’ – so that when the wrappers are removed – it appears as something shiny-new.)

This is why passionate anger is in order: This vision is both abstract, and devoid of any empathy for the human condition. The public must be trained and subjected to Covid and lockdown disciplining firstly, and then to further ‘punishment’ required by the ‘climate emergency’. Its ideologues use fear and deliberate narrative contradictory-chaos to anaesthetise, and gain public acquiescence into this new techno-reality.

“Trauma is the point of entry, and prior crimes which have been perpetuated against other peoples can be metamorphosed – through this trauma – into being the crimes that humanity itself committed, and must now pay for – and pay very dearly (reparations). The crimes of the ruling class against people thus are transformed into crimes that the people have committed and which the ruling class – the stakeholders (governments, NGO’s, institutions) must now correct. And those corrective measures will be punitive and disciplinary in nature”.

Nonetheless, the planned technocratic dystopia may yet be perceived by many to be a carry-forward of social-democracy. Centrist political parties will endorse it. They long for applause and praise of the MSM and tech-platforms. And with the public no longer having any real political power, the costs of this re-set will be pushed down to the people, whilst wealth concomitantly gets funnelled upwards towards a tight, controlling oligarchy.

All of which leads us back to the question of feminine ‘anger’. Ted Hughes tells us that Shakespeare was well acquainted with the story of the goddess Isis, whose determination and powerful passion restored an Egypt riven by the one-sidedness of a particularly aggressive grasping rationality (that of Seth) which had failed to accomplish the conjunctio between its arid rationality, and the balancing need for fecundity (symbolised by Osiris), in all its diverse aspects.

The point here is that the Egyptian Osiris-Isis myth is about the repeated, oscillating tension between the impulse of harmony and that of destruction – and of need to find (and bring) balance. Without Seth, there would be no destruction-creation. Without Seth, there would be no Osirian revival. But note that in this myth, the disruptive conflict derives from the masculine, which is both a creative and destructive impulse; yet it is Isis – reflecting the determination and power of the female – that finally restores balance to Egypt; who reassembles the dismembered Osiris; and revitalises the male-female impulse that runs through all living things.

If we look back to the ancient concept of the ‘two lands’ of Egypt: the fertile Black Lands of the Nile and the barren Red Lands of the surrounding desert, we get an inkling of how the waxing and waning of one polarity, yielding ultimately to the rise of its ‘opposite’ value, was understood in earlier times. Everything is in flux: polarities swap places, as in a formal dance, and potencies of the invisible world jostle and shove against the ebb and flow of human activity.

The ‘Two Lands’ of Egypt represents something more than some mere geographical distinction. In ancient Egypt, the physical landscape had a metaphysical resonance of which the ancient Egyptians were keenly aware: The Two Lands were comprehended as the two contending, yet mutually interpenetrating realms of life and death.

The combined landscape of the Two Lands is one of ‘paradise’ and ‘hell’, at war with one another, yet united in precarious balance and reciprocity. One thus symbolised the harmonious, creative unity of cultivation in the valley; and the other that of in-coherence, of chaos and death in the desert areas.

But even Seth, who, in so many respects symbolises a destructive, voracious negativity, embodies too, a certain duality. He was never perceived as intrinsically bad or evil, but as a necessary component of the Cosmos: aridity, desiccation and death. His ambivalence is experienced in the Egyptian desert: mercilessly hot, with nowhere to shelter from the sun; but in this landscape of rock and silence, where no bird flies and no animal, save the desert viper moves, there is, too, a deep stillness which the Valley cannot give.

Then the Nile swells – and its waters slip across the Delta – refreshing and watering it. And shortly thereafter, it become rife with fecund life.

Seth may, in one sense, personify the force of life-sapping, decay and death, but his dramatic polarity lies precisely in his very necessity to renewal. Ancient Egyptians saw themselves held in this balance and interplay of polarities: life and death, abundance and scarcity, light and dark. The very landscape teaches the principle of oscillating polarities. Maintaining balance was a succession of destructions and renaissances; allowing Seth’s insidious, sapping barrenness to be overcome by Horus’s subsequent reviving inundations, was the central preoccupation of the Egyptian King: Seth and Horus were thus to be held in equilibrium.

We might understand this double movement – compounded in aspects that are always in polar tension; yet are co-constituent to each other – as being somehow a reflection, an analogy, and a consequence of a deep inner life-rhythm: the systole and diastole of human creativity itself.

So, the anger expressed earlier is understandable and appropriate. We are being surreptitiously slipped into the aridity of a ‘neo-Sethianism’ arid polarisation. Balance and reviving inundations are deemed heretic and will not be tolerated. Yet in the end Seth was exiled, and harmony returned to Egypt.

By Alastair Crooke
Source: Strategic Culture Foundation

Similar Posts