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Transcending Totalitarian Power
Part II of my notes on Ivor Cummins' interview with Mattias Desmet.
Mattias Desmet puts the epicenter of totalitarian mass formation at what he calls the “mechanist ideology.” I couldn’t agree with him more. We see it especially in conventional (mechanistic) approach to medicine, but it is also in mainstream intellectual life, education, and the mainstream secular worldview itself.
Desmet compares the human being to a “string instrument”, and I agree there too. Not literally, obviously - we are not composed of wood and strings and glue - but we are entities that both generate and respond to energetic frequencies. Which frequencies we choose to generate, and to respond to, are critical in shaping both our own lives and the world around us.
The mechanist ideology:
(Re: Hannah Arendt's "Origins of Totalitarianism")
I'm inclined to situate this ideology, to identify this ideology, as the mechanist ideology. The mechanist view of man and the world. The idea that the entire universe is a kind of material machine, a set of elementary particles, colliding with each other and which interact with each other according to the laws of mechanics, and which can be perfectly, perfectly described in a rational way.
This view of man and the world, this mechanist view of man and the world, which is also a rationalist view of man and the world, is I think what is the root cause, ultimately, of the phenomenon …of totalitarianism.
So, it was this mechanist view of man and the world which led to industrialization, use of technology, it is this industrialization and the use of technology which leads to loneliness, and this loneliness which leads to the mass formation, the mass formation leads to the totalitarianism. That's a …causal chain. But I explain in my book…
If …you're inclined to believe that this mechanist, materialist view of the world is a scientific view of man and the world, actually that's not true. Most seminal scientists started from a mechanist view of man and the world, but they left it behind, or at least they started to understand that it was relative, this view of man and the world.
To use the words of Rene Thom, one of the most famous mathematicians of the Twentieth Century, and one of the founders of systems theory, he said, this part of reality that can be understood in a rationalist way is very limited. …and the rest of reality, one can only know by empathically resonating with it.
(Those) were strange words. But he meant something like… rational understanding is necessary. And we should follow the path of rationality as far as possible. But at a certain moment you will arrive at the limit. You will arrive at something that cannot be understood in rational terms, or at least maybe better, that transcends rationality. That you can only resonate with.
The Samurai knew:
For instance, the Samurai culture in Japan knew this very well. They knew that when you learn an art, or a craft, …there is always this rational phase. You can learn a certain set of techniques for instance, …to learn the martial arts. But after a while, if you practice these techniques, these rational techniques, you will start to develop a different kind of knowledge, a certain feeling, a resonating knowledge, which transcends the technical knowledge. And it is this resonating knowledge which makes someone a master of an art. And that should be the aim of every rational reduction of reality. It should bring us in touch with something that transcends the pure rational understanding.
And the Samurai said it's difficult, very difficult, to learn a technique, a technique in martial arts. But it's even more difficult to forget them again. And if you do not succeed in forgetting them again, before you go to the battlefield, you will die on the battlefield.
So it's something …systems theory also shows this very well. Paradoxically, systems theory, complex dynamical systems theory, shows in a rational way that the core and the essence of every complex dynamical system is irrational. Literally, that it behaves as an irrational number. So something, in life, in nature, escapes, transcends, rational understanding. And that something is the essence of life.
And that's the point, I think, of our tradition of enlightenment. We believe in a tradition of enlightenment, that the cornerstone of humans living together should be rational understanding. But I don't think that's true.
Rational understanding is… a certain process we have to go through, in order to arrive at the essence, which is much more resonating knowing of the world and this resonating knowing brings us in touch with the eternal principles of life. …it's that resonating knowledge that makes us feel what the eternal principles of humanity, the eternal principles of life around us is, and it is these principles, principles that we have to reinvent, time and time again, that are the real cornerstone of humans living together. A human society can never be organized, ultimately, purely on the basis of rational understanding. It must always be based on certain eternal principles.
I experienced that in my own life very well. It took me until I was 35 years old when I became familiar with the mathematical basis of systems theory, before I suddenly started to understand, it was a real revelation to me, that life around me, ultimately, was not rational! I suddenly started to understand that there was something that escaped rationality. That transcended rationality. And it was at that moment that I … it's hard to describe, but I started to almost literally, I think, when you walk in nature and you are convinced that everything can be reduced to the categories of your own logical understanding. When you are looking at a plant and you are convinced that it's a set of biochemical reactions, for instance.
And when you are convinced that you can reduce it to the categories of your own logical understanding, it is as if you connect one logical idea to the other, as if you build a logical wall around you which also isolates you from the world around you, which prevents you from feeling the mystery of life around you. And as soon as you start to become aware that there is more than logical understanding, that something in nature and the other people you meet for instance, that you will never understand something in these people there will always be something that escapes your rational understanding, it is as if all these building blocks of the wall slide a little bit away of each other. And is as if the eternal music of life can go through the holes in the wall and touch the strings of your body and your soul.
On the fear of death:
I think, almost literally, that the human being is a string instrument. And it is at that moment that there is something that I noticed very concretely in my life. It was at that moment, I noticed, that you start to be capable of tolerating the idea that once you will die. The idea of dead and dying. Because just as soon soon as you are part of the eternal music of life, you know that there is something eternal, that you participate in something eternal…
The fear of death, I agree, our society over the last 20 years, as well as getting into insane levels of "safe-ism", the fear of death now is everywhere. Everyone wants to live forever, and they're being told by the pharmo-medical complex, you know, there's all kinds of miracles, and everyone has lost their… their courage."
Everyone out there, do take on board one of Mattias' most important points…
Every time you question it, you are the potential small piece of stopping this mass formation from going to its very dire conclusion, which has happened in the past.
…this is the skeleton key, the master key, that goes beyond simply explaining logic and data and facts to people, which as M said, sometimes doesn't really get through this skin of psychosis. They need to really understand the bigger picture, in order to break the spell.
As I said, I consider this probably one of my most important interviews.