Thursday, January 1, 2009

Reflections: New Year, New Age?

When a writer who has given me something of value recommends writings from which he has derived value, I go for it. The same source which prompted me to read Trickster Makes This World, about which I have posted below, also cited, in the same piece, The Aquarian Conspiracy by Marilyn Ferguson. I borrowed them both from the library on the same day. I will admit that I was dubious about the latter, based on its title, which is why I read Trickster first. Still, my faith in the intellectual discriminatory powers of my source led me to give the book a try, regardless of its gimmicky, “New Age” sounding title. I will be quoting from it below.

Nine years ago there were predictions of some kind of cataclysm to befall us at the turn of the century—the advent of a new millennium. But nothing happened. Or did it? Are we witnessing the apocalypse now? We know that the dates of the Christian calendar are only approximations. Perhaps as the world we have known implodes around us—as we witness what may be a paradigm shift in our way of life—what we are seeing is our calendar notion of “millennium” being fine-tuned to conform to a Cosmic Clock which transcends human history.

I am a member of the post-WWII generation who came of age in the nineteen-sixties. I was among those who had hoped for, and briefly had seemed to be able to see on the horizon, a revolution in values that would take not only this country, but the entire world, into a future where all of mankind would share in the comforts and freedoms enjoyed by the majority of Americans. It didn’t happen that way. The entrenched powers, operating from within their politico-economic bunkers, prevailed. Their heirs are still in power as I write. The lesson learned was that of the Buffalo Springfield anthem of the day: Step out of line, the Man comes and takes you away. It’s not hard to look back on the sixties as a failure.

But history is not a series of facts strung like beads along a timeline. History is a process. And what manifested socially, culturally, politically in the sixties did not begin in the sixties and did not end with the sixties. The Aquarian Conspiracy has that message as one of its central themes.
America is currently having its world rocked. The future--our future, your future, my future—is today uncertain. The eggs are broken. Do we make an omelet, or do we go hungry? Do we mock those who tell us that every disaster is an opportunity to move forward, or do we pick through the rubble looking for keepsakes--the baubles and snapshots of bygone days?

Chapter 5 of The Aquarian Conspiracy is entitled “The American Matrix”. Its message, when the book was published in 1980, was that America had been, and still was, the incubator of a process that would transform the world by nurturing what would eventually become a critical mass of “Aquarian conspirators.” This loosely defined network of individuals would take this country, and then the world, into a future something like that which was envisioned by those “radicals and hippies” who were energized and mobilized by the zeitgeist of the sixties. Such transformational figures are the true heirs of the Founders, whose zeitgeist was the Enlightenment, and of the Transcendentalists, whose zeitgeist was the Second Great Awakening. Here now is an excerpt from chapter five of The Aquarian Conspiracy:

XX Civilizations decline, [Arnold] Toynbee said, not so much because of invasions or other external forces but because of an internal hardening of ideas. The “elite creative minority” that once gave life to the civilization has been gradually replaced by another minority—still dominant, but no longer creative.
XX Creativity requires constant transformation, experimentation, flexibility. Cynicism, a chronic state of distrust, is antithetical to the openness necessary for a creative society. To the cynic, experiments are futile…all conclusions are foregone. Cynics know the answers without having penetrated deeply enough to know the questions. When challenged by mysterious truths, they marshal “facts.” Just has we must let go of dead philosophies, illusions, and old science to confront reality, so a country must keep challenging its traditions if it is to be transformed—if it wants renewal.
XX Through the heavy seas of crisis, through social movements and wars, depressions, scandals, betrayals, the United States has been consistently open to change. When a television interviewer asked [Jean-Francois] Revel [author of
Without Marx or Jesus] in 1978 for his current assessment of the potential for transformation in America, he said, “The United States is still the most revolutionary country in the world, the laboratory for society. All the experiments—social, scientific, racial, intergenerational—are taking place in the U.S.”

As an Aquarian myself, with a birthday later this month, it would seem to me that the above is a pretty good fit with our current situation. On the 20th of this month we swear in a new regime—an experiment that exhibits potential for change—social, scientific, racial, and intergenerational. Let’s work for it, rather than against it. There should be no fear in being scorned by the armies of conformity. It is more than mere coincidence that “mocks” rhymes with “box.” One can hunker down inside walls, or one can climb out and marvel at the beautiful patterns change makes potential when one takes in the Big Picture.