I must be on to something big, because I am having a hard time adjusting to it. My mind has accepted it; but my body still stubbornly rejects it, declaring that it couldn’t possibly be real.
The idea of the end of the world is probably as old as the idea of God: the world has become so evil God will destroy it completely and start over again. This appealed to many people when they still believed in God, but this is no longer the case. Lots of people say they still believe in God, but they really don’t – they are just being safe by pretending to believe, while they really believe in something else. Another writer has described this as an unconscious society, and looking at it this way begins to make sense to me too.
I will not dwell on what this new religion is in this posting, but only mention in passing that it has something to do with a new power complex, based mainly on dominance of business on a global scale.
A big shift has gone on in the last two hundred years that we do not understand consciously, so it must have happened unconsciously. This makes sense, our minds are feeble instruments for grasping reality – but we refuse to recognize this. This was the dark side of the Enlightenment: it caused us to rely too much on our minds, on reason.
The slightest self-reflection on the reliability of our minds should have convinced us of the foolishness of relying on them too much. But this did not happen, and we rushed headlong into madness. Even the disaster of the French Revolution, based on the most rational of principles, did not convince us of this mistake. Much later, the horrors of the Holocaust, which were completely rational from the Nazi point of view, did not wake us up either. Now the ultimate evil has befallen us, we are completely defenseless against it.
I am as helpless here as anyone else. My mind can see what is going on, but my body rejects it completely – and insists I am going crazy instead. What is going on here?
It’s simple: over millions of years we had developed confidence in ourselves – as a species. And the belief if we stuck together we would not only survive, but thrive – which did indeed happen. We cannot now, at this late date, reverse our internal programming and realize that continuing to do what we are doing will be the end of us. This does not make sense in the most fundamental sense: to our bodies, where all this programming is stored.
Allow me to speculate on the location of the mind and the body (or the conscious and the unconscious)- something people far more competent than myself have struggled with. I have no idea where these two things are, but it is clear to me that they are in separate places, with tenuous communications between them. The Enlightenment model of the huge, powerful mind with a more-or-less obedient body somehow attached to it – is simply false, and radically so. But we refuse to recognize this fundamental error – even though it is killing us. We would rather die than admit the error of our ways.
This brings me back to the title of this essay: the horror of it all. The horror of our present situation is so great it overwhelms us and renders us incapable of dealing with it. It has happened so slowly and insidiously (during a period of over two hundred years) and has destroyed us so completely, we cannot believe it has happened.
After I wrote this, I read an article by the psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist in the Poetry Magazine site. He also has a book The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. This is another book I must read. I end with his quote from another poet:
Gone out every bright thing from my mind.
All lost that ever God himself designed.
Not half can be written of cruelty of man, on man.
Not often such evil guessed as between Man and Man.