On Seeing by the Light of Darkness
This will be a threefold challenge, since I don't know what I'm talking about, have no idea how to express it, and am in no condition to do so. Regarding the latter, there is another baby bug in the house. Fortunately it is not of the GI variety, like the last one. Rather, it is of the sore throat-upper respiratory species. Still, combined with the time change, it takes something out of a lad.
On the other hand, a temporary, sometimes even willed, derangement of the senses can be the best approach to the unknown. It pushes you off the map of the familiar, to the threshold of the greater Mystery. People use fancy vacations, drugs, meditation retreats, etc.--anything to try to trick the nervous system and get around its tendency to erect a fence of routine and familiarity around everything.
For the majority of the time I was employed as a retail clerk between 1976 and 1988, I worked the graveyard shift. That's a good name for it, because there is no doubt that the still darkness of night is when the transdimensional spooks come out to play. I was generally sleep-deprived during those years, and might have been utterly exhausted by, say, 1:00 or 2:00am. But then, out of necessity, I would break through a sort of "wall," and afterwards be in an extended state of hypnopompic alertness until going to bed at around 9:00am. You might say that one I would close but another would open.
Interestingly, the Greeks had a word, psychopomp, referring to the conductor to the realm of lost souls. That realm is what we now call the unconscious. As a matter of fact, the "free association" of psychoanalysis is nothing more than an attempt to lull the ego to sleep, while the analyst is the psychopomp who will lead the search for the lost parts of oneself dwelling in the darkness of the unconscious.
Anyway, once I would break through that wall of fatigue, I would enter a very distinct state. Hard to describe, but it was as if the world were dreaming---which it was--and I was, so to speak, partaking of the same state. Only while awake. In the midst of this night consciousness, many ideas--call them "mythological" or "sacred" ideas--made perfect sense that didn't necessarily make sense in the unforgiving light of day.
The entire process was abetted by a certain radio program that aired from midnight until 5:00am. It featured lectures by various spiritual luminaries both high and low, everyone from Krishnamurti to Alan Watts to D.T. Suzuki to Timothy Leary and Ram Dass. I was especially influenced by the spellbinding lectures of the ethnobotanist, shamanologist, and mushroomologist Terence McKenna, may he rest in peace. He is a perfect example of someone who only makes sense at 3:00am. In that vein, I like to think of this blog as a sort of 3:00am dispatch from ther heart of the void: all the eternity that's fit to print.
You might compare it to how certain religious ideas might "resonate" more if you are standing in a 14th century European cathedral, each part of which is designed to carry your temporal consciousness upward and outward, to the contemplation of eternity.
It wasn't long ago that the world was a very, very dark place. I mean that both literally and figuratively. That is, before the invention of electric lights, the night was pitch black except for perhaps a small center of candle or firelight. People were aware of the darkness as a real and present entity, in a way that we are not. Modern people rarely live in darkness except when they are asleep. As such, the only time they have access to the dream world--and night consciousness--is when they are unconscious.
It is as if night consciousness is our "missing half" that would allow us to make sense of certain things that cannot be discussed or understood in the harsh light of day. Certainly this is something James Joyce realized in attempting, in Finnegans Wake, to tell the entire story of mankind from the standpoint of "nighttime logic." That is, he depicted all of human history as the restive and far-flung dream of a single sleeping individual in a single night.
In order to have a comprehensive understanding of ourselves, we must not only be familiar with the daytime part--the ego--but also the nighttime part--the unconscious. Likewise, I am of the belief that there is the mundane, horizontal "daytime history" of academic historians, but also a more vertical "nighttime" history of the human race that can only be discussed in ways entirely unfamiliar to the rank and file historian.
To cite just one example that comes readily to mind, take our founding fathers. One of the problems with secular leftist history is that it is increasingly a spiritually suffocating "daytime" history, to the point of absurdity. Thus we have books that will tell you that the founders were motivated entirely by economic self-interest, or that they were actually less elevated than we are, in that some of them were slave owners.
But in my "nighttime" view of the founders, I literally regard them as political avatars sent to earth with a divine mission. Again, literally--I see them as analogous on a political level to Jesus or Buddha or Krishna on a religious level. The more one immerses oneself in their spiritual and intellectual world, the more this becomes readily apparent. Just imagine if we were to gather together the greatest secular "daytime" minds of today and hold a constitutional convention. One shudders at the--ironically nightmarish--thought!
You will no doubt realize that our founders are still our primary benefactors and protectors from the onslaught of the daytime left. Despite 225 years of "progress," our founders still understand us better than we will ever understand them, in the same way that scripture, in its esoteric aspect, comprehends us better than any profane Jesus seminarian will ever be able to understand scripture exoterically. I would venture to say that the purely mythological beliefs that George Washington cut down a cherry tree, never told a lie, and threw a coin across the Delaware River are more true than the "sophisticated" idea that he was a greedy capitalist motivated only by self-interest. Indeed, how to talk about such greatness without resorting to myth?
You will also note that when you try to denude the world of its nighttime dimension, you actually do end up creating a waking nightmare: "the sleep of reason begets monsters." Another way of saying it is that (paraphrasing someone) there is a form of madness that consists of losing everything but one's reason. This is one reason why the secular left is such a fount of un- and insanity. Like a psychotic person, they dream while awake and call it reality.
But of course, they believe we are the insane ones. Thus, another dimension of the "culture war" is between those who can see in the dark vs. those who believe the darkness no longer exists just because we have electricity. For them, darkness is no longer visible. They see only light. But because their eyes have become insensitive to the dark, they see only by artificial light, not natural light--that is, the true light that lights the world.
I'm really rambling, but I guess that's part of the point I'm trying to make. I did not "intend" to venture down this path, but it was facilitated by illness and fatigue. I was going to begin a discussion of reincarnation, which several readers have requested. My point, before going into the discussion, is that reincarnation is clearly one of those topics that can only be understood by the light of night. We must imagine ourselves in total darkness, perhaps huddled around a small fire, allowing the night to whisper its secrets from the far side of consciousness.