Understanding Our Time
Immediately below is the first paragraph of a long article [ “Introduction to a Spiritual Social Science” http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/introductionsss.html ], written almost ten years ago on my efforts to develop a “social science”, on the basis of Goethean scientific principles:
“Three decades ago, around 1984, I wrote my first attempt to express the basics of the work I was trying then to do. I called that little essay: Listening to the World Song, and it was published in the last (12th) issue of “America in the Threefold World”. That’s what I have done for a long time now. The World is what it is, and through that It speaks. And I … I listen. The world even includes the books I read …”
I was already aware of Steiner’s conceptions about the Threefold Social Organism, yet I was not satisfied with that approach, especially given that those ideas were used to give direction to our (anthroposophical) thinking about the Social … for
anthroposophists, that is,
People, who I met (mostly on the Internet), seemed inclined to imagine that to help humanity face Our Time, in a social sense, required we try to adapt Steiner’s ideas as a map/recipe for the future. This evolved for me as a need to distinguish ideas of what social life should become, from what social life was actually doing.
I did understand that Steiner’s social ideas were, after a fashion, phenomenologically accurate. I wrote about that here, in the first part of: “Waking the Sleeping Giant – the mission of Anthroposophy in America” http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/wkslg.html
At the same time, in the various “anthroposophical” venues on the Internet, “America” was disliked, and associated with all manner of ahrimanic and luciferic qualities, causing ruination to the social order of the world.
The fact, most overlooked in this assessment, was that Americans were the leading edge of social changes, best described as their becoming, the People of Peoples. We were not French, or German, or any other kind of people and culture.
“…America is the place at which races or civilizations die.” R.S. The Mission of the Folk Souls, lecture 6.
In Goetheanism we don’t bring any ready made idea to the table of observable fact. Such preconceptions get in the way of actually reading the social and political phenomena.
Between 1984 and the present – 2022, I further developed the necessary thinking disciplines outlined it GA-2 to GA-4. In fact, in 2010 I was inducted into the mysteries of the Mother and the Son. http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/threshold.html
I was 70 years old.
Following that set of events, I wrote my phenomenological work on a spiritual social science: “The Art of God – an actual theory of Everything.”: http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/artofgod.html
Here is a review of that work: http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/artofgodreview.html
One important observation is that “God” is distributed … in everywhere/when, including the human being. In a crucial sense, we have to realize that the “center” of social life is not doctrines, or history, or points of view, but rather the individual biography. Whenever we see an “ism”, or any such generalized categories as Americans, democrats, racists … whatever, … if we trouble ourselves to look past the abstract “class”, we discover an “individual” whose very nature is to be beyond classification. Each is unique.
The best Way, to see the meaning of the individual biography, is to appreciate the concept of: “the evolution of consciousness”. For this labor, a study of the works of Owen Barfield is very helpful.
With the idea of reincarnation and karma, we come to realize that all of the more than seven billion human beings are in Our Time by choice. This is the Age of the Consciousness Soul, where each is to experience, in their personal biography, moral crises that are not easily solved by their religious ideas, or by the social demands for certain behaviors. The “isms”, and other generalized categories we apply to any class of people, are not accurate existentially, because each is to be confronted in their biography by unique trials and challenges.
To label any individual, with any category, is to place a kind of conceptual ghost between our thinking and their reality. All of us are enduring the Baptism of Christ by Fire and Holy Breath, or as the Hopi name it: The Day of Purification.
Evidence for these social facts are not found in the intellectual writings of European philosophical savants, or even among Steiner-says true believers. It is from the artists of Our Time that we gain the supportive insights for the concept that each life trial is unique.
This is particularly true in the dramas of film and television. Today, especially, via streaming television, we have access to works from film artists from all over the world. Amazon and Netflix (and others) capitalize these works of art, leaving the artist to decide where to go, and how to reveal their observations of human nature. Not just the directors and the producers, but the actors as well, who have to make living the various emotional and logical difficulties of Our Time.
Lately I have become interested in Korean television and film. A young “American” friend encouraged this. One television series was inspired by an American television show: “The Designated Survivor”. The shared crisis, of both, was that the whole political leadership was destroyed, when their Capital buildings, holding an event where all the leaders were present, were destroyed by bombs implanted in these buildings. A man, not really part of the establishment, becomes by default the new “president”, as it were.
Political and social chaos ensues, and the dramas focus on many individuals, each faced with deep personal moral trials.
Another Korean film is called: “We are all going to die”, which was one of their versions of a zombie apocalypse. Basically the series looks at several teenagers, who must face life and death issues, while trapped in the environment of their high school, and trying to live by not getting bitten by a carrier. Like a lot of modern films, the story can also stand for what is happening now in the Covid Mystery, which enables the producer to avoid becoming the attack point for media suppression.
In America, we have “Don’t Look Up”, which examines various kinds of typical reactions to a world-wide crisis involving a large asteroid hitting the Earth and destroying civilization everywhere. This is a not too subtle reference to how people are reacting to the Covid crisis. The observations, of many of our leaders depicted in the film – whether political, social, scientific, or media – is that they are useless in the face of any outrageous crisis.
In “A Separation” [ A Separation won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, becoming the first Iranian film to win the award. It received the Golden Bear for Best Film … ], we get a wonderful look at the social processes, in a Muslim culture, regarding marriage. We see the role of the family, the Mullahs, and the lawyers. In the movie “Divorce Iranian Style” (1998) we have a documentary about three marriages, and how those work in that kind of social world.
In music, as the world began its awakening which we called the ‘60’s and ‘70’s New Age, rock and roll appeared as a fusion of white love songs (tin pan alley) and Black blues. This soon erupted to become a force in the whole world, which answered rock and with what became called “world beat”. Among this fusion process, there also appeared Reggae out of Jamaica. Few people are aware that Bob Marley concerts, in the wider world, drew a larger audience than did Michael Jackson.
When Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, the celebration included a concert by Bob Marley and company, attended by 1.5 million souls.
These influences entered into the inner cities of America, where among those in urban poverty emerged Hip Hop, with its reliance on just a strong rhythm, and poetic rhyming. Of course, commercial record companies tried to rule, inventing Gangsta Rap for sales purposes.
Today there are Hip Hop groups all over the world, for example, one German group looks like outlaw bikers, yet with a very different moral aesthetic. In the middle East, one Hip Hop group is made up of Israelis and Palestinians.
One effect of these transformations in music is this example, where in Japan, with its powerful group soul social rules, all this music made it possible for the young to be in revolt against these social rules. In another venue, if we read the stories of the leaders that brought down the Berlin Wall, and enabled Eastern European governments to resist Russian control … these leaders speak of the inspiring influence of this rock music as regards their need for human freedom.
The Old World culture of Opera and Symphonies, which are expensive to maintain and require a lot of wealth, has been replace by a New World culture, where even the poorest folk can gather, with an upturned five gallon plastic container and a couple of sticks for drumming, to enable their hearts to unveil their common woes.
With such Internet inventions as “TicTok”, everyone becomes their own movie producer, dancer, comedian, singer, whatever. All they need – to participate in Our Time – is a “smart” phone.