The Collective Imagination
the Language of the Creation
[the image is of the Moon over Mt. Shasta,
a photograph by Craig West]
Valentin Tomberg, in his remarkable book on Law: “The Art of the Good”, makes this statement, which is true about Law, and also about a great deal more: “The path runs from phenomena to concepts, and from concepts to ideas, and from ideas to the ideal in which essence can be contemplated.”
For example, I see a tree (the phenomena) and name it (the concept), in addition to which I understand its being (the idea), and from there can meet (contemplate) its Being in its ideal (essential) nature.
Rudolf Steiner’s last sentence, original preface to: “The Philosophy of Freedom”: “One must be able to confront an idea and experience it, otherwise one will fall into its bondage”
If we consider then the meaning of the trees in the Garden, aka: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life, we have raised the concrete to the ephemeral, via metaphor. Many ancient religions see the “tree” as an important “symbol” in the Language of the Creation. One aspect – leaves in the light of the Sun, the other aspect – roots in the light of the Moon.
Matter comes into being at the growing points of both leaf and root; just as new waters of life comes into being, in the Metabolic processes of cloud and sky.
Tomberg also writes: “The essence of freedom is the participation of the individual in the divine nature. Man is made in the image and likeness of God, that is he is gifted with the creativity of the creator, the capacity to imprint what is most inward in him on the world outside”.
S. T. Coleridge writes: “The Imagination then I consider either as primary, or secondary. The primary Imagination I hold to be the living Power and prime Agent of all human Perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I Am. The secondary I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to re-create; or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still at all events it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead.”
Periodically I run into some written material, concerning what might be called Biblical truths. The three patriarchal monotheisms (Hebrew, Christian, and Muslim) all have a text at their center. This written word then becomes explained and interpreted by scholars, priests, and mullahs.
I can understand the whats and wherefores, yet wonder why this approach is now essentially a prison for the ideas of the divine – the main prison being the written text, and the guards the authoritative teachers.
Cannot the Mystery tell us other stories? Is the Mystery powerless to evolve? Perhaps we were not ready, yet. Are you ready today to listen, with your heart’s mind, to the world speaking?
In the traditions of the East is the idea of Maya, which is that the sense world is an illusion, not the spiritual reality. Yet, in a modern mind such as Goethe, we have the idea of learning to read the Book of Nature.
The sense world is not an illusion, it is Speech.
“Only one form has the hands”, I wrote – over four decades ago – in a long prophetic poem: “”Lazy Bear’s Spirit Song” http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/lbsss.html
I have been a lover of film since I could go to the movies around age seven or eight (1948), … first with my older brother, and then when twelve or so would go with friends, on Saturdays. For a quarter we got: two features, one newsreel, one serial, several cartoons, a three stooges, with a break in the middle to sell more soda, candy and popcorn as well. While that was going on, a bubblegum blowing contest took place on the stage, with prizes for the winners.
When I created my blog: https://thecollectiveimagination.com I often wrote of what is living in this art form, which includes movies and TV.
I understood/came to know that each creator of such works, had one or another kind of relationship to their “imagination”. I also knew, via Steiner and my own confirming experience, that the “thought world”, and the ethereal realm, were the same locus in spirit.
Within the world of thoughts, there were also “imaginations”, or pictures, not just abstract concepts. Along with Einstein, I knew as well that “knowledge” has limits, while the “imagination” has none.
Coleridge pointed out, that in the soul the imagination was not the same as the “fancy”. The latter is focused on the fixed (RS’s dead thoughts), the former on the living.
My experience is that in film there are many common elements, sometimes dramatic, other times comedic. People and animals and monsters – dancing everywhere. The film artists assemble various elements into a story.
Some times the artists sees more then they know, since they often give way to inspiration from the outside. Movies are made from books, for example. All the supporting folk, from actors to artistic and technical helpers, also add “imaginative” content, sometimes drawing from the dark sides of life.
Inspiration is real. There is not only a path of phenomena, concept, idea, and ideal, there is the reverse – the ideal participates with the forming of the idea on many levels. Actors often work from instinct, with the result that there arises a cooperative art – essences made available to the heart’s mind of the artists.
For example, dramas often present moral trials, and from my studies modern dramatists see the phenomena of what Steiner “named”: The Epoch of the Consciousness Soul, where the individual unites with the spirit to the extent we create in ourselves the good and the true. As we do this, the soul is connected to the eternal.
Film is full of stories of moral crisis, as is the nature of the world of today, … which overflows with moral crisis – each individualized. Film reflects both outer and inner reality.
In my own studies, that could be called essentially: “shamanistic”, I found that the idea of the Earth as a Living Being was appearing everywhere in film. Sometimes the tale was of the past, and perhaps inspired by the artist creators as connected to their geographical region’s oldest religious tales. For example, a wonderful film was made for TV, in which the lead character – a woman, who was also having visions – was a police detective sent to a very primeval forest, where there lived practitioners of the local earth religion.
As the detective met these folks, in order to solve a murder, she learned that the name we give to forest, was for these indigenous folk: the Mother. There are a lot of films remembering the oldest stories, where the Mystery is real, yet the scientific attitude becomes unable to “see”, what those with visions encounter.
I have also seen evidence of very high level artistic visions, which speak deeply, because there is a need for us to know. More than a few artists sense that higher world influences allows us to know, via art, what Nature feels. Always this has been a main role of art. Goethe, speaks of the “Deeds and Sufferings of Light”.
The film: “Arrival”, is a good example. Its plot is straight forward. Twelve alien space ships appear simultaneously all over the earth. The first thing I wrote about this “close encounter”, was to describe it as: H. P. Lovecraft, meets Benjamin Whorf.
The creatures, in the film are, by the humans, called Heptapods, having seven lower limbs, below a huge torso. If one has some familiarity with H. P. Lovecraft, and his ideas (descriptions) of the “old ones” – ancient powers of darkness – these were clearly prescient.
Benjamin Whorf was an American linguist. He worked mostly as a designer of paint factories, at which he was so good that he could take two or three months off a year, to go into Central America and study those languages. He made many breakthroughs, and Owen Barfield wrote of him, and his works, favorably.
In the film Arrival, the linguist is a woman. There are several scenes as the film develops, where she has to help the military, and a physicist, understand that developing a language of meaning between species is near to impossible.
Imagine now, that high level spiritual beings, wanted to inspire through humans, the whole question/riddle of how to we have intercourse (speak to/with) them, since our “languages” are yet incapable. Even the physicist comes to realize that science is not going to be the bridge language between such different species.
The film is worth several viewings. The dialogue educates the movie-goer as well.
There is a scene, when the humans enter these “ships” hanging in the air (they never touch the ground, and when they do disappear, they do not fly away into space, but fade away into the atmosphere), … in this scene the humans find out that the interior of the Heptapods’ “ships” requires going through a threshold, where up and down change at right angles. (gravity becomes levity?)
The linguist is most open to the new, and finds that not only is space different, but time (in the sense of the moment) does not have to be linear.
These “spirits” teach us new language, mostly circles of varied form*, which they need us to understand. They are helping us now, but three thousand years in the future, they will need our help.
*The film artists based their written “representations’ of meaning on an art rooted in Zen.
I appear to have a “connection” to Clouds, who I have thought of as manifestations of entities from the realm of the Thrones. I have seen – in the Clouds – picture speech that was personal, while intoxicated with sativa. Ceremonial magic uses what is called: “censoring”. Aromatic smoke in the temple, which being elementals dancing, can be guided by folk from the other-side of the threshold.
The Mother (as the Many) wishes to commune-with us. Trees are helpers if we learn to listen in silence. Clouds … a form of Speech?
Thinking Meaning into Being is both a human and a divine attribute. In the film Annihilation, the inspiration of the artists tells the story of another “threshold”, which they call the “shimmering”. We can experience this threshold if we go away to places where the light of the stars is most present, and lay on our backs, in Awe. The stars do shimmer, although scientific materialism explains this experience as a refraction of light “particles”, by air “particles”.
In this movie, various explorers go through this shimmering (military elites mostly), but don’t come back (mostly). In a certain sense this is an intuition of Faerie, and we (the audience) get to see all manner of untamed growth, making shaping matter in ways we do not understand. Like the legends of Faerie, it is possible to go there, lose track of “time”, and never return. On one level the film is a meditation of the riddle of what is death, and what is life.
Film is international, and its dramatic and comedic aspects become metaphors of such a nature as to become a kind of speech, shared by the world. In the television show “Billions”, the characters often reference film dialogue, and activity, as a way of describing – metaphorically – what is happening to and through them, in their present.
Like music, film is a transnational kind of speech. The whole world experiences many of the same artistic creations. Bob Marley, internationally, was more famous that Michael Jackson. Star Wars gives us “the Force”, a metaphor often used today to describe our ethereal experiences. Most of us know the music themes that go with the Star Wars’ character: “Darth Vader”. We also recognize the music goes with the images of the alignment of the earth, the moon, and the sun, in the film “2001”.
Marvel’s two part “Endgame”, has battles between gods such as Thor and Loki, mixed in with a little bit of Greek, where a serious God/Titan (Thanos) decides to fix the galaxy of its social disorders*, by eliminating half of all sentient species with the snap of his fingers. “Thanatos” is a Greek god, known as the personification of death.
*Today we have billionaires telling us that the distribution of the worlds resources would be resolved, if the “population” explosion could be reversed.
The “smart phone” has made everyone, who has access to one, a potential filmmaker. If we watch “Tik Toc”, we find the such fruits of individuality being everywhere shared. A kind of flood of spirit, too huge to grasp, and sometimes not to our taste. Still, I like to watch bits and pieces, just to get reminded about how incredible is the individual human being.