II. Pedia Sapiens: A Planetary Progeny Comes to Her/His Own Actual Factual Knowledge
1. Indigenous Intimation: Mythic Animism
Houston, Jean. The Mythic Life. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996. Psychologist Jean Houston has for decades sought to bring a deeper significance to the unfolding course of our lives in terms of the great mythologies. At a new time of global convergence they remain an indispensable portal and resource to express the resonance of microcosm and macrocosm.
These examples (galaxies, broccoli, African rhythms, dreamscapes) point to the universality of the fractal as a central organizing principle of our universe; wherever we look, the complex systems of nature and time in nature seem to preserve the look of details at finer and finer scales. Fractals show a holistic hidden order behind things, a harmony in which everything affects everything else, and, above all, an endless variety of interwoven patterns. (7)
Ingold, Tim. The Man in the Machine and the Self-Builder. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews. 35/3-4, 2010. In an issue on “History and Human Nature: Cross-Cultural Universals and Cultural Relativities,” the University of Aberdeen anthropologist engages this dichotomy with his usual clarity by advocating its obvious complementary resolve. Surely individual diversity does and should abound, but it is necessarily encompassed within “a continuous universe of relations.” For an adage: “Every mind is a node within a matrix of relational pathways that permeates the inhabited world.” While, as Ingold writes, an expanded sense of abidance may elude, and boggle, our particulate West, such a dualness has long been a common concept for prior, non-western cultures. A modern-day reentry and revitalization might then be facilitated by David Bohm’s mystic physics, along with an “extended mind” school, as they serve to open to a “wideware” social cognizance.
The sense in which the human mind is truly universal, however, explodes the very premise on which the classificatory project is based, namely, that the order of the world is explicate (Bohm, 1980). It holds, to the contrary, that every mind is a particular node or nexus within a universe of relations and processes which, as they unfold in the world, are developmentally enfolded into its very constitution. The phenomena of mind, in short, reveal that the world’s order is implicate. Though the universality of the implicate order may be hard for modern western thinkers to grasp, it is self-evident, for example, to the Greenlandic Inuit, for whom “sila,” equivalent to what we would call mind, intelligence or consciousness, while manifest in each and every person, ‘is an all-pervading, life-giving force connecting a person with the rhythms of the universe, and integrating the self with the natural world. (356)
Johnson, Robert. He: Understanding Masculine Psychology. New York: Harper & Row, 1977. A concise work wherein the male quest for the Holy Grail in its feminine context provides an archetypal example. Johnson goes on to apply its meaning to our time. We are again bidden, individually and collectively, now in a cosmic milieu, to think to ask the Grail question. In the Parsifal role, we each need to initiate our own mindfulness, vision and self-realization. This theme is of much importance for Part VII, Planetary Self-Selection .
I think the modern form of the great question, a form that would be meaningful to us, is “What do we live for?” (76)
Jung, Emma and Marie-Louise von Franz. The Grail Legend. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998. An erudite study of several renditions of the Arthurian cycle as a prototype for the labyrinthine path of psychic individuation and consequently world transformation.
Katz, Solomon. Toward a New Science of Humanity. Zygon. 10/1, 1975. An early insight into how native cultures can be seen to align with one or the other brain hemisphere attributes.
Kohn, Eduardo. How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013. In the process of posting this reference sourcesite, we try to draw upon a widest array of scientific, philosophic, cultural, mystic and ethnic testimonies. A McGill University anthropologist who lived among Andean peoples here recovers and expresses an indigenous wisdom imbued by a human abidance at one with an animate, sapient environment. In unique fashion, modern academic themes such as semiotic signs, natural literacy, self-organizing emergent dynamics, and so on, gain a substantial enchantment in this arboreal milieu of human and non-human selves. This integral vista moves Kohn to witness a conducive cosmos suffused with sentient flora and fauna from life’s very origin.
Can forests think? Based on fieldwork among the Runa of Ecuador’s Upper Amazon, the author explores how Amazonians interact with the many creatures that inhabit one of the world’s most complex ecosystems. Whether or not we recognize it, our anthropological tools hinge on those capacities that make us distinctly human. However, when we turn our ethnographic attention to how we relate to other kinds of beings, their effect of divorcing us from the rest of the world breaks down. Avoiding reductionistic solutions, and without losing sight of how our lives and those of others are caught up in the moral webs we humans spin, this book skillfully fashions new kinds of conceptual tools from the strange and unexpected properties of the living world itself. In this groundbreaking work, Kohn takes a new and exciting direction–one that offers a more capacious way to think about the world we share with other kinds of beings. (Publisher edits)
Landau, Misia. Narratives of Human Evolution. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991. An anthropologist reads the epochal passage from great ape to human as a form of heroic myth which starts as an equilibrium state the vulnerable nonhuman primate is compelled to leave. There is a long period of travail and test helped by gifts of intelligence, tools, a moral sense. By such perseverance, the stages from Australopithecus to CroMagnon are traversed.
Leeming, David. Mythology: The Voyage of the Hero. London: Oxford University Press, 1998. The psychic journey to ones selfhood is the manifest core of every mythic heritage. In a sentence: “We must lose ourselves to find ourselves in the overall pattern of the cosmos.” (7)
Lyle, Emily. Archaic Cosmos. Edinburgh: Polygon, 1990. As humankind reconstructs its original mythic narrative, each myriad version reflects the one genesis now finding its voice in a global language and expression.
The theory that I invite others to live with and explore, as I have been doing myself, is that a single, complex model underlies the major polytheistic religions of the archaic old world…the contiguous cultures from Ireland to China. (68) I have two principal bases for my own theory of the organization of the pantheon: macrocosmic-microcosmic structure, particularly as expressed in calendar design and a theogonic sequence which articulates the deities in a family relationship. (68,69)
Maffie, James. Consciousness and Reality in Nahua Thought in the Era of the Conquest. Wautischer, Helmut, ed. Ontology of Consciousness: Percipient Action. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008. A Colorado State University philosopher achieves a succinct entry to MesoAmerican cosmology along with showing its deep affinity with Taoist wisdom. This ‘teotl’ or ‘dialectical polar monism’ is similarly distinguished by mutually complementary feminine and masculine principles. Human sentience is thus regarded as a further manifestation which engages more in dynamic becoming than momentary being. So on each continent and for each historic era, this perennial archetype of a universal gender source appears in cultural evidence. How might a 21st century global science be equally able to witness – that is an aim of this website.
Nahua ontology maintains that a single, dynamic, self-generating sacred force or energy originally created as well as continually recreates, regenerates, and permeates the cosmos. Nahuas call this force teotl. It manifests itself cyclically and regularly in multiple aspects, preeminent among which is duality. This duality takes the form of the endless apposition of mutually interrelated and mutually interdependent, complementary polarities that divide, alternately dominate, and explain the diversity, movement, and momentary structure of the cosmos. The ceaseless becoming of the cosmos is defined and constituted by the endless oscillation of these complementary polarities. The overall result of this dialectical oscillation is an overarching balance. (98)
Marbury-Lewis, David and Uri Almagor, eds. The Attraction of Opposites. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1989. From the school of the French anthropologist Claude Levi-Straus, a study of the consistent predilection of native peoples to base their social structure on binary, gender principles. This insight is found in wide effect on five continents, whereof the daily round of life accrued a cosmological significance.
So the villages of the Indians of central Brazil are themselves microcosms of the universe, and the rituals performed by their inhabitants seek to maintain their societies in harmony with the cosmic scheme of things, just as did the rituals of the Han emperors in their Halls of Light. (11)
McLuhan, T. C. The Way of the Earth: Encounters with Nature in Ancient and Contemporary Thought. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. A survey of native wisdom from the far corners to convey its common sensitivity to a nurturing, embryonic landscape. The crucial insight, with reference to Gregory Bateson, is of a patterned reality with an innate correspondence, which is perceived in every culture but our own.
Human nature - across all lands and all time - displays a striking consonance. Our similarities as human beings are far more deeply rooted than our differences, especially when we consider the most profound themes that people of all eras and all localities have pondered: our relation to the planet we share; to the earth we walk upon and its fruits that sustain us; to the limitless cosmos that we observe in the great dome of sky above us; to the mysteries that confound us as a species; to the fears and exaltations that unite us.