Temporary Indeterminate Zone

Storming the Empire, original collage, 1986 by Michale Langenstein

Temporary Indeterminate Zone (Note: Somewhat dated writing on 9-11, written days after the event) Copyright Jonathan Zap 9-22-01 On the morning of 9-11, having received no news of the disaster yet, I awoke from a disturbing dream. I was on a ship that was on fire and former students of mine whom I had taught in New York during the Eighties were coming to me asking for help because the captain of the ship had just had a heart attack. It is a statistical probablity that some former students of mine—since I taught in New York for 14 years—-died on 9-11. Disturbed by the dream, and still having heard no news I pulled a card from the Zap Oracle and got the following, the caption on the back read, “Pay attention to world affairs.” >Self Portrait Ripples of profound disturbance continue to radiate and many report feelings of more to come. Of course, more always comes, that’s the nature of change, our one true constant. But suspicions seem to be growing that this may be the time we have all long anticipated, the time when the curtain goes up, the towers of civilization tremble and come crashing down . . . Or this could be a highly disturbing event that reverberates with, resonates with, a future time when the truly epoch-changing events will occur later on. As you may have heard me point out before, because each of us, regardless of age, senses the immanence of our own personal deaths, an absolute event horizon that we all inexorably approach regardless of historical circumstances, we will tend to project that outward, will tend to believe that our time in history is the end time, the culmination of everything. And, for us, of course, that’s always true no matter when we mortals incarnate. It is the blessed right of every mortal being that we are guaranteed an event horizon no matter what happens with the outside world. This is why prophets almost always predict that the world will end in their life time. For them, this is always true. New Testament Revelations was written in the expectation that the events described would happen in the lifetime of the authors. 2,000 years later we still think it’s about to happen. A couple of years ago I heard a story that supported my long held theory (my theory that the end of the world always seems near because we project the approach of our personal death outward onto the collective). The trick is that since the small part recapitulates whe whole in this holographic universe of ours, as in a fractal, so the species, like the individual, has an eschaton, an end time. Some generation of humans will make that projection onto the actual end time. Anyway, the story concerned a woman who was a nationally known psychic in the 1960s. One day she had a vision that on a particular date, revealed to her in the vision, California would have the long anticipated apocalyptic earth quake. She published this prophecy in her nationally syndicated newspaper column. She was sincere in her belief in this prophecy. In fact, at great expense, she relocated her whole family from the Bay Area to Nevada. Then other well known psychics all over the country, in copy cat mode picked up her prophecy and also predicted a massive quake on the same date. On that day there was no earthquake, but the psychic woman died of some rare disease.Yes, one day the great cycle turns, the end of the world as we know it comes, but we can’t trust our intense feelings of its imminence becauce the imminence of our own deaths is such a similar feeling and we need to live in full awareness of that feeling and our impending end regardless of where the world is at. For us the world always ends. As Don Juan put it, “There are no survivors on this earth.” Having said all that, maybe now we can more authentically talk about whether we are in a time of culmination, of shock, possibly even eschaton. We have more nonmystical reasons to believe this than earlier times. We are told that there are more humans alive today than all the human beings who have ever died. We have technologies of apocalypse on line and ready to go at a moment’s notice, things that couldn’t have been imagined in the past. Clearly, the metabolism of the species is heating up, but I have never, never suggested a time frame though I have written about the end time and interpreted messages from the collective unconscious about it for now, let me see, twenty-three years, the exact begining of my formal work on the subject was my philosophy honors paper my last year of college in 1978 when I was 20. It was entitled Archetypes of a New Evolution (will be on the site soon), and everything felt very, very close, present, back then too. Back then I did write about the millennial change over and a global economic collapse as possible trigger events. When people used to ask Terence McKenna if he thought this was the end of the world he laughed and replied, “No, this is the tea party before the end of the world.” But he also thought he knew when it would really happen, 2012, and assumed, as most of us did, that he would be here to talk us through it. It can never be emphasized enough that collective eschaton, if it is the strange attractor that our species hurtles toward, may not matter that much to the individual since our personal eschaton, death, runs beside the collective fate with winged feet. And I find that absolutely delightful, a movie with at least one, and possibly two surprise endings. I look forward to either or both eschatons as magical portals, though I also know that the approach gradient, the road that leads to the threshold of ultimate change may be rough going. So let’s not lose our inner equilibrium and independence as the towers of the world come crashing down. Whether the world ends or doesn’t, we know that our stay is temporary anyway and, therefore, the appropriate stance is always to be here now, to be impeccable this moment now, existential impeccability moment by moment aware that the future is an unknown zone no matter when we live. There is a well known book on anarchy that is entitled: Temporary Indeterminate Zone. That’s what we’re in right now, maybe that’s what each moment always is, but right now the equilbrium is particularly disturbed. But the time when the equilibrium is punctuated is both crisis and opportunity, it is a time of alchemical fertility, a time for new dreams, visions, manifestations. Let’s not just be stunned onlookers like deer hypnotized by the headlamps of the six billion wheeled tractor trailer of history. Looking ahead of the curve we have long been signaled that what would seem like apocalypse would be the bifurcation point, the opportunity for a quantum evolutionary jump. This is what I wrote about in 1978—Archetypes of a New Evolution. (for a more recent version see Looking toward the Event Horizon—–the Singularity Archetype and the Metamorphosis of the Human Species)The equlibrium needs to be disturbed, needs to be highly dynamic, but we can’t kid ourselves any more that it will not involve rending of tissue and loss of blood. If this shock is reinforced by more attacks, by profound economic change or some other thunderbolt out of the left field of the unexpected, then it is likely to cause a profound generational shift. Generations are more sharply different in modern times when the species metabolism moves at fever pitch. The world of the 1950s was far, far more different than the world of the 1960s then say the difference between the world of 950 AD and 960 AD. The generations of Americans living right now embody key differences and as global change intensifies the process of generational distinction may intensify also. Last night (9-21-2001) I listened to some fascinating talk about generational turning on the Art Bell show. Ian Punnet was filling in for Art, and his guests were two guys–one of them was William Strauss and I didn’t catch the other name, but they have written some books on this subject, the best known is titled Generations and was written in 1991. (The Fourth Turning is a more recent book) They had some very incisive observations though I also found that there are profound deficiencies in their models of the collective and of collective change. In their paradigm there is a mandala of four generational archetypes that seem to repeat cyclically. I took some notes and I’d like to share some of their thoughts with you because what they have to say may have great relevance to this moment in history which they believe is a moment of generational shift which they call “The Fourth Turning.” In Generations they predicted that an historical shock of some sort would occur roughly around 2003 that would catalyze this fourth turning. Their thoughts will be conveyed in a disorganized way as they are based on notes of a free-wheeling talk show conversation: The baby boomers are the generation born after a crisis (WWII) and that generation is associated with spiritual awakening. But this generation, the generation of Clinton and George W., will also tend, as they approach old age and are in positions of leadership, to push America into an abyss. The cycle of four generations involves four turnings and usually lasts 85-90 years and other times and cultures have noticed this time frame as related to shifts of historical epochs. Lincoln said a great historical change happened every “four score and seven years.” Each of the four turnings is associated with a season and the one we are approaching is analogous to winter and parallels the Civil War and the Great Depression. The third turning was 1984 and was associated with Reagan and with capitalistic expansion and greed in full blossom, like in the twenties. Just a short time ago, during the Clinton growth economy, pundits were saying that growth might just continue indefinitely, that we were in a new economy that was unprecedented. We have lived most of our lives in a time they associate with what they very aptly call “the Celebrity Carnival.” Much like movie star gossip of the twenties. The Nineties was defined by big court cases like O.J. Simpson and other celebrity events. Before 9-11 the lead stories were Gary Condit and Michael Jordan’s come back. They pointed out, that since 9-11 the celebrity parade has come down for a little while. Gary Condit and Michael Jordan seem old and unimportant. The FBI has more important missions than looking for Chandra Levy. Michael Jordan had to cancel the press conference in which he was going to announce his come back. Suddenly no one cared what Madonna was doing. In their paradigm, generations last about 17-24 years and here’s how they break down the ones alive today (the listed years refer to birth dates) 1901-1924 The GI generation, now being called “The Greatest Generation” The World War Two generation, my parent’s generation. 1925-1942 The Silent Generation, they are now (2001) 59-76 years old. 1943-1960 The Boomers They are now 41-57. I am a late Boomer, born in 57′, 43 years old. 1961-1981 Gen-X They are between 20-40 The largest percentage of my friends are from Gen-X. 1982- Millenials They are college sophmore age and younger. (I didn’t recognize it at the time (9-21-05) but I had just a few weeks before met a couple of Millenials and in the ensuing years those two would bring me very close to quite a number of Millenials who mostly live near Seattle) Each generation is born during one turning and each generation lives through 4 turnings. In Generations (written in 91′) they predicted an event around 2003-2005 that would be “history boxing our ears” an historical shock that would begin a winter period. 90 years is the approximate length of a full cycle. Half way through (which corresponds to the 1960s) you get an awakening. SUVs, they suggest, are a “prewar vehicle” symptomatic of a society that wants or expects adversity, something hard, some connection with the elements, basic survival. Boomers, despite the Sixties, will tend to be more pro war, more pro destruction than older or younger people. (When I was writing this a Millenial, a boy about 14 came into the house and I decided to test this by asking what he thought of 9-11. He said it was very scary, but that Bush seemed scary too, and too war like. He thought we should confine ourself to diplomacy and small, tactical responses. Of course a sample of one doesn’t mean much.) The Boomers correspond to the generation of FDR and William Randolf Hearst… The place we are at is closer to the stock crash of 29′ than Pearl Harbor. If this is the fourth turning than the worst weapons available will be used. We have a sense of something coming, but will we go back to the celebrity carnival? By the time of Pearl Harbor the nation already had a mood of grim determination. During the winter of 29′ and 30′ people were forced to realize that there was no going back to the Twenties. People became nicer to each other, elegance returned, people didn’t care about celebrities as much. Will people still care about reality tv shows after 9-11 or will reality-reality overshadow that and make it seem dated? If people will still accept reality tv shows than this may not be the fourth turning. When the authors passed through an airport a couple of days ago it seemed very solemn, the feeling tone of a depression or a war. There was a recent national hockey game that was interupted to show Bush’s speech. When they tried to get off the speech and the players came back on the ice, both teams were booed and they had to abandon the game. They compared this shock to the Kennedy assasination. After you knew you were moving toward a different place, a different future than what you had anticipated before. The Sixties didn’t begin till 63′ and didn’t end till 73′ and the Seventies lasted till 84′ and Reagan’s “it’s morning in American” approach. Millenial teenagers are totally different from Gen-X, though shows and movies about teenagers are mostly made by Gen-xes in their late 20s, early 30s. FDR said there was a mysterious thing about generations. “To one generation much is given. From another generation much is asked.” This generation (FDR’s generation which corresponds to the boomers) has “an appointment with destiny.” FDR’s generation was at the age of leadership during WWII, the boomers are at the age of leadership now (Clinton, George W.). The boomers have a chance to do something difficult and do it right, to create a new civilization. Or they could be the ones to hurl us into the abyss. We just went through the third turning where individualism triumphs over the social order. The fourth turning involves profound alterations in empires and nations and will involve tragedies and triumphs, we could go much higher or lower. High schoolers right now, the millenials, are showing flags everywhere. Hollywood gets teenagers so wrong right now because movies are made by Gen-X. These kids are so different, they are upbeat, problem-solving, they are a great new generation. Our leaders will be aging Boomers but people will want them to be exemplary. Heros we will expect to be young. Most of the heros of 9-11 were Gen-X fireman and police. The passengers who overcame the terrorists on the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania were Gen-X. Most soldiers in uniform right now are Gen-X. It turns out that 70% of the people who died in the Trade Center were Gen-X. Gen-X is constantly criticized, but on 9-11 they were the ones who stepped forward. The fourth turning will tend toward a return of a modern form of traditional families, like in the Thirties, and it will tend to be a time that will celebrate youth as heros as compared to our present time where we view them with a negative, critical eye. But we will come to view kids as heros, kids who are required to think of the community before themselves (Boomers were just the opposite). If Boomers order Millenials into battle we may not get an anti-war movement from them. Generationally they correspond to the Greatest Generation and are more likely to make sacrifices and follow orders. Like the Greatest Generation who were well regarded as youth, they went out and conquered. We need new movies depicting teenagers in a positive light. Today’s teenagers are much more modest—in locker rooms they will tend to cover themselves while aging Boomers prance about naked. For Boomers, they will resemble our parents more than ourselves. We will want them to enjoy their youth for tommorrow they may die. Teenagers were more prepared for 9-11 because of Columbine—they went through school evacuation drills and zero tolerance policies, they lived in high schools which were are already like what airports have now become. Columbine mentally prepared them for the Twin Towers. A time when violence came not through nation states, but from individuals. A caller called in a very dissonant note at this point in the show. She was a school bus driver and reported attitudes of shocking callousness and disregard for human life in her young charges. The authors, one of whom works with a high school theater group, disagreed and reinforced his argument with some compelling statistics: School crime is down two thirds since the early Nineties. Teenaged births are at their lowest recorded level. They claim that these kids are turning away from the vulgar culture (what about Boy Bands? I wanted to ask, but recently they are falling from favor too) The youth homicide rate in New York City is down 75%. (Last time I was in NYC I noticed that the inner city youth of the social strata I had taught in the South Bronx in the Eighties now seemed far more mellow, androgynous, safer, softer.) The awakened generation (Boomers) calls for revolution more so than younger generations. Kids today not where you may think they are. We have tightened the rules, are giving them more homework and they are doing it. (But what about the growing home-school movement? I wanted to ask) These kids are more programmed. Instead of sandlot baseball games they are driven in minivans to be professionally coached somewhere. They don’t have that much leisure time. They are being raised to follow orders and achieve. Boomers were raised to be creative and idealistic. We (Boomers) grew up fearing state violence, what the Russians might do, Millenials fear individuals—Columbine, terrorists, and may look to the state to provide protection. The individual may seem too strong and we may need stronger authority, institutions, collective discipline to combat. Boomers were looking for less authority and more individualism. These kids want more order and are more comfortable with Internet censorship than we are. Girls are the achievers right now (I know this to be true independently–they decisively outperform boys academically and significantly higher percentage go to college. We get a skewed impression because there is a disproportionate number of boys among the super star performers. This, I believe has to do with archetypal masculine pushing the envelope energy. For this reason, I believe that women have always been more conscious as a group, but on the cutting edge of new frontiers there is a disproportionate number of males) For the first time, Millenials have mothers who are more educated than their fathers. Feminist issues are fading. The authors wonder if terrorism will be the cultural crisis that will create the fourth turning. They say that without the Boomers the younger generations might not find the purpose in thier lives. Their book, Generations, was written in 91′ at the peak of disasapointment with Gen-X, but now Gen-Xers are the ace entreprenaurs and technologists—in middle age they will be superb middle managers, very practical, able to act as a bridge between Boomers and Millenials. Someone called in supporting their observations about Millenials and describing them as courteous, responsible, goal oriented. “These are good kids, they treat me courteously” said this caller “but when I was their age I didn’t like older people.” We will be in the fourth turning when we realize our kids are great kids. Ian Punnet pointed out these are also the most obese generation of kids. The authors admitted the truth of that and said we’ve tried to make them sedate. They wondered if the draft wouldn’t return for the millenial generation. The 4th turning is not a brief episode, the first battle may be fought by Gen-X, but your time (Millenials) is coming. A young Millenial woman called in to say her generation would rather do it with diplomacy. But the authors say this is a time when the risk of total war is high and they hope we do a better job than the Civil War generation. This is a time when we will fight not for containment, but for the complete destruction of an enemy, and we will be tempted to use the worst weapons. If they had nukes during the Civil War they would probably have used them. (that would be a great premise for a Philip K. Dick novel) Enduring myths seem to reinforce the generational turnings. The Chinese have a sense of these generations. US relations with China may be the main story… I found their conversation fascinating, though as I pointed out in my prelude, I believe there are fundamental deficincies in their paradigm and models. They didn’t seem to have an appreciation that the cycles were intensifying and that we could be entering unique and unprecedented territory. They have a reductive paradigm and look for evidence that fits in with it. Still, I am grateful for their many cogent observations and their stimulating me to think about something we should all consider right now. Are we entering a zone of shock that will shift things generationally? My guess is that unless this shock is followed up and reinforced by other profound disturbance–like economic collapse, we will probably return to the celerbrity carnival and Michael Jordan’s comeback. What I try to keep track of are the fluctuations in what Terrance believed were the two main variables in our universe—novelty and habit. When I left teaching and my former life in June of ’95 and went on the road I found others who had also broken with their former lives at the same time and who had a sense of impending earth changes. Then that calmed down somewhat in the late nineties, but there was a distinct resurgence of anticipatory feelings as we approached the change of the millenium and that mouse that roared—Y2K. Some terrorists were caught at the Canadian border on that day, and contrary to expectations the change of the millenium was remarkable in the complete absence of any disasters or shocks. When it was over there was this sudden altered perception, the economy was still strong and it felt like, “Hey this just may continue like this for years.” But there was a distinct return to novelty with the presidential election. The Tao threw us a curve ball, it was as if we tossed a coin and it landed on its edge– a national election in a nation of 280 million came down to a few hundred votes and horrible flaws in our political system were brought screaming to the surface. While this was happening the economy was starting to destabilize. Then came Bush II with a feeling of inevitable doom and immediately they sent out signals that they didn’t care about climate change or sustainability but instant profits for their industries, President Bush to Planet Earth: Drop Dead! the headline should have read. And now we have 9-11 and the worst week for the stock market since the Great Depression. The question remains—is this a storm before another lull, will we be talking about Michael Jordan’s come back soon, or is this the beginning of the major, epoch shifting storm right now???? I’d love to know what you think. I hope that we from the same or different generations keep in touch as we travel through the Temporary Indeterminate Zone.

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