White Crows Rising—-
The Singularity Archetype and the Event Horizon of Human Evolution
(Originally Chapter V of The Capsule of Intentionality)
© 1996, 2009 by Jonathan Zap
Edited by Austin Iredale
Through a Glass Darkly
When we talk about the future we attempt to look, through a glass darkly, at a landscape that is unknown and unformed. Prophecy is a notoriously tricky and unreliable enterprise. Many people who have sought to look through that dark glass have seen images that were distorted reflections of themselves—of their hopes, fears and expectations. If there is a universal theme in the visions of prophets it is the prediction that extremely dramatic events will occur within their own lifetimes. The authors of the book of Revelations, for example, described events that they believed were going to happen in their time, the First Century AD, a fact rarely mentioned by born-again doomsayers. It is quite possible for someone to have a genuine revelation and then be completely mistaken about the time frame, or fall into the trap of being literal and concrete about the typically metaphorical vision they have seen.
Certain predictions about the future require little vision beyond the ordinary sort. A concise summary of what ordinary vision should tell us about the future is: “We’re in trouble, and we’re due for radical changes.” The fact that we’re in trouble seems almost too obvious to mention. Overpopulation rises exponentially while ecosystems spiral downward. More and more children are trying to suck greedily at the breasts of a mother who has cancer and grows weaker daily. And to this likely terminal situation you can add any of your own favorite force vectors of potential disaster: plague, nuclear or biological terrorism, global economic collapse, pandemics, toxification of the environment, climate change, natural or unnatural disasters, insane mass movements and despotic governments.
The metabolism of the species, and therefore the metabolism of events on this planet, has heated up to feverish intensity. An evolutionary process is rapidly approaching critical mass. Just consider how much change has occurred since 1908. A safe prediction is that we are not heading into a quiescent plateau.
So what is on the horizon if not a plateau? How can we contemplate the future development of our own species in a planetary situation that boils over with an infinite array of variables? And how can we possibly transcend the inherent subjectivity of being fully vested members of the species we’re trying to predict?
When the human mind is confronted with the task of analyzing an almost impossibly complex phenomenon, like the fate of the species, one way it can assist itself is by creating an analog, an analogy to some simpler phenomenon that is of a size more workable for our type of intelligence. This type of analogical analysis can often work surprisingly well because there seems to be an aspect of the universe that is very much like a hologram or a fractal—a small part, the microcosm, seems to recapitulate the essential pattern of the larger part, the macrocosm. To apply analogical analysis to the human species let’s consider the analog of a single human individual.
A single human individual is still a phenomenon at the very boundary of human comprehension. Since we are social primates, our brains have adapted and struggled heroically to understand individuals of our own species more than any other phenomenon. We are marvelously equipped to understand each other and yet each individual personifies all the deepest mysteries that defy understanding. Also, the variables affecting the future of an individual are a magnitude of infinity perhaps greater than those affecting the future of the species because the future of the species is itself an included variable in the life of an individual. So although an individual of our species is certainly a sufficiently complex microcosm, and a phenomenon that obviously parallels the larger phenomenon of the species, he is, unfortunately, an almost equally intimidating phenomenon to attempt to analyze or predict. But pursuing this analogy as a thought experiment may lead us along a convoluted path to some place interesting.
John, a Thought Experiment in Prophecy
To make our thought experiment more concrete let’s give our human individual a specific identity.
I propose that our human sample be named John Doe, and that he be a seventeen-year-old male living right now in a suburb of Los Angeles, California. Of course you may be wondering why I didn’t pick Olga Pietrowski, age fifty-six, mother of three grown children, and a clerical worker at the People’s Agricultural College in Northern Ukraine, or Lee Chung, age thirty two, an unmarried Taiwanese poultry butcher suffering from a rare kidney ailment, or any of a number of other possible human samples.
I picked an adolescent, first of all, because I feel that adolescence is the time of life in Western culture that most closely resembles the present developmental stage of the species. It is a time of intense energy and change when identity is unsure, life is unstable, and it feels like almost anything might happen. I picked a male adolescent because our species is in an immature masculine phase of acting out, often destructively, testing the limits, enamored of speed, aggression and power. Like perpetual adolescents we are obsessed with looks and sex. And like John’s life in a suburb of Los Angeles, we are aware of so many critical problems all around us, while below there are tremors in the San Andreas fault.
To continue our thought experiment let’s fill in some of the gaps in John’s case history. John’s parents are wealthy, but his father, a high-powered advertising executive, a workaholic John rarely sees, is also a big spender and heavily in debt. John’s mother has malignant breast cancer and is currently undergoing aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatment, which has left her in a state of exhaustion and despair. And although John goes about his life at a frenetic pace, driving along at high speeds in his red V-8 Firebird, using his charismatic looks and charm to pick up a series of girls for sexual encounters that he later boasts about to his friends, he is not without feeling and is deeply disturbed by his mother’s condition. But what can he do? His mother is under the care of the most highly paid experts and they say her condition is “under control.” As much as possible, John tries not to think of his withering mother hooked up to all those machines and tubes at the hospital.
His feelings tend to alternate between acute undifferentiated rage and a crushingly dark despair. When in the rage state he is capable of violent outbursts. John has studied martial arts, and when another teenage male calls him an insulting name in the parking lot outside of Dark Frenzy, an LA dance club, John beats him senseless. While still in the adrenaline rush of this conquest John feels exultant about his victory, but later that night the other boy’s bloodied face appears in a nightmare and John’s victorious feelings turn to anxiety and regret. When in the despair state John can barely get out of bed. He misses school, steals Valium from the medicine cabinet and watches television, utterly bored and lethargic.
But John’s life is not wholly filled with darkness. He has a great facility with computers and a fascination with virtual reality. And although it might not be readily apparent, John is still capable of love. When John hangs out with his friends they typically insult each other in joking putdown contests, but there are also hidden moments of compassion and empathy between John and a couple of his closest friends. John also shares a bond of absolutely unconditional love with his dog, Clyde, a three-year-old pit bull.
Recently, however, John’s mother has taken a turn for the worse and John, in dark sympathetic response, has begun to act out more self-destructively. His drug use is getting more compulsive and sometimes, after doing a couple lines of crystal meth to heighten his reflexes, he tours the express way at night, driving the Firebird with thrilling speed. Hidden under the driver seat is the nine millimeter automatic he bought on the street with most of his birthday money.
Our thought experiment is to predict where John is heading. The conventional prediction would be that John is headed toward relative or absolute self-destruction. But some people survive self-destructive phases of their lives and are even positively transformed by them. The case history simply doesn’t provide enough information to make a prediction that is anything other than broad conjecture. John, like his species, is obviously in a crisis stage and some sort of disaster seems very likely. But even if we knew for certain that John was going to have a serious car wreck we still have a prediction problem. John might be killed in the car wreck; death cannot be excluded as a possibility for John anymore than extinction can be excluded as a possibility for the species. But human lives often take strange, unexpected twists and turns. There are quite a number of possibilities for John that may seem a bit farfetched, but for which there is plenty of human precedent.
Suppose, for example, that John only nearly dies in the car wreck and that while he lies trapped in the wrecked Firebird he has a classic near-death experience. From a disembodied distance he views his mangled body and the wreck of his car. (If this description of an NDE seems like New Age confabulation then you need to do your homework on NDEs. NDEs, including comprehensive life reviews and verifiable remote viewings, have happened when people had no measurable electrical activity in their brains.) He travels through darkness toward a light. A being approaches John from whom he feels unconditional love. John is guided through a complete life review and as he re-experiences encounters with others he is aware of what they are feeling and how they are being impacted by his actions and energy. Much of what he learns is devastating and he sees how arrogant and often cruel he has been in his life, but he also sees how he was influenced to be that way and has a new compassion and understanding for his own flawed nature. He is given a choice of going toward the light or returning to life on earth. EMS technicians resuscitate his body and John emerges from his NDE with the recognition that life is more meaningful and valuable than he ever imagined.
Such a scenario, however unlikely, cannot be excluded as a possibility. There are countless real-life case histories of NDEs creating lasting spiritual transformations in people who had hitherto led dissolute lives. The point is that knowing John is self-destructive and that he is heading toward a very serious car wreck is not enough information to predict his future. We can say with certainty that, like his species, John is in serious trouble and due for radical changes. John and his species are speeding toward a critical nexus, but what will emerge on the other side of this event horizon remains to be seen.
Of course, what is lacking in this analogy is the whole range of middle possibilities, that gradient of gray tones. Suppose John survives the wreck only to become more bitter and negative. Or perhaps he survives the wreck and it moves him toward the functional maturity of an adult, but without much of a spiritual transformation. This may seem counterintuitive, but I think the middle range possibilities are less likely than the extremes. I believe that some individuals, and some species, are so highly charged that when they hit the bifurcation point they are most likely to emerge greatly transformed (higher or lower).
To continue our thought experiment, let’s consider what type of additional information would improve our chances of predicting where John is going. For example, if we could extend the theoretical limits of medical technology so that we could continuously monitor every aspect of John’s physiological condition that could be turned into a number—not just pulse and blood pressure, but also the most minute fluctuations of blood sugar, liver enzymes, neurotransmitters, etc. We would now have megabytes of hard, objective information about John pouring in every second.
Access to objective, physical information of this sort would probably be a delight to a neurological materialist, one of those folks currently crowding our universities and citadels of science who believes that human consciousness is an illusion and that we are essentially a byproduct of neurochemistry suffering from delusions of grandeur. With this new source of information about John, the neurological materialists would be able to show endless correlations between fluctuations of John’s neural peptides and his affective states. But would they be able to tell us where this carbon-based automaton, John, is headed? When Einstein was asked whether we would eventually be able to understand the universe exclusively in terms of numbers, his reply was yes, but it would be like trying to understand a Beethoven symphony in terms of variations in air pressure. Now imagine trying to use variations in air pressure to predict a symphony that has never been heard before, one that composes itself moment by moment and is altered by being observed.
To extend the analogy once more to the species let’s suppose we had instantaneous access to every number in every database on the planet. Suppose we sat in the basement of the Pentagon surrounded by a thousand Cray mainframes with quadrillions of gigabits of statistics on global population, meteorological data, economic trends, market research data, etc. pouring in by the nanosecond. At a moment’s notice we could determine copper sulfate consumption in Eastern Romania in 1959 accurate to six decimal places, or the number of males between the ages of 33 and 38 with peptic ulcers who purchased a major brand of dandruff shampoo with a Visa card last Wednesday. How much would this help us predict where the species was going?
Let’s return to John for a minute. If detailed, objective information about John’s body doesn’t tell us where he’s going, what information could we add to John’s case history that would focus our intuition and allow us to speculate intelligently about his future? Is there a source of subjective but global information that would reflect what is happening on the deepest level of John’s soul? The source I’d like to recommend for consideration is John’s dreams. For three or so hours a day John’s psyche generates its own universe, a parallel dimension where the deepest aspects of his being are given form.
So let’s consider one of John’s dreams. John finds himself standing in the clearing of a forest. The sky is turning very dark. Underground tremors occur and escalate to where the earth seems to be shaking itself to pieces. There is fire and lightening and it seems to be the end of the world. Then everything calms down. The sky clears and now a large white eagle comes spiraling down from above. In its talons it holds a golden egg with a glowing aura. Carefully, it deposits this egg in a nest at the top of a great tree.
This dream suggests that John’s current self-destructive crisis, as represented by the darkening sky and earthquake, might be a rite of passage from which John may emerge spiritually transformed—the eagle bearing a glowing, golden egg. John’s self-destructiveness now seems a necessary part of an evolutionary process, and we can speculate that he will bring his life to the brink of destruction but will emerge spiritually transformed. Of course, this is still only a speculation, but it has a certain intuitive confidence.
Dreams of the Collective
The dream attributed to John was an actual dream reported to me by a young man about John’s age. In his case, the dream may have had a meaning more collective than personal. And this brings us back full circle to our species for which John’s case was intended as analog. If a dream was the most useful source of information for speculating about John’s future, what source of information would have the analogous function for a species? The answer Carl Jung provided was that myths are to the collective what dreams are to the individual. A myth, therefore, is a kind of collective dream.
The work of Jung and his followers demonstrates convincingly the existence of a collective unconscious. From this collective layer of the unconscious emerge the great, primordial images Jung referred to as the “archetypes.”Across cultures and periods we find endless variations of these archetypes. The archetypes may appear as dreams or visions, especially in the fertile psyches of artists, poets, mystics, writers, shamans and prophets. Through such individuals the archetypes become myths and diffuse throughout a culture.
The dreams of an individual in crisis will tend to be dynamic, highly charged, and revealing of the deepest essence of the inner process. Similarly, the mythology of a culture in crisis will be intense and revealing of forces shaping collective destiny beneath the world of surfaces and appearances. Furthermore, the realms of dream and mythology will typically parallel or overlap. For example, while Jung worked as an analyst during the era of the Weimar Republic he found that Wotan, in Germanic mythology a god of war and mayhem, was occurring frequently in the dreams of his educated, highly civilized German patients. Jung was very disturbed by this phenomenon, which he called “Wotanism.” Based on the emergence of this archetype Jung was able to correctly predict the future shape of irrational forces brewing in the German psyche. Meanwhile, many people in various governments who had access to all sorts of statistics, experts and specialists, were found napping, their sleepy heads buried in the sand at the shore of the collective unconscious when the Nazi tidal wave seemed to swell out of nowhere. And surfing at the very top of this tidal wave was a pale, homely looking fellow who began his career as an unemployed artist making daily trips to the occult bookstore. Steeping himself in black magic, young Adolph gained malevolent access to the collective unconscious, adapted an astrological symbol, the Swastika, as the symbol of his world domination cult, and the rest, as they say, is history…
Down the Rabbit Hole
Before we descend, however briefly, through the rabbit hole to encounter the Singularity Archetype, I would like to suggest an invaluable piece of equipment to bring along. Besides all the critical faculties that you bring to bear on this or any other document you read, an encounter with an archetype also requires a deeply intuitive truth sense. As you approach an archetype you will feel a resonance within, a sense of uncanny familiarity and recognition. The Hero with a Thousand Faces is the memorable title of Joseph Campbell’s classic book on the hero archetype. Campbell was being numerically modest because every archetype has billions or trillions of faces. These myriad faces are the individual permutations or manifestations of the archetype, like facets allowing you to look into the prismatic depths of a jewel that can dazzle and overwhelm.
During our brief journey we will have time to look through only a few faces/facets of the Singularity Archetype. Hopefully these few vantages will allow the reader to triangulate the essence of an ever-shifting vision. At most, a fundamentalist looks through a single facet of an archetype and concretizes a single face he has been conditioned to see there. The Jungian approach, however, is to realize that each facet involves its own prismatic distortions of the archetype, like a series of cubist paintings of a single subject. Unlike the fundamentalist, the Jungian doesn’t attach to the idiosyncratic reflections of particular versions, but attempts to see the essence that unites the myriad manifestations of the archetype.
As I mentioned before, “John’s dream” was an actual dream reported to me by an intelligent young man a few years ago. I believe that this dream is an example of what I call the “Singularity Archetype.” This archetype is a resonance, flowing backward through time, of an approaching Singularity in or at the end of human history. This Singularity will be a critical point where transformation, in ways impossible to fully anticipate, will greatly shift human consciousness and therefore the nature of “reality.” From an ordinary, grounded human perspective this Singularity may be perceived as apocalyptic extinction.
As with all archetypes, visions of this approaching Singularity occur in a variety of permutations. When an archetype emerges from the collective unconscious it is colored by the cultural conditioning, personal unconscious and unique individuality of the psyche perceiving it. Attached to what I will hereafter refer to as the“Singularity Archetype” is a constellation of archetypal elements, a developing mythology of a new step in human evolution. These elements reflect changes occurring as we approach the Singularity. The Singularity Archetype is found in the prophecies of great religions and tribal cultures, and many who feel it approaching see it through the particular lens of their religious or cultural tradition. An evangelical Christian, for example, may speak of Armageddon and the Rapture.
While most perceive the Singularity through religious prophecy, it is also possible to view it from a nondenominational vantage. We can do this by looking at a variety of traditions and observing their parallelisms. A recapitulation of the prophecies of various religions and traditions, however, is a tricky business, and well outside the scope of this book. Capsulated summaries would do injustice to the rich complexity of these traditions and would necessarily have to gloss over interpretive controversies and varying points of view. You may already have some familiarity with some of these traditions, and if not, there are countless sources you can investigate.
It may be more helpful to view this Singularity through the eyes of modern individuals. We have already considered “John’s dream” In this dream, apocalyptic events—earthquake and the darkening of the sky—transform into the descent of a divine form—an eagle bearing a glowing, golden egg. There is an obvious suggestion here that destruction will become cosmic rebirth. Alongside this example, let’s consider a couple of dreams recorded by one of Jung’s most brilliant colleagues, Marie Louise Von Franz, in Jung’s classic introductory work: Man and his Symbols.
Von Franz describes two dreams reported to her by someone she describes as “…a simple woman who was brought up in Protestant surroundings…” In both dreams a supernatural event of great significance is viewed. But in one dream the dreamer views the event from below, standing on the earth, in the other dream she views the same event from above.
(The dreamer’s paintings, from Man and His Symbols by C.G. Jung.)
In the earthbound dream, the dreamer stands with a guide, looking down at Jerusalem. The wing of Satan descends and darkens the city. The occurrence in the Middle East of this uncanny wing of the devil immediately brings to mind Antichrist and Armageddon.
But in her other dream, the dreamer witnesses the same event from the heavens. From this vantage the dark wing of Satan appears as the white, wafting cloak of God. This white spiral appears as a symbol of evolution. Von Franz describes,
“…the spectator is high up, somewhere in heaven, and sees in front of her a terrific split between the rocks. The movement in the cloak of God is an attempt to reach Christ, the figure on the right, but it does not quite succeed. In the second painting, the same thing is seen from below—from a human angle. Looking at it from a higher angle, what is moving and spreading is a part of God; above that rises the spiral as a symbol of possible further development. But seen from the basis of our human reality, this same thing in the air is the dark, uncanny wing of the devil.
In the dreamer’s life these two pictures became real in a way that does not concern us here, but it is obvious that they may also contain a collective meaning that reaches beyond the personal. They may prophesy the descent of a divine darkness upon the Christian hemisphere, a darkness that points, however, toward the possibility of further evolution. Since the axis of the spiral does not move upward but into the background of the picture, the further evolution will lead neither to greater spiritual height nor down into the realm of matter, but to another dimension…”
We will now switch facets and view a third manifestation of the Singularity Archetype through a very different psyche and medium. The very different psyche belongs to Arthur C. Clarke, who was originally an astrophysicist and later became famous as a science-fiction writer. Perhaps Clarke is best known for the novel and Stanley Kubrik film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. 2001 is one of the most brilliant versions of this archetype, but we are going to consider an earlier example of Clarke’s work, the classic science-fiction novel, Childhood’s End. A science-fiction novel is a consciously created fantasy, and a very different medium than a dream, but it is also an especially fertile and open imaginal realm where the collective unconscious can communicate with modern persons, and a new mythology, however unrecognized, can collectively express itself.
Childhood’s End begins with the appearance of UFOs in the heavens all over the earth. Beings from within these craft break through all communications and announce that they are “the Overlords” and have come to establish peace on earth. This sounds like ominous news, but the Overlords do establish peace on earth and, excepting military aggression, do not curtail any human freedoms. Another curious aspect of the Overlords is that they announce that they will not reveal their physical form to humanity for two generations—fifty years. People speculate that they must be hideous and look like giant insects or slime mold or some other grotesque and horrifying form.
The fifty years pass peacefully for the human species. The Overlords come to be accepted and everyone eagerly awaits the day when the Overlords will descend to earth and reveal themselves. When the long anticipated day arrives the great spacecraft descend. With some ceremony, the Overlords emerge and to the uneasy surprise of the human species they look exactly like gigantic devils with horns, tails and great ebony wings.
This decidedly mythological element is fascinatingly incongruous with the setting of technological materialism stereotypical of the science-fiction genre. What is the meaning of a specter from the Christian and pagan past reemerging in the world of the future? Clarke gradually reveals that the Overlords’ alarming physiognomy is simply the result of their physical adaptation to the environmental conditions of their planet. The Overlords are actually perfectly benevolent and are far more rational and intelligent than humans.
The Overlords are servants of the“Overmind,” a cosmic intelligence permeating the universe that is Clarke’s naturalistic God concept. The Overmind employs the Overlords as midwives. When the Overmind senses that an intelligent species is about to make the evolutionary jump into higher consciousness it sends the Overlords to their planet to supervise the process. This evolutionary process is apparently volatile and unstable, and if not properly supervised could result in disastrous consequences whose effects would reach far beyond the particular world on which the process occurs. The fact that the Overlords have the appearance of a deep ancestral archetype of evil is described by Clarke as, “…a race memory of a future event.” The human race has a premonitory fear of the Overlords because it senses that their arrival signifies the end of the genome, the obsolescence of the species in its old form. From the earthbound perspective of the conservative old form, this evolutionary birth is apocalyptic and evil.
The Overlords, though infinitely superior to humans in every perceivable attribute, are themselves barren and unable to manifest the evolutionary birth process that it is their perpetual task to oversee. On earth, in addition to keeping human beings from destroying each other, the Overlords have a secret task, to search for an extraordinary individual who will be the first human being to exhibit these evolutionary changes. This individual is referred to as “Subject Zero” and the concept seems close to a naturalistic version of searching for the Messiah.
As part of this search, an Overlord named Rasheverak pays a visit to an American man who has one of the largest privately owned collections of books on parapsychology and the occult. Rasheverak is interested in this library because he is looking for any examples of extraordinary functioning that might indicate the emergence of Subject Zero. Like any intelligent, skeptical reader of such material, Rasheverak finds that it is often difficult to sift the truth from the abundant nonsense.
During Rasheverak’s visit, the library owner has several houseguests who are apparently drawn by the celebrity name-dropping opportunity of meeting an Overlord. The guests, like the owner, seem to be narcissistic individuals with a gullible appetite for occult and parapsychological entertainments. In many ways they seem a prophetic anticipation of stereotyped New Agers.
Rasheverak, who has the forbearance of a visiting anthropologist, maintains an observer’s stance as he witnesses many examples of human foolishness and gullibility. At one point he observes these New-Age types conducting a séance with a Ouija board. Unexpectedly, something of great interest occurs. When they ask the Ouija board the traditional question, “Who are you?” its response is highly suggestive of the collective unconscious: “IAMALL.” The Ouija participants next ask, “What are the coordinates of the Overlord’s sun?” This information had always been denied the human species and Rasheverak takes sudden interest when the Ouija planchette spells out the correct coordinates. Rasheverak is forced to conclude that one of these thoroughly mediocre-seeming individuals must be Subject Zero.
Rasheverak investigates and discovers that one member of the Ouija séance, a young woman, is pregnant. Subject Zero turns out to be her unborn child. When Subject Zero is born he exhibits numerous special powers. His Messiah-like status is short-lived, however, because all the children born after him also have similar powers. The children quickly evolve and become more powerful, and their psyches merge to form a collective consciousness. The children materialize themselves on one continent and join hands forming a giant moving spiral. Older, pre-Subject Zero human beings are not destroyed, but having given birth to their successors they become literally sterile and are utterly demoralized by their irrelevance and inevitable extinction.
The children quickly evolve and become more powerful, and their psyches merge to form a collective consciousness. The children materialize themselves on one continent and join hands forming a giant moving configuration the Overlords call “The Long Dance.” Older, pre-Subject Zero human beings are not destroyed, but having given birth to their successors they become literally sterile and are utterly demoralized by their irrelevance and inevitable extinction.
When the children manifest their ultimate evolution and are able to merge energetically with the Overmind, they appear to the last human being left alive as an aurora borealis, a spiral of light in the sky also described as a glittering network of lights.
Childhood’s End uncannily parallels the three dreams we have considered. In the young man’s dream, darkness and earthquake transform into a spiraling white eagle bearing a golden egg. Similarly, the dark wing of Satan descends in the dream of a simple Christian woman, only to be later revealed as the cloak of God. And all three manifestations envision a white spiral of light in the sky as the interdimensional, evolutionary portal of the species. A central, emergent theme is that what seems apocalyptic from the earthbound ego point of view is revealed from a cosmic point of view to be a transcendent evolutionary metamorphosis.
I have recorded and studied numerous other examples of this Singularity Archetype and found the essential pattern repeated with all sorts of interesting variations. To avoid doubling the length of this chapter I’m going to have to omit most of them, but I’m confident that if you keep your eyes open you’ll find many examples for yourself. The world of contemporary culture is intensely mythological; it is only a question of recognizing it. Tune into the right frequencies and you will notice that archetypal information about this approaching Singularity permeates our environment as ubiquitously as radio and television waves. If you remember that the same tools of symbolic analysis employed in dream interpretation may be employed in understanding all sorts of cultural manifestations, you will find yourself provided with endless messages about the approaching event horizon.
UFOs—Harbingers of the Singularity?
Jung on “Flying Saucers”
Like Childhood’s End, many of the messages of an approaching Singularity involve UFOs. Jung, shortly before his death, wrote a book about UFOs entitled, Flying Saucers, a Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky. Jung believed that the relative spiritual vacuum and lack of a ruling myth characteristic of the twentieth century created a great tension in the collective unconscious, an uneasy tabula rasa on which almost anything might appear. Human beings have always looked toward the heavens for signs of God or other transcendent beings monitoring and altering human affairs. Jung was struck by the typically circular appearance of whatever was seen in the sky. To Jung this suggested the mandala, an archetypal circular pattern that represented God, self and wholeness. Jung pointed out that the Sanskrit definition of God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. Jung gave to the UFO field a much-needed examination from the point of view of depth psychology. He did not presume that UFOs were immaterial, and noted that they often seemed to reflect radar waves, but he wondered if they might not be physical exteriorizations of the collective unconscious. Like other archetypal manifestations, UFOs have the ability to appear in dreams and to haunt or inspire the imagination.
Holes in the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis?
Since I wrote this section I have seen some slightly more substantial evidence
favoring the extraterrestrial hypothesis, but I include it anyway because there are so many people who assume that UFOs must mean extraterrestrials in metal spacecraft. In dealing with anomalous phenomenon and other areas of investigation that are at or beyond the boundaries of human comprehension I recommend an avoidance of premature closure. Many people readily adopt some pet theory and then corral evidence and thinking to support it. I feel that it is wiser to learn to endure ambiguity, keep the mind open to multiple possibilities and delay the reaching of ultimate conclusions.
That was essentially the philosophy of the Skeptics, Greek philosophers who believed that their observational powers would be improved by avoidance of conclusions. Ironically, people like Michael Shermer and others in the “skeptical community” practice the exact opposite of this philosophy because they are full of conclusions. They are true believers in a variety of negatives (UFOs aren’t real, parapsychology is nonsense, etc.) and are therefore more properly called debunkers. (I confronted MS about this during a conference call in 2010 and he didn’t have much of a response. He had just spoken about what motivates people to believe untrue things and I questioned him about whether he had turned the analytical eye on himself. For example, now that his is the leading figure of the “skeptical” community, his income, ego identity and social status would all seem to be dependent on his maintaining his debunking stance. What immunizes him from the subjectivity of highly motivated thinking and observation? I found his answers to be evasive and superficial.)
When we investigate anomalous phenomena we need to always be wary about the human tendency to project expectations and needs onto the unknown that are generated by our own psyches. In a technological, materialistic era where the human ego seems to rule, fewer and fewer people have faith that there is a God watching over the human species who is ready to intervene miraculously. Speculations about UFOs, such as that they are the spacecraft of superior beings here to prevent us from destroying each other through nuclear war, etc. create a secular equivalent of an absent Godhead. UFOs, as mysterious signs in the heavens, serve as extraordinary projection screens for people’s needs, fears and archetypal visions. Since they are themselves singularities of a sort, they very naturally become associated with the Singularity Archetype.
This is not to imply, however, that they are purely psychological phantoms or that they do not have a relation to the approaching Singularity that is more than imaginal. Those who have taken an intelligent look at this phenomenon have recognized that underneath the hoaxes and manipulated stories, something of significance is occurring, but its ultimate nature may be beyond the present boundaries of human comprehension. Be forewarned, however, if you want to do research in this field. A great deal of the material available is highly unreliable. Many UFO buffs are gullible true believers, people utterly possessed by their need to believe a particular UFO mythology. Many others consciously perpetuate fraud and illusion.
One of the most insightful people to investigate this subject is the French astronomer, Jacque Valle. Valle, in his book Messengers of Deception, and elsewhere, has shown that exploring UFO lore means entering a trickster world, a carnival of warped mirrors where mental illness, fraud and government manipulation have layered illusion on top of illusion. Much of the warped thinking and conscious manipulation, including government manipulation, has the apparent aim of enforcing the extraterrestrial hypothesis as the ruling UFO creed. Most of the general public who take any interest at all in UFOs is convinced that they must be extraterrestrials.
Although no one can disprove the extraterrestrial hypothesis, the conventional version of it, that they are aliens in nuts and bolts metal space craft here to do scientific research or genetic manipulation, is filled with obvious holes. As Valle points out there have been hundreds of thousands of sightings. If you assume that the supposed aliens are making efforts not to be detected, then presumably there must be millions of actual visitations. What program of scientific research or genetic manipulation could possibly require this much work? They must be dreadfully incompetent scientists to still be at it so often after all this time. Also, the idea that they are here in spacecraft, at least in a conventional sense, is inconsistent with the fact that UFOs are frequently reported to change shape or merge with one another. And wouldn’t such an advanced technology that wanted to avoid detection have some sort of stealth capability? Would they really streak across the sky lit up like Christmas ornaments? The idea that they are technology wielding imperialists, or well-meaning missionaries, may be a case of our recreating the unknown in our image.
The truth about UFOs is likely far more interesting and significant than some of the threadbare, conventional alien scenarios. Valle quotes a scientist who describes UFOs as “reality transformers.” Reality transformers may well be the best and most accurate descriptive phrase that can be applied to UFOs at our present level of understanding. UFOs are apparently able to appear in a great variety of different forms to different people and, like an archetype, the variations seem to have much to do with the belief system and cultural conditioning of the perceiving psyche. Valle compares observing the UFO phenomenon to looking at a screen in a movie theater. You look at the screen and all sorts of fantastical images pass before your eyes. But to really understand what’s going on you need to look over your shoulder back at the projector, the source of all the endlessly varying images.
UFOs seem more akin to projectors, capable of projecting all sorts of thoughts and images into the human psyche. The human mind, especially in our materialistic culture, is prone to take what it sees very literally. In the UFO world you can see an obvious inverse relationship between intelligence and how literal and specific a person’s alleged knowledge of UFOs is. On one side of the spectrum, the most conscious observers acknowledge that UFOs are unknowns about which we can make some general speculations. And on the other side are those who know the names of everyone on the Pleiadian high council and who are channeling the most detailed information about superior beings who apparently live on worlds remarkably similar to those of grade B science-fiction movies from the 1950s.
Valle and others make a convincing case that the source of the UFO phenomenon is not new, that it has been involved with human culture throughout human history. Many of the miraculous experiences and visitations recorded from the past may well have been the same phenomenon viewed through psyches conditioned by differing sets of cultural values. We live in an age where magic takes the form of technology and where we launch crude metal spacecraft into the heavens. Unimaginative psyches will tend to view UFOs as an advanced extrapolation of present technology and human motivation. The manifestations of the phenomenon are probably not, however, reducible to the psychological expectations of the witnesses. The phenomenon seems to have an ability to actively, consciously form its own manifestations. Rather than merely reflecting cultural values it may actually be adapting and manipulating them. Think again of the analogy of the movie projector. Movies both reflect and manipulate cultural values.
There is evidence that UFO phenomena, like dreams, are intelligently formed, and are both profoundly aware of the psyches to whom they communicate and capable of exerting powerful influence on them. Like dreams, the phenomenon is real and capable of leaving physical traces and effects. Dreaming is associated with profound energetic changes in the brain easily observed on an EEG. The supposedly solid world of the waking life, as we now know from physics, is actually composed of patterned energy and is comparable to a holographic projection. Dreams are also patterned energy, and in many ways it is merely cultural prejudice to view them as “less real” than the waking reality.
“They do not play by the rules of reality but of dream; they are not bound by the careful laws of physics, but by the wild ones of the imagination.” —-close encounter experiencer, Whitley Strieber, writing in The Communion Letters.
UFOs seem to obey the physics of dreams far more than classical Newtonian physics, which we expect solid, metal spacecraft to obey. The physics of dreams, where consciousness and reality are inextricable and the universe is infinitely plastic and mutable, is closer to the universe revealed by quantum mechanics, although both defy our conventional understanding of reality. As J.B.S. Haldane put it, “Reality is not only stranger than you think, it’s stranger than you can think.”
UFOs are powerful reminders of that inconceivable strangeness. It might be very comforting to our innate conservatism and limited imagination to view them as high-speed metal containers bearing “aliens” who stand upright and have two arms, legs and eyes, and familiar human motivations such as curiosity and conquest. But reality is not necessarily as limited as the imaginations of UFO buffs. The evidence seems more supportive of UFOs traveling interdimensionally rather than through long distances of space. They may be just as able to travel through inner psychic space as outer space. Far more likely than their being metal spacecraft, they may be organisms in a more energetic state than we are, or the projections of a consciousness of some sort.
(I am no longer as dismissive of the extraterrestrial hypothesis as I was in 1996 when I wrote the section above. There seems to be substantial evidence for both the reality transformer aspect and more tangible, physical aspects)
Strange Parallels—UFOs, Near Death Experiences, and Psychotropics
Dr. Kenneth Ring, a scientist who has devoted most of his career to formal research on Near Death Experiences, has shown that there are striking similarities between NDEs and UFO experiences. Many of the stages, and lasting effects of NDEs and abduction experiences have strong correspondences. For example, in both types of experience people often report seeing a vision of the earth being destroyed and emerge from the episode with a new and lasting commitment to environmental work. William Buhlman, who has studied thousands of Out of Body Experiences (OBEs), has pointed out how much they resemble, and might be confused with, abductions. Terence McKenna, a visionary genius with much to say about many of the topics discussed in this chapter, has shown connections between UFO experience and the experience of psychotropic hallucinogens. Terence refers to the effects of certain hallucinogens as “UFO experiences on demand.” Although McKenna does have a tendency to overgeneralize from his particular experience, he does demonstrate convincingly that chemically altered mind states are valid access channels to the source of UFO phenomenon. People in deep states of meditation, or in traumatic situations of various sorts, often report nonordinary perceptions of reality that are radical departures from the prevailing societal view and yet are often highly consistent with each other. Therefore, rather than viewing the UFO as a peculiar anomaly occurring in an otherwise stable and homogenous reality, perhaps we should view them as yet another exception that shows us that our perception of reality is woefully lacking in general.
The so-called postmodern approach to UFOs is to study what effect they are having on us rather than what they are. There is a certain validity to this approach because the nature of UFOs may be beyond human comprehension at this point. Nevertheless, I think there is value in our continued speculations about what they might be, keeping in mind that speculation may be an imaginative exercise while we struggle to understand something that is “…stranger than we can think.” In that spirit, I’d like to offer my own wild speculation about a possible “what” in relation to UFOs. Before I do, I want to be absolutely clear that this is pure speculation without a shred of evidence. I would consider it more a catalyst for further imaginative speculation than a finished hypothesis.
Vision of a Multiply Incarnate Organism
My speculation arose from a vision I had of a roughly circular organism. The organism was composed of a series of highly differentiated connected organs. Each of these organs was actually a separate incarnation or lifetime of this organism viewed outside of linear time. An analogy would be to viewing a human being outside of linear time. Rather than seeing a snapshot of a person at a particular age in a particular frozen moment of time we might see the full lifecycle—a fertilized egg connected to a fetus connected to an infant, a child, an adolescent, a middle aged person, an aged person, a corpse. Yet this picture of the human lifecycle would still only represent that portion known to us, the interval between birth and death. We don’t know that the human lifecycle is completely contained between a single birth and death and there is much reason to think that it isn’t.
The circular, manifold incarnate organism I saw presented itself to my mind as the full lifecycle of a being for whom human incarnation was one phase or organ. Outside of linear time all the incarnations or organs were perceived as connected and in a state of simultaneous interdependence and influence with all the other organs and incarnations. Human incarnation was an organ far closer to the “head” rather than the “tail” of this Ouroboros–like organism. In other words, human incarnation was a more conscious, differentiated organ of the body in much the same way that the brain is a more conscious, differentiated organ than the liver. Another analogy would be to the brain itself where we see a living manifestation of the principle, “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” More evolved structures, like the neocortex, are built on top of more primitive structures such as the hypothalamus. But in this manifold incarnate organism human beings were not the most advanced organ or incarnation. Ahead of us were the beings behind the UFOs. And this “alien” incarnation or organ is the most conscious and most aware of all the organs or incarnations.
Evolutionary Design Limitations
Since we’re indulging the bizarre, let’s go off on a tangent for a paragraph or so. Michael Murphy, in his seminal book on human evolution,The Future of the Body, discusses the work of certain theorists in evolutionary biology. These theorists claim that some species have fundamental design limitations or flaws that will not allow them to ever evolve the degree of intelligence human beings have. Marsupial brains, for example, lack the corpus callosum, the dense bundle of nerve cells that connect the left and right hemispheres of the human brain. This neurological limitation means that the marsupial brain can never have the relatively excellent communication between hemispheres that the human brain usually enjoys. But, these theorists continue, the human brain may also have a fundamental design flaw limiting our further evolution or even survival. The structure of our brain is a kind of retrofit where a mammalian brain is superimposed on a reptile brain and the neocortex is retrofitted onto the mammalian brain. The neocortex, said to be the center of our self-reflective consciousness and ego, believes itself to be the head honcho, but unfortunately it has very poor communication with some of the earlier structures that control appetites and aggression and so forth. Anyone who goes on a diet discovers that the neocortex and its creation—the cognitive ego with all its powers—are not necessarily a match for the reptilian brain and its relentless will to defend body weight. Similarly, our sexuality seems largely beyond ego control, and for all our civilization and wisdom our ability to restrain territorial aggression has not prevented world wars and the possibility of our making ourselves extinct through technologically amplified territorial aggression. Poor communication between higher and lower brain structures may be a fundamental design flaw in the human species that may result in our eventual extinction.
One White Crow
On the other hand, I take the theories of many evolutionary theorists, especially if they are neurological materialists, with many grains of salt. In fact, there’s an obvious flaw in the aforementioned theory. As William James once said, “One white crow is all that is needed to disprove the notion that all crows are black.” If we have even a single human being—Jesus, Buddha, whomever—who has overcome the problem of poor communication between brain structures, or whose consciousness transcends appetites and aggression, then there is the possibility that the species can also transcend this limitation. But, if the fatalistic conclusion of the theory is flawed, the problem it describes bears an interesting analogy to my speculation about manifold incarnate being.
In the way that I perceived the manifold incarnate organism, all the organs/incarnations are interdependent. Therefore, the health and fate of the “alien” incarnation is also dependent on the status of the human incarnation. I’ll further speculate that the human incarnation is the adolescent phase of development, a crucial juncture on which the fate of the entire organism depends. The alien part of the organism recognizes that although there is interdependence, there is poor communication between organs or incarnations. It is capable of communication and is seeking to contact us through inner and outer space to make us aware of things crucial to our fate and that of the larger organism.
The “aliens” in this model may actually be dead people. A part of the lifecycle of the human being about which we have much uncertainty is the post-death phase. As Terence McKenna has pointed out, if we wanted to look for an ecology of souls, an intelligent species that seems to be very interested in our evolution, by the principle of logic known as Ockham’s Razor we seek the simplest hypothesis that accounts for all the facts. Our species is a source of intelligent souls that we know for certain exists and is interested in its own evolution. Perhaps the “aliens” are merely us in an after-death phase of incarnation. When Terence showed pictures of grey aliens to tribal shamans in the Amazon they replied, “Oh, the ancestors.” People who have abduction experiences frequently report seeing deceased relatives in the company of the grey aliens.
UFOs seem to bear many messages related to our further evolution. In recent decades, the UFO beings that contactees experience frequently have a stereotyped appearance that UFO buffs used to call “the Delta type humanoid” and that is now more commonly known as “the Greys.” What is perceived is an androgynous being with huge almond-shaped eyes, a somewhat ethereal, willowy body and a small, almost vestigial mouth. The beings typically communicate without spoken words. This characteristic appearance may be a message anticipating an evolutionary future where we have transcended ordinary language and gender limits, and our body is moving from matter toward a more ethereal, energetic state. As mentioned before, people who have UFO abduction experiences are frequently shown images of the earth’s destruction by manmade causes and are influenced by these visions toward a much greater awareness of our interdependence with the planet. Many will devote themselves to environmental causes after these deeply affecting experiences. Another typical theme of abduction experiences involves genetic manipulation, and particularly the cross-fertilization and hybridization of human and alien species. This is often presented as a symbiotic evolutionary step or of actually having greater benefit for the supposedly superior alien species. These experiments could be interpreted as metaphorical communication of our need to evolve and to merge with this other consciousness. Whatever the source of UFOs, they do seem to be bearing a message that we are at a critical nexus and need to evolve. But once again, they remain, perhaps appropriately, in a realm of imaginative speculation. Their nature may not be understood until we have evolved further.
(Twelve years since writing that, I am now more impressed with the physical evidence of the Greys, and would not emphasize them as evolutionary metaphors so much as I did above. Some of the physical evidence seems more impressive now than it did then when I was more influenced by Valle, McKenna, and Jung on the subject. For example, abduction researchers have found that areas where abductees claim to have been touched by Greys will fluoresce under UV light, and Dr. Roger Lier has removed implants from people that laboratory tests have found to be composed of anomalous materials. Dr. David Jacobs, a Temple University professor of history, also seems a very credible researcher who has investigated thousands of abduction cases. Stanton Friedman, a nuclear physicist, also strikes me as highly credible with vast knowledge of the field. While I haven’t personally vetted any of this research, I have been impressed in recent years by how well grounded some of the best researchers seem to be.
Further Speculations on Human Evolution
Our need to evolve may express itself in ways that seem paradoxical and disturbing. For example, there is much reason to believe that this evolutionary rebirth may become possible only as we push the species toward the brink of extinction. If you’ll continue to indulge me, I’d like to offer some further speculations about human evolution.
The Last Great Evolutionary Jump
The last great quantum jump in evolution on this planet was the development of the human capacity to think in words. Some linguists believe that human language originated at one time and one place. Noam Chomsky and others have pointed out that all human languages are essentially the same on the level of deep syntax.
One way of imagining an evolutionary jump is to consider the possibility of an individual mutation that is capable of superior functioning. Most mutations, of course, are disadvantageous and bred out, but occasionally, even random mutagenic forces can generate something superior. This model wouldn’t work very well for the evolution of language, however, which is a collective phenomenon. A single mutation capable of language wouldn’t have anyone to develop language with. Therefore, one can speculate that the structures in the brain that allowed the capacity for language developed gradually, and that for a long period of time some latent capacity for language existed in a great many individuals without it being manifest. One possibility is that some tribe or grouping of early humans was experiencing acute stress. There are numerous possible scenarios in which the tenuous survival of the tribe could be threatened enough to make extinction and complete loss of the genome possible. With this ultimate pressure acting as a catalyst, the long latent capacity for language becomes manifest as a new survival adaptation. The superior consciousness and communication allowed by this adaptation allows the tribe to survive. Perhaps the advantages incurred by this adaptation allow these humans to overtake competing hominid species or other human tribes that lack this development. This scenario may have an analogous relationship to the present situation of our species.
Organisms and Change
Putting aside our species in particular for a moment, let’s consider in general the nature of organisms and change. Organisms are extremely complex patterns or structures, living processes rather than fixed objects. The coherence of these extremely complex processes is constantly being threatened by various insults—attacks by other species, weather and climate change, cosmic rays, environmental toxins, etc.—that can degrade the coherence of the entire pattern/organism. Enough degradation of this coherence and the process may completely destabilize as in disease and especially in death, where there is the most radical apparent loss of coherence and complexity. Organisms, therefore, are conservative in nature, striving to maintain their inner coherence. Biologists refer to this drive toward maintaining inner coherence as“homeostasis.” Similarly, a species seeks to ensure the survival and reproduction of its genome—a coherent genetic pattern changing relatively little between generations.
Human individuals are obviously also organisms. If we change our frame and look at the human species, or at the human psyche, we are still viewing an organismic phenomenon, an extremely complex living process. Both Freud and Jung agreed that the human psyche is essentially conservative. The psyche has its own homeostasis, a powerful drive to maintain its coherence and particular identity. Generally, it strives mightily to maintain that coherence and resist change. An organism will defend homeostasis even if that homeostasis is unsuccessful in some ways. A neurotic psyche, for example, will maintain its coherence, including pathological aspects that produce much suffering and that could be changed. Better the devil I know than the devil I don’t know. Addicts remain in their addictions. People stay in their comfort zones even if they are suffocating in them. The human psyche is a complex and vulnerable structure living in an acutely stressful environment. Most people maintain their feelings of sanity and manufacture a socially acceptable identity by strained, tenuous repression of the irrational. All sorts of powerful, unconscious forces that don’t fit into the model of themselves society has trained them to create must be repressed. They may feel about change what a sentient house of cards might feel about gusts of wind.
The collective psyche of a society or culture can be even more resistant to change. And when such conservative psyches, individually or collectively, sense the approach of a singularity that will thoroughly punctuate their equilibrium, they perceive it as apocalyptic. And their perception may not be far off, as powerful change may require apocalyptic shocks. An analogy to such a threatening level of change can be drawn to tribal rites of initiation. Many tribal cultures take an adolescent and put him or her through life-threatening experiences. They blow down the whole house of cards so that a new structure can be formed. For example, one tribal practice is to give someone what’s called an ordeal poison. Initiates are given a poison that will make them feel horribly ill. At first they will be certain they are dying, then they will suffer so intensely they will beg to die, and then they will completely recover. A physiological apocalypse is created and then it disappears and a transformed psyche emerges. Perhaps the human species, sensing its adolescent crisis and need of initiation, is creating its own global ordeal poison by toxification of the environment.
Terence McKenna and the Attractor Point
Terence McKenna (1946-2000) has written a number of fascinating books that make similar speculations about evolution. The parallels to the conclusions I’ve reached through different means are so numerous that I can only conclude that we are either experiencing exactly the same form of mental illness or are perceiving the same truths. McKenna, for example, refers to what I call the Singularity as either “the end of history” or as“the strange attractor.” McKenna adopted the term“strange attractor” from chaos mathematics. Astrange attractor is apparently an event in the future that is able to bend and warp causality toward it. Although from the point of view of linear time it is an event that has not yet occurred, its influence is pervasive.
I can’t pretend to have much understanding of chaos mathematics, but an analogy occurs to me that what the strange attractor is for the life of the species, death is for the individual. Death is a strange attractor in the life of every individual. While we live, death is obviously a future event that has not occurred but which is inevitable. Our mortality, the fact that we move inexorably toward that attractor, shapes and influences every aspect of our lives. Also, although it is definite that we must pass into that attractor, the moment it will occur and the manner of our passing are not necessarily determined. The inevitability of the attractor is beyond our free will and individuality, but the time and manner of it are often influenced by our choices and personality. I can’t choose whether or not I will die, but the way I care for my body, the life choices I make, the risks I choose, the option of suicide, all demonstrate that the attractor may not be fully determined outside of my will. Like entering a singularity in space, we also don’t know for sure what will happen when we pass the event horizon of death. Spiritual teachings from many cultures and periods, NDEs, etc. suggest that death is a doorway. Where we go when we pass through that doorway may be influenced by choices we make in life. Neurological materialists and other pessimistic types view death as a dead end, as one put it to me, “It’s just lights out and that’s it.” From the untranscendent vantage of the ego, the strange attractor of death is viewed as an apocalyptic extinction. Similarly, our species is heading toward a strange attractor. Many view it as extinction—unredeemed apocalypse. But others view it as a doorway. Where we go when we pass through that doorway may be greatly influenced by the choices that we make now.
One of the reasons that prophecy has been so unreliable relates to the perpetual confusion in the human psyche between the inner world and the outer world. The confusion is only to be expected given that there is often a blurred boundary between inner and outer. Inner and outer converge through synchronicity and through many causative mechanisms such as self-fulfilling prophecies. The most classic confusion of inner and outer is interpersonal projection. We project some disowned part of ourselves on to another or others. For example, a man may project the disowned feminine aspect of his soul onto a beautiful woman he sees walking down the street. He looks at her and feels this sense of eternal recurrence—she was meant for me, I’ve known her from other lifetimes. In a sense, the perception is correct, this aspect of his soul is meant for him, and it has been with him from time immemorial. The incorrect part, and it can be disastrously incorrect, is the confusion of the inner and outer, the acting out interpersonally of what is intrapsychic. Most interpersonal violence, as well as genocide and other forms of collective violence, occur in a state of shadow projection, where disowned and dreaded parts of oneself, or of the collective, are projected onto a despised other or another race, etc.
Anything with a strong emotional charge in the psyche, and especially if the charge is strong and uncomfortable, will be projected outside. One of the strongest charges in most psyches is anxiety about death. A classic projection is for a person to feel his own mortal vulnerability, the imminence of his own death that may come at any time, and to attribute that feeling to the world. I can feel it, this is all temporary, this world is going to end; I am living in the end times! Again, the perception is correct except for the confusion of inner and outer. Every mortal is always living in end times, death is always imminent and even if any of the many possible causes of premature death are avoided, the years left are still only a one or two digit figure. The uncomfortable feeling of perilous temporal fragility must go somewhere and an end of world prophecy is like a lightning rod for this intensely uncomfortable inner charge.
Like a fractal or a hologram, the life cycle of the individual to some extent recapitulates the life cycle of the species. An individual has a certain limited life span before they cross the event horizon of death, and a species also has a limited life span before it becomes extinct. I’ve heard that the average life span of a species is 100,000 years. Because of the parallelism, it is easy for someone to confuse the imminence of personal death with collective eschaton. This confusion is also well motivated as it seems to displace much of the individual anxiety about death, which is usually faced alone, onto a “we’re all in it together”general event that has strong elements of high drama and excitement associated with it. Instead of a feeling of powerlessness about the inevitability of one’s own death, the prophet feels empowered by his sense that he has been privileged with secret knowledge withheld from the common person. Also, the ego is very concerned about its place in the social hierarchy and is appalled by the idea that it could cease to exist while others continue to live. If everyone checks out at once, however, then death involves no such social humiliation. Even better, if there is some sort of Rapture, where the ego is part of an elect that becomes immortal while others of the sort the ego doesn’t like are annihilated or left behind to deal with the Antichrist and Armageddon, then personal anxiety about death gets channeled into an all-satisfying scenario. For these powerful psychological reasons, prophecies of the end of the world usually seem to be conveniently scheduled to occur before the end of the prophet’s expected lifespan, allowing the eschaton to upstage anxiety about personal death.
Many years after I formed this hypothesis I heard of an episode that gave it anecdotal support. In the 1960s there was a well-known woman psychic (but not Jean Dixon) who had a nationally syndicated newspaper column. She had a vision that a gigantic earthquake would destroy most of California on a particular date and reported this in her column. In copycat fashion, other psychics began to predict a quake on the same day. This woman was sincere in her prediction, and at great expense she relocated her family from the Bay Area to Nevada. On the predicted date there was no earthquake, but the woman died of some rare disease.
Approaching the Singularity
To engage another speculative area, let’s consider what may happen as our species approaches the evolutionary event horizon. Our present world may be viewed as being in a rather tense position between realms of matter and of spirit. Much in our world can be explained by Newtonian physics and a very mundane, mechanical model of reality. But those of us not actively trying to repress the atypical notice that there are many white crows in our world. Anomalous events occur that can’t quite be explained by coincidence or cause and effect. Yes, the fields of parapsychology and esoteric studies may contain a certain amount of nonsense and unproven assertions, but if we have even a single authentic instance of one individual exhibiting telekinesis, communicating telepathically, reaching another person through their dreams, etc.—just one example in all of human history—then the door to extraordinary functioning and consciousness is thrown wide open for the whole species. And many of us can point toward a number of such events in our lives. A miraculous evolutionary capacity in human beings, that is mostly latent now, has been manifesting episodically for a long, long time.
As we approach the Singularity, the completely inextricable, interdependent phenomenon of human consciousness and our experience of reality will mutate. Much of the change will be impossible to anticipate, but some broad areas are available for speculation. We can be pretty confident, for example, that the human ego will be considerably altered. Certainly, there are spiritually advanced persons in history or among us right now who have transcended the limits of ego identification. What is possible for them is possible for the species. But before we consider the alteration of the ego, let’s consider its evolutionary significance. (This will, once again, be unannotated speculation, so view as skeptically as you like.)
Although most evolutionary theorists will resist what I’m about to say vehemently, many people have noticed that there is some force in nature that seems to generate greater levels of complexity and consciousness. The creation of the ego has obviously had some unpleasant consequences, but it was also an evolutionary development that allowed for a tremendous increase in complexity and consciousness.
The Future of the Ego—an Evolutionary Perspective
In tribal cultures the ego seems less developed than in modern individuals living in industrialized societies. Tribal societies seem to have less individual boundaries and more group consciousness. Earlier human beings may have had less ego, but also less individuality and differentiation. A fundamental aspect or function of the ego is the creation of isolation. An individual perceives him or herself as a separate identity apart from others and the world. This perception creates a degree of isolation and within this insulating bubble an explosion of novelty occurs. A highly complex, unique, differentiated, often pathologized personality develops. Egocentric isolation, like the irritating grain of sand in an oyster, causes the development of a fantastic structure as complex buffering layers are accreted around the irritant and the beautiful pearl of individuality is created.
The ego is a complex structure and difficult or impossible to define. There is an inevitable imprecision when we use the term, as different people understand very different things by the term “ego.” From some vantage points the ego serves crucial functions in the human psyche. The ego has been called “the self-organizing principle of the organism” and necessary self-reference may not be possible without it. From other angles we see that the ego is often the carrier of will to power and destructive intentions. For all the novelty the human ego helped to create, and the invaluable role it plays in the human psyche, it has also become a very heavy albatross hanging around the neck of the species. It may now, in its present form at least, have exceeded its evolutionary purpose and be a species of psychic structure due for extinction. But the ego, like all organs, clings to life, and can act with a will of its own. Certainly the ego has a virulent will to power, and it is no more willing to quietly withdraw than Napoleon at his prime would be willing to accept life in a retirement home. The dark aspect of the ego, which is what I will sometimes be referring to when I use the loose term “ego,” sees itself as God, as apart from the rest of the universe. It is driven by a will to power, a will to bring external objects, animate and inanimate, under its control. This pathologized version of the ego doesn’t see itself as part of a living matrix, but rather looks out at an abstracted chessboard consisting of real estate, technology and livestock waiting to be owned and exploited.
The power-oriented view of the ego is based on the illusion of separateness. Love may be considered the awareness that everything is connected. Let’s consider two sentences that will illustrate this difference:
“We made love.”
“I fucked Jane.”
In the first example, subject and object are merged; there is an awareness of Eros, connection and mutuality. In the second example we have an unerotic world of separated subject and object. The ego is the royal “I” enjoying conquests over beings that are merely objects to be dominated and controlled. Currently, we are suffering a highly contagious plague of this noxious type of ego that uses sex as a metaphor for power and views mother earth as real estate.
For quite some time the ego has strutted triumphantly across our world consuming and poisoning its mother, the earth. Like many psychic forces, the ego is able to completely possess certain individuals. Of some of these, as it’s done in the past, it will create Antichrists who will seek to prevent this evolutionary birth and will do whatever possible to destroy consciousness, love and life. If they sterilize the mother, then she cannot give birth to creatures that might take their place. The ego wants to be the only one sucking on the breast and would much rather see the mother dead than have her give birth to a more favored, usurping child. Very likely Antichrists—human puppets of the ego—and the herds of unconscious, fearful people eager to follow them, will create a good part of the dark events that will bring us to the edge of extinction. Like Napoleon or Hitler, the ego can be expected to win many costly battles before it gives up the ghost.
The Village of the Damned—the Singularity Seen through the Eyes of the Ego
Still image from the movie, Village of the Damned
I have some personal history with the film,Village of the Damned, and the novel Childhood’s End that may be worth noting here. When I readChildhood’s End at the age of thirteen or fourteen I was shocked. It seemed as if someone had taken what I thought were my most creative and unusual ideas, which I had planned to turn into science-fiction stories myself, and stolen them right out of my head! I might have suspected Arthur C. Clarke of telepathic theft but for the fact that the novel was published four years before I was born. Knowing nothing at the time of Jung or the concept of a collective unconscious, I didn’t know what to make of this overlapping of inner and outer worlds.
There are certain events or occurrences that have what Jung referred to as “numinosity.” Numinmeans spirit, and that which a particular psyche perceives as numinous glows with a mysterious, uncanny significance. Reading Childhood’s End was a numinous event for me, and another powerfully numinous event was watching Village of the Damned on television. I was somewhere between twelve and fourteen years old and saw the 1960 black-and-white British version, which was an adaptation of the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. I had seen many, many science fiction and horror films by that age, but none affected me the way that this one did. It seemed to stir my deepest and most private obsessions and felt almost like a religious revelation.
By the time I was nineteen, and a senior in college, I set out to understand these numinous visions and was quickly led to a very personal encounter with Jung. A few years ago I described that encounter as follows:
“My first encounter with Jung was intense and had the uncanny stamp of what Jung called ‘synchronicity’ all over it. I was nineteen years old and attempting to investigate certain anomalies. I had had experiences of a parapsychological nature, and found myself fascinated by disturbing fantasies and strange visions, which lit up in my imagination with recurrent intensity, but also appeared, inexplicably, outside of my psyche in sci-fi books and movies. This appearance of artifacts of the inside world materializing outwardly, another example of synchronicity, was especially strange as some of the material pre-dated my incarnation. Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, for example, had been written two years before I was born. Even more disturbing was the British 1960 sci-fi movie, Village of the Damned, which was based on the novel, The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, published the year I was born. How could fantasies and visions that I thought weirdly peculiar to my imagination turn up in stories that were older than I was?
Unlikely help offered itself to me during the course of my studies. I was in my last year of college and the Chairman of the Philosophy Department, though I was an English major, had become my benefactor and opened doors for me in a highly conservative academic environment, allowing me to pursue interdisciplinary research projects into obscure, shadowy areas. But it was actually my mom who suggested that I read what a Carl Jung had to say about the ‘archetypes and the collective unconscious.’
And so I came to stand before the many elegant black volumes of the Princeton Bollingen edition of Jung’s collected works. But what could this Swiss psychologist, the son of a minister, who reached manhood in the nineteenth century, say of any use to a nineteen-year-old Jewish kid from the Bronx who found himself obsessed with sci-fi fantasies like The Midwich Cuckoos, in which a UFO-related incident somehow resulted in large-eyed, androgynous children with psychic powers and a group mind? I scanned the index volume for a minute or so and came across a late work, Flying Saucers, A Modern Myth of things Seen in the Sky. That was a bit of a shock, as UFOs were a major part of the fantasies and my esoteric research. I went right to volume ten, Civilization in Transition, where flying saucers were considered. This subject seemed to haunt Jung near the end of his life, and he couldn’t let go of it. At the end of the book there was an afterward, followed by an epilogue, followed by a supplement.
As I glanced through the supplement my jaw dropped open in amazement. Jung had devoted this lengthy supplement to analyzing mythological layers of meaning in John Wyndham’sThe Midwich Cuckoos! It seemed as if this dead Swiss guy had stepped out of the bookcase and holographically manifested himself to look over my shoulder at the same sci-fi story that obsessed me. Even more amazing, I saw that we had some parallel ideas about what it might mean.”
From the moment of that first encounter, Jung, like a wizard bearing a torch, became my guide as I followed numinous visions of evolutionary metamorphosis down the rabbit hole and discovered what I now call “the Singularity Archetype.”
The Midwich Cuckoos repeats many of the bizarre particular elements that occur inChildhood’s End. They both open with the appearance of disc-shaped UFOs over the planet. In Childhood’s End the Overlords immediately open communication, but in The Midwich Cuckoos the UFOs shut down human consciousness. In a circular area with a very precise perimeter beneath each UFO, all higher animals, including humans, suddenly lapse into sleep. After twenty-four hours, everyone who wasn’t at the wheel of a car, holding a hot iron or otherwise in an unfortunate situation for nodding off, wakes up as if nothing happened. Everyone who didn’t have an accident seems unchanged until some days pass and the village doctor, Zellaby, discovers that every woman of child bearing age, including young virgins and old maids, has become pregnant. Again, we are seeing an evolutionary change from the point of view of the ego. It sees itself in the helpless, unconscious“little death” of dreamless sleep. And while it is in this helpless, mortal state it is raped and inseminated by a hostile alien life form.
In the novel, the character who personifies the ego is the physician Zellaby. He is the man of science and reason trying to control this irrational, miraculous event. He sets out, like the Overlords, to be midwife to this evolutionary birth. Interestingly, the name “Midwich” sounds much like “midwife” but with the emphasis of “witch” modifying the second syllable. In this mutation of the word midwife we see the ego’s xenophobic, witch-hunting view of the evolutionary birth. Rather than being a selfless midwife, it would rather burn the witches, the new children who possess the dangerous magic and represent change.
Besides his role as midwife, Zellaby has some other commonalties with the Overlords. He is obviously more intelligent and technologically sophisticated than the average human, and he is, like the Overlords, barren. Zellaby and his wife have never been able to conceive a child. So, at first, the Zellabys greet their pregnancy with the enthusiasm of Abraham and Sarah receiving a miraculous blessing from God.
With inhuman speed the pregnancies come to term and all the women give birth to exceptionally large and healthy babies. But the prodigal infants seem to be racially different and unique; they have large golden eyes and platinum blonde hair. The infants grow and develop, physically and mentally, with unnatural speed. It becomes apparent that they have extraordinary powers. For example, after one mother accidentally pricks her daughter with a safety pin she is found compulsively stabbing herself with the pin. Apparently, the superior alien will of the child mind pressured her into this self-violence.
Zellaby also discovers that the children, like the new children in Childhood’s End, have a collective consciousness. Collective consciousness turns up frequently in expressions of the Singularity Archetype and merits some examination. In Theodore Sturgeon’s science-fiction novel, More than Human, a group of mutants, who each have distinctly different strengths and weaknesses, form a collective consciousness while retaining some individuality and become, in many ways, a single entity where each mutant serves in a specialized role, as if they were organs of a single body. Sturgeon coined the term “homogestalt” to describe this new entity. Similarly, more recent abduction testimony has emphasized the “greys” as having a hive-like collectivity, and this is experienced as another threatening aspect of their alien otherness.
There are a number of possible reasons for this collective consciousness motif appearing in so many permutations of this archetype. One is that it may be a fairly literal indicator of evolutionary change. If the ego ceases to dominate the human psyche, then perhaps the boundaries that it creates around the individual will dissipate and we will become more collectively aware. The shells of the oysters dissolve and the pearls lie together. From the ego’s point of view this would be a catastrophic loss of personal identity. This is also a typical ego view of that other attractor, death. From this pessimistic ego view, humans travel from dust to dust, and are simply returned to the undifferentiated source from which they are thought to emerge.
But if this were all that the evolutionary step amounted to it would be regressive and not evolutionary. Instead of expanding the immense novelty of individual identity, it would be contracting it a homogenous mass with a great decrease in complexity. Certainly there are many cycles in nature that reverse themselves, that oscillate between extremes. Jung called this process of returning to the opposite, “enantiodromia,” a term he borrowed from Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher. The ego fears, somewhat reasonably, that the evolutionary process will be enantiodromia, nature just pressing the reset button and erasing all the individual differentiation it sacrificed so much to create. But the Singularity Archetype tells us that the pendulum of enantiodromia, viewed from the right perspective, is an evolutionary spiral.
The evolutionary step may not be a loss of individuality, but rather an expansion of individual consciousness into collective awareness. This was true of the homogestalt being in More than Human. Another example occurs in Frank Herbert’s Dunebooks, where we see one of the most sophisticated developments of the Singularity Archetype and a number of forms of homogestalt consciousness. In the world of Dune, the Bene Gesserit are a highly conscious sisterhood that have been trying to assist human evolution for thousands of years. To reach the inner circle of the Bene Gesserit and achieve the most exalted rank within the sisterhood, Reverend Mother, an initiate must take an ultra powerful psychotropic known as “the water of life.” If the initiate survives ingestion of this substance, she becomes a Reverend Mother. A Reverend mother retains individual consciousness but also has access to the psyches of all Reverend Mothers who have come before. Individual consciousness evolves to become both individual and collective.
Another possible causation of the collective consciousness motif in these stories is that it is an expression of the boundary dissolution that occurred when the writer’s imagination contacted the collective unconsciousness. This possibility is not mutually exclusive of the aforementioned one, and it is quite likely that both may be present and working in parallel with each other. A recurring motif in these visions, inextricably related to the collective consciousness, involves a new means of communication transcending speech. Conventionally, we think of telepathy as projecting a voice into someone’s head. But conventional telepathy wouldn’t be much of an improvement over speaking aloud, or calling someone on the telephone. More sophisticated visions of this new means of communication allow for a direct transmission of the self, and this becomes the medium through which individual and collective consciousness can merge.
In The Midwhich Cuckoos, unlikeChidlhood’s End, there is an interesting limitation of communication and collective consciousness among the new children. Zellaby notices that what one child learns or knows is instantly available to all the other children who are of the same gender, but the communication does not cross gender lines. Here we see what is probably another manifestation of an ego fear about the evolutionary change. That the children have a collective awareness is threatening enough, but for collective awareness to transcend gender boundaries is intolerable to contemplate even in an alien species.
Androgyny, at least a significant lessening of gender differentiation, if not its disappearance, surfaces again and again as an element of the evolutionary change. A good example is the “greys.” In addition to oversized eyes, telepathic ability and collective consciousness, they are also notably androgynous in appearance. Gender differentiation has not necessarily disappeared, however, as many who report contact with these creatures will say that they were able to sense gender in them even if they couldn’t visually discern gender characteristics. There are also numerous cases of contactees who claim to have had sex with these creatures. In the Dune Books, the collective consciousness of a Reverend Mother is limited to other female Reverend Mothers. But the whole point of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood’s thousand-year-long plan of genetic manipulation is to create a messianic being they call the Kwitzaz Haderach, a male Reverend Mother whose consciousness will transcend the gender limits that constrain them. Themes and images of androgyny are deeply entwined in many manifestations of the Singularity Archetype. Androgyny is feared by the ego both for its connection to evolutionary change and because it is a state of dissolved boundaries.
From the ego’s point of view, these new children represent a hostile, alien, competing life form. Nature has played a trick, like the cuckoo bird leaving its young in another bird’s nest. It is acknowledged that the children are superior, however, and since they are racially distinct they must be racially superior. In the black-and-white classic 1960 film version the children look distinctly Aryan, as if they were cloned by Nazi scientists. Here we may have a case of shadow projection. The Nazis projected their shadow onto the Jews and claimed there was a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, while the Nazis actively pursued world domination themselves. Here we have a British psyche creating imperialistic aliens determined to dominate a lesser species.
The fear that a new intelligent species will be bent on our destruction goes beyond the ego. Michael Murphy, in The Future of the Body,discusses a speculation about racism postulated by evolutionary biologists. These biologists use the term pseudospeciation to refer to the human tendency to view other racial groups as though they were a competing species. This pseudospeciation may have biological roots, as it’s possible that Homo sapiens achieved evolutionary dominance by killing off other competing hominid species. In The Midwhich Cuckoos the children, although perfectly human in appearance and gestated in human mothers, are supposed to be a completely different species. In Childhood’s End, the new children are an evolutionary development of the human species. The new children ofChildhood’s End would also have to be considered a new species, since a species is defined as a grouping of organisms that can mate and bear live young. Once the new children are born the old humans become sterile, and the soon-to-be extinct Homo sapiens species is demoted the status of living fossils. But at least in Childhood’s End the new children are acknowledged as descendants and not as completely other or alien. The older humans accept evolution and allow themselves to be supplanted.
In the world of the The Midwich Cuckoos, however, this evolutionary change is fought tooth and claw. Besides Midwich, there are other circular areas on the planet that have spawned alien children. But these other places are not as civilized as Britain and they treat their children more harshly. In the Irkutsk region near the borders of Outer Mongolia, for example, both the children and their mothers, who are presumed to have slept with devils, are killed. Another colony occurs in a Russian town. At first the Russians decide to cultivate what seem like a flock of potential geniuses, but when the children’s uncanny powers start to manifest they use a nuclear projectile and wipe out the whole town where the children are growing.
Zellaby personifies an idealized face of the ego with all its civilized veneer. He’s interested in the children for the sake of science and so forth, but ultimately he decides that his group of children must die too. His method of genocide is extremely interesting. He enters their classroom with a briefcase full of dynamite and then he visualizes a brick wall in his mind when the children try to probe his psyche. He shuts out communication by conjuring a wall in his mind. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect symbol of repression! The ego feels it can only protect itself by putting up a psychic wall between itself and the collective awareness of the children.
Village of the Damned, Childhood’s Endand Jung
Jung died in 1961 when the UFO myth was just getting started, and it would be interesting to know what he would have thought of the development of this mythology to include abduction experiences and all sorts of other elaborations. (Again, by referring to UFO lore as a mythology, I do not mean to imply that its source is purely imagination and that there aren’t real phenomena at its center.) In 1995, The Midwich Cuckoos/ Village of the Damned UFO story continued its evolution.
Village of the Damned—a New Variation
In the Spring of 1995, horror director John Carpenter released a remake of Village of the Damned. The new version was reasonably faithful to the original, but with some interesting variations. Since the new version occurs in the Nineties instead of the Fifties, the pregnant mothers face a decision on whether or not to bring their pregnancies to term. Simultaneously, they all have an archetypal dream, and apparently as a result of it they decide to keep the babies. When the new children are born, they all look human except for one. There is one female infant that looks completely alien and it is immediately removed from the mother. It is either stillborn or destroyed. As the infants become children it is observed that they always walk in male/female pairs, and that the pairs are constant as if the children were divided into a series of married couples. There is one boy, however, who walks at the end of the line alone, and appears to be the only one without a mate. This boy, whose name is David, is also unique in being empathic while the other children are impersonal and ruthless.
At one point in the story Zellaby finds David wandering alone in a cemetery. Asked what he is doing, the boy replies, “Looking for the baby. The one who was born with us. The one who died.”Zellaby is astonished, because the children were never told about the baby. David reveals that the dead infant was meant to be his mate. Here we have an interesting variation on the human/alien hybrid theme. This pairing is more polarized than the others, as this boy’s intended mate was much closer to being an alien. Also this boy is much more human than the other new children as he exhibits an acute empathy for others. This empathy is heightened by the pain and suffering he feels as the one left behind without a mate. Ultimately, when the other children are destroyed, his life is spared and he is rescued by his mother. His survival makes him seem a kind of messianic Subject Zero, gifted in both psychic powers and empathy, and we are left with the hopeful feeling that evolution may somehow continue through him. This new variation is an improvement over the original ending where the ego, personified by Zellaby, destroys the children and itself with them.
A Troubling Synchronicity
But the new film version adds a strange unintentional piece to the story. To understand this additional piece will require a working understanding of a principle that Jung referred to as “synchronicity.” Many of you are no doubt already familiar with the term, if you aren’t, a brief explanation follows, but I would also recommend reading Jung’s Synchronicity: The Acausal Connecting Principle. Synchronicities also have an evolutionary significance that will be discussed later in the chapter.
Jung defined synchronicity as an “acausal connecting principle.” In other words, synchronicity describes relationships that are not mediated by cause and effect, but instead by parallel, acausal relationships. Jung was searching for a way to account for those uncanny, completely improbable “coincidences” (assumption of randomness) where something from the inner life and something from the outer world would “synch up.” Jung developed this concept of synchronicity after some discussions with Albert Einstein and later he worked closely with Nobel Prize winning physicist, Wolfgang Pauli. At the time, Jung’s theory of synchronicity was speculative, but we now know from the findings of quantum mechanics that parallel, acausal relationships do exist in the physical world.
A classic illustration of synchronicity that Jung relates concerns a female patient of his whose progress in analysis was blocked by her excessive rationalism. One day this woman came to her session very excited. She had just had a “big” dream that involved Jung. In the denouement of her dream Jung had appeared and handed her a golden scarab, an object that she recognized as an Egyptian symbol of immortality. As she was relating the dream, Jung noticed a tapping sound coming from the window of his consulting room. He opened the window and a golden, scaraboid beetle, not native to the area of Switzerland where his consulting room was, flew into the room. Jung caught the insect in his hand and when the woman related the moment in the dream where Jung gave her a golden scarab he opened his hand and presented her with a living, golden, scaraboid beetle. This intense Synchronicity punctured her superficial rationalism and she was able to progress with her analysis. Jung could find no causal agency that would explain why this insect would go against its natural instincts and demand admittance to a darkened room.
A personal example of synchronicity involves a day some years ago when I was reading Jung’s book, Synchronicity, the Acausal Connecting Principle. At the time I was living in the East Village area of Manhattan and was reading the book in the public library. In the passage I was reading, Jung recounted a series of synchronistic events that began with dreaming about a fish. He awoke from the dream and the first book he opened had a picture of a fish. Then there was a fish for lunch, and later he saw a dead fish on the sidewalk, etc. I remember being greatly underwhelmed by this anecdote. A fish is such a common thing, I thought. If you were looking for it of course it would seem to be everywhere. I gathered up my stuff, exited the library, and walked the two blocks to my apartment building. I unlocked the outer door of my building and walked up the four flights of stairs to my apartment. Someone had drawn a picture of a fish in white chalk on the door!
Most people reading this can no doubt provide personal examples of such striking synchronicities that are hard to dismiss as meaningless coincidence. They seem to become more frequent when one is exploring the psyche or involved in some creative enterprise, especially if it has a deep collective significance.
Synchronicities reveal that the inner microcosm of the psyche and the outer macrocosm of the external world have parallelisms. Inner and outer are not as separate as we have been brought up to believe. Synchronicities show us that there is a connecting principle. It also seems that highly charged psychic contents are more likely to be paralleled by synchronicities. It should not be surprising, therefore, that highly charged collective visions of the Singularity Archetype may also have accompanying synchronicities. In the two film versions of Village of the Damned we see particularly interesting synchronicities involved with the casting of the character Dr. Zellaby (renamed Dr. Alan Chaffee in 1995), whom I’ve suggested is a personification of the ego.
In the original film Zellaby is played by George Sanders who portrays the character as an urbane, dignified, sensitive and compassionate man. The ego is given the most sympathetic face possible and the audience is led to identify with Dr. Zellaby as a courageous, intelligent hero facing alien evil. Sanders pulls this off magnificently, but it is interesting to note that he himself was an almost archetypal personification of the dark side of the ego. Apparently he was egoistic and sadistic to a degree remarkable even for a film star gone bad. In 1960, the same year Village of the Damnedwas released, he published his autobiography entitled: Memoirs of a Professional Cad.
Encarta dictionary defines cad: “Ungentlemanly man: a man who does not behave as a gentleman should, especially toward a woman (dated).”
A biography was written about Sanders posthumously. It was entitled, A Perfectly Awful Man. In 1972 he committed suicide and left behind a suicide note in which he listed boredom as the main reason for his suicide. Sanders was obviously role cast as a personification of the darker side of the ego, but a much more striking synchronicity involved the casting of Christopher Reeve as Dr. Chaffee in the remake.
I feel some uncomfortable hesitation in pointing out this synchronicity because I don’t want to trifle with the personal tragedy of a real human being. But there seems to be such a striking message occurring here that I feel needs to be given a voice. Christopher Reeve was an archetypally appropriate casting choice to represent the idealized face of the ego presented by the character Dr. Chaffee. He was, of course, the actor chosen to play Superman, and I hardly need to point out the relationship of Superman and an ego ideal. Reeve was highly intelligent, tall, graced with an Olympian physique, patrician good looks and aristocratic bearing. Village of the Damned opened on April 28, 1995. Twenty-nine days later, on May 27, 1995, Reeve suffered his tragic accident that left him a quadriplegic.
Many people were shocked at the irony of someone who portrayed Superman becoming a quadriplegic. This particular type of injury seems a far more powerful reminder of human mortality and frailty than someone actually dying, which in our culture is usually an off-stage, abstracted event. In fact, an early death for a movie or rock star usually results in their being romanticized and idealized. But for the ego, quadriplegia is one of the most frightening mortal scenarios, involving the fears of loss of control, loss of sexual functioning and completely dependent helplessness. That quadraplegia happened to a man who was identified in the popular culture as Superman was striking enough irony in itself, but for Reeve to also be playing in the movie theaters as Dr. Chaffee when the accident occurred seems like more than a coincidence.
Again, it may seem irresponsible and lacking in compassion to symbolically interpret someone’s personal tragedy. But it really seems as though the collective were being sent a message—a profoundly disturbing message—of how the mighty ego is fallen. The ego strives mightily to be superman and to perfect the body and have control, fame and wealth. Rarely does someone like Christopher Reeve actually manage to achieve all those things. But fate can reverse all ego achievement in an instant. And to paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, the medium of this disturbing message is a message in itself. A terrible accident occurs with an acausal link to collective mythology. The archetypal realm reveals that it has shocking power in the “real” world. It was for exactly this reason that Jung was alarmed when his German patients started to dream about Wotan, a Germanic god of war and mayhem. (Some claim him as Nordic; he is also called Odin.) Jung knew that what emerges in dreams emerges in the world. What emerges in films, which often manifest as technologically amplified collective dreams, also has a tendency to emerge into the “real” world. And the ego, for all its pretensions and efforts to deny mortality, may be fearfully aware that there is strange handwriting on the wall, and that its worst fears may well come true.
What is particularly disturbing in the case of Christopher Reeves is that, as Dr. Chaffee he is the character who ultimately destroys the children. Throughout the film, however, it is the children who bring punishment on those who harm them or whom they perceive as a threat. For example, the children force the woman scientist in charge of their colony to show them the preserved body of the infant girl that died. They observe a “T” shaped autopsy incision on the infant’s body. Later in the film they telekinetically pressure this scientist to make a T-shaped incision on her own body. The children seem to be exacting an eye for an eye version of karmic justice. The only character in the film on whom they are not able to exact this kind of justice is Dr. Chaffee. The synchronistic real life accident makes it appear as if their power were able to reach beyond the realm of the film fantasy and into the external world.
An interesting approach to this disturbing synchronicity begins with considering how perceptual bias alters external reality. The effect of the observer on what is observed is most obvious in the case of one human psyche perceiving another. If an egoistic psyche perceives a particular child to be bad and dangerous, the child is likely to act that way. Village of the Damned, and its ego point of view personified by Zellaby/Chaffee, perceives the evolutionary change as bad. They view the new human consciousness as a threat, a competing species bent on the domination and destruction of the older form. They are treated in kind by the children but ultimately succeed in destroying them. Their paranoid, fearful point of view constellates a paranoid world of fear, power and domination. The triumph of the ego over the new children in the film is bizarrely, disturbingly contradicted by the real life synchronicity of the actors who portray Zellaby/Chaffee. Sanders, in the same year the original Village of the Damned opened, celebrated his dark egoism with the publication of his autobiography: Memoirs of a Professional Cad.Later, like so many human victims in the film, he takes his own life. Reeves, best known for his portrayal of Superman, within days of the opening of the new version competes in an equestrian event, loses control of his horse and falls to the ground a quadriplegic.
One way of interpreting this message is as a threatening warning to the ego. If you perceive this evolutionary change from your accustomed vantage of imperialistic dominator, be ready for a fall. Other visions of the Singularity Archetype in the popular culture view it more sympathetically. For example, Powder, another 1995 film, is about a male adolescent mutant. Powder’s mother was not impregnated by a UFO, but in an equally cosmic birth scenario she is struck by lightning while pregnant. Lightning is a cosmic phenomenon that connects higher and lower when they become too polarized. The mother dies, but her unborn son lives and is transformed by this heavenly intervention. Powder lives, but at the cost of the older form. He is born in an incubator, and we meet him as a male adolescent lacking the care of a mother. Powder is kept hidden in the basement by his grandparents. He is an albino and weird things happen when he is around electrical energy. Powder has powers similar to those of the children in Village of the Damned, including genius-level intelligence and telepathic abilities. Ordinary people in the town shun, scapegoat and persecute him mercilessly. But Powder, like David, is uniquely gifted as an empath. Like David, he is solitary and unable to find a mate. In this film the evolutionary development personified by this mutant adolescent male is viewed as threatening to unconscious, egoistic people, but in fact, the feared mutant turns out to be especially gifted with love and free of the dark limitations of the ego. Those who come from the egoistic, xenophobic point of view project their shadow onto the new form. In the film, there is a policeman who has a particular, instinctive animosity toward Powder. In one scene we see him leading a group of sadistic boys, who also persecute Powder, on a deer hunt. The deer hunting behavior reveals that this male tribe believes it has a natural right to dominate and destroy less powerful life forms. And this is why they fear and want to destroy Powder. They see Powder in their own image and unconsciously assume that because he is superior that he must want to destroy them.
During the course of the hunt, a policeman shoots a deer. Powder is horrified and tries to put his hands on the dying animal to comfort or heal it. At that moment Powder personifies the wounded healer and he empathically feels the helpless agony of the dying animal. While he is in this empathic state he grabs the arm of the policeman and causes him to feel what the deer is feeling. Powder later explains that he did this because he knew the policeman wasn’t conscious of what he was doing and the suffering he was creating. The policeman has a complete spiritual change after this experience, gets rid of his entire gun collection, and ceases to be an aggressor. If we accept the policeman/hunter as the personification of the world of the ego—the patriarchal realm of governmental control and dominator mentality—we see that the new form has the ability to transform the ego by forcing empathic awareness into it.
Dream of a Transforming but still Dangerous Ego
If we personify the collective ego for a moment, we can say that he has been sent powerful messages and is more than intelligent enough to be aware of his predicament. But even the dark side of the ego is capable of learning and evolving. He’s already tried the Antichrist scenario during World War II with Hitler and the Nazis. He may have learned that completely unleashing his rage and will to power may be inherently self-defeating. Perhaps the ego is no longer quite sure that it wants to kill the mother, the living planet that has spawned him. The ego is highly intelligent and may be struggling to read the disturbing handwriting on the wall.
These comments on the growth potential of the ego would not have originally been included but for a dream that I had the night before I was to complete this section on the ego. Although this dream could be read as an unflattering depiction of the state of my own power complex, the timing of the dream, occurring just before I was to wake up and write about the role of the ego in evolution, inclines me to believe that the dream has a collective meaning.
In the dream I am present only as a witness or disembodied point of view. A group of people is standing before an enormously complex, futuristic control panel that has the curved amphitheater shape of the keyboard of a great pipe organ. Information in the form of rapidly moving green LED numbers is pouring out of the control panel. The control panel has been made to be esthetically pleasing and to have a “natural” look of polished wood and green transparent panels. But part of the numerical display on the right hand side is erratic and there is obviously a malfunction. The control panel is apparently a new prototype. A man in military garb who is sitting at the control panel is in a state of acute panic. He is afraid because at the center of the small group of white-coated scientists viewing the malfunction of the control panel is Darth Vader. But Darth Vader does not look like he does in the Star Wars films. To my surprise, I see that Vader’s appearance is altered. He is wearing an abbreviated version of his famous black outfit and no breath mask or helmet. His head is exposed and he has the mustachioed, elegant, intelligent face of an elderly Vincent Price. To be more exact, this is the face of Vincent Price shortly before his death when he appeared in Tim Burton’s film Edward Scissorhands. In the dream, Darth Vader seems uncannily intelligent and patient. He has a visible aura of power that shrouds his head like a hood, but he also seems frail and elderly.
The scene shifts and we see Darth Vader walking on a dirt road below a wall of natural rock, a side of a small canyon or cliff. He is elegantly, aristocratically dressed in an immaculate white suit. He seems extremely intelligent, dignified and in control, but as before there is the undisguised frailty of age. A bodyguard, a brutal young man wearing a light colored suit stands with his hand on his gun. The gun, in a very phallic manner, is bulging from his trouser pocket and he stands ready, even anxious to use it at the first sign of trouble. Vader strolls with perfect composure paying no attention to the bodyguard who, to him, is merely a background detail. Vader is staring curiously at the wall of rock. There are Egyptian hieroglyphs drawn on the wall in colored chalk. It is known that the designs were drawn very recently by adolescents. The dream ends with him looking curiously at the hieroglyphs.
Darth Vader, as the Star Wars character, is an almost archetypal personification of the demoniac aspect of the ego and the highly related concept of the patriarchal. When we experience him in Star Wars: A New Hope, the first film, he appears to be completely motivated by the will to power. He hides his humanity behind a mask, his costume clothes him in technology, and the shape of his helmet has an obvious Nazi aesthetic. He is man trying to become machine. But Vader is also the most complex of the Star Wars characters, and he undergoes the most transformation.
In The Empire Strikes Back we see a fascinating glimpse of Vader’s humanity. He is apparently in his private apartment, which is a very small bombproof cubicle with an utterly functional interior of control panels and metal surfaces. This interior is Vader’s cocoon, a small lightproof, airtight container, a little high-tech thermos insulating him from anything alive. Then, for a moment, we are shown a single glimpse of the back of his unhelmeted head, which reveals that there is vulnerable, scarred human tissue under the costume. He is a human being, and not merely an archetype of evil.
As the trilogy of films continues, especially as we near the end of The Return of the Jedi, it becomes apparent that Vader, whose psyche originally seemed to be electrified by a pure will to power, is now torn between power and love for his son, Luke Skywalker. In the dramatic duel scene inThe Empire Strikes Back, Vader, in an effort to seduce Luke into an alliance, makes the statement,“Join me, and together we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.” The patriarchal will to power, with its pretense of rationalism, is obvious in the phrase, ” . . . bring order to the galaxy.” But there is also for the first time a suggestion that Vader might be weary of war and does not favor destruction as an end in itself. He is intelligent enough to want to ” . . . end this destructive conflict . . .” Vader, like the ego, may be aware that he is in a conflict with another powerful principle that he cannot fully dominate, and he may be growing weary of the struggle. And then there is the opposing love principle in his statement, the emphasis on “joining” and being “together.”
By the end of The Return of the Jedi, Vader’s transformation is complete and he has sided decisively with love and surrendered power. He accepts his mortality and in his dying scene asks his son to remove his breath mask so that they can have a moment of human contact. Vader/the ego gives up the power principle, acknowledges love and immediately thereafter perishes. Unfortunately, Vader doesn’t end there and at the very end of the film we see a reborn Vader in a scintillating astral body, hanging out with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Apparently he’s achieved instantaneous forgiveness for committing genocide on numerous planets and can now spend eternity dancing with the Ewoks, or whatever. If World War II were refashioned in this way we’d have Adolph Hitler and Anne Frank skipping down the yellow brick road together.
Darth Vader’s transformation in the Star Wars films represents one possible developmental track for the ego. From a place of utterly unfeeling will to power he grows weary, discovers love, surrenders and dies. There are numerous actual cases in which particular human egos have traveled this exact developmental path. Let’s consider a hypothetical case history of a man in his fifties who is a ruthless, hard-driving workaholic businessman. Ambition was more important to this businessman than his family, and his marriage ended in divorce and estrangement from his children. But now he is in the hospital dying of cancer. His only son comes to visit him, and seeing his dying father hooked up to tubes and machines, he feels a sudden empathy for this brutal man that he never experienced before. The father, in return, feels an overwhelming love for his son who will live after he is gone. He surrenders his ego, accepts mortality, and dies.
The ego, in some collective sense, may also be aware that it is aging and has cancer, just as Vincent Price obviously was during the filming ofEdward Scissorhands. As an association occurring in my dream, I remember finding Vincent Price’s poignant role in the film made more poignant by my having read that he was ailing with cancer when he played the role, and that it was his last film. His character in the film also dies in a poignant way, and Tim Burton, who had a great personal affection for Vincent Price, cast him aware that he was dying.
The imagery of the dream suggests that the ego is interested in rehabilitating its image. But one gets the feeling that these public relations efforts to reveal a kinder, gentler ego should be viewed with a certain suspicion and wariness. For example, the “natural” green and wood-toned control panel may be viewed as an attempt at subterfuge or misdirection. It is shaped like the keyboard of a giant “pipe organ,” so it also represents a phallic will to control. It is a cosmetic softening of what is either the control panel of a Death Star or some Luciferian control panel for the earth. The ego is closely allied with what Jung called the “persona”—the outward, socialized mask we present to the world. The ego wears an immaculate white suit in the second part of the dream, as might befit the British Viceroy of India at the height of Imperialism. The suit, with its aristocratic all-whiteness, carries an association of racial superiority. The immaculate whiteness is also a striking contrast to the natural setting of the dirt road and canyon or cliff wall of raw rock. The ego obviously still feels superior and apart from messy nature, which must be put under control. And for all the ego’s veneer of civilization, and dignified bearing, nearby is the brutal, phallic bodyguard, his hand hoping to draw the gun. The panic of the soldier at the control panel was no doubt a realistic response to a Vader who still holds an iron fist beneath his white linen gloves.
From one point of view, we could say that the devil hath the power to assume a somewhat more pleasing shape. The ego, no doubt, has cards up its sleeve. Perhaps it is allowing itself to appear mortal and vulnerable so that we let down our guard. Possibly there is a laboratory on the Death Star where scientists work round the clock building a cyborg body for the ego. It plans to transform itself into a cyborg and achieve technological immortality and everlasting freedom from the living, dying organic world. The ego is a resilient structure and it has a genius for creating illusion and deception. One would have to be a really gifted paranoiac to invent motives and subterfuges darker and more devious then those of the power-oriented ego.
Although these suspicions are more than warranted, my inclination is to view the dream as a message about the ego’s transforming duality. Its Luciferian aspect is still clearly present. Call me paranoid, but there’s something about a guy named Darth Vader standing before a world control panel that I can’t fully trust. On the other hand, the ego is not in control of the dream, and there is a feeling that the elderly Vincent Price aspect of him is also real. I think that the ego is in a schizoid place right now, and is not sure where he stands. The efforts at power, control and deception are still there, but he is also aware that the control panel is malfunctioning, that its body is aged and there is strange adolescent handwriting on the walls. But before we consider the ego’s possibly transformed awareness of mortality, let’s consider the relationship of its Luciferian aspect to nature.
The Ego and Nature
Just as Lucifer, according to the Bible, was once the brightest angel before the fall, the ego was once nature’s brightest, most favored prodigy. Lucifer, according to the Bible, was created by God, even though he sets himself apart from God and plays an adversarial role. Similarly, the ego was created by nature, even though it sets itself apart from nature and plays an adversarial role. Is God really separate from Lucifer, his own creation? Is nature really separate from the human ego, its creation?
Nature created an interventional, adversarial species that extrudes technology and environmental toxins. If the human species and its ego are mistakes, then we might as well blame nature. The ego is a child of nature as much as a daisy or a virus. To understand the ego, we must discredit the view that it is unnatural. It is actually the ego itself that wants to view itself as unnatural. Like Lucifer, it’s trying hard to forget where it came from and where it’s going back to.
Many people, coming from the ego, use the term “natural” in a way that is filled with deception. I’m not sure that anything is outside of nature. Is the Empire State Building less natural than a beehive, or are they both structures created by earth organisms out of patterned energy? Most people call “natural” that which they prefer. For example, homosexuality, even though it occurs in thousands of species and all human societies will be judged by some people as “unnatural.” Those same people will view manmade social institutions, like the particular form of marriage approved of by their culture, as “natural.” And, of course, it is claimed that God endorses these ego preferences. The God such people worship is really a man in a white suit who has their identical prejudices.
“Natural” carries an unconscious association with a Rousseau-like, sentimentalized view of kindly, gentle mother nature. For example, many food products boast that they have “all natural ingredients.” But a soup made of cobra venom, scorpion tails and bubonic plague could make the identical claim. Polio virus is natural, the vaccine is manmade. The ego is natural, if anything is, and the tendency to view the ego as bad because it is distinctively human is in itself an ego-based illusion.
The ego, in its Darth Vader personification in the dream, may be slightly reforming its relationship to nature. Although it stands before the control panel with white-coated scientists and later strolls in a suit of sterile whiteness, it has made, at least, some aesthetic concessions to nature. The “natural” look of the control panel is in striking contrast to the synthetic high-tech look of Vader’s world in the films. Perhaps the natural-look control panel, which may be a world control panel, reflects a dawning concern the ego has for controlling the environment in a way that doesn’t destroy it. Similarly, many of the corporate, ego and power based entities that contributed to the toxification of the environment are beginning to realize that destruction of the biosphere will eventually be bad for business and the bottom line.
A much more significant concession to nature is Vader’s willingness to expose his frail, aging face. In the dream, this felt like a profound concession to mortality. Vader also shows some interest in stepping out of his cocoon and into the outside world of nature. He walks on a dirt road and looks at a natural rock face. He is seen struggling to understand evolving human nature as expressed by the colored hieroglyphic chalk drawings of the adolescents.
The ego’s personification is dual. He is both Darth Vader, who is in himself dual, and Vincent Price. From the deception point of view we could suspect the ego of wanting to gain sympathy. Vincent Price was always the camp icon of horror films. His flamboyant portrayal of characters who were supposed to be sinister and ominous always seemed arch and humorously entertaining. Almost no one takes Vincent Price seriously as a personification of evil in the way people do take seriously Anthony Hopkin’s Hannibal Lechter, for example. We might, therefore, suspect the ego of wanting to make light of any fears of it as boogey man.
But I am more inclined to view this Vincent Price aspect of the ego as revelatory, rather than deceptive. Although the ego borrows the physiognomy of Price’s face, he doesn’t show a trace of his humor, and there’s nothing campy about his appearance or manner. The face seems more a revelation of true form rather than a borrowed disguise.
Let’s also consider the role that Vincent Price played in Edward Scissorhands, which I believe to be a central and intended association of the dream. Vincent Price, in Edward Scissorhands, is some sort of eccentric genius, a fairy tale mad scientist who seems as much an alchemist as a technological inventor. Like the actor portraying him, he is at the end of his career and near death. And his final invention is also his only son.
Again, we have a strange duality. From one point of view, Price would seem to be a reincarnation of Dr. Frankenstein, the ego as technological Prometheus seeking to rival and surpass nature’s progenerative power. Like Dr. Frankenstein he is creating birth completely without the feminine, as he is the father of a son with no mother.
But unlike Dr. Frankenstein, Price seems very loving and kindly. Perhaps he has created Edward aware that his own demise is approaching and loves Edward as much as any father loves his only son. Edward, like Frankenstein (remember his gentle affection for the little girl), is an unexpectedly feminine creature despite this all-masculine birth. He is portrayed by Johnny Depp as androgynous, sensitive, gentle and caring. Price’s meddling with nature has brought something of great value into the world. One is reminded of the belief of the great alchemist Paracelsus that man is here to finish God’s work, to finish nature.
The first words we hear Edward speak, however, are, “I’m not finished.” He is referring to his mutant, metallic hands that would apparently have been replaced by normal looking hands but for the untimely demise of Price before his creation could be finished. These technological hands, which look frightening, are capable of astonishing utility and creativity. But they also make it hard for Edward to do some of the ordinary tasks of daily life like dressing and eating and he frequently, inadvertently, wounds himself.
If the ego is, in a sense, the father, Edward himself is a hybrid. His “unfinished” technological hands give him creative power over nature as when he sculpts hedges into amazing creatures. The creative gardener is an almost archetypal personification of man augmenting nature. But Edward, unlike the ego, seeks love, not power, and his too powerful, technological hands make this hard for him. Edward is a variation on Subject Zero, an adolescent mutant unsure of his identity. The technological proficiency that is an ingrained part of his being is much like that of a modern adolescent who has grown up in a world of television, cars and computers; he is innately adept at using these tools and would feel like an amputee without them. But at the same time there is an awareness that these powerful gifts can be harmful, that they can cause self-inflicted wounds and make love difficult. The ego, in his Vincent Price aspect, is reminding us that he is the father of Subject Zero, the adolescent mutant, and that he cannot be separated from the fate of the next evolutionary step.
Here again we have a strange paradoxical duality. It is true that new life builds on prior forms and the present ego-based psyche will have strong familial connections with whatever succeeds it. The patriarchal ego may have a certain paternal claim. But we also have the ego usurping the power of nature, and claiming the feminine role in creation. The ego, as the story of Frankenstein reminds us, is not to be trusted in the role of creator. The feminine cannot be left out of creation, but the ego prefers an exclusively masculine world. Dr. Frankenstein and Frankenstein, Price and Edward, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker—each is a father with his only son and mothers are conspicuously absent. Powder’s mother dies in the cosmic event that creates his transformation. Presumably Vader had a female consort, but, at least in the first cycle of films, we never hear of her and her children apparently don’t know her. Vader has a daughter, Princess Leah, but he shows little interest in joining with her.
The ego in the dream is surrounded by male scientists, soldiers and bodyguards. His demeanor and presence personifies what Jung referred to as the solar phallic or higher masculine power identified with mind and will. But nearby is the chthonic or lower phallic power of the bodyguard with his relation to power-oriented sex on the level of the genitalia, brutal violence and domination. We see higher and lower phallic principles combined in a typical dream image/word pun in the control panel, which is shaped like a great organ. The ego is as male as ever and it wants to usurp the feminine role in creation. Perhaps that’s another meaning of the green and wood-toned control panel.
In the waking life we certainly see the ego standing before control panels altering nature. White coated or suited ego personifications introduce genetically altered microorganisms, plants and animals into our world. Once we foraged in the forest, then we learned to use our hands to make gardens and farms, but now ego-driven multinational corporations mediate with nature for us and grow genetically altered crops in chemical fertilizers, which are sprayed with pesticides, irradiated, and sold in microwaveable plastic at the supermarket. We’ve allowed the ego to be in charge of nature and progeneration and can’t be sure where that process will end. Given the opportunity to fulfill its ambitions, perhaps the ego will create artificial intelligence that will propagate itself in a virtual world that will beChildhood’s End. Is it possible for the ego to create an alternative or parallel evolutionary track to that of the human species? Consider how much computers have evolved in the last fifty years compared to fifty years of human evolution. The ego might seek to avoid mortality by using artificial life to replace or mutate organic evolution. For your next life time, why be reborn by messy, inefficient mother nature when you can be rebooted by Microsoft Turbo-Genesis Incarnation version 7.1?
Perhaps the ego has a cybernetic card up its sleeve. In the dream, however, the Vader/Price character seems to be feeling its age and acknowledging its mortality. Similarly, heads of multinational corporations and governments read the statistical projections and know they must content themselves with managing the end of the world. In the dream the ego sees that there is handwriting on the wall. The hieroglyphic handwriting is colorful and adolescent. Since the markings are made with chalk they are recent and temporally fragile, but they also resonate with the ancient world and appear Egyptian. Its hieroglyphic expression suggests the archetypes and the collective unconscious. In the Jungian literature there is a famous example of the timeless memory of the collective unconscious in the dream of a modern girl that manifests motifs of ancient Egyptian mythology unknown to her waking self. Terence McKenna’s most seminal book is called The Archaic Revival, and he discusses the revival, especially popular with adolescents, of the archaic practices of body piercing, drum circles, paganism, magic, herbal healing and the use of natural hallucinogens. Aspects of the ancient world are returning through the young and the ego isn’t sure what to make of them, but it may be intelligent enough to sense that they are harbingers of change beyond its control. The spatial occurrence of the hieroglyphs in the dream is also significant. They are far over the head of the ego and several body lengths out of reach.
The dream tells us that the ego is still powerful, still dangerous, yet also a paradoxical, complex entity with conflicting motives and self-ambivalence. It may be nearing the end of its life, but it will not be without a role in the creation of what’s to come.
Other Changes as we Approach the Singularity
Heightened Recognition of Synchronicity
Our discussion of the transforming ego was part of a larger speculative discussion about what changes might be anticipated as we get closer to the event horizon. All of these areas of change overlap each other as any changes in one core aspect of the psyche affect every other, and every change in the psyche also means change in the outer world we live in. From the broadest perspective the change may be viewed as the merging of the inner psychic sphere and the outer external world, a converging of the realms of spirit and matter. These realms are already far more connected than most realize and pulling back the veil of illusion would be an enormous shift in itself. The ordinary perspective of a modern person is that the inner psychic world and the outer world are separate realms. Synchronicities, if they are not dismissed out of hand as meaningless coincidences, are viewed as anomalies, rare and exceptional cases of the distinction between inner and outer breaking down. My intuition tells me that recognition of the overlap between inner and outer will increase synergistically with what will appear to be the increasing interaction and merger of the two. We can expect a great intensification of apparent synchronicities, particularly for people who are tuned in to the evolutionary process. As we get very close to the Singularity we may find that synchronicities become the rule, rather than the exception. Perhaps everything is already a synchronicity and what we call synchronicities are those episodic moments of being able to recognize this principle. A different “physics” of reality may come into being. A shift in awareness of the physics of reality is in itself a shift in the physics of reality.
The Psyche in a Synchronistic Environment
We already spend time daily in a realm where the physics of reality appears to be very different and where synchronicity is the ruling principle. In our dreams we enter a realm that is more energetic and plastic. Let’s leave aside for a moment the possibility that other human psyches or various entities may engage, transform or create our dreams. If we consider dreams to be environments paralleling the psychological process, then everything that occurs in a dream is a synchronicity. Everything occurring in our dreaming environment parallels psychic content. The fluctuations of the dream environment not only parallel the dynamism of inner process, they are inner process—psyche and universe are one. Matter in dreams is spiritualized and can come into being, disappear or mutate in perfect synchronicity with psychic need. Time is no longer linear and the categories of past, present and future, as we have been conditioned to view them, no longer apply. Meaning and communication do not necessarily require words, and intentions can be expressed visually in an infinite vocabulary of images. T.S. Elliot created a term “objective correlative” to refer to objects in literary text that are there to parallel a particular emotion. A wilted rose in a poem may be the objective correlative of a disappointment in love, for example. In dreams, every object, person, or landscape is an objective correlative, so the psyche finds itself in an environment where everything is appropriate and related to inner meaning.
Some would say that this state of perfectly meaningful correspondence between psyche and environment is as true of the waking life as it is of dreams. We’ve been conditioned by a culturally transmitted irrational belief that inner and outer are separated in some consistent way. But the findings of quantum mechanics disprove the validity of such a separation. And if we don’t want to put our faith in quantum mechanics, we have the evidence of synchronicities in our waking life. Remember it only takes one white crow, one valid case of synchronicity in all of human history for the boundary wall between inner and outer to start looking like a thin film of Swiss cheese projected onto a movie screen. It is not always apparent how the bizarre content of a dream parallels or is the direct expression of our psyche. Our individual psyche is a mystery even to us. It should not surprise us, therefore, that we have trouble recognizing the universe of the waking life as a parallelism or expression of psyche. The universe of the waking life is probably paralleling and expressing a great aggregate of individual psyches, human and nonhuman. When we recognize a moment of the universe clearly mirroring our psyche in a way that we can understand we declare that moment a synchronicity. But it is possible that other moments are simply unrecognized synchronicities. We have to be careful about presumptions, conscious and unconscious, attached to our perceptions of synchronicities.
Some perceive synchronicities as coming from the outside. Such people believe God or the universe chooses at a particular moment to be more interactive with their psyche and delivers a miracle, blessing or sign. Others perceive the synchronicity as generated by their psyche and see it as evidence of themselves as magicians or Gods of their own universe. These two perceptions are the two faces of the coin of causation. One sees causality heading from a divine cosmic realm into the psyche, the other sees causality generated by the psyche and heading out to transform the outer world. But synchronicity, at least as conceived by Jung, is called “The Acausal Connecting Principle.”In the Jungian paradigm synchronicities are acausal parallelisms. But the only synchronicities we can talk about are the ones we can recognize. Perhaps the principle of acausal parallelism is always at work and it is our recognition of it that is merely episodic. Perhaps psyche and universe only seem to be more interactive when our ability to recognize inner and outer parallelism awakens. If so, our collective awakening to the perception of that parallelism would be a profound evolutionary shift. Such a profound shift in consciousness would be paralleled by a transformation of language and communication—the foundational “software” of our awareness.
Logos Beheld Instead of Heard
Terence McKenna has come to very similar conclusions about how things may change as we approach what he refers to as “the strange attractor.” He offers some especially important speculations about how communication may transform. McKenna refers to an ancient Jewish philosopher, Philo Judeus, who was a contemporary of Christ. Judeus believed that man would achieve metamorphosis when the Logos (the voice of God, truth or higher self) would no longer be heard as words but would be beheld. McKenna suggests that instead of hearing a person’s linguistic intentionality as words we would behold it visually. This is already the case in dreams. Fantasy extrapolations of the future of virtual reality often include this capability, and technological evolution tends to parallel psychic evolution.
There are also “white crow” instances where this type of communication may have actualized already. McKenna describes cases of language manifesting visually under the influence of powerful psychotropic substances. One example involved people under the influence of the tribal hallucinogen ayahuasca. Anthropologists once called ayahuasca “telepethine” because of persistent reports that it produced telepathic states. Reportedly, individuals in a group ayahuasca experience can sing nonverbal songs that will be experienced by the entire group consensually as changing colored forms. Musical intentionality occurs as both sound and imagery, and afterwards different individuals in the group will describe the visual symphony using the same adjectives of color and shape.
As we approach the Singularity, we may better be able to recognize our world as a consensual dream, a synchronistic environment. If our present world is already a synchronistic environment it may be the appropriate environment of psyches that are often blind, asleep, lacking in creative vitality and possibly in need of suffering as a developmental catalyst. Our toxification of the biosphere (fundamentally a psychological product) could certainly be viewed in that way. That may account for some of the heavy resistance and abrasiveness we experience in our world. It’s also possible to consider that we live in a “fallen” state where realms of matter and spirit only imperfectly and episodically parallel in a loving way. The realm of matter may need to be awakened and made more mutable and appropriately interactive by more vital, awakened psyches. We also, I believe, need an awakening to parasitic forces that benefit from our fallen state.
Shocks, Disasters and Chaotic Events
Looking toward the event horizon, the last and possibly most certain area of expectation we will consider is that there will be incredible shocks and very likely disastrous, chaotic events threatening the survival of the species. It seems in some ways irresponsible to join those making such dark forecasts, given the self-fulfilling nature of prophecy. It is also true that the future is unformed and that each of us every moment is a variable changing the composition of the species as it boils in the crucible of evolution. The nature of what we are drawing near is the unexpected, and all predictions are suspect and may be violated. Drastic climate change seems imminent, but there may be unknown wildcard variables that may introduce other changes of equal or greater magnitude. Certainly all predictive utterances, if only because they are made of words, will flatten and distort the mysterium tremendum of actuality.
Having said all this, it still remains the most obvious of all predictions to assert that we are headed toward some serious shocks and calamities. People who probably disagree with me on every other point will likely agree with this. But the information encoded again and again in the Singularity Archetype is that these devastating shocks, viewed from an angle of sufficient detachment and elevation, are necessary rites of initiation for an immature species desperately in need of growth. McKenna uses the analogy of an alien viewing a human mother giving birth. Everything about the process screams medical emergency. There is agony, weeping, blood, rending of tissue. To the uninitiated the process must appear a calamity. And in actuality the birth process is both risky and uncertain. It needs to be handled with love and care. But more often than not, even with imperfect care, the miracle succeeds and new life is brought into the world.
Note added on 11/28/05:
There are other areas of transformation I anticipate, though I did not originally write about them here. I discuss them at length in the DVDLooking Toward the Event Horizon. The list can always be expanded because to change one core attribute of an individual or species is to change all the others. For example, a change in a person’s spirituality is likely to mean changes in their eros or sexuality (and vice-versa). This will also likely be accompanied by changes in their relations to money, eating, time, power, ego and so forth. Some key areas of change I have written about elsewhere follow.
As we approach the event horizon I believe that we will become more aware of parasitic beings which have been coevolving with us for a long time and that are major, largely unrecognized players in individual and collective human psychology. Our relationship with them will mutate and metamorphose as we approach the singularity. For more on this coevolution see Mind Parasites, Energy Parasites and Vampires.
Our relationship to body is undergoing great transformation and change and I expect that process to dramatically intensify. See The Glorified Body—Metamorphosis of the Body and the Crisis Phase of Human Evolution. Interwoven with our transformed relation to body will be transformations of our relations to gender, romance and the archetypal qualities of masculine and feminine—see Casting Precious into the Cracks of Doom—-Androgyny, Alchemy, Evolution and the One Ring.
Other cultures forecast a cycle of changes on a time scale that maps onto our present situation. This relates also to a transformed relationship to time. See The Mutant versus the Machine—the End of the Iron Age and the Galactic Alignment of 2012, A Splinter in your Mind , Clocktime Metastasizes toward 2012
and A Gnostic dream of 2012.
I’ve done a lot more work recently on visual communication as an emergent evolutionary theme and this work has been incorporated in a four-hour mp3, Logos Beheld, which is available at zaporacle.com. This theme relates strongly to the homogestalt idea and a new relationship between individual and collective consciousness and group telepathy.
The Problem of Evil and Suffering
The idea of necessary initiatory shock is not meant, however, to be a sufficient explanation of the problems of evil and suffering. The work of people who’ve really struggled with this problem, and who’ve been trained in ethics and philosophical discourse, is not replaced by some simple statement. And the infinite paradox of evil is not to be resolved in words. People sometimes, as I’ve discussed elsewhere, have a glib tendency to think they can explain evil away with clichés like, “God only gives you the burdens you need to bear.” But the recent memory of the Holocaust and other irredeemably evil events make such easy dismissals too disrespectful to utter even if they contain a large measure of truth. Perhaps if we said, “Often it seems that you are given burdens that you need to bear,” we would have a more acceptable principle. The tendency for the human mind to try to overreach itself when attempting to comprehend and communicate the incomprehensible should be taken like many, many grains of salt with the following statement: Much that we consider evil seems to be a developmental necessity for human beings.
Subcreation and the Developmental Need for Evil
A way to discover the developmental need of perceived evil is to set about the task of writing an interesting story. A person creating a story, like a dreamer, is required to generate a universe. J.R.R. Tolkien, referring to the particular genre of fantasy writing, called this process “subcreation.”The story maker, particularly the fantasy story maker, is a subcreator, a being who in relation to the world of his story is in direct analogy with God in relationship to the universe. Like the universe, a story is a world made of patterned energy. The story is a microcosmic universe that has many parallel operating principles in common with the macrocosmic universe. So it is very interesting to note that when you set about the task of writing an interesting story you are almost immediately obliged to create evil. A story that lacks elements of adversity is stillborn, sterile, synthetic, dead in the water like a plastic smile button floating on an endless sea of artificial rose bouquet air freshener. If you love and empathize with your characters then you may feel obliged to provide adversity for them that is beyond their present powers to deal with. Only by growing and becoming more conscious can they survive the trial.
What would Tolkien’s subcreated world of Middle Earth be like without Sauron, Saruman, Ringwraiths and orcs? Hobbits going on dates with other hobbits? We touched on this in the section on organisms and change. Organisms seek to maintain homeostasis, the equilibrium that they have dialed in. For the body, this is healthy, as it would be medically perilous if your blood pressure, heart rate or other bodily parameters fluctuated wildly and unpredictably. What is healthy for the body, which doesn’t evolve so much, is not so healthy for the psyche, which is either evolving or regressing. An even keel, a psychological and spiritual homeostasis is stagnation. This bifurcation of a the complex and dynamic process of the human psyche is captured by a Dylan lyric, “He who’s not busy being born is busy dying.” Since we tend to default into a conservative homeostasis, a stagnant cocoon or comfort zone, we need periodic shocks to stir things up. We need“punctuated equilibrium.” But to the conservative ego these disruptive shocks are likely to be judged as unfortunate and evil.
But it should also be pointed out that it is possible to write a story in which characters struggle with adversity that ultimately is too great for them. The British novelist Thomas Hardy, for example, has a particular empathy for characters in this situation. Life itself also generates a great many such human stories. Perhaps these stories are far more common in actuality than the more exceptional stories of the conscious hero. It may, therefore, be reasonable to consider the possibility that the human species faces adversity that may be too much for it to overcome.
If adversity is a developmental necessity, so too are love and a sufficiently strong, vital psyche. These elements occur in endless permutations in individual human lives. Quite often it appears that the combination is one of too much adversity, too little love and insufficient strength. Those who have faith in reincarnation may claim that a crushing lifetime may be a developmental step in a manifold incarnate being. But from where I’m standing it seems disrespectful to the suffering and predicament of so many human lives to attempt explaining them away.
Conclusion: Facing the Singularity
Turning a Message into Action
It’s been said that the final step in a dream interpretation process is to decide how to take the truth learned in a dream and turn it into definite life changes and specific actions. If we take the dreams and visions of the approaching Singularity as a collective dream bearing an important message for us, how do we act on it? The first step is to develop our consciousness, to become more aware and sensitive to what is happening in and around us during this volatile growth spurt. Pay attention to your dreams and use oracular technologies like the I Ching (“the Book of Changes”) to tune into an ever more fluctuating and mutating reality. A related step is to seek to live as a Warrior, humble and alert, strong and centered within, focused and effective without. We each need a worthy, conscious mission statement and the will to fulfill it. And those of us who understand what is happening need to fulfill self-designed and initiated quests to assist the evolutionary process.
Designing your Quest
Inner development certainly promotes the development of the species, but an exclusively self-referential quest may not be a sufficient response for a soul incarnating in a world with so much trouble and suffering. There are infinite possibilities available for your quest, but you might begin by considering three broad, overlapping areas of concern.
Helping the Planet
The first is helping your mother, the planet earth. For years I’d been pretty lethargic about doing environmental work because it seemed like such a losing battle. In addition, my interpretation of the Singularity Archetype led me to believe that ecological destruction of the planet was an inevitable part of this process, as the human species needs to be confronted with extinction to wake up. This may well turn out to be true, but it does not at all excuse our being passive bystanders to the needless destruction of life. Each of us has a primary, inescapable responsibility to the planet that has given us life. Whether we asked for it or not, we are all members of the species that has toxified the environment. All of us have used products and consumables that have contributed to the toxification process. Therefore, we all have a large karmic debt to pay in the form of service to the planet. I’ve tended to fluctuate from appalled apathy to appalled activism. There is no one we can defer responsibility to for environmental work. We can’t ask dolphins, aliens, God or other people to take our place. This is our mess, we made it, each of us has added to it, and we must all work on cleaning it up.
Helping Fellow Humans
The next area of concern is our fellow human beings. We need to help, heal, love, and teach everyone we possibly can. There are so many lost souls out there. Reach out especially to those who are capable of growing and becoming more conscious, because they will be able to reach out to others. Communicate to others what is happening on this planet and help to give form to what they already know and sense.
The third area of concern involves the creation of new visions. Vision creates reality and we need to massively re-envision our current reality. As we approach the Singularity the interactivity and interdependence of vision and external reality will exponentiate. Visions are the seeds being planted in the fertile, chaotic, alchemical field of destabilizing reality. We need to plant seeds that will grow, seeds that have a germ of love and imaginative brilliance that can flower in the world to come.
The sickness of our present world is the direct result of a sickness in our vision. We need to break out of the self-fulfilling hopeless visions of the world. In Star Trek mythology, prospective Federation captains are tested in sophisticated simulators with a no-win scenario called the “Kobayashi Maru,” a tactically impossible situation where every possible strategy and series of actions will fail. Captain Kirk’s response when he was tested by the Kobayashi Maru simulation for the third time was to reject the no-win scenario. He did this by reprogramming the simulation computer. That’s exactly what we need to do. We need to reprogram the simulation computer. We need to assert ourselves as reality transformers—that’s what the human species has always been about. Reject the no-win scenario and create new visions.
Dreams, films and fantasy fiction are of essential significance. Don’t let deepening practical problems distract you from the centrality of vision. Visioning is not a leisure time activity; it is the core of what’s happening. Remembering, interpreting, and experimenting with your dreams are crucial tasks. Lucid dreaming, becoming aware that you are dreaming within a dream, has a particular evolutionary significance as it bridges the realms of waking and dreaming life. Great works of subcreative fantasy fiction like Tolkien’s Ring Trilogy and Frank Herbert’s Dune books are of great value because they allow us to enter highly differentiated alternative realities. Subcreation, being able to create your own alternative realities, may be the key ability needed as we approach, enter and emerge from the Singularity.
Taking Responsibility for a Precarious Experiment
There is reason to face the approaching Singularity with a certain optimism, but there is also reason to respect the power of darkness and the precariousness of many living processes. A very wise rabbi once told me that it is written in the Talmud that before God created the earth that he created numerous other worlds as experiments. Each of these previous worlds turned out badly in some way and was destroyed. Perhaps, this rabbi suggested, our world too is just one more experiment and perhaps it will also be destroyed. But even so, he continued, our actions still have an eternal significance.
Viewing our situation as a precarious experiment whose future is largely unformed may be the vantage necessary for us to take sufficient conscious responsibility for our actions. Each one of us is a decisive variable in the equation. So as you enter and travel through the strange wilderness of a new millennium, consider the possibility of striving to be a Warrior. In The Way of the Warrior I defined a Warrior with a capital “W” as, “…someone who strives to live alertly, intelligently, attuned to the moment in order to serve life affirming transpersonal values.” From a Warrior’s stance, it doesn’t matter that much whether the event horizon we are hurtling toward is personal death or the eschaton of the species, our moment by moment duty remains the same—to act with integrity, compassion and precision, the stance I call “existential impeccability.”
Consider embarking on a quest to bring love and understanding to the difficult evolutionary process you’ve incarnated in. Expect the unexpected and follow the path with heart.
Epilogue—-Genevieve’s Dreams about the Singularity Archetype
An hour or so after I finished my extensive 2009 revision of this document I received two dreams sent to me via email from a friend, Genevieve, a woman in her mid-twenties, a successful software engineer. These dreams seem to me like an epilogue sent by the collective conscious, an update on the Singularity Archetype.
Genevieve has had a long-term interest in the paranormal, exposure to writings about Mayan prophecy, and has also read a number of my writings. From one point of view, she could be viewed as a hopelessly contaminated dreamer of the Singularity Archetype because she has so much waking life influence from related material. There are a few reasons why I don’t think this disqualifies Genevieve. One is that if we disqualify her, then we would also be disqualifying ourselves. Any reader who has read this far has heard about the Singularity Archetype and would similarly have to disqualify any related dreams that they might have. Also, from the contamination point of view, every dreamer is disqualified, because everyone has been exposed to and influenced by at least one form of apocalyptisism. The dominant forms of apocalyptic influence are: the grim ecological point of view, religious fundamentalism, the dystopian science-fiction view and New Age prophecy. Unless you’ve grown up off planet, the likelihood is that you have been influenced, in one way or another, by all of the above.
Another reason for including Genevieve’s dreams is that waking consciousness is usually not in control of the dreamtime. Dreams often confound waking consciousness. Jung believed that dreams had a compensatory function—they compensated for defects in the waking attitude. Whatever you needed to be more aware of in the waking life will make an appearance in a dream.
Also, dream interpretation is always highly subjective. One human psyche is interpreting the artifact of another human psyche, or of its own psyche, and that’s as subjective as it gets. Subjectivity is the baseline for all dream interpretation. I agree with Jeremy Taylor’s idea of “projective dream work,” which begins with the premise that all dream interpretation is projection. In projective dream work, every interpretation begins with the acknowledgement, “If this were my dream. . .” The interpreter will often narrate parts of the dream in the first person as a further acknowledgment that what they are interpreting is their own experience of the dream.
Subjective material is too valuable to exclude from consideration. If we acknowledge the subjectivity of our point of view, and attempt to discern things as rigorously as we can, we may gain priceless insights by looking into the subjective. Acknowledging the subjective is not the same as being a relativist, it does not mean that every point view is merely the conditioned product of shifting cultural context. Looking into subjective material means that we could very well be fooled, deceived and deluded, but it does not exclude the possibility that we may also discern crucial truths. And many of those crucial truths are never going to be accessible to the person who thinks they can exclude subjectivity from their worldview. They will also not be available to the person who is not discerning in their relation to subjective material. If you are credulous, literalist, absolutist, or just plain sloppy in your approach to subjective material, it is very likely to swallow you whole. My assumption is that you, the reader, are skeptical, and that you are examining my speculative thoughts, and everyone’s speculative thoughts, from your inner truth sense and discerning point of view.
Finally, I’m including Genevieve’s dreams because they arrived at a time that seemed synchronistic, about an hour or so after I thought I had finished my revision of this document. It was as if a force outside of me were insisting on an epilogue.
RAY OF LIGHT (Genevieve’s title for the dream) January 5, 2009
“So first of all, I woke up at 3:23 this morning, no idea what awoke me, but I was having a boring dream about trying to match items from an Avon catalog that I had picked out the night before…
I could not fall back asleep for some time… but finally did, then had this crazy dream:
I was in my bedroom where I grew up… I think in the dream, my boyfriend was with me… but I looked out the window, it was nighttime, and I saw all this crazy shit going on in the sky. Looked like a meteor shower – orange lights streaking all over the place… I kept watching and then could see what looked like Saturn maybe? All huge…
Then I noticed that there were these Asian-looking people sitting outside my window. They didn’t seem to notice me, but some of the women were naked and had lots of tattoos covering their bodies. They looked tired. We ducked down, not really wanting them to see us.
I remember walking around the house trying to figure out what time it was, but all the clocks said different things. I think my boyfriend said it was 12—and I thought he meant 12 noon and that I was late for work. Still it was dark out and I couldn’t figure out what time it really was.
Then at some point after that, I looked out the window again, and there was this giant ray of light that shone directly on me. It was an immense amount of energy—and when I tried to talk, I couldn’t speak—I just made a sort of gagging sound. All of this dream seemed very real. I just sort of sat there, with my eyes closed, and absorbed the energy from the ray. My whole body felt tingly and energized—it was a really amazing feeling. It was like I knew it was updating my genetics, activating things in me. I just breathed deep and tried to relax—but could not speak.
After the ray released me, I found myself in a coffee shop with a bunch of people. It still seemed like nighttime. I started talking to the people and they told me about an experience they had just had that was totally like mine! They had also experienced the big ray of light and not being able to speak, etc.”
RAY OF LIGHT, INTERPRETED
“So first of all, I woke up at 3:23 this morning, no idea what awoke me, but I was having a boring dream about trying to match items from an Avon catalog that I had picked out the night before…”
Genevieve gives us the exact hour and minute that she wakes up. Three o’clock in the morning is traditionally considered the “witching hour.” The number 23 has many mystical associations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/23_Enigma). These mystical associations inspired a major Hollywood film, The Number 23, starring Jim Carrey, which was released in 2007. At this mystical time in the waking life, Genevieve wakes up from a dream that reflects and amplifies the mundane world where one gets immersed in everything an Avon catalog would represent—materialism, consumerism, the cosmetic approach that emphasizes the persona and the world of surfaces and appearances. It is as if, through the law of opposites, the mundane is needed to potentiate a revelation of the divine.
“I could not fall back asleep for some time… but finally did, then had this crazy dream:
I was in my bedroom where I grew up… I think in the dream, my boyfriend was with me… but I looked out the window, it was nighttime, and I saw all this crazy shit going on in the sky. Looked like a meteor shower— orange lights streaking all over the place… I kept watching and then could see what looked like Saturn maybe? All huge…”
Genevieve is in familiar circumstances but then she sees and experiences some anomalous events:
“Then I noticed that there were these Asian looking people sitting outside my window. They didn’t seem to notice me, but some of the women were naked and had lots of tattoos covering their bodies. They looked tired.”
I emailed Genevieve a question about this: “The tribal people are naked and tattooed—did they seem tribal or more like tattooed modern persons who were undressed? Did their tiredness seem to be from exertions, as if they were weary from a long hike, or was the tiredness more from temperament, like they were sluggish, low energy people. What’s your sense of the tiredness?”
Genevieve’s response: “They were more like tattooed modern persons who were undressed. Their tiredness seemed more from temperament, like they were low energy people, but possibly also from a long life of hard work that had worn them out.”
“We ducked down, not really wanting them to see us.”
Question emailed to Genevieve: “What were you anxious about happening if they saw you? Was it just out of an instinctive urge toward privacy or did you think they might be dangerous or solicit you as beggars or what?”
Genevieve’s response: “I think it was somewhat out of an instinctive urge toward privacy, but also because I thought they might be dangerous—and being directly outside my bedroom window, looking at us, I was sort of freaked out.”
“I remember walking around the house trying to figure out what time it was, but all the clocks said different things . . . I think my boyfriend said it was 12—and I thought he meant 12 noon and that I was late for work. Still it was dark out and I couldn’t figure out what time it really was.”
Linear time has been irrealized, but there is still the pull of the mundane and anxiety about being late for work. Time depends on perspective and her boyfriend apparently thinks it’s midnight, and Genevieve thinks it’s noon.
“Then at some point after that, I looked out the window again, and there was this giant ray of light that shone directly on me. It was an immense amount of energy—and when I tried to talk, I couldn’t speak—I just made a sort of gagging sound. All of this dream seemed very real. I just sort of sat there, with my eyes closed, and absorbed the energy from the ray. My whole body felt tingly and energized—it was a really amazing feeling. It was like I knew it was updating my genetics, activating things in me. I just breathed deep and tried to relax—but could not speak.”
The emphasis on not being able to speak is very interesting. We have already discussed nonverbal communication and a visual telepathy as key aspects of the Singularity Archetype. Although, the new means of communication is not clearly realized here, we do find that the old means of communication is shut down. Genevieve discovers that she is mute while her genetics are being updated by a ray of light. Apparently the evolutionary upgrade makes speech unnecessary.
“After the ray released me, I found myself in a coffee shop with a bunch of people. It still seemed like nighttime. I started talking to the people and they told me about an experience they had just had that was totally like mine! They had also experienced the big ray of light and not being able to speak, etc.”
That the other people had the parallel experience, even if Genevieve wasn’t aware of them while it was happening, suggests a communal telepathy as well as a global evolutionary metamorphosis.
Message from the Stars (Genevieve’s title) February 18, 2009
“Had another one of these dreams again last night. They are always very vivid, very intense, very colorful.
I was in what was supposedly my house and several of my friends were there, but in another room. It was nighttime, and dark enough out that I could see the stars well just by looking out my big picture window in the back of the house. I must have been looking at just the right moment, because suddenly, from the middle of the sky, the light started to get brighter, and then like a laser, a beam of light shot out of space and towards my right.
It seemed like it was very close, and that it had hit the ground. The sky was very lit up from this in amazing colors. I ran through the house to the front of the house, yelling to my friends what I had just seen. When I looked outside, it was striking right in front of my house, leaving a huge and deep gash in the front yard.
While the beam was striking right there, in front of my eyes, there were all sorts of visual messages I was receiving.
They depicted what felt like a warning. There were images of a cartoon devilish character, and what felt like destruction, but at the very end an image of a seedling, or of grass regrowing.
I felt like it was telling me that I need to meditate, that my very survival depends on it. I felt as if I didn’t take heed of this warning, I would not survive. I vowed to meditate more.
After the blast had concluded, we were looking at some art pieces that were on my wall. Apparently I had photographed them with a camera phone before the blast, and we could now compare them to what they looked like now. They were both reddish (like natural clay red) and made of something like a clay material. The first one had been a depiction of Jesus, or something like that, not the typical Jesus picture though, but more of a tribal depiction. The clay was now blemished as if from extreme heat, and bubbly on the surface.
There was another clay piece which depicted a Mayan god, and had before been in a somewhat peaceful pose. It was now taking a more active stance. A feather in its hand had transformed into a knife, ready to strike.
The atmosphere felt intense, and as I looked out to the sky again there were brilliant nebula clouds of colors forming, flashing and fading. All sorts of activity and it was brilliant. I noticed in the room where I was, were only some of my younger friends. Throughout the house there were two other rooms with older, and yet older groups of people. I tried to urge the younger of the two groups to come and see what was going on in the sky.
After sometime, maybe it was the next day, because it seemed light outside again, I went out to the front to examine the damage that had occurred to the yard. The yard was right up against a street, and the gash was the entire length of my house. It was only in front of my house—as if the message had been directed solely at me, however it was mostly parallel to the street. There was no grass, it was just like hardened dirt and there were all these mysterious shapes carved out of it. Each of the shapes seemed to be one of the parts of the messages I had felt I received.”
Message from the Stars, Interpreted
“While the beam was striking right there, in front of my eyes, there were all sorts of visual messages I was receiving.”
Now it becomes explicit that the beam of light includes visual telepathy. The beam is literally the “Logos Beheld” and, in particular, the Logos Beheld is the Singularity Archetype. (Listen to my MP3 entitled “Logos Beheld” for much more on this topic.)
“They depicted what felt like a warning. There were images of a cartoon devilish character, and what felt like destruction, but at the very end an image of a seedling, or of grass regrowing.”
Here we have a very concise description of the Singularity Archetype in a single sentence. We see the wing of Satan again, the devil, but it is cartoonish. The message seems to be that the singularity may seem sinister, but only from the childish ego-bound perspective. Still, there are warnings of a great destruction, but with the strong implication that this is necessary for rebirth.
“I felt like it was telling me that I need to meditate, that my very survival depends on it. I felt as if I didn’t take heed of this warning, I would not survive. I vowed to meditate more.”
In many apocalyptic visions and projections there are cataclysmic events in which a great many human souls are unsheathed from their bodies. For example, the extra-Biblical evangelical expectation of the Rapture involves an apocalypse where only the Christian elect are relieved of their imperiled mortal bodies and whisked away to heaven. A technological materialist like Ray Kurzweil may imagine an ecological apocalypse where only those who have been lucky enough to have their consciousness downloaded into a quantum computer survive. Essentially, the archetypal expectation is that only those able to transcend the corporeal body survive, and they do so because they have perfected their spirit body (or their “information body” if you are a salvation-via-technology singularity theorist). There is a very long tradition, in many spiritual disciplines, that only those who have learned to transcend their egos, especially through the practice of meditation, are sufficiently prepared to cross the event horizon of personal death, and we’ve already discussed that personal death parallels collective eschaton. Also, meditation is a practice highly related to the Logos Beheld idea that the evolutionary transformation will involve a sudden transition from verbal communication to visual telepathy because meditation is all about quieting the internal chatter, the psyche’s tendency to default into word-based thinking.
“After the blast had concluded, we were looking at some art pieces that were on my wall. Apparently I had photographed them with a camera phone before the blast, and we could now compare them to what they looked like now. They were both reddish (like natural clay red) and made of something like a clay material. The first one had been a depiction of Jesus, or something like that, not the typical Jesus picture though, but more of a tribal depiction. The clay was now blemished as if from extreme heat, and bubbly on the surface.”
Questions emailed to Genevieve: “Can you say more about the Jesus art piece? Did it look tribal before or only after? What does it mean that he looked tribal? Did he look more Semitic than the conventional Nordic Jesus? How was he dressed and exactly what did he look like? How did you feel about the changes to the art piece? Did it feel like it was partly ruined or that it had been altered in an interesting way or what?”
Genevieve’s response: “Well, it didn’t really look anything like Jesus at all. I guess I just knew in the dream that that was what it was. It was a grayish or reddish clay material, all one color, and it was textured. It always looked tribal—both before and after—and by tribal I mean that it looked like an Indian—a guy in a headband with very Mayan—like features. After the comet/star landed, the heat from it made the clay bubble, so the texture was no longer as smooth. I didn’t feel like it was ruined; I was just intrigued at what had happened to it, and the transformation felt somewhat symbolic—because there wasn’t any other heat damage anywhere else in the house that I recall.”
This mutated representation of Jesus is emblematic of the strange intermingling of prophetic traditions happening today. It seems to be a product of multicultural hybridization and it is messianic, but not necessarily in the way that any one tradition might anticipate. Also, unlike a static tradition, the emblem mutates with the cosmic trigger event. A possible implication is that this is a time where one static mythology no longer serves, but where there is a spontaneous eruption of mutating, hybridized mythologies. Genevieve, like so many today, is a cultural and ethnic hybrid, half Jewish/ half Catholic, and with no particular commitment to either of these Abrahamic faiths. She seems, like many open-minded seekers of this era, to be looking for insight from whatever fields—science, spirituality, paranormal studies—and from whatever cultures—Abrahamic, tribal, Mayan—that have relevance in an unprecedented time. These once very disparate elements hybridize, bubbling together in an alchemical cauldron. The signs of heating, especially since they are not observed elsewhere, indicate the imperative need for our prophetic traditions to be reheated and hybridized, to be returned to the kiln of the unconscious and reformed.
“There was another clay piece which depicted a Mayan god, and had before been in a somewhat peaceful pose. It was now taking a more active stance. A feather in its hand had transformed into a knife, ready to strike.”
Question emailed to Genevieve: “What feeling did you get from the change in the Mayan clay piece? Did it seem threatening and ominous or just different?”
Genevieve’s response: “It didn’t seem threatening, just different, perhaps a bit ominous.”
Mayan prophecy in particular seems activated and ready to be fulfilled.
“Throughout the house there were two other rooms with older, and yet older groups of people. I tried to urge the younger of the two to come and see what was going on in the sky.”
Question emailed to Genevieve: “What was the age range of each group? What did these people seem like? Did the two groups seem different besides their age?”
Genevieve’s response: “The age range of the ‘older’ group was probably mid 40s – 60s and the group of even older people was probably 65-80. They seemed like fairly normal people, although I recall some of them (in the ‘older’ group) seemed a little overweight. The older they were, the slower they seemed to be and respond. Like I said I was trying to urge the groups to come look at the sky, and the older they were the more reluctant they were to come. Those were the only apparent differences between the groups—that the younger group seemed less ‘stuck’.”
The ages of the two groups may be both metaphorical and have something interesting to say about actual generations. Age may be a somewhat metaphorical representation of “stuckness” and of being hardened into obsolescent patterns of adaptation. Nonmetaphorically, it is certainly a general psychological truth that aging typically makes neurotic symptoms more rigid and sharply defined. People do tend to get more stuck in their ways as they age, not in every case, but as a general trend. But what is also interesting are the specific age ranges given for the two groups. A group that as of 2009 is in their mid 40s to 60s precisely defines the Baby Boomer Generation (usually thought of as those born 1945-1964). (Boomers, as a generation, were famously open to the cosmic, the unusual, the psychedelic, and the culturally exotic. There was a huge generation gap that existed between the boomers and the two preceding generations. Those who are 65-80 as of 2009 are called the “Silent Generation” and are thought to be a particularly conservative generation. They were too young to fight in World War Two and too old for the most part to participate in the revolutionary events of the Sixties. With the recent defeat of John McCain the Silent Generation became the first generation in U.S. history not to be represented by a president. It is interesting that in Genevieve’s dream they seem the most reluctant to be involved in revolutionary change. (For more on generational differences go to http://www.fourthturning.com/ )
“After sometime, maybe it was the next day, because it seemed light outside again, I went out to the front to examine the damage that had occurred to the yard. The yard was right up against a street, and the gash was the entire length of my house. It was only in front of my house – as if the message had been directed solely at me, however it was mostly parallel to the street. There was no grass, it was just like hardened dirt and there were all these mysterious shapes carved out of it. Each of the shapes seemed to be one of the parts of the messages I had felt I received.”
There could be an instructive message here about the nature of archetypal and prophetic visions. It feels like the message is directed solely to her, but it also runs parallels to the street. Running parallel to the street suggests that the message is relevant to the neighbors and therefore the collective in general. Archetypal/prophetic visions feel particularly directed toward the individual psyche that experiences them, and yet they also parallel the collective psyche. The implication is that Genevieve’s dreams may contain meanings that parallel the evolutionary predicament of our species.
See Thoughts on Jung.
See A Guide to the Perplexed Interdimensional Traveler for more on the hierarchy of psychic functions.
To read the paper that resulted a few months later from this encounter, Archetypes of a New Evolution ( 1978), go to:http://zaporacle.com/textpattern/article/102/archetypes-of-a-new-evolution.
For much more on androgyny and evolution, see: Casting Precious Into the Cracks of Doom—–Androgyny, Alchemy, Evolution and the One Ring.
For more on this theme, see on A Guide to the Perplexed Interdimensional Traveler (the mini online version) and Tolkien and the Developmental Need for Evil.