History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Rhyme and reason

April 1st, 2009 · No Comments

A short selection from World History And The Eonic Effect dealing with the place of aesthetics next to dynamics:
6.2.2 Rhyme and Reason: Aesthetic Dynamics

We have a little secret up our sleeve, data that doesn’t lie: follow the course of classical music as the transition rushes toward its divide, and note the climax in the period around Mozart and Beethoven, and then a nineteenth century afterburner phase, soon waning, Verdi, Puccini, and gone. The correlation isn’t just a rough measure, it is perfect, down to the decade. This makes life difficult for proponents of the economic interpretation of history.
Thus, is our prime mover technological? Economic? The rise of Liberty? Religious evolution? Humanism, and Enlightened rationality? All around creativity? Here’s a question, if Protestantism can be associated with capitalism, can Tragedy be associated with Revolution? Is it a coincidence that Shakespeare invents the Blank Verse Guillotine a generation before the English Civil War? Can’t we work Hamlet into historical theory? True, Shakespeare was still devoted to the divine right of kings, but perhaps this is a case of Hegelian ‘immanent critique’. Historical sociology has made a decision to be blindly obedient to one-dimensional causality. But the effects show a total spectrum. The appearance at this time of a man like Shakespeare, if we thought this more than an isolated chance, should swiftly disabuse us of any illusions art is an epiphenomenon. The modern also starts with a rash of Bible translators, produces a complex field of literature and music.

    Tragedy: a double eonic emergent? The toughest enigma of the eonic sequence is this double recursion of the ‘tragic genre’ twice in a row in the eonic mainline. The rejected design argument suddenly rushes out of the woodwork again, only to fail, leaving us to wonder at a system with such detailed potential in the realm of ‘aesthetic dynamics’.

Aesthetic dynamics The brilliant work of Newton needs a new science, the dynamics of aesthetic emergentism across world history. Easy to invent such a science, but the first theorem is a stumbling block.
So let us throw a monkey wrench into reductionist theories by asking if the rise of classical music, and opera, is another ‘relative transform’ and why it climaxes at the modern divide, then quickly runs out of steam by the end of the nineteenth century. In modern times, the case of opera, and its evolution, is one of the most interesting details of the whole period, and a real theory breaker. In the search for the ‘causes’ of this modernism, passing through the political, diplomatic, technological, philosophic, and religious factors, it remains a sociological orphan, and yet appears in perfect concert with the most creative period of the whole phenomenon, emerging in the late sixteenth century, rising to new heights in the last part of the eighteenth, climaxing in the nineteenth, and then passing away, from Verdi, to Puccini, to nothing. It is time to demand theories of history to acknowledge, if not explain, such phenomena. We are in the presence of the ‘two line proof’ most theories of development are incorrect in their basic conceptions. What theory will avail of these strange facts? Enter Hamlet, on the way to the virtual Richard the Fourth, from the notorious Third, the first of our tadpole modern types.
In the confusion of ‘causal’ theories, the only methodology that can prefigure the problem is the Kantian, with its Newtonian idée fixe splitting in mysterious elegance into moral and aesthetic components. The evidence of general culture is routinely excluded from more hardheaded analysis, but Shakespeare, Milton, Cervantes, Racine, the reappearance of Tragic Drama, the new opera and music, much more, emphatically contribute their element to an insight into what is happening.
Broadly, the rise or crystallization of new national literatures so swiftly in independent parallel emergence and in a fashion later generations cannot imitate is a ‘miner’s canary’ here. In this case again the resemblance, as we can show, to the classical Hellenic period is too close to be coincidence. In any case, this esthetic dimension is a kind of checkmate to standard historical sociology. It is hardly an accident that a great era of philosophy cusps at the point of Kant’s Critique of Judgment, with its curious collation of another critique of teleological judgments. Our system seems to be installing all the necessary software for an age to come. We should perhaps screw up our courage and declare Kant, beside Hegel, more evidence of eonic effects. As in his life, so in his appearance one must wonder at his historical timing.

Renaissances and ‘The’ Renaissance, The Aesthetic State We see a radical discontinuity at the rough boundary 1500 and yet there seems to a slight discrepancy with an earlier Renaissance. Are we actually seeing continuity here rather than discontinuity? What are we up to? We have fairly well answered this, in fact, but the difficulty does seem to nag at our sense of what is going on. Actually, we never solve this problem fully, and don’t need to. Our long-range pattern shows that the transition comes after the Renaissance, and the in-between can do whatever it wants. We simply looked at the correlation of our eonic sequence with the data of world history. We found a strong correlation, but the question of the Renaissance didn’t enter the picture. A close look shows the soundness of our reasoning, and the unexpected discovery that continuity thinking has confused us. No fundamental change has really occurred in the broad scope of social variables that we see in the modern period. The Renaissance can barely recover the heights of antiquity. It is not until the seventeenth century that a definite progression is visible, and the Battle of the Ancients and Moderns that breaks almost the moment this happens tokens the better insight of the people at the time who had never heard of the Renaissance, but could see they were passing beyond antiquity. Our model has a different potential from those used for flat history. As the complexity of our model increases two or more separate streams of development are possible. One way we can see the difference is that while the idea of aesthetics can enter history as ‘free action’ the processing of large-scale aesthetic motions and movements is beyond individuals and shows clear eonic determination. It is like our question of ‘technosequence’. Art has passed into general culture. Every generation produces great art. That leaves us to scrounge for ‘relative transforms’ here. Instead we see in the rise of the modern the birth of aesthetics, and something altogether novel, the idea of the ‘aesthetic state’, as a deliberate attempt to mimic nature’s action in the Greek Archaic.
Thus, the resolution lies in extending the scale of the analysis to include the whole of world history. Then we will see ‘renaissances’ occurring in the earlier period between the rise of Sumer and the Axial Age. They keep happening, there is even a bit of a renaissance as Rome declines and yet keeps going on and on. They keep happening! We will also see thus that we can easily confuse ‘free action’ and ‘eonic determination’. Please note that in our type of model two or more separate streams of evolution are possible, and that the mideonic worlds are showing increasing development under their own steam. The Renaissance fails to show the characteristic total transformation that we see later in the modern transition.
The issue of the Renaissance is often cast in terms of art. But this is misleading as a measure of cultural evolution—or is it? The point is that the fine arts show great continuity in every generation and we tend not to see the same ‘relative transformation’ effect that we see in endeavors that are not yet natural to man, a good example and exception being composition of the ‘tragedy’, which is very rare. Our system gives a fairly remarkable example just here as to the distinction of ‘eonic transition’ and ‘renaissance’. The idea that culture is crucial to evolution has an exemplar in the idea of the ‘aesthetic state’. As one author here notes,
The Aesthetic State The idea of an aesthetic state traces back to the impression conveyed primarily by one Hellenic ‘city-state’ or polis, the Athens of 480-429 B.C., that its political and social institutions were ruled by an agglomerate of forces for which the closest modern parallels belong to the esthetic sphere. The ultimate reason for this impression is the ubiquity of Homer for the culture formations of classical Athens, directly through the influence of his example on Athenian creative life from tragedy to dialectic. Homer deserves to be called the unique poetic ‘prophet’ for the religions of the Athenians, and, to this degree, their religion is a Kunstreligion or ‘religion of art’ because it stemmed from a legislation made possible primarily through a ‘poetic’ mind…The Athenian experiment in an esthetic state was defeated by various factors…Only as late as the civic humanism of early Renaissance Florence was its basic principle retrieved.
As we study Archaic Greece we see the poignancy of this example of the Greek ‘aesthetic state’ in the direct mainline of the eonic sequence. But it is thus true that the Renaissance seems to wish to revive all this. Doesn’t work, for a reason not a first quite clear. But reviving the past is not (necessarily) what the eonic system is up to. And one should now take a close look at the later rise of the modern to see how it handles the idea of the aesthetic state. Quite surprising. We have modern ‘aesthetics’ (re-)born in the transition, a Critique of Judgment and a Romantic Movement appearing at our divide. But everything is different in this case, for our system is about another issue, even as the uncanny resurfacing of the idea takes place. Here we have invaluable help, just at our divide, from the eagle-eyed Hegel, who rises to note, ‘what happened to the aesthetic state?’ Thence, wringing his hands, and poring over the texts of Stuart and Smith resigns himself to the doctrines of Right applied to ‘states of dross’, civil society in its less than aesthetic modes. The point is that our eonic system never repeats itself, and is spawning something broader than a repetition of its previous outcomes. But the slow passage of the idea of the ‘aesthetic state’ into an almost technological issue is a wild card of modern thinking, unable to match the eonic determination of the Greek Archaic.

Tags: selections · World History and The Eonic Effect

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