A “Visionary Geography”

THUS, IN SOPHIANIC mystical philosophy, the Earth is both a vision and geography, indeed, a visionary geography.

To perceive the soul of the earth is to perceive one’s own soul. As Corbin states:

“We can therefore say this: the Imago Terrae, while it is the organ of perception itself, also signifies those aspects and figures of the Earth that are perceived, no longer simply by the senses nor as sensory empirical data, but by the archetype-Image, the Image a priori of the soul itself. The Earth is then a vision, and geography a visionary geography. Hence it is the Image of itself and its own Image that the soul rediscovers and meets.”[i]

In other words and to reiterate, the:

“[P]erception of the Sophianic mystery of the Earth, of geosophy, obviously cannot take place in the framework of positive geography. It presupposes a visionary geography, what has been rightly called a “landscape of Xvarnah”… [This landscape] is not spread over profane, previously determined space, but is concentrated or concentrates a sacred space… and this space does not need to be situated, since it is of itself situative.”[ii]

The psyche and the landscape have become one.

“Geographical features, mountains for instance, are here no longer merely physical features; they have a significance for the soul; they are psycho-cosmic aspects. The events that take place there consist in the very seeing of these aspects; they are psychic events.”[iii]

In a visionary geography plants, water, mountains are transmuted into symbols. The mountain tops of the Earth are the mountain tops of the soul. “The mountain tops of the Earth of visions are the mountain tops of the soul. The two archetypal Images, the Imago Terrae and the Imago Animae, correspond to one another: the mountain of visions is the psycho-cosmic mountain.”[iv]

The hierophanies of visionary geography offers an example of a case of psycho-geography unlike any other.[v] Corbin points out that visionary geography creates a mental iconography that offers Spenta Armaiti, the Sophia and Feminine Angel of the Earth support for meditation on what we previously called geosophy – the Earth in its spiritual form, – and is inseparable from eschatology (theology concerned with the end of the world) because its function is “essentially to prepare the birth of the earthly human being to his celestial “I,” which is Daena, the daughter of Spenta Armaiti-Sophia”.[vi]

To recognise oneself as a son or daughter of the Spiritual Earth (or Angel of the Earth) is to have one’s soul awakened to consciousness of a celestial kinship. It is to undertake in one’s own being Sophianity, Sophia. By assuming this nature the human being is in a true sense the child of the Earth Angel and is so able to have a mental vision of her.[vii]

One is no longer a person “imprisoned between the boundaries of terrestrial birth and death, but a human being in his totality, including the past of his pre-existence and the future of his superexistence”.[viii]

Corbin maintains that “the active Imagination of the celestial Earth, is not a “fantasy”; it is a power capable of “substantiating” and “vivifying”.[ix]

As we have seen, many explorers of the natural world and the psyche, postmodern ecologists, mountaineers and lovers of the natural Earth would agree, that contact with the Earth does have a substantiating and vivifying effect and that the Earth does seem to have a ‘soul’ with which we can become attuned ‘in soul’.

For example John Bierman, in his biography of Laszlo Almasy, writes of Almasy’s consuming passion for the desert where “Almasy believed, one could escape the tensions and temptations of modern living and find one’s real self. There, body and soul were cleansed and man felt ‘nearer to the Creator’… ‘The desert is terrible and it is merciless,’ he would write, ‘but to the desert all who once have known it must return’ ”.[x]

Opening up of Soul

DEVOTION TO THE SPIRITUAL EARTH tends to cause the opening up of the anima, the secret presence of the Eternal feminine in man – Sophianic Wisdom.[xi] Sophia is associated with both the Anima and the Soul – the opening up of consciousness and hence Wisdom. Sophia as Soul and Anima, preceding male and female differentiation, is the imaginative consciousness in the form of an archetypal feminine being:

“[E]ternally Feminine, preceding even terrestrial woman because preceding the differentiation of male and female in the terrestrial world, just as the supracelestial Earth rules over all the Earths, celestial and terrestrial, and exists before them. Fatima-Sophia is in fact the Soul: the Soul of creation, the Soul of each creature, that is, the constitutive part of the human being that appears essentially to the imaginative consciousness in the form of a feminine being, Anima. She is the eternally feminine in man, and that is why she is the archetype of the heavenly Earth; she is both paradise and intuition into it…”[xii]

A “Psychological Geography”

IN 1953, HENRY CORBIN argued for a psychological geography, a new line of study in which the “intention is to discover the psychological factors that come into play in the conformation given to a landscape”. Thus:

“Out of geographical studies, a new line of study, described as psychological geography, has developed in our day: The intention is to discover the psychological factors that come to play in the conformation given to a landscape. The phenomenological presupposition implicit in research of this kind is that the essential functions of the soul, the psyche, include the projection of a nature, a physis; conversely, each physical structure discloses the mode of psycho-spiritual activity that brings it into operation. In this sense, the categories of the sacredness “which possess the soul” can be recognized in the landscape with which it surrounds itself and in which it shapes its habitat, whether by projecting the vision on an ideal iconography, or by attempting to inscribe and reproduce a model of the vision on the actual earthly ground.”[xiii]

Corbin concludes: “This is why each of the hierophanies of our visionary geography offers an example of a case of psycho-geography unlike any other”.[xiv]

We are defined by our landscapes. The categories of sacredness “which possess the soul” can be recognized in the archetypal landscape(s) with which it surrounds itself. This is the essence of the inner Sophianic Wisdom Archetype – within the Postmodern Ecological Landscape.

Perhaps no other postmodernist ecological writer, explorer of the psyche and lover of the natural world, gives a better lyrical working illustration of the Sophia Wisdom Archetype (Anima Mundi/World Soul and Mundus Imaginalis) – the inner landscape perception within the Postmodern Ecological Landscape in our time, than does Barry Lopez in this passage from Arctic Dreams:

“I bowed. I bowed to what knows no deliberating legislature or parliament, no religion, no competing theories of economics, an expression of allegiance with the mystery of life. I looked out over the Bering Sea and brought my hands folded to the breast of my parka and bowed from the waist deeply toward the north, that great strait filled with life, the ice and the water. I held the bow to the pale sulphur sky at the northern rim of the earth. I held the bow until my back ached, and my mind was emptied of its categories and designs, its plans and speculations. I bowed before the simple evidence of the moment in my life in a tangible place on the earth that was beautiful. When I stood I thought I glimpsed my own desire. The landscape and the animals were like something found at the end of a dream. The edges of the real landscape became one with the edges of something I had dreamed. But what I had dreamed was only a pattern, some beautiful pattern of light. The continuous work of the imagination, I thought, to bring what is actual together with what is dreamed is an expression of human evolution.”[xv]

[i] Ibid, 29-30.
[ii] Ibid, 16.
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] Ibid, 35.
[v] Ibid, 30. Note: Hierophany and hierophanies is from the Greek root ‘hieros’ meaning “sacred” or “ holy” sign; “to reveal” or “ to bring to light”; signifies a manifestation of the sacred.
[vi] Ibid, 36.
[vii] Ibid, 37.
[viii] Ibid, 36.
[ix] Ibid, 40.
[x] John Bierman, The Secret Life of Laszlo Almasy – The Real English Patient (London: Viking, 2004) 38.
[xi] Corbin (1989) Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth, 40.
[xii] Ibid, 66.
[xiii] Ibid, 30.
[xiv] Ibid.
[xv] Lopez (1988) Arctic Dreams, 414.

Archetypes and Synchronicity

PAULI SHOWED THAT BENEATH MATTER, abstract pattern determines the behaviour of matter in a noncausal way.[i]

The ‘theory of synchronicity’ originally grew out of Jung’s psychotherapeutic experiences and his theory of archetypal symbols, as well as meanings in alchemy. While Jung had talked about “synchronicism’ as early as 1929, in particular with regard to Eastern philosophy and the I-Ching, it was thanks to the new quantum physics, particularly Heisenberg’s ‘principle of uncertainty’ and Pauli’s ‘exclusion principle’ that the theory could be expanded further with new scientific plausibility.[ii]

In collaboration with Pauli, Jung explored the question of hidden symmetry within the universe from the perspectives of both physics and psychology and published his ideas on synchronicity.[iii]

SYNCHRONICITY IS DESCRIBED variously as “the coincidence in time of two or more causally unrelated events which have the same or similar meaning” and “acausal parallelisms”.[iv] As with archetypes, essential to synchronicity is meaning.

Jung’s position was that while causal explanations of natural events, inherited from the modern scientific view, are valid for explaining much of what occurs in nature and experience, they are insufficient to explain all.[v] Phenomena exist which “cannot be explained causally unless one permits oneself the most fantastic ad hoc hypotheses”.[vi] As Cosgrove states:

“Jung’s position would find some agreement from scientific ‘realists’ and critics like Paul Feyerabend. Relativity theory indicates that space and time may be reduced to zero under certain conditions where, logically, linear causality becomes impossible. It collapses distinctions between being and becoming. Only an enduring unity, or an inexplicable discontinuity make sense under these conditions, description becomes purely contextual. To accept this unity may render us silent. But characteristically humans seek to create meaning and do so through metaphor. The metaphors of synchronicity are those of harmony and correspondence… This principle of meaning cannot be grasped through empirical observation or measurement, but rather apprehended phenomenologically, below the intellectual level of formal science.”[vii]

Charles Card has argued that if quantum mechanics led to a revolution in physics, it is a revolution not yet completed. There is the mystery of non-locality at its heart – in other words the phenomenon where measurements made at the microscopic level refute local realism and are independent of our description of how nature operates. This may entail deeper and more fundamental changes to our scientific weltbild, world view, than those already taken place. Card concludes that quantum non-locality “is the most dramatic indication of the possibility of archetypal order in quantum phenomena”.[viii]

Archetypal Holographic Universe

THE ‘HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE’ idea, or holographic model, has also been suggested as a mechanism for explaining the existence of archetypes.[ix] Theoretical physicist David Bohm argues that behind the quantum lies an even deeper reality which he called the implicate order, which causes apparently random quantum processes to unfold as they do. The implicate order is “enfolded” in the explicate order or manifest reality detectable at the quantum level and the level of everyday experiences. Interestingly, de Quincey draws links between the theory of Bohm and Jung:

“Like Bohm, Carl Jung proposed that below the conscious mind lies the unconscious psyche, and that below causal matter lies the realm of indeterminate quantum events. Deeper still, below both the level of unconscious psyche and quantum events, lies the realm of a-causal archetypes. Jung called it the “unus mundus,” an indivisible continuum of “psychoid” events. (“Psychoid” means of the nature of both psyche and matter). The archetypes can never be known directly; they can only be inferred from their effects on the conscious psyche (eg. in dreams via the unconscious) and on material objects (eg. patterning of physical processes via quantum events).”[x]

Evidence from psychiatrist Stanislav Grof indicates that archetypal images can be modelled by the holographic idea; that holography’s success at modeling many different aspects of the archetypal experience suggests that there is a deep link between holographic processes and the way archetypes are produced; and that evidence of a hidden, holographic order surfaces virtually every time one experiences a nonordinary state of consciousness.[xi]

Holist physicist, philosopher and author F. David Peat, states that Pauli was fascinated with the idea that just as Jung had identified the objective element within the collective psyche, physics would have to come to terms with the subjective aspects of matter, which he termed “the irrational”.[xii] Pauli found this dualism between objective and subjective especially significant and indicative that there was a much deeper connection between mind and matter:

“Below the everyday appearances of matter, in which the scientist acts as an impartial observer, are encountered quantum processes in which observer and observed are intimately linked. Below this level, Heisenberg and others have hinted, there may no longer exist a fundamental ground of matter but, rather, fundamental symmetries and ordering principles.”[xiii]

At their deepest, the subjective layers of matter and the objective layers of the mind are hidden from direct perception. Their existence can only be inferred from their impacts at higher levels. It is possible that below quantum phenomena there is a new, nonmaterial level of symmetry. Could it be, asks Peat, that below the collective unconsciousness there is something beyond mind; “a fundamental dynamic ordering perhaps? … (whereby) … At such a level the division between mind and matter would no longer apply and the domain of creative ordering and objective intelligence would have their ground”.[xiv]

Recent support for Jung’s theory of archetypes has come from Christopher Isham, a theoretical physicist at Imperial College London, whose main research interests are quantum gravity and foundational studies in quantum theory. He has linked space and time and the development in quantum theory of the space-time continuum with progress in philosophical and psychological thought from Plato to Kant to Jung.[xv]

‘Emergence Theory’ which involves the shift away from materialist, mechanistic reductionism that has dominated the modernist scientific world view, towards mental causation which is not reducible to physical causation, also gives further support for archetypal theory.[xvi] Also, Christopher Hauke argues that while the writing of Jung and post-Jungians has been ignored as “anachronistic”, “archaic” and “mystic”, it is more relevant now than ever before. Not only is it a response to modernity, it offers a critique of modernity and Enlightenment values which brings it into line with postmodernism.[xvii] As has been shown, postmodernism is inherent to both quantum physics and archetypal epistemology

[i] Peat (1988) Synchronicity, 17.
[ii] Ibid, 22.
[iii] Ibid, 34.
[iv] Ibid, 23.
[v] Denis Cosgrove, ‘Environmental Thought and Action: Pre-modern and Post-modern’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, vol. 15 (1990), 352.
[vi] Ibid, 352. Cf. C.G. Jung, Synchronicity – An Acausal Connecting Principle (Princeton, N.J., 1973).
[vii] Ibid.
[viii] Charles R. Card, ‘The Emergence of Archetypes in Present-Day Science and its Significance for a Contemporary Philosophy of Nature’, 14.
[ix] Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe (London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1996).
[x] Christian de Quincey, ‘Deep Spirit: Quantum Consciousness?’, 5.
[xi] Talbot (1996) The Holographic Universe, 71; Cf. Stanislav Grof, Beyond the Brain (Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press, 1985).
[xii] Peat, ‘Time, Synchronicity and Evolution’, 3. http://www.fdavidpeast.com/biography/essays/text/saur.txt.
[xiii] Peat (1988) Synchronicity, 103.
[xiv] Ibid, 104.
[xv] See Christopher Isham, ‘Space and Time at the Edge of Mind’, Royal College of Psychiatrists: http://www.repsych.ac.uk/college/specialinterestgroups/spirituality/publications/newsletter”/
[xvi] See Philip Clayton and Paul Davies, The Re-Emergence of Emergence – The Emergentist Hypothesis from Science to Religion (Oxford University Press, 2006).
[xvii] Christopher Hauke, Jung and the Postmodern – The Interpretation of Realities (Routledge, London, 2000).

God-Father Clash

THE TRANSCENDENCE OF the Western monotheistic Heavenly-God-Father Archetype over the universal Mother Earth Archetype was a clash of archetypes in history and it is a clash of archetypes which continues to this day.[i] This clash brought forth a new Anthropocentric Landscape.

It also brought forth a new concept of man (made in the image of the God-Father) and a new development in man’s psyche with his separation from the Mother Earth and the ascendance of the Ego and Hero components of the personality.

The clash between the transcendent God-Father and Mother Earth is seen in the anguish of indigenous peoples, in the subjugation of women and the exploitation of nature

It is evidenced in the conflicted psyches of individuals and in the historical warring of religious fundamentalist cultures and factions dominated by the archetype of a monotheistic God-Father who is exclusivist, jealous and warlike and who bestows his favours on ‘the chosen’.

Supplanting Mother

NO ONE KNOWS FOR SURE when men started to challenge the power of the Goddess and set about a long history of subjugation of women, desecration of temples, and destruction of those animals that had been sacred to her. The recorded appearance of god-worshipping males – variously called Indo-Europeans, Indo-Aryans, and Aryans – in the Middle East some 6,000 years ago suggests older beginnings since they are said to have come from north of the Caucasus.[ii]

Lithuanian-American archaeologist, Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994) suggests that it was the Indo-European incursion of warlike nomadic tribes, worshippers of the masculine sky gods, that replaced the matracentric cultures of Old Europe with an “autocratic warrior” society. They claimed for themselves the virtues of “civilization”. However prior to their conquest there had been a “civilization of the goddess” marked by peace and high art and under the spell of the original version of Gaia.[iii] The clash of archetypes is illustrated in epic myths, for example, Marduk, the great male deity, who ousts Ti’ amat from power and tears her body to shreds in order to construct a new world of warlords and patriarchal masters more to his liking:

“In the Book of Genesis (first millenium BC), a document that codifies in writing many strands of older oral traditions, the intent to suppress the Great Mother (Ishtar, Inanna, Ti’amat etc.) is very clear. Some practices of her cult are openly condemned as they clash with the monotheistic, male tradition of the Hebrews. Mostly they are omitted. An earlier version of the Genesis creation myth attributes a spirit of rebellion to the first woman, Lilith. In the later version, which we all know, Lilith is replaced by Eve (Gen. 1:26)… born of Adam’s rib and made submissive to him in another (Gen. 2:23) … (Thus) … Genesis presents the view that God created everything and gave it to man to dominate. The degrees of his domination range from benevolent stewardship, to conquest (Gen.1:28) and outright oppression.”[iv]

Heavenly God-Father

[i] What we are to talk about is not the multi-God archetypal concepts of the ‘Wisdom Stream’ Gnostics, mystics or heretics. For them God was a supra-gender, androgynous, universal pantheistic force to be explored and revealed within the psyche. Nor are we talking of the God Father archetypal concepts of the polytheistic pagans, primal peoples or early matriarchal religions. For them the Sky God Father is just one in a pantheon of equally powerful Gods. What we are talking about is the exclusivist Heavenly God-Father Archetype of the monotheistic, great Western orthodox religions of Judaism, Old Testament fundamentalist Christianity and Islam.
[ii] Andree Collard and Joyce Contrucci, Rape of the Wild – Man’s Violence Against Animals and the Earth (Indiana University Press, 1989), 15.
[iii] Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), 236.
[iv] Collard and Contrucci (1992) Rape of the Wild, 16-17. Cf. Gen.1:28 which “presents the view that God created everything and gave it to man to dominate. The degrees of his domination range from benevolent stewardship, to conquest … and outright oppression”. (p.17).

The Celestial Earth – “subtle bodies of Light”

CORBIN DESCRIBES SOPHIA, the divine presence of wisdom for our world in an intermediate imaginal world – the Celestial Earth, as follows:

“Between the intellectual and the sensible… [is] a ‘spiritual corporeity’ which represents the Dwelling, the Divine Presence, for our world. This Dwelling is Wisdom itself, Sophia.”[i]

Sophia is “the imaginal place of the Divine Presence in our world”. Sophia as the Celestial Earth is typified in the Shi’ite gnosis by Fatima, “the Sophia of the Shi’ite theosophy and cosmology”.[ii] Thus Sophianity is for the human being to accede here and now to the Celestial Earth, to the world of Hurqalya, world of ‘celestial corporeity’, which is that of the subtle bodies of Light.[iii]

“the Soul of the Perceiver”

THE QUANTUM WORLD of nonmaterial symmetries and archetypes also requires new ways of envisioning the world, description and language.

The importance of the imagination and an inner non-physical reality behind our physical external world is understood by quantum physicists; in particular Wolfgang Pauli, F. David Peat and David Bohm.

Pauli argued that the psychologist and the physicist are engaged in a complimentary quest. Hence he advocated that the:

“[I]nvestigation of scientific knowledge directed outwards should be supplemented by an investigation of this knowledge directed inwards. The former process is directed to adjusting our knowledge to external objects; the latter should bring to light the archetypal images used in the creation of our scientific theories. Only by combining both these directions of research may complete understanding be obtained.”[iv]

Psychiatrist Anthony Stevens states: “The relationship between the physical world we perceive and our cognitive formulations concerning that world is predicated upon the fact that the soul of the perceiver and that which is recognised by perception are subject to an order thought to be objective.”[v]

Stevens notes that, for Pauli, “…the archetypes which order our perceptions and ideas are themselves the product of an objective order which transcends both the human mind and the external world.”[vi]


FOLLOWING ON from Pauli, quantum physicist F. David Peat has also called for changes in our language which apply to both ‘inscape’ and ‘landscape’. This postmodern language draws upon metaphor, allusion, ambiguity and values:

“[T]here can be no single explanation, theory or level within nature. We must seek complementary descriptions rather than the single, all-embracing, complete and logically consistent rational accounts which attempt to answer all questions and close all doors. We must seek to engage nature using all the richness that is possible within human language, by drawing upon metaphor, allusion and ambiguity in order to create coherent yet complementary accounts… the science of inscape and landscape requires a degree of creativity within its language, including the ability to deal with metaphor and ambiguity and to accommodate the qualities and values of our experience.”[vii]

By ‘inscape’ Peat is referring to the authentic voice, or inner-dwellingness of things and our experience of them; hence he argues … “By inscape I wish to suggest the inexhaustible nature of each human being, tree, rock, star and atom, and that there is no most fundamental level, no all embracing account or law of a perception or encounter. Rather one attempts to engage in the inner authenticity of the world”.[viii]

This is the ‘I-Thou’ poesis of the artist and Sophianic Wisdom. As in the Sophia Wisdom Archetype, where there is no dualism, Peat questions the fragmentation within our current (modernist) worldview between inner and outer and “the desire for an objective science which has no room for values, qualities and the nature of subjective experience”.[ix]

Implicate Order

DAVID BOHM has argued similarly that there is “no fundamental distinction between the processes of the imagination and perception”.[x] Bohm distinguishes between primary imagination, creative imagination and reflexive imagination. Thus, “the reality which you perceive is affected by your thought. Thought is working as a kind of imagination being infused into your perception. It becomes part of what you see. And that imagination is necessary”.[xi] According to Talbot, Bohm uses the idea of implicate order to echo the idea that:

“Every action starts from an intention in the implicate order. The imagination is already the creation of the form; it already has the intention and the germs of all the movements needed to carry it out. And it affects the body and so on, so that as creation takes place in that way from the subtler levels of the implicate order, it goes through them until it manifests in the explicate.”[xii]

In other words, in the implicate order, imagination and reality are ultimately indistinguishable.

[i] Henry Corbin, ‘Towards a Chart of the Imaginal’, Temenos 1 (1981), 30.
[ii] Ibid, 31.
[iii] Ibid, 32-33.
[iv] Wolfgang Pauli, ‘The influence of archetypal ideas on the scientific theories of Kepler’ in: C.G. Jung and W. Pauli, The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1955), 208.
[v] See Anthony Stevens, Archetype – A Natural History of the Self (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982), 74.
[vi] Anthony Stevens, ‘Thoughts on the Psychobiology of Religion and the Neurobiology of Archetypal Experience’, Zygon, v.21, no.1 (1986), 19.
[vii] F. David Peat, Synchronicity – The Bridge Between Matter and Mind (New York & London: Bantam Books, 1988), 6-7.
[viii] Ibid, 6.
[ix] Ibid.
[x] David Bohm, Thought as a System (London: Routledge, 1994), 151.
[xi] Ibid, 152.
[xii] Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe (London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1996), 84.

Man is the New Trickster God

MAN IS THE NEW TRICKSTER GOD and he plays at the edges of mind and matter, super-nature and the supernatural. Davis argues:

“The powerful aura that today’s advanced technologies cast does not derive solely from their novelty or their mystifying complexity; it also derives from their literal realization of the virtual projects willed by the wizards and alchemists of an earlier age. Magic is technology’s unconscious, its own arational spell. Our modern technological world is not nature, but augmented nature, super-nature, and the more intensely we probe its mutant edge of mind and matter, the more our disenchanted productions will find themselves wrestling with the rhetoric of the supernatural.”[i]

Old phantasms and metaphysical longings have not simply disappeared. The New Jerusalem, the futuristic image of heaven on earth is the myth of progress – hence via reason, science and technology we can perfect ourselves and society. This is the “secular offspring of Christianity’s millennialist drive”.[ii] As Davis notes “Technology is neither a devil nor an angel. But neither is it simply a ‘tool’, a neutral extension of some rock-solid human nature. Technology is a trickster”.[iii]

Thus is man the sorcerer, techno-wizard, magus and string-pulling master behind technology – with its images of soul, redemption, the demonic, the magical, the transcendent, the hypnotic and the alive. This is the new Trickster God.

Supramorality and Amorality

THE NEW ‘MORALITY’ in the Technological/Materialist Landscape is embodied by the Trickster Archetype. The moral law of the Heavenly God-Father Archetype in the Anthropocentric Landscape is superseded by a supramorality and an amorality. As Anthony Stevens has pointed out, traditional patriarchal values of law and order, discipline, self-control, responsibility, courage, patriotism, loyalty, obligation, authority and command are now seen as inimical to freedom and creativity.[iv]

In this new landscape agonies are seldom felt for – obedience to the God-Father’s law, perfectionism, sin, shame, guilt, divine and/or final judgment, entrance to heaven or hell.

In fact many would light-heartedly profess to prefer hell as more interesting than the traditional view of heaven. The conventional morality of monotheistic religion and the Heavenly God-Father’s Church, Synagogue or Mosque is no longer unquestioned.

THE MATURE CORPORATE CULTURE exemplifies the pervasive Trickster Archetype, within the Technological/Materialist Landscape and the Trickster amorality and ‘religion’. This is despite tricky public relations which would have us believe that corporations behave morally. The corporate executive is often frank, playful and sometimes gleeful, showing a full cognisance of his duplicity and Tricksterish amorality. Joel Bakan illustrates Trickster amorality and ‘religion’:

“I’m sucking on Satan’s pecker” is how Chris Hooper, a highly successful television ad director and voice-over artist, describes his work for the likes of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and other major corporations. Hooper says his job is to create “images that are trying to sell products to people that they don’t really need” which “encourage very sophomoric behavior, irresponsible, hedonistic, egotistical, narcissistic behavior.”[v]

Steve Kline, a communications expert who specializes in children’s culture states: “We are ‘producing kids as consumers’ … and becoming less good at creating ‘competent citizens…good, moral and virtuous human beings’.”[vi] And Marc Barry, who has worked for a quarter of the Fortune 500 companies and is a corporate competitive intelligence expert, self-described as “Essentially I am a spy” – comments that “There’s so much trickery and deception in my job that I don’t really want it in my private life”:

At work, Barry says, he is a predator engaged in morally dubious tasks. Corporations hire him to get information from other corporations: trade secrets, marketing plans, or whatever else might be useful to them. In his work, he lies, deceives, exploits, and cheats… For Barry, a regular day at the office is filled with venal actions and moral turpitude.[vii]

Anita roddick, the late founder of the Body Shop, shares the view that the corporate world is amoral and a “religion of maximizing profits. However, Roddick fought it and regretted it:

Roddick blames the “religion of maximizing profits” for business’s amorality, for forcing otherwise decent people to do indecent things: “Because it has to maximize its profits… everything is legitimate in the pursuit of that goal, everything… So using child labor or sweatshop labor or despoiling the environment… is legitimate in the maximizing of profit.[viii]

Robert Hare points out that executives acting as corporate operatives display many attitudes and actions which can be characterized as psychopathic.[ix] It goes without saying that the psychopathic characteristics of the corporation and its executives are also the worst, amoral characteristics of the Trickster.

A pragmatic, human-based morality, rather than a purportedly ‘divinely’ inspired law, guides man and woman in the Technological/Materialist Landscape. Where individuals do operate on a principled, altruistic, selfless level of moral development, it is because they choose this level of operation, not because they are compelled to by an external religious authority decreeing it.

Thus is ‘man’ finally superman and his/her morality, for better or worse, is often a supramorality and an amorality founded on individual freedom and creativity.

Personas and Masks – “We are what we Consume”

SEEMING-OVER-BEING; personas, masks, play, simulation, stimulation, entertainment, consumption, sensation, power, manipulation, trickery and the World of I-It are all features of the Trickster Archetype and the Technological/Materialist Landscape and characterise a supramorality and an amorality.

As a case in point ‘Seeming over being’ is found in the phenomenon of marketing over talent. Marketing, advertising and consumption are characteristic of the corporate Technological/Materialist Landscape. They affect the individual’s sense of self – and one could argue morality and spirituality – which becomes Trickster-like and fluid according to the products consumed. As Robert Sack notes:

“We consumers, and the commodities and places we consume, are major forces shaping modern landscape”.”[x]

Furthermore, as “places become ‘consumed’, they lose much of their former uniqueness. Commercialization makes them appear like other places”.[xi]

Sense of self is appealed to more and more through advertising, marketing and acts of consumption. People are presented with the power of the product to help them distinguish themselves from others. Advertisements segment the sense of self: “A multitude of products can represent the entire self or even its tiniest part”.[xii]

Advertising enables the individual, through their consumption of products, to create personas and masks: We are what we consume. Sack argues that consumption, as a symbolic system, is most like old fashioned magic and ritual. “Both advertising and magic/ritual impute powers to objects. Both claim these powers can be tapped by individuals if they are undertaking prescribed actions”.[xiii] Magic and power is the realm of the Trickster, thus:

“Consumption undoes contexts to create contexts, undoes social relations to create social relations, and undoes meaning to create meaning. The segmentation of context and the isolation of self makes the complex and personal experiences and meanings of modern life difficult to share.”[xiv]

The consumer becomes the consumed. The self is manipulated by the products consumed for stimulation, simulation, sensation and entertainment. Personas, masks, play, ‘seeming over being’ may be fun for a while but can lead to skepticism and are often curiously unsatisfying in the end. Superficiality, alienation and fragmentation of self are the downside.

Corporations use “branding” or personas “to create unique and attractive personalities for themselves”.[xv] They may even claim to have a ‘soul’. Again, there is evidence with corporate life of ‘magic’, transformation, seeming, personifications or personas, artificial bonding and the scope for sleight of hand, manipulation of consumers, employees and regulators. These are all characteristics of the Trickster. As for advertising, Sack argues:

“Its rhetoric of indirection, its capacity for change, its brevity, its ability to make a pattern when absolutely none existed before, all help to make advertising applicable to anything, even to things such as conservation and gay liberation, that are not strictly items of the market place. But once it embraces these issues, advertising’s structure transforms their meanings. They too become like commodities; they too become segmented and abstracted from context. As advertising works, it creates its own skepticism. Many know that the claims of ads are not really true.”[xvi]

This underside crisis of meaning and loss of identity is not just a characteristic of the world of consumption, marketing and advertising, in short the materialist landscape; it is also a characteristic of the technological landscape. Michael Heim notes sadly:

“We begin as voyeurs and end by abandoning our identity to the fascinating systems we tend. The tasks beckoning us to the network make us forget our elemental loss in the process… So entrancing are these symbols that we forget ourselves, forget where we are. We forget ourselves as we evolve into our fabricated worlds.”[xvii]

[i] Davis (1999) Techgnosis, 38.
[ii] Ibid, 22.
[iii] Ibid, 9.
[iv] Stevens (1982) Archetype, 121.
[v] Joel Bakan (2004) The Corporation, 125-126.
[vi] Ibid, 127.
[vii] Ibid, 53-54.
[viii] Ibid, 35.
[ix] Ibid, 56-57 Note: a definition of “psychopathic” is an antisocial personality characterised by the failure to develop any sense of moral responsibility and the capability of performing violent or antisocial acts.
[x] Robert D. Sack, ‘The Consumer’s World: Place as Context’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol.78 (1988), 659.
[xi] Ibid, 661.
[xii] Ibid, 657.
[xiii] Ibid, 659.
[xiv] Ibid, 658.
[xv] Bakan (2004) The Corporation, 26.
[xvi] Sack (1988) ‘The Consumer’s World’, 659.
[xvii] Michael Heim, The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality (Oxford University Press, 1993), 79-80.

Techno-Wizardary – the Tricksters’ Playground

IRONICALLY, WHILE THE IMAGE of technology is secular, it rests on Christian myths, as Davis points out:

“[T]his secular image was framed all along by Christian myths: the biblical call to conquer nature, the Protestant work ethic, and, in particular, the millennialist vision of a New Jerusalem, the earthly paradise that the Book of Revelation claims will crown the course of history. Despite a century of Hiroshimas, Bhopals, and Chernobyls, this myth of an engineered utopia still propels the ideology of technological progress, with its perennial promises of freedom, prosperity, and release from disease and want.”[i]

The old image of technology for well over a century was industrial. Lewis Mumford called it the “myth of the Machine” and, as Davis points out, it rested on “the authority of technical and scientific elites, and in the intrinsic value of efficiency, control, unrestrained technological development, and economic expansion”.[ii]

The new image of technology is less mechanised and described in the mythology of information, electronic minds cloud computing, infinite databases, computerized forecasting, hypertext libraries, virtual realities, micro-chip engineering, artificial intelligence, bio-engineering, and global internet and telecommunication networking.   Hence:

“Boundaries dissolve, and we drift into the no-man’s zones between synthetic and organic life, between actual and virtual environments, between local communities and global flows of goods, information, labour, and capital. With pills modifying personality, machines modifying bodies, and synthetic pleasures and net-worked minds engineering a more fluid and invented sense of self, the boundaries of our identities are mutating as well. The horizon melts into a limitless question mark, and like the cartographers of old, we glimpse yawning monstrosities and mind-forged utopias beyond the edges of our paltry and provisional maps.”[iii]

The playground of the Trickster is new technology. Erik Davis argues:

“Of all the godforms that haunt the Greek mind, Hermes is the one who would feel most at home in our wired world. Indeed, with his mischievous combination of speed, trickery, and profitable mediation, he can almost be seen as the archaic mascot of the information age… He flies “as fleet as thought”, an image of the daylight mind, with its plans and synaptic leaps, its chatter and overload. Hermes shows that these minds are not islands, but nodes in an immense electric tangle of words, images, songs, and signals. Hermes rules the transtemporal world of information exchange.”[iv]

“A Host of Guises”

TRICKSTER IS MASTER of the persona and masks. His ego is fluid. He is both hero and anti-hero. Davis states:

“More than mere delivery boy, Hermes wears a host of guises; con artist, herald, inventor, merchant, magus, thief… Lord of the lucky find, Hermes crafts opportunity like those brash start-up companies that fill a market niche by creating it in the first place.”[v]

The Greeks were quite clear about it – Hermes is a thief. However the Trickster’s banditry is not based on raw power. He is no mugger or thug. Hermes is the hacker, the spy and the mastermind. He is executor of the slickest legal contracts.[vi]

[i] Erik Davis (1999) Techgnosis, 3.
[ii] Ibid, 3.
[iii] Ibid, 1.
[iv] Ibid, 14.
[v] Ibid, 14-15.
[vi] Ibid, 15.