Sunday, 31 May 2020

anthroposophy and apogee

Acknowledging the esoteric dangers that have emerged from the pseudo-scientific disciplines that arose towards the end of the era of Enlightenment just on the cusp of Modernity that try to reconcile the onslaught on evidence that the Cosmos is far older and complex than we can account for with the Bible and founding mythologies, Geoff Manaugh introduces us to the writing of one Sampson Arnold Mackey by leaning heavily into the paradoxical nature of such ethnography and theosophy that it’s in the effort of nailing down a narrative that brings up the problematic nature of speculation and amateur pursuits.
Never going away just repackaged and given a different sheen, we look at impossible epochs and receding events that disappear from the archeological record dredged up from archetypal memories and leading down pathways—some branches potentially problematic, either in fiction, espousing dangerous ideology or adopting thinking that rejects any achievement outsized in the mind of the beholder technically or sensibly has to be the work of the supernatural and one is left to deal with various theories that state the Pyramids of the Ancient Egyptians and Nazca Lines were the work of aliens. Mackey’s The Mythological Astronomy in Three Parts published in 1827 is no different than modern day disaster movies that gainsay the slow creep of environmental degradation with something dramatic like the flipping of the Earth’s magnetic poles and makes a deep and earnest investigation into a pet theory relating to the procession of the zodiac—that we’ve moved on from the Age of Pisces to the Aquarian one, except that Mackey hoped for more cataclysmic and drastic transitions—plunging humankind from an time of general prosperity into an “Age of Horror” plunging the world into deep enduring winters and arid droughts. Life and culture are driven so far as we know by stability and not swings between extremes, however distance that time out of mind may be. The work presents calculations, and like trying to pinpoint the primordial flood that haunts and informs our collective memory is a way to privilege one original story over another and suggest in was the deluge that formed the Mediterranean, for example, or makes some similar loaded and elaborated assumption—which again seems to be the overreach of amateurism that breeds more fables—but still invites one to ponder if these larger, unfathomable cycles might not have some bearing on belief and behaviour and constitution and how disaster imprints and lingers and that instinctual awareness of a pendulum fuels dread and hope.