The Dissolution Solution

Appended below is the précis of my upcoming talk for this year's International Jean Gebser Society Conference, Crisis and Mutation, which I have been coordinating together with Jeremy Johnson of New York's Evolver Network and Reality Sandwich. The proceedings are shaping up nicely. Click here for conference tickets, full conference schedule, abstracts, and other details. 

There is a fantastic lineup over both days (Friday and Saturday), so if you're in New York City and have even a tangential interest in consciousness, integral philosophy, evolutionary theory, macrohistory, alchemy, and the transformations of human culture, please attend! My lecture will be delivered on Saturday 18th October, 2014, at the Judson Assembly Hall in New York City.  

The Dissolution Solution
Disintegration, Enantiodromia, and the Alchemy of Consciousness

Aaron Cheak, PhD

In this presentation I would like to explore some significant overlaps between the work of German poet and integral philosopher, Jean Gebser (1905–1973), and French Egyptologist and Hermetic philosopher, René Schwaller de Lubicz (1887–1961). Schwaller puts forth an essentially Pythagorean alchemical cosmology that bears some important resonances with Gebser’s work on the foundations and manifestations of integral consciousness. In this presentation I would like to focus on the theme of the “intensification” or “qualitative exaltation” of consciousness, and how scission, rupture, excess, disequilibrium, and fragmentation—in both nature and in culture—may be seen as vital indicators of the mutational process. 

To do this I will explore the motif of dissolution in an alchemical and integral sense. Gebser himself has pointed out that the dissolution of our culture under the excesses of mental-rational fragmentation hides a hidden solution. In a similar vein, alchemical theory holds that for anything to “evolve” towards its innate integrality, it must first be reduced to a condition of formlessness, and this was done through the process of dissolution. “All organic bodies, as well as certain mineral compositions, are susceptible at the moment of their decomposition, to an orientation towards a new form” (Schwaller de Lubicz, Sacred Science, p. 80).

To explicate the dynamics of this restructuration, I will develop the alchemical principle of enantiodromia—the idea that the excess of any phenomenon evokes its opposite. Just as solid crystalline salts emerge “miraculously” from a saturated liquid solution, radical transformation ensues from a state of superabundance and excess. Similarly, Schwaller held that instances of excess in nature were means by which consciousness could transcend phenomenal form. On a natural and cultural level, crisis, dissolution, and fragmentation become transitional vehicles for the liberation of spirit from limiting ontological structures.