“History” is a shattered mirror. It is possible to study the cleavages left by the angry, bloody fists that have pummeled our view of the whole over the centuries. This exercise may even be valuable. But within the fragments left hanging in the ruined frame is our own reflection, and I would humbly suggest that looking at what exactly drove us to such fits of rage might yield something more enduring; if not “wisdom,” at the very least a realization that all the bits and pieces are shards of an organic continuum that remains in fact, even if it is not present to our awareness.
What I have in mind could be called a “psychological” view of history, if that word were granted the divorce she so richly deserves from her abusive husband “merely.” It could also be termed “esoteric,” as it deals with forces that are hidden in the sense that they are covered by the manifest content of events in time. But that is confusing, as “esoteric history” tends to either imply a study of the various schools which have existed over time, or to outright conspiracy theory. Thus I have called this perspective “Inner History,” echoing the notion of the “Inner Planes” which many of us visit on a regular basis.
The basic contours of the idea are this: beneath the events of history are various forces meeting in different ways and producing new combinations. This is not Hegelian, nor some other Utopian teleology. I do not find in these conflicts and cominglings any direction or plan, any more than I would consider a landslide caused by the slow movement of water over time to be a directed phenomenon. It is predictable, certainly, in that you can say that gravity and pressure will produce x-result given time, but those forces have no reason for being other than existing in their own right.
I feel it important to mention this distinction, as it would be tempting to see all these interactions as leading up to some great unfolding of universal enlightenment and freedom. In fact, they are as likely to produce profoundly dystopic results as a new order of universal justice. It all depends on what forces meet and when.
So what is a “force?” In my view, it is both an archetypal “drive” and the clothing that drive wears. We can meaningfully distinguish these only to a certain degree. Take, for instance, the Martial drive. Calling it “Martial,” conditions our understanding of it, but also indicates it more concisely and with less limitation than “the impulse to engage in conflict.” The benefit of inner or twilight language is that it speaks to levels of our psyche that are not bound by words at all. Speak of “Mars,” and the inner understanding hears echoes that the mundane apperatus of eardrum and semantic circuitry cannot.
I think of these forces as the most abstract we can get and still be talking about something. Beyond that, we reach the point where the illusion that anything is actually a thing breaks down. For all practical purposes, we are left at the threshold of the noetic. I am not a mathmetician, or I would write this all out in equations.
What is important here is not the metaphysics. I make no claims to have any Final Knowledge about the contours of existence, and have only the testimony of wiser (or at least more experienced) individuals concerning its laws. The important idea here is a view that sees the manifest events of history as a kind of shadow play that both illuminates and obscures the real forces being expressed behind it.
Think of a war, or a riot, or the discovery of some new medicine, as the “manifest content,” as one would when interpreting a dream. These are the fragments we retain from moment to moment as we wake up to each new instance of ourselves. The memory of the past is already clouded by the headache we have two minutes later, or the fact that when such and such upheaval was happening, we were in love, or falling out of love, or burying our lover in the dust. True, such fragments are still sharp, and painful to grasp. How often have the events of a dream truly frightened us, even if we know that a dream is a message from some deeper strata of our being.
Forces, after all, interact with forms, thus continually creating existence. Some of those interactions are going to hurt. That hurt becomes some new trauma when it reaches our gross awareness. Call this the “original trauma” that rips our experience apart, further obscuring the forces that are the real cause.
We do not live in a world of objective perceptions. There are no such things. There are only perceptions that are slightly less obscured, better tested by more people. When dealing with history, these are mostly absent. The voices of clan and country drown out the sober assessment of any fact that may dwell beyond the shouting. In history, we dwell in dream and trauma, groping not for truth, but for stability of narrative.
Our groping, searching through signs and artifacts in a desperate need to validate “Our Story” or find “The Story,” creates a feedback loop. For we know, somewhere deep in ourselves, that we are hunting shadows and reflections. Our frustration is the food of Oraboras.
Cryptic though this may seem, it is now so different from intuitions that have existed throughout history. The axiom that “history is written by the victors” is a dim echo of what I am hinting at. It would be more accurate to say that history is experienced by the victors and endured by the victims. The winners of wars can shape whatever prism they will, and partake of historical agency in a complete way that those who must bow to their new masters’ whip cannot. Their history will be one of pain, trauma and nightmare haunting even their tales of liberation.
But even Kronos had to vomit up His Children. Eventually the Story conflicts so much with the manifest content, and the expressed intentions of the dreamer, that she must wake up or be lost forever in madness, or hacked to bits by her own weapons of rulership.
All of which is to say that there is no final end to this process. No “end of history.” Like the alchemical serpent, it circles in on itself, its own energy providing the fire and the water that keep the entire machine going. Yes, there are Grand Conflagrations when multiple forces form two opposites and thus a third thing. But these are neither as important nor as rare as the typical dialectic would have us believe. Life itself is permeated by such meetings, and all of them tend toward higher unities.
Viewing history in this way is only strange because we have been trained to see ourselves as inhabitants of a field of being in which different objects bounce into one another. We have, in other words, been told that the manifest content is the only thing that exists. Which is true, because there is no true division between the manifest content and the forces behind it. But it is also false, because these forces do not interact against a background. It would be more accurate to call the manifest content the waves in a larger ocean, which give appearance and partake of the deep blue ocean but are also different from it in quality.
If I seem to be speaking more in riddles and metaphor than in concrete concepts, it is because that is the language of the reality I am considering. The Grand View is precarious, and the less easily grasped it is, the more prepared I am to obscure my meaning even to myself, the less apt I am to fall into the errors of reification. That ocean is barren, having neither living water nor vital creature. I seek instead the deep blue, and the azure sky which cools it from above.