Tuesday, 7 June 2016


When a Taoist sage was asked how he would survive in the Maoist regime, he replied, "Would it not be laughable if a life-long follower of the Lord Lao were to fear change?" Nevertheless, there are at least two kinds of changes. Taoists and pagans live with cyclical seasonal changes. For uncounted generations, the cycle recurs so that it is effectively changeless. We can look around the circumference of the circle from dark to light to dark or alternatively can stand far enough back to contemplate the circle as a whole. The cycle is not in fact endless because the Sun will die. However, there are longer cycles. Gas composed of elements fused in Generation I stars condenses into Generation II stars and cosmoses might also be cyclical: Shiva's dance of destruction and creation.

However, mankind, transcending nature, has stepped from natural history into social history, which is an entirely human creation. The sage was in fact being asked how he would cope with an irreversible social transformation. Most people most of the time accept their social status quo until it changes. Then they quickly adjust to a new set-up, whatever that is. People are both dynamic and malleable, proactive and reactive, changing the world and being changed by it, in fact changing and even creating themselves because manipulating the environment led to thinking about it.  Hegel understood that:

some quantitative increases become qualitative transformations;
cycles can spiral upwards or downwards;
higher syntheses transcend mere repetitions.

In Chapter XXIII, section 1, of The Dog And The Wolf, Poul and Karen Anderson present both a seasonal change, the completion of the harvest, and a social change, the Armorican revolt of 407, which is not a mere administrative coup because it involves the expulsion of Roman officials and the declaration of independence. Armoricans know/hope/believe that there will be other harvests but also that the Romans will not return. They have started to live in different times. More on this later. This post is merely introductory.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Strictly speaking, the poorly known Armorican revolt of 407 was against the supporters of the usurper Constantine, not so much against the EMPIRE itself. The Andersons did write, in their Afterword, I think, that the Armoricans came to terms with Emperor Honorius. But this "reintegration" into the Empire was shaky and short lived and did not long outlast Honorius.