I was extremely happy when Damien Williams agreed to become a contributor here and submitted this piece for our relaunch. In his own wonderful style, it pulls together classic lore, poetry, mysticism, and pop culture for a fascinating meditation on this blog's core theme.
“It is said that what is called 'the spirit of an age' is something to which one cannot return. That this spirit gradually dissipates is due to the world's coming to an end. For this reason, although one would like to change today's world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of every generation.” - Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, 1716
“. . .The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand. . .” — "The Second Coming," William Butler Yeats, 1920
And then there is, of course, the ever-popular I-Ching Hexagram 23 (~1,000 BCE), aptly titled Breaking Apart:
This pictures a time when inferior people are pushing forward and are about to crowd out the few remaining strong and superior men. Under these circumstances, which are due to the time, it is not favorable for the superior man to undertake anything.
The right behavior in such adverse times is to be deduced from the images and their attributes. The lower trigrams stands for the earth, whose attributes are docility and devotion. The upper trigram stands for the mountain, whose attribute is stillness. This suggests that one should submit to the bad time and remain quiet. For it is a question not of man’s doing but of time conditions, which, according to the laws of heaven, show an alternation of increase and decrease, fullness and emptiness. It is impossible to counteract these conditions of the time. Hence it is not cowardice but wisdom to submit and avoid action.
We have always lived in the breaking times. We have always felt that every period of major upheaval is the end of the world, the final days, the utter Apocalypse, come at last. And we're right. Every major shift of perspective ends the world in which we lived, and brings to bear a completely new perspective. In fact, most often that perspective is necessarily new, because the only ones who survive the shift (or collapse, as some would have it) are those who can adapt to the radically altered contexts in which they find themselves.
As ever, we must adapt, or we will perish, and this isn't news.