A Golden Cage of Prosperity
For those societies who membership lived with a sustained consciousness, it wasn’t enough just to experience Great Leader’s conscious world anymore, since they could experience their own. Now they had to believe in it. The old fashioned way of simply inducing a trance that contained The Truth within it wasn’t enough anymore. Everyone had their own self-conscious trance now, which meant the only state of mind Great Leader could induce with any staying power was limited to the shape and specifics of the world that everyone’s conscious ego-self was in. Great Leader had to make them believe in a world that was inclusive and made you feel good about yourself and included reasons why the leisure class should remain in charge. The holy men were still the keepers of the mass-mind, if no longer the keepers of consciousness itself. If a society was successful for long enough, its leadership would gradually evolve from keeping self-consciousness to themselves eventually to managing, or trying to, the self-consciousness of others by controlling the shape of the conscious world they’re conscious of. If this was achieved, Great Leader and his bureaucracy could embark on great projects of organization- building cities, conquering empires, getting all high and mighty. With wealth (loot, tribute, taxes and slave labor) came more leisure time than the leisure class knew what to do with. It spilled over the temple walls and created the middle class- those with a temple mentality who led an organic life, but as artificially as possible.
The mass-mind had emerged from the temple and now contains all of conscious society, which was practically everyone. This quickly led to improvements in what we call a standard of living, which only heightened the public’s enthusiasm for any political system that can keep up the good work. Even with this enthusiasm, it still meant a lot more work for the elite to keep a good grip on the reigns of the conscious world now that everyone’s creative energy went directly into making it instead of just the elite and their Great Plan. Realizing this was a staggering task, they staffed it out. But at least that gave idle, middle class hands something to do. They were given the task of educating the young and instilling in them their new cultural heritage, which now meant teaching children their role in the conscious world that they too would think is there. This sounds just like child rearing as usual, but this isn’t teaching them how to live on the earth. The new criteria was how to live in and live for the conscious world we’re all going to think is here, even if that means destroying the earth. This wasn’t just school, this was organized social containment for a standardized third stage installation that could be strictly enforced. Living in cities now full of geometry and schedules would help produce a population of full-time autonomous conscious selves who all believed they were sublimated to the greater organization of their nation or crusade, or etc. This required a state sanctioned or supremely mandated trance that would convince people that the Most Exalted Current Administration’s version of Reality is their only access to conscious control over their lives. Great Leader will paint a colorful and vivid picture and tell everyone that they’re in it. As long as it’s the most colorful and vivid image they ever saw, it will work.
This is a Mass-Mind Type B, which is a beehive of third stage activity. Historians call this the Golden Age of So and So. Always with an explosion of optimism, innovation and creativity, a Golden Age means egos for everybody. Self-consciousness now permeates the population that physically lives in a complex system that requires consciousness to function in. Everyone wants to live in the arti-physical world because of all the things one can do in it, and only in it. Like going to the theater or being a plumber. Type B’s thrive on the enthusiasm and unity of people who are drawn to the adventure and promise of wealth that Great Leader thinks is there. The mass-mind is now far more voluminous than Great Leader can ever be conscious of himself, but his role as an anchor remains, anchoring the show that must go on and creating a conscious world that extends far beyond his perception. These arti-physical worlds were big enough to have roles for everyone, even those who would do nothing but suffer in them. A well developed type B can produce technology and staggering artifacts like the pyramids or the fuel injector. It was probably easy to believe in them. Culture represented the greatest possible experience for both mind and body. Or so it is at first when a society is fresh, when to most folk, the borders of the mass-mind were a distant horizon. The mass-mind was the vast frontier offering everyone it came in contact with a larger world to live in.
No matter how vast Great Leader’s arti-physical world became, there was always a vaster frontier beyond it. No matter how inspired an intellectual construction or how clever the crap was, there was always a limit beyond which the explanation could not go. All trains of logic come from or lead to the Mysteries. Mystery first arose from our limited ability to explain things to ourselves. Part of what makes awe and wonder awesome and wondrous is having no idea how what is going on is going on. To the conscious mind, accepting this limitation can be discomforting unless reassured by the notion that this understanding exists somewhere. Any attempt to make a complete explanation of anything will eventually reach a fundamental idea whose own explanation is unavailable, but is declared and accepted as the Basic Truth that you Don’t Need To Know because it is Known For You. That’s okay, it’s been comprehended for us by those anointed with contact with beings in the know. Trusting that someone somewhere understands what’s going on means we don’t have to. Which gives us a comforting alternative to the uncomfortable notion that beyond a certain limit, we have only the cloudiest notion of what is going on. For society at large, mystery can be an all purpose corral to pen in curiosity by painting a border at the edge of the known world beyond which all is incomprehensible. A content citizenry is comfortable with leaving its mysteries in Great Leader’s hands. That creates a society capable of the broad organizations that can create a Golden Age. If that trust is eroded, so is our ability to organize, and so is the Golden Age.
Even with the trust of the public, maintaining the Grand Conceptual Structure of the new Golden Age everyone was living in was becoming a tricky business for those in charge. In order for a mass-mind to be convincing, it now has to justify its past in order to make its present inevitable. Everything needs a reason now. No matter how much a culture may have departed from its origins, there had to be a continuity with the past in order for its people to think that they’re still the people who did all the things long ago that built their world. That linearity, or narrative, kept the mass-mind going because its people expected it to be there every morning and thus would reliably recreate it every morning. As a culture learned new things, that narrative would progress and change a bit, one day at a time. After thousands of days, it might change a lot. This could create challenges for emerging cultures whose original organizations were built for lives no one was leading anymore. For example, to maintain an expectation of consistency and permanence, the laws of society would be written as if they were the laws of nature with an equally eternal existence. That is achieved by connecting the law to the observed eternalness of nature. Usually by assigning its authorship, or co-authorship, and the presumed authority behind it, to a more perfect and eternal being- preferably one with supremacy over nature. Not that this was always an unlikely or insincere explanation, but what comes back to bite us is that all that is eternal about these decrees or their sources is our decision to believe in it regardless of any discoveries to the contrary. The impermanence of our own ideas and understandings about the world render these divine orders eventually into conceptual traps. But it is necessary to create as detailed and convincing a structure of the world and our lives in it as possible. After all, this where everyone is going to think they are. It could get pretty complicated to explain the past in modern terms, but it could be done. Often these cultural creations would grow to become magnificent intellectual organizations with cohesive answers to everything in it and why the rest doesn’t matter. Or just a powerfully emotional display of pure, but dazzling bullshit could conjure a world desirable to live in and difficult to survive without. It better be a convincing enough explanation to either satisfy or contain curiosity. This is accomplished by introducing the concept of the mysterious anointing.
However dazzling, it has getting hard to sell the traditional idea of Great Leader’s divinity to a bunch of fellow egos. For Great Leader, it meant finding new ways to be a god. Simply being conscious doesn’t cut it anymore. There just isn’t any amount of pageantry or ranting and raving or magical effects that could convince the public of his personal divinity. It was getting a lot harder to convince a self-conscious public that anyone was better than anyone else hence anointed. It was time to declare mortality, sort of. It was also getting harder to say that God was in this statue or that box or behind door number one. Great Leader was no longer the Divine God Incarnate or His keeper. He became So and So the mortal self who was specially chosen by God to receive magical powers. Great Leader was freed of the burdensome pretense of godhood, while still in charge of the mortals. The real power over people’s lives had switched to business end of the arti-physical world. Wealth became the new anointing. The economy was the vivid dazzling picture that everyone thought was real. Charismatic spell casting just wasn’t in demand as much anymore. Issues like who owned what out shouted who can whip up the big trance. Besides, the big trance seems to get whipped up just fine with or without the rituals. The mass-mind now had a more direct relationship with all its egos and less reliance on the temple stage crew as intermediaries. However, the current holders of that age-old profession were not without job security.
As schooling and social regimentation took over the process of installing consciousness, the original ritual procedure would become optional or superfluous. Centuries of effort had made society so efficient in replicating itself in its children that they could no longer understand how being conscious could be difficult. But this didn’t present a reason to give up the show. The rituals of their ancestors remained as reverential demonstrations to be acted out in a kind of communal affirmation of what still binds our concepts together. Observing these rituals were still understood as what made them them. They were a connection to their ancestors for whom they were the source of a broader life experience, a means of ascension. Theirs was a performance of self-creation. All that is left to the descendents is the practice of a religion. For them, that same third stage ascension was a direct path to the so-called material world of society.
That left the part of his bureaucracy responsible for carrying on the trance rituals looking for a new mandate. Great Leader realized he still needed this connection to his past intact, even if he was too busy with economic policy and warfare. As long as he participated in a few key rituals and supplied a generous stipend of operating expenses, the department could take care of itself. It took on an identity of its own as the church, which created the distinction that made the rest of Great Leader’s staff government or state. Great Leader had further separated himself from the awesome responsibility of divinity, but in compartmentalized his anointing to the church, he gave away The Truth.
Authority had strayed away from religion or bloodline in pursuit of more immediate rationales for its existence like wealth or votes. The state now held the mass-mind afloat but still, all Great Truths were ultimately founded on the ancient anointings of the ancient Great Leaders that inspired their ancestors. These Truths remained in the charge of the church, whose fundamental concepts are just that- fundamental. They can’t just be taken away without compromising a lot of well-developed logic that explains many things, including the continued maintenance of the leisure class. So these fundamentals remain as the unifying threads that every idea since depends on. Now the sacred text or whatever had to supply much bigger explanations than their authors could have imagined, and their anointings had to be protected by force. This is when the Golden Age becomes a gilded cage. Society begins to press against the borders of the mass-mind and challenge its ideals, but given their divine origin, most citizens would put up with a lot of physical discomfort in an all out effort to give those ideas every opportunity to work.
When the philosophical mysteries no longer work, there’s always intimidation with police enforced orthodoxy and power over life and property. To survive in this form, Great Leader must seek out and destroy perceptions not of its own making either by isolating or killing the host. This can work for a while, but it eventually becomes an overwhelming task that makes everyone’s lives miserable. No one expects the inquisition, but by the time they arrive, it’s already too late. Their arrival signals a society whose stratifications frustrate the needs of its people and whose fortifications defend a world that fewer and fewer of its members desire to live in. This becomes problematic for those who hold roles of wealth and power. If not enough of the public wants to live in Great Leader’s world anymore, the leisure class loses its anointing. Then Great Leader will no longer carry the mantle of heaven or the keys to the palace.
Over time, meanings would be finessed, new original intentions would be revealed and slowly the rituals would change into more moderate forms that still satisfied the criteria of What God Wants. This would allow us to retire the rough stuff, like human sacrifice and such, that just doesn’t fit in with urbane sophistication. But we were stuck with all kinds of other stuff because the reasons for anything else always led back to those pesky fundamentals, even if most everybody knew they were wrong, or simply no longer led lives that depended on them being true. But we had to do our best to build a conscious world on those fundamentals that was solid and attractive enough to make people want to think that they live there. All the mental gymnastics that was necessary to sort out and explain these things propelled our intellectual development by triggering the need for all kinds of heavy abstract concepts, like afterlife or transubstantiation. These exercises in thinking could be useful in sorting out other issues. All this third stage muscularity would trickle down from the eggheads to society at large and eventually into compulsory education. Which would accelerate the process and further render ritual into religion.
Type B’s can quickly grow into amazing organizations capable of achieving amazing things. Maintaining that ever-increasing amazement puts an ever-greater burden on the next generation to assume centuries of development by adulthood. The mass-mind once offered roles for everyone, but now there were roles that absolutely had to be filled. Survival now depends on just the right distribution of responsibility within a specialized population in order to deal with information overload. This complexity required an ever increasing compression of education, which meant installing third stage thinking as early and quickly in childhood as possible. Most children seem to be up to the task, but this was done without much regard for the resulting earlier development of third stage experience. There must be a self whose homework is due Monday. Soon, more and more children are walking around with fully adult egos and expecting to participate as equals in society’s system of rights and privileges which their parents may not be prepared to share.
This presents some challenges to the grown-ups, who never see this one coming and complain that society has dumped the issue in their lap. The market had identified children as a resource to be harvested for their conscious egos, and by being what they’re conscious of, be further created by them. Because of the intensity of the manner in which third stage mentality is installed, the mass-mind supercedes the family as being the primary (highest level) of organization their conscious minds are part of. This also has the effect of shortening generational turnover and accelerating social change. The arti-physical world was always changing, Any culture will eventually accumulate enough experience of discovery through innovation, exposure or even rumor to change, one person at a time, its perception of the world it lives in. But there would rarely be such contrast between coincident generations. What happens when children who were raised under their family’s own wing find themselves, through no fault of their own, unable to accept some or all of the fundamental assumptions that society is based on? They’ll want to make new assumptions, better ones, ones that they can accept. They might have some eccentric new ideas about where they want to think they are. These new generations will wish to claim their birthright and coexist as equals with their forefathers in the guesswork. And they will have no one to turn on but the older humans, who will see social change as a threat.
In tug-of-war between the way things are and the way they’d like to be, the health and longevity of the conscious world had to be maintained, so some kind of rock solid story that explained its existence had to be in place at all times. And it had to include all the vital bits that were still recognized as the essentials of cultural identity, while adapting to political change and technical advancement. Its people had to keep up because the mass-mind’s survival was theirs also, if for no other reason than the population had grown to where only a type B organization could feed it. The original enthusiasm that built the Golden Age had turned into a dependency on its survival. We would build whatever world was necessary for the mass-mind and us, its citizens, to continue the lives we thought we were living.
But the more we built, the more it seemed like we were getting further and further away from God.