Re: Chariots of the gods? (fwd)

Jesse S. Cook III (jcook@AWOD.COM)
Thu, 3 Oct 1996 13:19:32 -0400

On 30 September 1996, Julia E. Smith wrote to me (and subsequently gave me
permission to reply online) as follows:

>On Sun, 29 Sep 1996, Jesse S. Cook III wrote:
>> Modern *history* has included all those horrors, but modern *consciousness*
>> has not. Your consciousness, for all its lack of clear thinking, is a
>> modern consciousness. Those responsible for such horrors did not have a
>> modern consciousness. There was a time when such horrors were taken for
>> granted; for many, if not most, people today, in our culture at least,
>> they are not.
>I'm not trying to bait you, but I don't quite understand the distinction
>you are making. Are you trying to suggest that modern "consciousness" is
>not taking such things as the Holocaust, slavery, etc. for granted? If
>so, how can you explain how non-modern consciousness can arise in a
>location (such as Germany) with a decidedly modern consciousness?

The problem, I think, is with this word "modern"; it means different things
to different people and different things in different contexts. When I use
the word in this context, I mean contemporary.

Non-modern consciousness did not "arise" in Germany in Hitler's time--that's
were they were at, as they say. It was modern consciousness that those
involved lacked.

Today, the Holocaust would be unthinkable in most of the Western World.
(Please note: I said most.) That's where the modern consciousness is.

On the other hand, I daresay there are elements of our population for whom
the Holocaust would definitely be thinkable. Fortunately, those elements do
not have, and I don't believe ever will have, the power to carry it out.
The Holocaust forever baned another Holocaust wherever modern consciousness
is predominant.

>I guess
>I see that sort of violence (from our inner-city streets, Nazi Germany,
>etc.) as a nasty flip side of "modern consciousness" as I can't imagine
>how it could be so prevalent as some other kind of consciousness.

That sort of violence is not the "nasty flip side" of anything--there is no
"flip side" to consciousness. Consciousness is "where you're at, baby".
There are levels of consciousness, not only diachronically but
synchronically. There are levels of consciousness, not only
phylogenetically but ontogenetically. There are different levels of
consciousness, not only between societies but within societies.

>Or am I just missing something?

Yes, you were missing something but only because that something did not get
spelled out--in part because I was so busy defending myself from all those
who sought to destroy me, figuratively speaking of course. I hope this
helps you--I suspect it will only add fuel to the fire of those just mentioned.

>Julia Smith
>University of Pittsburgh

Jesse S. Cook III E-Mail:
Post Office Box 40984 or
Charleston, SC 29485 USA

" is not for our faults that we are disliked and even hated,
but for our qualities."--Bernard Berenson (1865-1959)