Here Comes Everything: The Next Phase of Consciousness
Wednesday February 5th 2020
By Joe Hill
“After more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned. Rapidly, we approach the final phase of the extensions of man– the technological simulation of consciousness, when the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society.”
– Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media
“The great fact emerges that after that historic date all holographs so far exhumed initialled by Haromphrey bear the sigla H.C.E…it was equally certainly a pleasant turn of the populace which gave him as sense of those normative letters the nickname Here Comes Everybody.”
– James Joyce, Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake, the enigmatic masterpiece released by the enigmatic maniac author James Joyce in 1939, has confounded, inspired, excited, and alienated critics and fanatics alike. It is a work that has been the source of reverent awe to great thinkers such as Joseph Campbell and Terence McKenna, and has also been left unread by most of the general public. Terence McKenna once surmised the Wake as a work that is both ‘psychedelic and eschatological’. Campbell once wrote that if the whole world was destroyed, the history of humanity could be rebuilt from a single copy of Finnegans Wake. And finally it was Marshall McLuhan who left his critics baffled when he proclaimed that the entirety of his career’s work was simply, ‘applied Joyce’.
What exactly is contained within this alphabet soup of puns and entendres that so inspire the imagination of those who devotedly tease meaning out of Dedalus’ labyrinth?
It was Marshall McLuhan who articulated a thoroughly unique interpretation and criticism of Joyce’s career, which only few others grasped. McLuhan credited poet T.S. Eliot for his illuminating observation that Joyce’s works, “[have] the importance of a scientific discovery. No one else has built a novel upon such a foundation before: it has never been necessary…Joyce is pursuing a method which others must pursue after him. They will not be imitators, any more than the scientist who uses the discoveries of an Einstein in pursuing his own, independent, further investigations.” Like Eliot, McLuhan recognized that Joyce through his pursuit of avant-garde investigations of church and state on the Irish mind in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, had by Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, turned his gaze towards the effects of technology on consciousness and social ecology.
Finnegans Wake is an intimation of the end time, when all times, all people, all events, all ideas, all cultures, all art, all technologies become connected and integral in an infinitely dense moment of immediate experience. Everything that ever was or is, is relevant now, and will only become more immediate and relevant as we approach the technological singularity, the unity of global consciousness, and the birth of a new universe.
Joyce was a man who received the best education a person could wish to get in the late 1800s and early 20th century. Educated by Jesuit priests as a young man, Joyce was able to explore his curiosities and inclinations towards the metaphysical, while also being given the resources to absorb a broad and rich spectrum of the history of human thought. Growing up under the tutelage of the Roman Catholic Church provided Joyce with a fertile intellectual hunting ground, but also gave him first hand experience to witness the mental tyranny religion imposed on its leaders and subjects.
Transformed by self-imposed exile to Europe and a fully dedicated spirit to live a poetic creative existence, Joyce through his life’s experiences reached a point of complete ego dissolution. He saw the subjective nature of culturally dependent operating systems, as his alter ego Stephen Dedalus expressed in Ulysses, ‘I am the servant of two masters…an English and an Italian.’ Referring to the British colonial empire and the Roman Catholic Church.
Joyce saw beyond the transient meanderings of culturally determined thought, realizing through self-examination that what occupies most people’s minds, such as, extramarital affairs, biological urges, superficial political spats, anxieties and fears, comforts and feelings of security, were all culturally determined by whatever paradigm was most relevant during the fleeting moment of now. ‘History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake,’ asserts Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses.
And what is this nightmare for Joyce? By looking at Joyce’s own actions and words it seems the nightmare is to be historically conditioned. To believe in a Christian God simply because you grew up in a culture where people believed in a Christian God, to chase money and status simply because you grew up in a culture where people valued money and status, to think, speak, and act only in the ways by which you were trained, never trying to transcend this environmental conditioning.
Left completely naked, without a name, without a history, without thought, being pure awareness, unmediated by the thin layer of cultural imprinting, what is left?
For Joyce, it was God. Not God, the patriarchal father, imposing an authority not earned, justified or deserved, but God the Mystery. ‘Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves,’ wrote Joyce. ‘That is God…a shout in the street.’
For Joyce, the complete image of ‘God’, the face and body to be seen, was Howth Castle the erection to Ben Howth, the River Liffey carrying all matter to the bay, it was the words of dead poets, songs of birds, seashells cracking on the shore, snot in a handkerchief, it was the first love of youth, and it was the church bells of death. The complete image of God is everything that is and everything that has ever been.
Statements such as these can seem hollow or convoluted on the surface. What exactly does this mean? How does it relate to experience?
All of creation came from a singular force, and all creation continues from a singular force. All measure of diversity is only possible within the context, the ground from which all things are born and return. People is what the planet does – no planet, no people. Planet is what the universe does – no universe, no planet.
We are all a relationship to everything. Individuation is an illusion. Light is only possible by the presence of dark. Life is only possible by the presence of death. Love is only possible by the presence of fear. Wealth is only possible by the presence of poverty. And so we find what appears to be Other, Opposite, Dualistic, is in actuality an expression of One.
And so Joyce, the penman, gave us this headline to grab our attention: Finnegan’s Awake!
Ulysses was Joyce’s daytime trip, the visible manifestation of Vishnu’s dream, the physical embodiment of Indra’s net, and a series of harmonic resonances between individuals, eras, ideologies, ecologies, and technologies. Finnegans Wake could be seen as the nighttime trip, the psychic implosion of the infinite contained within. Or it could be seen as the event horizon preceding the singularity.
God as All, God as Everything, God as One, was not an inert, inactive, unconscious abstraction in Joyce’s philosophy. God was a recurring Mystery unfolding, gaining and growing ever more depth, density, and complexity. ‘The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring,’ says Joyce. Existence is a work of art from which greater beauty eternally springs. And as we gaze into this work, the fingerprints of God may be found, a hint of what really is and what’s to be.
‘When we say we look for living pattern or aesthetically satisfying order, what we really mean is we look for the sign that mind has somehow touched the stochastic processes of nature,’ said Terence McKenna. And when we gaze into the supreme art of nature we find the presence of mind: knowledge, itself an existent reality only waiting to be found again by mind. God unconscious becoming conscious of itself. Aware meeting Unaware, and Unaware being Aware again.
‘History does not stretch out across the centuries of the future,’ opined Terence McKenna. ‘History is the generation of a process of singularity. It is anticipated in the magical flight of shamanism, in the philosopher’s stone in alchemy…it is this anticipation of a tool-making intervention into our own fate that springs from our own inner resources.’
And as Joyce saw Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker as a builder within the singularity, Terence McKenna too saw the shaman, ‘related to the smith because we are literally attempting to forge the cauldron of our destiny, the container of our post historical fate…To departure into our own imagination by having created a kind of hyper dimensional electronic coral-reef extra planetary interiorized exteriorized post historical culture.’
It was for Joyce, and many of his students such as McKenna and McLuhan, that the historical destiny of humanity lay in technology, but specifically a technology that would produce a more explicit invocation of the word. A technology that would liberate mind from the constraints of matter and then pour back into matter again at the speed of light, so each atom and quark would move with thought. Such a statement would seem mind boggling if we weren’t so close to the refinement of virtual reality.
By studying thought and how thought changes as it interacts with different technologies, Joyce saw a somewhat deterministic, unconscious process at work. His age saw the eruption of the telegraph, telephone, radio, and newspaper/ mass media advertising.
It was within these electric technologies that Joyce recognized the beginning of the extension of consciousness. And he saw how these technologies reshape social ecology in a way far beyond the initial intended purposes of the technology. When a person in New York phones a person in Tokyo, both parties transport their consciousness at the speed of light around the globe. This happens regardless of what either party says to the other over the telephone. Joyce asked the question: What happens when billions of individual consciousness split their minds across a multiplicity of avenues of space and time, converging together in a singular process? And to that question the answer was, Finnegans Wake.
It was within the electric technologies that Joyce recognized a potential escape from history into a post-historical paradise.
‘The cords of all link back, strandentwining cable of all flesh. That is why mystic monks. Will you be as gods? Gaze in your omphalos. Hello. Kinch here. Put me on to Edenville.’
Here Joyce sees the chords and cables of electric technologies as the exteriorization of our nervous system, all linking back to the source, the womb from which we were made. The omphalos was a magical stone of power from Classical Greek antiquity used to communicate with the gods. ‘Kinch’ communes with the omphalos like someone using a telephone and speaking to an operator. Nearly a hundred years later since the publication of Ulysses, our planet is littered with beings that carry pocket devices, which allow them to withdraw the entire history of our species and universe, pour over all knowledge as it stands today, and gain access to the mind of every being alive.
And as Joyce considered the implications of building this electronic machine in which the entire species would enter, he asked, who shall we become? The answer was Here Comes Everybody. We become everyone. Or perhaps, everything.
It is from this thought that this website is named Here Comes Everything. As our species progresses along this race between either total planetary devastation or the liberation of spirit from matter, it is the task of this author to understand the consequences of being related to every person, related to all histories, related to all societies and related to all technologies. It is the duty of each individual to now more than ever before, elevate their state of awareness to its highest degree and accept full responsibility for the consequences of our collective actions. We have now become a single culture. The threat of global pollution of our waters, air, and food is now a problem for all society. The threat of totalitarian egoism causing nuclear catastrophe is a global fallout which we are all responsible. Our salvation rests in a new consciousness, and the cultivation of a language of One. We must learn to see as Joyce articulated in his masterpieces. When we look into the ocean can we see our mother? When we look into the Other can we see the Self?