Random Pieces: The Jesus Helix

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I’m super, super tired from last night’s incredible insomnia so bear with me if this seems disjointed.

Previously I wrote about how Jesus was “an anarcho-primitivist dropout and a memetic mutation,” which he definitely was, but I have long thought that there must be something fundamental to the Christ story beyond his having been a religious and political dissident extraordinaire. I’ve had the worst time trying to put my finger on that until just the other day, when an image about this formed unbidden in my head.

I was contemplating the stark contrast between pantheistic-agricultural cyclical time, versus the Elohim-linear concept of linear time kicked off by the Genesis story of woman being made from man’s rib. I pictured a straight line moving forward, passing by a spinning wheel; it occurred to me that these are separate, representing the separation between nature (Elohim-linear) and city (pantheistic-circular); it next occurred to me that the wedding imagery in Revelation speaks to the marriage of nature and city/civilization. The line and the spinning wheel would have to be “married.”

What do you get when you combine a line and a spinning wheel?  A spiral; a coil; a helix. What is the shape of a helix? It dips down, then comes back up in a new place.

Just like Jesus’ crucifixion, descent to the underworld, resurrection and transcendence.

The significance of the Christ figure is that he merged linear and cyclical together in his person. His story embodies the “marriage” of nature and civilization, material and spirit, self and other, good and evil.

Jesus was a Jew, a culture that sought to keep itself separate in parallel (read: linear) with the civilizations around them, and which originally recorded the Genesis stories of Elohim, Adam’s rib, etc. His lineage (read: linear) was very important, and is detailed in the Gospels. Jesus’ heritage was linearity. But with the resurrection, he brought the central element of cyclical mythologies into his story. He was not reborn — he maintained his adult age when he reappeared  — but he did indeed (mythologically speaking) go into the Earth, dead, travel to the underworld, and come back again — but he only did it once. In this way he maintained the integrity of both time-shape mythologies while merging them together.

Moreover, he described how this process works in ordinary individuals:

Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus said to Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter his mother’s womb again and be born?

What is born of [from] the flesh is flesh [of the physical is physical]; and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not [do not be surprised, astonished] at My telling you, You must all be born anew (from above). The wind blows (breathes) where it wills; and though you hear its sound, yet you neither know where it comes from nor where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

I’m sure everyone recognizes this as the brick bad Christians use to beat people over the head until they “get saved” and get “born again.” Most assuredly that is not what it means.

Rather, if being born in “original sin” means being born into civilization, then being “born again” — “born of the Spirit” in the above quote — would be a personal anti-civ event. I believe the moment of “born again” occurs when you take a hard look around and realize: this culture is completely fucked up bullshit and I can’t do it anymore.

This, too, follows the helix shape, because almost no one comes to this realization without some type of crisis, even if that crisis is entirely internal and not especially nerve-wracking. It still produces a kind of “death” to our culture; followed by a period of searching, which mirrors the underworld descent; and resurrection, at which point the person has constructed a new worldview. The process may take a lifetime, or it may happen in a flash. The shape remains the same.

For lots of us on this track, our anti-civ born-again event leaves us with a deep and abiding desire to reunite with nature, to be “one flesh” with the natural world and with Elohim (Source, the Tao, Wakan-Tanka) as were Adam and Eve prior to the Fall. That can’t happen as long as Western civilization, in its current form, continues unabated; however, it is breathing its last, and the very fact that a critical mass of people wish to build a truly sustainable society in homeostasis with the natural world means that possibility exists beyond collapse.

That sustainable society reflects the “New Jerusalem” of Revelation, the eternal city — eternal because it is genuinely sustainable. The process of getting there also follows the helix shape: stability at one level, descent into hellish collapse, then resuscitation and transcendence of the empire paradigm.

This helix shape — level, dip, rise-to-a-different-level — runs completely through the entire Judeo-Christian mythology and scales from the micro, personal level to the macro, cosmic level. It’s the fundamental fractal that reproduces itself throughout the Western civilizational pattern. It represents the ultimate marriage of city and nature. And we would not have it without the peculiar resurrection mythology of the Christ figure.

 

15 Responses

  1. Brutus says:

    Interesting analysis, as always. I’m becoming increasingly suspicious of sharp dichotomies when they appear, but considering how you’re saying that Jesus embodied a union of the linear and circular concepts of time and human relationship with nature, I’ll go with it. Less successful, I think, it mapping our postmodern collapse metaphors onto the culture of the Biblical era. Political and social strains are perpetual, as are attempts to situate ourselves meaningfully in relation to nature, but I daresay we face a far more significant historical discontinuity (civilizational collapse and probable NTE) than those in the Middle East 2000 years ago. Maybe the differences are only in degree and suffice as an example of eternal return/recurrence. Hard to say authoritatively.

    • Siobhan says:

      This metaphor works for me because I view the Bible stories as metaphorical already. The discontinuity that Brutus mentions seems to represent an accelerated, exacerbated cycle of Paula’s helical hypothesis. In fact the boom/bust cycle of the financial world has quickened and destabilized quite as dramatically as the weather patterns we’ve seen of late. Even though the jet stream has slowed to the point of stopping at points, this has stepped up incidents of extreme events in every bioregion.
      So quickening, quickening, quickening…and then…? the singularity? We go through a wormhole? The rapture?

      • Eduard Florinescu says:

        Quickening and then a turnaround.

        • Paula says:

          Yes… Quickening, quickening, quickening, then collapse (read: death), then the turnaround (read: resurrection).

          • Brutus says:

            If things go as some prophesy, it will take several tens of thousands of years to even begin to recover. In the meantime, it will be the Silent Earth.

    • Paula says:

      Well, there’s nothing authoritative about any of this mythology mangling I do. All of it stems from my own need to make sense/peace out of my childhood experiences being raised in the Assemblies of God. I write about them here not because I consider them definitive by any means, but because a) it’s enjoyable for me; and b) I suspect there are doomerfolk out there like myself with a Judeo-Christian past who might find some peace of mind to know that there is a relevant spiritual context to all this.

      I don’t know how anyone can think about this stuff without having a larger context in which to put it. I can accept that I am going to die. What I can’t accept is that my death, and potentially the death of the entire planet, its whole history and possible futures, is all completely meaningless. Greedy evil people kill everything, the end. That’s unacceptable.

      I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “mapping postmodern collapse metaphors onto the culture of the Biblical era.” The Biblical era is thousands of years long and encompasses dozens of cultures… my take is that we are part of that lineage, both chronologically and cognitively, and that these things apply to us as well.

      The finality of global collapse is, I think, the whole entire point of our own mythology. It marks the final end of empire cognition, the final end of our cultural-evolutionary branch. Historical rhymes from previous eras foreshadow what we’re facing; we are fulfilling the anticipation our mythology was born to describe and illustrate. I really believe that is literally true. My efforts to map our current situation onto the mythological texts is so I (and possibly by others by extension) can more clearly see the path of this fulfillment, and gain meaningfulness from it.

      • Brutus says:

        I appreciate your follow-up. Interpreting myth and symbol is indeed pretty interesting, though not as empirically precise as our scientific worldview often demands. I guess I stop short of (or am forestalled by my nature from) finding the spiritual dimension you tease out of it. For me, it’s more nearly the story, told in codes we only partially understand, of who we are and once were.

        Paula sez: I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “mapping postmodern collapse metaphors onto the culture of the Biblical era.” The Biblical era is thousands of years long and encompasses dozens of cultures… my take is that we are part of that lineage, both chronologically and cognitively, and that these things apply to us as well.

        That was sloppy of me. If modern history is thus far some 400 years long and spread its societies around the globe, the Biblical era is somewhat longer, though more confined in space. I was mistakenly thinking of the life of Jesus and the gospels, since they together are central to Christianity. But you’re right that there’s a lot more to consider.

        Still, it seems you get what I meant by “mapping” as shown in the final paragraph of your reply. In light of the Armageddon story, perhaps the connection with today’s predicaments is more direct than I would like to admit. How canny and prescient the creators of that mythology (among others) were is worth exploring, no doubt.

  2. Mark says:

    Where I’m coming from is that the linear time mythology of the Bible at the end of the day just wasn’t describing the world I live in. I have to go more with the various (including Christian) mystics, Sufis, Buddhists and Vedantists. The Sufis say “Wherever the eye falls is the face of God” Even more precise is the Vendanta saying “There is nothing but God”

    I agree with you that we all experience time as both linear and cyclical, but it is also a human invention. Eternity is also defined as the now. Your analysis of the Bible mythology as pointing toward an eventual marriage is well-thought out and ties in perfectly with the environmental situation on the planet now, with its warring perspecitves.

    I mention these other “universal” religious perspectives because I see them as gaining more traction globally because of all the negative baggage associated with the Abrahamic faiths (servants of empire, fundamentalism, scripture as history/fact, persecution, crusades, etc) What seems to be lacking are the voices of the faiths that seek to find what is common to all and work from that perspective rather than focusing on differences. Or put another way, the way forward is toward the traditions that emphasize oneness, and away from the ones that emphasize duality.

  3. Brandon says:

    I’m new to your site and I’ve been perusing your thoughts for a bit. I’m struck how similar they are to my own while being from a completely independent set of experience and perspective. Although I can’t say I’m anywhere near as good at making my thoughts concrete and putting them into writing. Here are a couple of them which I think pertain, or are similar, to your post. With no particular order or structure just food for thought…
    1. In one day the Earth rotates 360 and our path through space would be a circle except that the Earth is traveling so our path in space is a helix. Even as the Earth revolves around the sun, the entire solar system is moving so the Earth’s path in a year is a helix. In the time it takes your watch hand to rotate an hour or a minute the Earth has rotated so the watch hands have outlined a helix. There is definitely something very deep about the measurement of time and the helix.
    2. If you wanted to make a circle using straight lines you would need an infinte number of lines to complete the circle. If you wanted to make a straight line using a circle you could only use an infinitely small portion of the circle. The ratio of the diameter (line) of a circle to its circumference (circle) is the irrational number pi. In some fundamental way a circle cannot “know” a line or visa versa. This could be a deep part of the structure of the world as well. It might not be too much of a stretch to say that a man (line) cannot “know” a woman (circle) or visa versa. Which makes the useage of the word know for sex interesting. But I’m getting carried away.
    3. A helix viewed on its side looks like a wave. When viewed from the end it looks like a circle (particle). In physics objects are said to contain a wave-particle duality so perhaps the helix is fundamental again and we are seeing it from different perspectives.

    Anyways hope that might be somewhat interesting and not too random. I think I might be in the underworld phase at the moment trying to piece together these random ideas into a new world view.

    • Paula says:

      Brandon, welcome to the site. Not too random at all in fact I have another thought to add to the ones you mentioned… The wobble of the Earth’s rotational axis as it orbits the sun would also create a helix path; as would the wobble + the solar system’s path around the outside edge of the galaxy.

  4. Mark says:

    Paula if you’ve never seen My Pet Goat II you will have a field day with the symbolism and archtypes, not to mention it’s just incredibly well done.

    http://www.heliofant.com/index.html

  5. ulvfugl says:

    @ Paula, above

    I don’t know how anyone can think about this stuff without having a larger context in which to put it. I can accept that I am going to die. What I can’t accept is that my death, and potentially the death of the entire planet, its whole history and possible futures, is all completely meaningless. Greedy evil people kill everything, the end. That’s unacceptable.
    I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “mapping postmodern collapse metaphors onto the culture of the Biblical era.” The Biblical era is thousands of years long and encompasses dozens of cultures… my take is that we are part of that lineage, both chronologically and cognitively, and that these things apply to us as well.
    The finality of global collapse is, I think, the whole entire point of our own mythology. It marks the final end of empire cognition, the final end of our cultural-evolutionary branch. Historical rhymes from previous eras foreshadow what we’re facing; we are fulfilling the anticipation our mythology was born to describe and illustrate. I really believe that is literally true. My efforts to map our current situation onto the mythological texts is so I (and possibly by others by extension) can more clearly see the path of this fulfillment, and gain meaningfulness from it.

    Thank you for those highly intelligent and insightful thoughts.

    I have struggled through all of that, am struggling through all of that. I don’t see how the possibility that ”Greedy evil people kill everything, the end.” can be excluded. I think that is the reality, the prospect facing us all. I think it is unavoidable.

    Yes, it is unacceptable. The stark horror of that conclusion is so appalling that any other option is preferable.

    I think it is not just ‘greedy evil’, it’s ignorance, lack of education, and people locked into ‘bad’ mythologies, amongst other things.

    I think you can have ‘a larger context in which to put it’ by seeing the Judaeo-Christian heritage of which you are partaking, as just one strand of the much larger mythic heritage of humanity, in the way, say, Joseph Campbell does, along with the scientific viewpoint.

    The way I see it, we are story telling animals. All we have are our stories. From studying the science as closely as I can, the picture that I get, is that we will vanish, along with most else, and leave a trace layer of plastic fragments in the geological strata.

    That might mean something ? :-)

    Meanwhile, here we are, telling our stories… :-)

    • Paula says:

      The narrative “greedy evil people kill everything, the end” (GEPKETE) is true only to the extent one accepts there is no Spirit in the universe. I can understand why/how people come to that conclusion, but for myself, I don’t believe that… there’s never been a time in my life that I can identify when I’ve thought the material world was all there is or can be. It seems glaringly obvious to me that some animating force must underlie the existence and evolution of everything, and that it must possess something like consciousness. This animating force, the mind inside of Nature (Wakan Tanka, Source, Elohim, the Tao, Spirit) means, automatically, that the GEPKETE narrative is untenable — that story only works if there are no spirits in the material world. Even if we humans do extinct ourselves, we did blink into manifestation for a brief moment… that in itself is existentially fucking amazing, so amazing that ultimately, in the grand scheme of eternal Spirit, it completely overshadows the GEPKETE part.

      The reality of NTE is not yet written in stone and won’t be until the smallest viable breeding population of humans is wiped out. Until that happens the possibility exists that humans will rebuild, and in my mind, the stories future humans rebuild upon is of utmost importance, lest the wheel of civilization simply crank around one more or ten or a hundred times and do in the planet for good. Not that I think my miniscule efforts in ill health will contribute much or anything to that issue but maybe if some survivor is conscious of it, it’ll get carried into Civ v. 2.0.

      So don’t know if that’s at all useful to you, but that’s how I’m approaching all of this. Ultimately I can’t buy into NTE because the fact is we can’t know what will happen in the future, and we don’t know what kind of “white swans” will show up at our doorstep. I just really hope people don’t become so focused on the very worst that they are blind to the white swans when and if they do make their appearances.

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