The End of an Age by Tristan A. Shaw

Today's Mass Extinction

Image by khteWisconsin via Flickr

by Tristan A. Shaw
Writer, Dandelion Salad
British Columbia, Canada
November 19, 2013

The death-throes of planetary collapse are now painfully clear. Global headlines reveal nature’s unleashed cataclysmic energy, with moving images of crowds hording around emergency relief (grain that is reducing in global yield), and, on the other hand, of lifeless androids announcing China’s plan to eliminate the one child policy over threats to its industrial superorgy.

It’s frightening, at least to our minds. Yet somehow, hidden deep within the nature of this human predicament, there is a lesson, purpose, or order that is not yet realized. To understand what is, in its most complete sense, is to observe a beauty or intelligence. It is to recognize and be a part of Truth’s unwavering conviction.

One thing is clear: the West has reached an extraordinary culmination of events, which render our future (as a concept within our minds) a seemingly unpleasant one. There’s a gloomy feeling in the air, one that feels like death — as a force we have unleashed upon ourselves.

Your own lives are in jeopardy. Canada is riding this morbid wave of consciousness just as much as China: Tar sands development is set to expand to proportions that in itself will ensure the demise of industrial civilization (life as we know it), and our own vile psychopath (medically speaking) is determining its social fate.

The whole world has run amok, and the only way to be completely certain of your personal destiny within this dark carnival of death is to commit your hearts and souls on something greater than your current sensual perceptions.

This is the very essence of ancient Greek wisdom. You can only partially find through the pages of Plato and Aristotle, and, if you were stamped by a contemporary institution of some kind, you probably have never heard the names of the great spiritual ancestors that shaped Western tradition and formulated the material systems that now dominate our existence.

It is hidden behind a veil of uncertainty, and even when we do glimpse it, it perpetually flees from awareness. What has happened to wisdom? To the feeling of eternity? Our historical and spiritual amnesia is what creates the anxiety and disease. Our brains have adapted to instrumental rationality and our nerves have adapted to the intensity of electronic stimulation.

However, despair not, say these great beings, for the mere presence of this allusive truth is so powerful and transformative, so fundamental to our current situation, that it instantaneously relieves the anxiety and worry. It liberates our soul with a sentient potency that has been utterly suppressed since the renaissance and, before that, our Greek ancestors — the spiritual tradition from which our whole structure of thought was born.

Cultures have their own history, their own narrative. But are you aware of your own? or do you turn away to the East for ancient wisdom? Can you grapple with the concept of death through our own tradition? by the use of philosophical logic and axiomatic discourse?

What about climate change and the corporate abuse of power? Can you see the intrinsic universal justice that is unfolding before our eyes? Can you place the necessary faith in what is to structure your own life away from the tawdry manipulation of bodily senses — to spontaneously build an existence that ensures moral stability and ethical perfection?

These concepts, which aren’t actually concepts at all, are difficult, indeed almost impossible, to translate into a static reality of words and symbols. This is why the spiritual ancients eschewed the written word, with the exception of some short poetic verses. And as Jesus said in the Essene Gospel of Peace, page 14, second paragraph, when asked about following the laws of Moses:

“And Jesus answered: “Seek not the law in your scriptures, for the law is life, whereas the scripture is dead” …. “The law is living word of living God to living prophets for living men. In everything that is life is the law written. You find it in the grass, in the tree, in the river, in the mountain, in the birds of heaven, in the fishes of the sea; but seek it chiefly in yourselves. For I tell you truly, all living things are nearer to God than the scripture which is without life” …. “God wrote not the laws in the pages of books, but in your heart and in your spirit.””

No wonder the church ruthlessly murdered him.

The collective suffering we face as one species (a species described as a biological medium through which the universe experiences itself), as a species yearning for something greater, is a suffering born of darkness. And through this chasm of darkness, this collapsing house of cards, will come a new phase in human consciousness. A phase that does not condemn the past … but understands it.

Tristan A. Shaw is a 22 year-old student who is a prolific reader and writer on issues concerning the state of governance in North America. He resides in British Columbia, Canada, and can be reached at


Welcome to The Empire of Poverty by Andrew Gavin Marshall

COP 19: Activists Demanding Climate Justice

A New Identity: The Gospel of Matthew

The Last Hours of Humanity: Warming the World to Extinction

Helen Caldicott: Fukushima’s Legacy: Shut Down All Nuclear Power Plants!

The Seeds of Hope by Tristan A. Shaw

19 thoughts on “The End of an Age by Tristan A. Shaw

  1. Pingback: The Nature of Reality by Tristan A. Shaw | Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: Embracing the Specter of Systemic Collapse by Tristan A. Shaw | Dandelion Salad

  3. Pingback: Introduction to Intelligibility by Tristan A. Shaw | Dandelion Salad

  4. Pingback: The Great Unknown by Tristan A. Shaw | Dandelion Salad

  5. Gotta get my two bits in here…plus another twenty or so ~ 22 really is the perfect age for a young man to “predict” the past, and problematize (that dreadful word…) the future.

    Great stuff Tristan.

    Popper is one of the truly great minds of his epoch, in my ~ not terribly humble, but limited ~ estimation. His insights about the so-called pre-Socratics are extraordinarily recondite. I read huge amounts of Russell at one time, but I find Popper even more intellectually testing in some very significant respects.

    That said, there is a minor revisionist industry almost entirely built on misreadings of Russell, that frankly I find very irritating; I think the main problem must be inverted sophistry/snobbery, because some people simply don’t understand 1930’s “Oxbridge” English, so they tend to project poorly contextualized & hasty conclusions, making up for what they cannot possibly interpret.

    Rocket knows me well enough however, and we like to disagree about some of the more delicate realms of prodigiously subtle complexity, so notwithstanding his strong advocacy, nonetheless I must say…what if Paul is wrong? What if Paul isn’t/wasn’t even Paul?

    I would invite you to consider that what Rocket may risk eliding is the enormous importance of Hermetic thought and all those prodigious and prolific mycelial threads conversing with deeper roots in the east. I don’t believe we can move ahead at all along our all-too familiar western sea-lanes, unless we’re prepared first to move over, that is to say, across, & along those well trodden ancient tracks to mother India; to the genial heart of that brilliant Yogic culture and what may arguably be the real inspiration for those fiendishly occult and almost impenetrable, imaginally wrought (theurgic) Orphic mysteries…

    I don’t believe we can even begin to “get” Neoplatonism in any of its incarnations, nor those of its Levantine siblings therefore, if we only look west, forgetting Africa or simply forego the ancient lived (!) experience of Vedic civilization and the great Oriental traditions.

    There is some dispute (in the West) as to whether “western esotericism” can actually be conceived as a uniquely stand-alone discipline at all, or whether such intellectual formalism is entirely legitimate.

    Personally, I see it as a tendency to indulge in a type of scholarly precocity that fails to serve, should one begin to inhabit those deeper connective tissues of spiritual awareness & synergy, that are pre-cognitively (or is it “post?”) so often argued into symbolic obscurity, through sheer prejudicial conceits; notions that resist the inevitable facts of cultural symbiosis.

    Thomas McEvilley goes into this very adequately in his magnum opus The Shape of Ancient Thought. Perhaps Popper too had come to this unfashionable realization, only I cannot really claim to have a competent opinion yet, as I am still studying his work.

    So, thus far so good ~ I suspect however, that you might find the versatile & adept contribution of that great Lithuanian philosophical scholar & classical linguist, the late Algis Uzdavinys, impressive enough to be worthy of provisional scrutiny.

    • Tristan,
      Hello, nice to meet you, and happy 22nd birthday. I was hoping that you could share a few of your favorite spiritual writings. For me it’s the Bhagavad Gita, A Course In Miracles, and Black Elk Speaks, along with some others.
      Thanks and good article.

      • Hi Jerry,

        The spiritual mentors I’m referring to in my piece above are primarily Empedocles, Parmenides, Socrates, and Pythagoras. Each one of these men have inspired me in ways that far surpassed other traditions (although they are very similar). Meditation wedded with deeper intellectual inquiry transformed my own thought, and Parmenides’ verse on Truth and Intelligibility was a seminal text (only a maybe 50 lines long).

        Having said that, I do enjoy Eastern Buddhism, Like the Tibetan book of the Dead, and I’m just starting to read things from the Gnostics and Essenes.


        • Tristan,
          Sounds all good. My guess is you are already aware of If not there are plenty of spiritual writings there. Best of luck to you, and look forward to reading your future articles.

        • Tristan, by and large a good article, though incomplete. The pre-Socratics are important but are specialists, just like the post Socratic’s at the Library of Alexandria. in between as we know is the golden age of philosophy at Athens.

          now fast forward to the axiomatic confrontation from Paul the Apostle at Mars hill in Athens ( Acts 17 ) with the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers. He presented the full Hebraic Messianic vision to Hellenism in one amazing speech. The very crux of civilization was challenged . And the challenge was this : one must have the faith OF jesus. ah-ha, but here is the rub, and where i think that your article needs the finishing touches —one cannot have the faith OF Jesus without having faith IN Jesus. No doubt that as you say – the feeling of eternity. but to be ushered into the eternity in the space /time continuum NOW comes by the revelation of Jesus that Paul preached in Athens. it does not come by Gnosis –mind /body split or Essene body mortification, but rather by grace and belief in the good news of his death and resurrection.

          We have all heard this so – many times the we don’t hear it any more. so western civ reaches to other places, eastern thought, hetrodox crossless new age gospels, when just like Poe’s purloined letter, it is it is hidden in plain sight. as Soren Kierkegaard says, “God only has 3 words to say about His Christ to the human race … THOU SHALT BELIEVE.”

        • Hi Rocket, thanks for the note!

          It seems you are more well versed in the history.

          What do you mean are “specialists”? I don’t see their philosophy as specialized, since it reaches every avenue of thought. It’s a meditative existence, one that articulates that ‘which is’ and, more importantly, translates it into existential knowledge. This to me is worth more than the supposed ‘nobility’ of Aristotle and Plato. They mark the descent of Western civilization, I feel, because they amputate the Pythagorean “mood” from its discourse and inject all their class references and hyper-masculinity. I do see the merit in Karl Popper’s first book within the “Open Society and its Enemies” called “The Spell of Plato.” As you witness in their work the beginnings of our whole nature of contemporary ontology, only now it has digressed.


        • Tristan , when i refer to ”specialism ” in the pre-Socratics i am stating that they could not come into agreement on the substructure or in German what is called the ”Urstoff” –of what the universe is made of . In the post Socratics , we are dealing with the silver age of philosophy like Hipparchus and Aristarchus , etc.. of what Nietzsche called ”The Alexandrian Man ”.

          in Nietzsche’s ”Birth of Tragedy” , he too took the same position as Popper on Plato , but he loved Aristotle ( just like i do ) . There is huge difference as we see in Raphael’s painting ”The School of Athens ”.

          there may be some nuances that you are missing here that the study of Medieval Renaissance explored , as shown in the book ”Aristotle’s Children” by Richard Rubinstein . A must read to understand that there would have been no Renaissance as we know it without the waning of the middle ages via the medival rennisance when the muslicm, jews and catholics ,translated Aristotle in Toledo Spain under the tutalege of Archbishop Raymond.

          without that there would have been no Ars Nova music in France with Isorythmetic quartets , no Dante in Literature , no Petrach in Poetry , and no Aquanias in Theology . why ? becuase Aristotle rediscovered in all 8 of his areas of inquiry , mixed with preceeding Augustinian genius merged natural knowldge with supernatural knowledge and changed all of Western Civilization. it took this synergy of the best of Pagan thought with the best of Christian thought to elevate and enrich everything that we take for granted today .

          check out Karl Jaspers work on Axiel periods in world history . google it in . The Pre-Socratics happened at the same time as Buddha , Lao Tzu, the Hebrew Prophets, Zoraster , etc. this is why Paul Preaching in Athens is so important.

    • Tristan —— here is a one page synopsis of Jaspers Axial period theory in the Pre-Socratic Era. The first Century was another Axial Period with Christ appearing , and Paul preaching , Buddhism spreading thru India and China , and the 5th century A.D. with the great Roman Catholic Synthesis of Hellenism and Hebraic thought .

      and then of course the Medieval Renaissance , The Renaissance , etc..

      • HI Rocket,

        Thanks for linking me to that. I researched a few things you referenced. I appreciate the info.

        I guess my interest with these so-called pre-socratics is in their spiritual ‘weight,’ their power to translate the eternal into this limited three dimensional reality from which humans evolved. Aristotle is an empiricist. He is an evolved version of Plato. This has its limits.

        Popper is right, I feel; but the “pre-socratic” discourse concerning human enlightenment compels those who are searching for a solution to the human predicament to consider it in a religious/spiritual context. Aristotle talks about soul and spirit but it has its limits. Thought in general has its limits. Language and science have their limits. The missing component, from what I understand, is the Pythagorean essence … the socratic message of moral autonomy and personal responsibility. … Parmenides’ treatise on intellectual meditation — that which is verses that which is not and should be.

        Intelligibility is not a concept for these “pre-socratics.” It is a type of lifestyle. This I can not find through the pages of Aristotle. Correct me if I’m wrong.

        So in light of the tremendous peril humanity finds itself in, the seismic problems bearing down upon us that could render higher intelligence on Earth extinct, I do not think more rational analyses will help. Behavioral spirituality, on the other hand, will help; indeed, it is the only thing that will ensure our survival as a biological species on this planet.

        Sustainable enclaves of virtue, locally structured to weather the impending moral instability, will be the only viable route to planetary enlightenment. Anything else, is more talk.


        • Tristan , rationalism has proven itself to be a sick joke. but one must see Aristotle as the culmination of philosophy since Thales and the Milesian triad .

          Now , once that is seen , add Augustine to the mix and thru the work of Thomas Aquinas you have the perfect fusion of the natural understanding of this world with the supernatural understanding and Bulls-eye !

          in other words –Aristotle is incomplete without Aquinas fusing him with Augustine . This is why Aquinas ”Summa Theologica” is soooooooooooo important .

          Plato –his idea of the good is incomplete . it became complete and fully defined by the perfection of Christ .

        • Let me add this : i love the Pre-Socratics ! i spent 10 years studying them . but they are not enough . one must push forward into and thru Plato, Zenophon and Aristotle into the Christian Era for any of this to make sense .

          When you see the Pre-Socratics dealt with Theologically it deepens their quest without going back to the Orphic mystery period of Grecian history .

Comments are closed.