What Is It Like to Suffer a Phase Change?

More or less like this; like these months we now are living, perhaps – if we are fortunate, and steadfast.

Minds work in sympathy. They are attuned to each other. They think of the same sorts of things at more or less the same time; notice the same things, neglect the same things. They proceed in general agreement on the shape of things, this being the only way they can make themselves intelligible to each other, or therefore coordinate their acts. They feel here or there each a quibble or discomfiture, an uncertainty or perplexity. But these are smoothed over by the great massive flux of their agreements, rolling along like a huge river. A thousand pebbles fall into the river, and it does not notice. It is disturbed for a moment, but not troubled or changed in its course.

But every now and then something huge happens to the river. A flash flood driving down a side canyon carries millions of tons of rock debris into the main bed, damming it. The river rises behind the dam, then tumbles down an altogether new spillway. Where before it had skirted a wall of the canyon, now it rams directly into the base of it. The erosive power of the river saps the wall, and then soon – in the twinkling of an eye, geologically – the immense wall collapses, and the river must once again find a new course, this time over a much larger dam.

Even ancient meanders, entrenched thousands of feet below the rim, can be abandoned in this way.

This is what is now happening to the mind of the West. There have been a number of flash floods that have shunted the river bed back and forth within the raw new canyon carved in the aftermath of the Jacobin earthquake. But now, some more radical shift is under way. The canyon itself is changing course. With the rise of what to the Leftist press, immured still within the windowless ideological categories of Jacobinism, is intelligible only as “populism,” but that orthosphereans can see is something like a nascent Reaction, the West has perhaps begun to turn from its long nightmare struggle with the Revolution. The quest for utopia is now revealed to be an utter fool’s errand. Word of the nakedness of the Emperor who called it is now spreading everywhere. The authority of the Established old regime is in millions of minds shattered to pieces, its instruments of power are now flaccid.

It’s not a tidy process, and in each mind takes some time. The scales fall from the eyes one by one. But once they do begin to fall, their fall compounds, and forms soon a cascade. Minds operate in synchrony; they reinforce each other by the tales they tell each other. When scales are falling from the eyes of many, they fall that much more frequently from many others. When a reasonable woman of wide acquaintance begins to question, say, feminism, so do many others who hear of it.

The water of the river is now piling up in a confused mass at the foot of this titanic new dam that has ruined its old reliable courses. Where shall we send it?

7 thoughts on “What Is It Like to Suffer a Phase Change?

  1. Pingback: What Is It Like to Suffer a Phase Change? | Aus-Alt-Right

  2. Pingback: What Is It Like to Suffer a Phase Change? | Reaction Times

  3. It was once common to divide a man’s life into “ages” rather than decades. In most systems the basic unit was seven years, and three these were bundled into an age lasting 21 years. This yielded the four ages of man: minority or “first youth” (to 21), youth (21-42), middle age (42-63), and old age (63- ) The steps between these ages were called climacterics, from the Greek word for rungs on a ladder, the last one, at 63 (a doozie) the Grand Climacteric. The notion was that a climacteric marked a phase change, the onset of a new order in the psychology and physiology of the individual. Having gone through two of these climacterics, I’d say this system has something to it.

    We find the same idea in various systems of ages of human history. In Christianity, the most common of these is the Seven Ages of Mankind that St. Augustine proposed. Of course Christians generally call these ages millennia, which all right-thinking people know to mean just “a long time.” We’re in the sixth millennium, and the seventh will be The Millennium–essentially the Grand Climacteric of human history.

    The phase change you describe is not this Grand Climacteric, whereafter Satan shall be bound and Christ will rule as king, but it is a little climacteric whereafter nothing will ever be the same again.

    • As a culture, we may just have begun to pass through the second climacteric: the period when, having been schooled a bit by hard knocks and a dreadful and permanent commitment to the long term prospects of some infant lives, a young man begins to abandon the wild utopian fancies of his youth. It is by then, at age 28 or so, that conservatism will have begun to flower, if ever it will.

  4. From the very start, all public discourse in America assumed the form of some variation or other on a Liberal theme, to the point where the likes of Lionel Trilling could confidently (and accurately) boast that Liberalism was the *only* intellectual tradition in America. Now all of a sudden, and as though out of nowhere, the hitherto iron grip of liberalism on consciousness is beginning to loosen, and people are asking foundational questions even as unprecedented efforts to stop them from asking *any* questions are being made. Ten years ago the idea would have seemed laughably preposterous- yet here we are. I’m glad I lived long enough to see it.

    • Yes. People are beginning to realize that it is possible to have a humane and reasonable civilization that is illiberal. Up until just a few months ago, that realization was confined to a few small redoubts like the Orthosphere. Everyone else *just knew* that the only proper sort of political order was liberal democracy under a universal franchise, and that all other systems were fundamentally evil and barbaric, both. But now, large swathes of the public have realized that democracy is incorrigibly problematic. Support for democracy has begun to wane.

      The horror and panic of the Press at their apprehension of this dawning realization in the public mind are good indices of its depth and hardiness.

  5. Different people react in different ways to phase change, just as they do to Di-Rhenium Throxilate poisoning. The robust drop a couple of antacid tablets and suck it up. The weak exhibit these symptoms (in order): Persnicketyness, conniption fits, and, in the terminal crisis, uncontrollable throxilation. At many universities across the land, undergraduates can now major in uncontrollable throxilation.


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