"Everything is formed from the contemplation of unity, and all things come about from unity, by means of adaptation. . . In the future wonderful adaptations will be achieved, and adaptation is the Way."
A change in structure, function, capability, or behavior
To suit new conditions or needs
By which a group or individual improves itself relative to evolving conditions or needs
In this essay we'll explore the elemental phenomenon of adaptation, its metaphysical significance, and its use by inspired artists and teachers in developing new capabilities and creating profound events or teaching material. We'll concentrate on the meaning, structure, and dynamic of Adaptation not only to attain an understanding of this fundamental reality, but also to gain the ability to create significant adaptations.
Adaptation, then, applies to a number of phenomena, some examples of which we can delineate.
Entity Performing Adaptation
"All things come about from unity, by means of adaptation." Hermes Trismegistus, The Emerald Tablet, 3000 BCE
"The deeper secrets and laws of our being are self-protected; to learn them requires an adaptation of character and purpose, and a humility of mind and spirit, inconsistent with those displayed by the perverse or merely curious enquirer." Mary A. Atwood, Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy
Teachings Adapted to Time, Place, and Condition of Learners
Within the last fifteen thousand years, humans have evolved in a unique manner: through mental, psychosocial, and spiritual adaptation, that is, through physical and mental powers
and organizational systems. We have no evidence that any other animal group has ever evolved in this same way.
Ordinary books on philosophy, religion, mysticism, or the occult are the results of teachers of a specific era borrowing from the ideas and practices of former thinkers and creating a syncretism of doctrines and procedures which they then represent as their own new system.
Perennialist 2 teaching material and teaching methods are, on the contrary, the outcome of creative adaptation to contemporary needs of the identical stream of Perennialist truth by the initiated teacher. Certain material within the tradition becomes superseded and a Perennialist teacher does not repeat it just because it had been used at an earlier time.
Each Perennialist teacher arrives at a different embodiment of fundamental Perennialist truths, not because she is borrowing from her predecessors and building her own idiosyncratic philosophical system on the basis of their ideas, but because the needs of her students, relative to her own time and place in history, require new adaptations and techniques.
Perennialist masters do not build scholastic "systems" as in traditional philosophy, vast metaphysical infrastructures of closely-argued theses and emotionally-charged harangues against opponents. Perennialist teachers make genuine inner contact with the Essence of the Perennial Tradition and the Originating Impulse indicates what and how instructional material is to be formulated, adapted, and implemented.
The new adaptation of the Perennialist truth does not compete with the old rendition, as if to make the original intrinsically inferior to the more recent. Each interpretation of the Perennialist wisdom is completely appropriate to its own time and place. It's simply that the earlier interpretation of Perennialist truth would not now be suitable to the needs of contemporary students. Unlike ordinary teachers, Perennialist masters do not use earlier Perennialist material out of a sense of hide-bound tradition or because they are unaware of the differences in situation and need.
In a similar vein, non-Perennialist creative artists (writers, painters, performers, etc.) compose adaptations of material to fit the current needs of their reader, viewer, or audience. An inventive artist has a sense that there is a message or a range of meanings which she can discover in the original artifact and bring to others in a manner that will enhance their understanding and appreciation. At times, the artist's contemporary adaptation constitutes a rendering of the "meaning" or "message" superior to the original piece, unrelated to time and place. This is because the original creator of the artifact, not being a Perennialist, may have produced a rendition that was not as impeccable as it might have been.
This phenomenon of a new adaptation being superior to the original embodiment of a meaning or truth--regardless of the difference of situation and need--is most eloquently demonstrated in:
Patricia Rozema's 1999 movie adaptation of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park
The 1940 movie adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, screenplay by Aldous Huxley and Jane Murfin, direction and casting by Robert Z. Leonard
Patricia Rozema's 1999 movie adaptation is superior to Jane Austen's original novel in these significant ways (among others):
Fanny Price's personality is much more lively, self-confident, and intelligent
The dark theme of the family living on slave labor is brought to the fore
The oppression of Fanny Price by all connected to Mansfield Park is made deplorably evident
The downfall of Henry Crawford and Maria Rushworth is brought into onscreen view
Mary Crawford's self-incrimination becomes a dramatic part of the story
The justification of Fanny's rejection of Henry Crawford is made evident
The 1940 movie adaptation presents a much superior depiction of Mr. Bennet than the novel. In the movie he is witty and gracious, whereas in the novel he is, at times, a rather vicious husband and father.
The last scene of the movie adaptation, in which Lady Catherine de Bourgh tests Lizzy to see if she is worthy of Darcy, is far superior to the depiction of Lady Catherine and the scene in the novel.
The actors chosen to play Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy are superior casting choices to that of the BBC 2005 adaptation.
The two movie adaptations (below) of Jane Austen novels are far superior to alternative movie adaptations, primarily in regard to selected themes and casting:
The 1995 movie adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion: screenplay by Nick Dear and direction and casting by Roger Michell
The 1995 movie adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility: screenplay by Emma Thompson, direction and casting by Ang Lee
The actors chosen to play Sir Walter Elliot and Anne Elliot are superior casting choices to that of the BBC 2008 adaptation.
The actors chosen to play the major parts are superior casting choices to that of the BBC 2005 adaptation.
The Higher Meanings of Adaptation
Adaptation, then, should not be degraded to the negative or inferior meaning of compromising with a destructive society merely to survive. Even within a demonic culture--as we now experience--it is incumbent upon us to "adapt" ourselves to higher purposes: service, concern for others, integrity, justice, love.
The dilemma of adaptation is solved through Plato's concept of beauty. In his understanding, kalos, the word for beautiful, includes the meaning of "adaptation to higher purpose." Persons are beautiful not only in regard to physical comeliness but in relation to their moral
and intellectual capabilities and characteristics.
In Leibniz's philosophy, adaptation is the primary operation that conduces to a universal harmony.
"Now this connection or adaptation of all created things with each, and of each with all the rest, means that each simple substance has relations which express all the others, and that consequently it is a perpetual living mirror of the universe. . . . which means that the whole of matter is connected . . . so that each body not only is affected by those which touch it, and is in some way sensitive to whatever happens to them, but also by means of them is sensitive to those which touch the first bodies by which it is itself directly touched; it follows that this communication stretches out indefinitely. Consequently every body is sensitive to everything which is happening in the universe."
The Cultural Dimensions of Adaptation
We've seen that adaptation is a change by which an organism or an individual becomes "better suited" to its environment, and which becomes permanently "encased" in the organism or individual so as to perpetuate the advantage. It's necessary to define precisely what we mean by "better suited." As we've seen above, adaptation can be a negative phenomenon, as when an individual adapts to a predatory capitalist society and is said to be "better suited" as a wage slave to an intrinsically destructive economic system.
Adaptation of Individual to His Conception of His Culture
Since the early decades of the twentieth century the United States has been a pathocratic society ruled by certifiably insane thugs. One of the marks of a pathocratic society is that most citizens are infected by its psychotic rulers with the same mental derangements, so these demented citizens believe their society is completely normal and sane.
". . . The American way of life has optimized the survival of psychopaths with the consequence that it is an adaptive 'life strategy' that is extremely successful in American society, and thus has increased in the population in strictly genetic terms. What is more, as a consequence of a society that is adaptive for psychopathy, many individuals who are NOT genetic psychopaths have similarly adapted, becoming 'effective' psychopaths, or 'secondary sociopaths.'" 3
In a nation ruled by capitalist psychopaths, ordinary psychopaths, sociopaths, and normal persons are induced to behave insanely to survive. When illegal expediencies are concocted to make a society "adaptive" to psychopathic corruption, it makes psychopaths or sociopaths of all persons lacking mental capability to make themselves immune from the infecting brainwashing and moral corruption. 4
"A culture that cannot distinguish between reality and illusion dies. And we are dying now. We will either wake from our state of induced childishness, one where trivia and gossip pass for news and information, one where our goal is not justice but an elusive and unattainable happiness, to confront the stark limitations before us, or we will continue our headlong retreat into fantasy."
Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion, 2010
Contemporary Cultural Adaptation
The key to human survival is the ability to adapt to dynamic environments through intelligent behavior.
"If one studies the collapse of civilizations, one learns that failure-to-adapt is fatal. . .
The capitalist system is past its sell-by date, the banking elite are well aware of that fact--and they are adapting." 5
Adaptation to changing economic circumstances has always been in terms of the workers being forced to adjust to increased capitalist terrorism. For example, until about 1770, British workers in the spinning trade claimed traditional rights to a part of the product of their labor and were allowed to take home small bits of yarn and wool. British capitalists, however, determined to change the laws, demanding exclusive ownership over production material in the workplace. In 1777, a small group of wealthy Yorkshire manufacturers gained the passage of a statute popularly known as the Worsted Act. That measure established the Worsted Committee, an employers' association with the right to organize an industrial police force. The law invested the Worsted Committee's police, known as worsted inspectors, with powers to regulate virtually every aspect of the production process. But their chief function was to detect and prosecute acts of embezzlement.
On 3 April 1785, industrial police conveyed Martha Pimlott, a poor single woman, to the town of Knutsford. There they subjected Pimlott to a time-tested judicial ritual of humiliation and pain: a public whipping. Stripped to the waist and in full view of neighbors and the assembled community, she received precisely thirty stripes on her bare back. 6 Pimlott had been found guilty of false and short reeling, a type of industrial embezzlement specific to handspinners which previously had not been a crime.
From the beginning of capitalism, workers have been forced to adapt to murderous political-economic policies.
"The general history of the [British] Labor Party is one of adaptation to capitalism and this is because the working class as a whole accepts the policy of adaptation and does its best within that policy. Revolutionary activity, revolutionary politics, creativity on a genuinely comprehensive and revolutionary scale, that occurs very rarely in the history of a class. (Often, as in the French Revolution, the effect is immediately and powerfully felt in other countries.) That intellectuals and union leaders and political leaders have assisted the bourgeoisie in suppressing the independent activity and thought of the [working] class is undoubtedly true. But fundamentally they have been able to do this because the [working] class as a whole or a decisive section of it has not felt that the moment has come when at all costs they have to break out of the capitalist chains."
C. L. R. James 1962, "The Creative Power of the Working Class," 1962
The current ruling capitalist cabal possesses no genuine intelligence--only a pathological shrewdness--so it's incapable of adapting appropriately to a changing world. Capitalist rulers continue to pursue outworn policies of economic and military plunder, forcing them to adopt the most extreme measures of barbaric annihilation and political-economic terrorism. Their inhuman, murderous tactics will ultimately lead to revolutionary reactions from oppressed and murdered masses.
Rapidly increasing numbers of Americans are losing the ability to adapt intelligently to a changing world; they've lost the ability to think critically or to be discerningly aware of themselves and the world. In the face of utter destruction at the hands of pathocratic leaders, workers are passively submitting to their own genocide, similar to German workers under Nazi dictatorship.
Pastor Niemoller, a German clergyman under the Nazi regime, later confessed that when the Nazis attacked opposing groups such as the Communists, he was a little uneasy. But, he said, after all, he was not a communist, so he did nothing. When the Nazis began to attack the Jews he was even more uneasy, but he still did nothing. Then they attacked the Church, and because he was a clergyman he tried to do something, but it was too late.
We in the modern world are in exactly the same situation as the German
people in the early days of Nazi totalitarianism. Daily, staring us in the face, is the unmistakable evidence of brutality, economic oppression, fear-ridden conformity, pleasure-deadened mindlessness, ignorant know-it-allness, and unashamed hatred of the "different," the "unpopular," the momentary devil-enemy.
But people totally blinded by their pursuit of pleasure or engrossed in
destroying some enemy (the anti-abortionists killing their enemies, U.S. leaders
killing tens of thousands of Afghans and Iraqis and thousands of American soldiers) don't see
the crises in the modern world.
As I am writing this essay (3/1/2010) we receive news that a Republican Senator, with the compliance of a corporate-owned Congress, has cut off unemployment benefits for over a million Americans. Add this to the tens of millions that have already been cut off from unemployment benefits by the Bush II and Obama juntas controlled by the cabal.
Counterfeit progressives are complicit in capitalist oppression through their deluding workers into believing that something is being done to create a democratic society--when essentially nothing is done but rhetoric, propaganda, and the fostering of a leftist "false consciousness."
Self-destructive Adaptation of Individual to a Pathocratic Culture
Person Performing Adaptation
Capitalists Are Deliberately Destroying Workers
Obliviousness and Self-gratification
Intelligent Adaptation Through Creative Inspiration
Wisdom involves continually adapting to the changing internal and external
circumstances in our ongoing interaction with the environment to achieve our objectives.
Creative Adaptation of Intelligent Individual to a Changing Culture