The Culture of Immanence

The Tower of Babel is the subject of three oil paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1563. US Public Domain
The Tower of Babel is the subject of three oil paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1563. US Public Domain

Western civilization has been on the trajectory of transcendence, but this is beginning to change as society takes an immanent turn. The trajectory of transcendence creates a culture based on vertical power structures, built upon hierarchies; and like the Tower of Babel these hierarchies are crumbling just as they reaches toward their apogee. In a paper titled the Culture of immanence, Barreto and Perissinotto discuss the radical changes taking place in our world, and the emerging culture of immanence:

“Although as yet unnoticed by some, a radical change is beginning to take place in world culture that will astound even the most learned. Profound changes are occurring within postmodern societies and giving rise to transformations that will have unpredictable and immeasurable consequences. We are on the threshold of catastrophic events, with paradigm changes that defy definition. Previously solid institutions, groaning under the weight of historical tradition, may well be blown away by cultural storm winds. In every discipline – from mathematics to the arts, from biology to economics – we see profound modifications in our feelings about the preconceived canons, and we are heading for a generalized state of crisis in contemporary culture. We still see the world from the historical vantage point of the culture of transcendence, although its dominance is now being challenged.”

As the old matrix is failing, new ground is emerging. Like a rhizomal root potentiating, the culture of immanence has been brewing under the surface. Barreto and Perissinotto say,

In the history of Western culture, there have been several attempts to replace the culture of transcendence with one of immanence… since the ‘god-as-the-world’ of the Stoics and the followers of Spinoza, through to the Dionysian spirit of Nietzscheans.

It is only now that it is emerging everywhere, blossoming forth. This new paradigm is all around us. It is a shift that is occurring within us, at the very heart of our ways of being, becoming, and knowing.  It is a deep spiritual truth that is emerging into the collective mind and potentiating a cultural shift: like a dream that you had last night, and cannot remember, but which affects your day nonetheless. It is a contemplation of the unnameable, of the unspeakable, which, nevertheless, begins to be uttered in our poetry, our art, our news ways of conceptualizing, and in our collective dreaming. It is the transcendental emerging into the social body, not through fixated perspectives or empty representations, but through the collective energy of our creative acts. Barreto and Perissinotto reveal this when they say,

Transcendental contemplation – of beauty or of the sublime – gives way to immanent participative and transformative interaction.

The integration of various transcendental spiritual traditions, the intermingling of cultures, the earthquake in continental philosophy, the increase in those participating in spiritual practice, the underground creative movements, the myriad of potent voices populating the web: all the emergent perspectives mingling and mixing in the minds and hearts of the people of this world forming new ways of relating and creating and being together. Something is emerging from the depth of our collective psychic life: a new myth, a new perspective, a new relationship to the earth and each other.  It is a spiritual shift, becoming a cultural shift, transforming the social matrix.

While immanence may be the vision of the mystic and philosophers, the emergent effects are there for all to see. Vertical power structures lose their potency, and horizontal and rhizomal movements take root. New ways of organizing, socializing, creating, and sharing emerge: the culture of immanence blossoms forth. The multiplicity of voices grows louder.

The internet is providing a means for the equalization of expression and knowledge. Thought, opinion, self-expression and art pour forth from individuals all around the world, day and night: a continual flow and flux of perspective. Within this world-wide-web concepts emerge, take root and blossom without having to move through the previously preordained channels of ascent and acceptance.

People are forming creative networks: concentrated around shared interests, developing new ways of seeing and knowing, and in this process freeing themselves from the bounds and confines of the transcendent matrix.  This leads to collective configurations of individuals that are co-creative, and thus share in the process forming new ways of articulating our shared human subjectivity. This relationality provides a subtle but profound means for questioning outdated ideologies and potentates new ways of conceptualizing our experience as beings-in-world.

A new spiritual understanding is being born that is not a transcendent religion, but an immanent truth: based upon eternal truths and subjective experience. And this insight is changing the way we think about our relationship to each other and the world around us. A shift is occurring at the root of life, in the spiritual body of life, and this shift is altering the larger social body of humanity.


“the culture of immanence”, Ricardo Barreto and Paula Perissinotto


6 thoughts on “The Culture of Immanence

  1. Thank you for this wonderful post and blog. This essay speaks the truth to what is happening in this world today. What an incredible time to be alive. Thanks for your work!

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