This presentation is motivated by the need to confront the “elephant” in everyone’s room—the grave crisis we all face, as our long-relied-on institutions disintegrate; as conflicts rage around us, among us, and within us; and as our hitherto life-sustaining green-and-blue planet boils over. The basic proposition is that our relationship with a primal force of nature lies at the core of the predicament. Jung associated that force with the prima materia and Gebser with the archaic world. In this paper, the force is identified as the apeiron, the boundless primordial chaos first described by Anaximander in the sixth century BCE. The key premise is that our current difficulties are related to the repression of the apeiron. To show how this is so, I explore the paradoxical workings of the apeiron in the history of Western culture, in contemporary physics and art, and in modernism and postmodernism. After considering the urgent need to bring apeiron to awareness, I discuss the contributions of Jung and Gebser relevant to that end. My presentation is offered in the hope that, by viewing our dilemma within an historical context that calls attention to its elemental source, we can better understand it, and perhaps be better able to come to grips with it.   

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