"I should imagine that the name Hermes has to do with speech, and signifies he is the interpreter, or messenger, or thief, or bargainer; all that sort of thing has a great deal to do with language."

Cratylus, Plato

The Process 3-1-2

The process 3-1-2 means the triad in which the third force comes first, followed by first force, resulting in second force. In Rodney Collin's useful terminology, it is described as the sequence form-life-matter: Form, applied to life, reduces it to matter. In its negative aspect, this is sometimes called the process of crime, or the process of corruption. An example is the work of a virus. The virus represents form, or the third force, and it acts on life, the first force, reducing it to matter, the second force. Third force always stands between second and first force in its "density of vibrations", or intelligence. The virus is not alive, but hijacks the living, leaving dead matter in its wake [1].

Another example of the negative side of this process 3-1-2 is formatory thinking. Formatory thinking occurs when a pre-existing thought-form is applied to thought, essentially destroying the living process of thinking by forcing it to fit into the pre-existing form, which results in some lifeless result, for example, a slogan. In technical language, formatory thought occurs when the mechanical part of the intellectual center overrides the work of the intellectual part of the intellectual center. This is wrong work of centers, in this case, parts of centers. Right work of the mechanical part of the intellectual center is to return stored data, such as the response to the question "What is 2 + 2?". It should not respond to questions such as "What do you think of this idea?", or anything that one should think about.

One of the strange things about this process is the mythical nature of Mercury/Hermes which, on the one hand agrees quite well with a description such as "crime" when Mercury has the attributes of the thief, but at first does not seem to agree with the "messenger of the gods" role of Mercury/Hermes. But there are reasons why this is a good fit.

The first reason I think the messenger of the gods is associated with 3-1-2 has to do with still another mapping I supply in The Theory of Process and the Law of Seven. There, Mercury is associated with the 6th stage of Young's evolutionary arc, a stage that has the characteristic of movement. Movement has also been historically associated with the planet Mercury due to its rapid movement in the night sky relative to the other planets. So it is not surprising that the messenger of the gods, the god with a winged helmet, is associated with this process.

But the second reason I think the messenger of the gods is associated with 3-1-2 came after some thought and appears to me to be very fruitful. The idea of the messenger of the gods is, of course, that the messenger is relaying information from the gods to humanity. This has been Mercury/Hermes' role in many ancient myths. The god-knowledge here is clearly of the highest order and active, and so is assigned "1". The receiver, humanity, is assigned the passive or receptive force, "2". And Mercury/Hermes is the mediator, connecting humanity with the knowledge of the gods, and is assigned "3" as mediating or harmonizing force.

The Greeks were quick to recognize the identity of Hermes with Thoth, the Egyptian god responsible for bringing writing, and knowledge in general, to humanity. Thoth was deemed the source of divine wisdom, spoken through the high priests, and this role was later identified with the mythical individual Hermes Trismegistus, who was really any individual conveying divine wisdom, possessed, so to speak, by the god.

This really touches on so much about the very nature of knowledge. Human knowledge, say a theory, is necessarily a form, that is, it is not alive. It must reduce the living to something dead in order to be communicable. Truth is alive and not expressed in intellectual forms, it can only be symbolized, pointed to, hinted at. It can, and must be experienced directly. Any attempt to convey that experience takes the life out of it.

We have here, for an example, an excerpt from a book review published in Science magazine. The book reviewed is about the study of the human brain, and the author of the book discusses the two primary approaches to doing this: studying brain operations in an intact brain in a living human being, or studying the brain in terms of building blocks isolated surgically. The reviewer comments:

"What is the best method to reveal the mechanisms and content of these oscillations [brain-wave cycles]? This question is not trivial because the brain rhythms appear to be as complex as the brain itself. The usual approach to dealing with complexity is to simplify, but Steriade opts to leave the brain intact. His noble choice, however, inevitably allows uncertainty to remain in the explanation of observations. As a result, critical details must be neglected to create communicable theories.

Another choice is to compromise the brain's hardware. The in vitro slice preparation represents such an approach. Although the author acknowledges the large amount of information accumulated by the work on brain slices, he advises us that the conclusions derived from these preparations are often extended too far. Admittedly, the in vitro model of oscillations cannot truly represent the actual phenomenon, and hypotheses generated in simplified preparations must be confronted with experiments in the intact brain."

Science 14 Dec 01 review of The Intact and Sliced Brain, by Mircea Steriade.

At the end of the first paragraph we read: "critical details must be neglected to create communicable theories", and in the last sentence of the second paragraph we read: "the in vitro model of oscillations cannot truly represent the actual phenomenon". In other words, the model or theory cannot accurately represent the living brain. The fact that what we have in knowledge is not living and cannot be by the very nature of knowledge, is exactly what this 3-1-2 progression shows us. We formulate (3) our observations on some living phenomena (1) to arrive at an expression of it (2).

We see this clearly in the study of quantum physics. To study this world we apply some technique of measurement to the dynamic phenomena in order to collect data about the phenomena. The measurement itself forces the phenomena to behave in certain ways, ways that are a subset of its inherent nature. This measurement-phenomenon-data sequence is 3-1-2.

Another example is the modern classificatory scheme of all life, the Linnean system organizing creatures into genus and species, which are subunits of larger categories such as families, and orders. This classification has been accomplished largely by killing the life form under study to better determine such details as bone structure or the finer points of outward appearance. [2]

There is a feature we can observe (in others, before we see it in ourselves, as is typically the case) that I think of as "wolf feature". This is an automatic tendency to attack a perceived weakness. This often occurs in conversations, when someone starts to say something they are unsure about—they are tentative, searching to express something for the first time. Wolf feature detects this uncertainty, probably through voice intonations, and immediately and automatically contradicts whatever the person has managed to say. In this kind of conversational occurrence, we see both aspects of the process 3-1-2. The first speaker has expressed something from real experience, or active thought, "catching the thought on the wing", so to speak, and, like a hunter downing a bird, has used the process 3-1-2. The second speaker, probably already negatively poised, senses the living vibration and finds some formula to attack it, reducing the finer thought to a formatory contradiction.

In general, if we attend to our actions, we are more likely to use the positive aspects of this process, and if we are asleep, we are quite likely to be used by the negative activity of 3-1-2. We can be Mercury the thief, or Thoth the transmitter, depending on our consciousness.


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