|by Austin Osman Spare|
I awoke one morning with the names "Zos" and "Kia" clearly echoing in my mind
for no apparent reason. So I threw myself back into the task of reading the
works of Austin Osman Spare once more, a task I had completed in the past but without
the depth of thought it deserves and demands.
Upon browsing the Logomachy of Zos it occurred to me that the book might
provide a good ongoing study. From that moment onward I dedicated myself, through
an online discussion board, to a lazy (almost sensuous) study of Spare's Logomachy of
Zos. Each day or so I post an epigram from the Logomachy, not always presenting them
in order and sometimes choosing them entirely at random, and then toss around various
possible interpretations along with other members of the group. I also include various
other side information and observations of interest to the process of interpretation.
As the description just given should suggest, the record you are looking at is
incomplete, ongoing and progressive. My interpretation is ever changing, and so I say
any number of things early on which I later may disagree with, and which even later I
may revisit with new understanding. The record offered here consists of my interpretation
of the various epigrams, I have left out the other interpretations which fellow members of
the group produced since I have no right to make their work public. Yet, although
everything not placed within quotations in this work is my own, I certainly can not claim
independence from the influence of the rich insights of my companions. There is,
however, no easy way for me to estimate or clarify where I have been centrally
influenced by others. I can only state directly my gratitude for the shared wisdom of those
involved with the Chaostation.
Here is the opening epigram of the book:
1. "Wisdom is a stasis: Knowledge is like the "snake of eternity", constantly eating itself
and never finishing."
I think I will begin commenting on the first statement through a few other
epigraphs from the book.
"Our urges are ever ubiquitous, affinities change, and Knowledge becomes redundant."
And, one of my favorite quotations: "Mind, body, ego and all things are formulated from
desire; to desire forever..."
The question is, why would the ubiquity of our urges and the changes of affinities
have anything to do with Knowledge becoming redundant? (Generally "Knowledge" is
taken to be some sort of internal conscious grasp or representation of some external stable
entity.) Well, if mind, body, ego and ALL THINGS are formulated by desire, the
growing, altering, expanding nature of desire gives rise to an every changing, growing,
altering mind, body, ego and world. To quote Heraclitus, "Everything flows..." in the
continual pulsing flow of constituting desire.
Wisdom, then, is a stasis... a stabilizing of ever flowing desires which, of course,
can not last (note that here I am taking "wisdom", because it is "stasis", to have a negative
connotation... I could be wrong). Are Wisdom and Knowledge meant to be equated here?
Notice how Knowledge is pictured here as devouring (itself). Knowledge is
generally seen as a "grasping" an "enclosing-representing" and thus a "capturing".
Knowledge, in its outward (intentional) stretch beyond itself IS a form of Desire.
Knowledge is born of the desire of consciousness to devour (grasp) the world. It is this
DESIRE though which actually constitutes both consciousness and world, and so
knowledge (continually driven by its desirous nature) is constantly forcing itself into
redundancy and devouring itself.
Desire creates both the drive to know the world and the changing unknowable
world so that it, desire, may continue unabating forever. If you like the idea of
constitutive desire look into the philosophy of Deleuze. Great stuff! In another direction,
what implications might "constitutive desire" have for magic in general?
2. Our second epigram is quite the challenge. I am perplexed.
“More bathos: connexity of all our bloody selves to Ego is a nightmare commanded by
the overlooked, unobeyed latencies of return, essentially for re-union.”
First, I hadn’t the foggiest idea what “bathos” means. Here are some possibilities:
a. An abrupt, unintended transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace,
producing a ludicrous effect.
b. An anticlimax.
a. Insincere or grossly sentimental pathos.
b. Banality; triteness.
My sense is that this epigram should be interpreted, yet again, along the lines of
another epigram from later. See if you find this helpful:
“Falsehood, and all sham conceits, are the reflected memory of the de-related and
forgotten event resurging, re-exhibiting for validation; for whatever you pretend, holds a
misplaced Truth, i.e., inaccurately related time and place. This also is true of the future.
Time here is long...”
I wanted to connect these two quotations because of the connected themes of a
return of some forgotten (overlooked, unobeyed) something. There is also the shared
imagery of a fall, which is how I think I am going to interpret "More bathos" i.e. as a
reference to transitions from exaltation to the mundane which we find in the Truth's being
misplaced in time and space and so becoming falsehood and sham conceit, and in the
connection of all our "bloody selves" to Ego.
Again, as in the case of Wisdom, we come to the question of whether Ego is to be
taken in a negative or positive sense. Sure, the connection of all our selves to Ego is a
nightmare, but it IS willed by the "latencies (possibilities, capabilities) of return". One is
rather reminded of The Book of the Law; "For I am divided for love's sake, for the
chance of union." The very nightmare is for the sake of pleasure. It seems that it is not the
return that is important, but the process of dissemination and then re-union, not the
climax but the anti-climax.
In the second quotation we see some reference to concepts of repression, and the
powerful return of all the repressed (as we find used practically in Spare's sigil magic)
and we also see the beginning of a theme which I think I have discerned continuing
throughout the text (we will see). This theme is that of the Truth and Reality of all things
at some time or place. Anything which is not, will be in time or already has been. The
"Forgotten Event", of which falsehood is an echo, might originate in the future or past,
echoing forward or backward and drawing the misplaced truth to a return to its origin.
There is, then, always a relation to the Truth but this Truth is not an ultimate unity, but
rather the dispersed shifting pluralism of a universe of desire.
So, I take it that: 1. The Ego is a construct 2. "Self" is really only appropriate in
the plural (there is no unitary self save the artificial unity of Ego) 3. The same goes for
Truth, which is a pluralism stretched throughout time and space forming the web of
echoing relations (we have a fair amount of emanationism here). The point (or my current
formulation): There is nowhere in this structure an end point or ultimate reality, only
relation, echo, process, creation, union, divide etc.
This is all rather scattered... don't know what I make of it. But it does lead into the