Saturday, August 10, 2013

Logomachy Six: Time, Space, Desire and Belief

This is installment six of an ongoing engagement with Austin Osman Spare's  enigmatic book the Logomachy of Zos. These explorations select quotations from the Logomachy, and often other texts by Spare, and either offer them alone for my readers to consider and hopefully share interpretations of, or hazard some thoughts on the topic of my own. Please feel free to join in. The Logomachy of Zos can be easily found online, or you can just use the texts I have provided as a starting point.
by A. O. Spare
“Any fact or fiction has no difficulty in finding relatables as supporting evidence because everything has a 'point of connection' and a period of reality when instantly and simultaneous to time and place. Our difficulty is to re-evoke 'as now': so we accept semblance of (i.e. make-belief, religion or faith) as substitute of real belief (which needs no other reality than its own): what you cannot conceive as yourself is yourself (as another reality).”
In a previous post I had mentioned a theme concerning Truth that I believe continues throughout the entire Logomachy. Here is the quote slightly rewritten (I corrected some awkward wording):

“...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 all things are Real and True 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.”

I believe this theme is continued here. Everything has a point of connection and a period of reality. Just perhaps not here and now. Thus whatever is false in the here and now was or will be true at another when and where. This also means that all possibilities can be supported with some type of evidence precisely because at some point in time the possibilities in question will be a reality and the interconnectedness of reality (the universe as a totality) means some chain of observations or considerations from the present will always be able to lead eventually to every possible (future or past actual) event. Its a strange theme I think I'll want to kick around for a while.

Shifting topics, lets look at a touch of Spare's humor as well:

"All pleasures eventually equalize; their difference is of duration and degree. When certain pleasures are constant we naturally strive for their preservation. Hence to me a 'large fat woman's bottom' is spacious and spatial—I know nothing better—so why should I disavow or transfer to 'Love of God', or anything else? I am loving God via a fat arse. All true appreciation of the abstract is through other things. Better this, than acquiesce by faith in non-inferentials. Actuality, like belief, is asserted by feeling. So the Soul loveth all who loveth him through those things he maketh: he who appreciates my work…"

That last sentence is rather lovely. The main idea here seems to be that all pleasure and love is ultimately an appreciation for the whole and thus for the Soul-God. Abstractions like "the whole" or "God" or the "Soul" can not, however, be loved or appreciated in and of themselves. Only through the concrete particular is the general adored. 

It seems, at this point, that a glance at some of Spare's other texts might be useful. Let's look at his argument that there is no dualism, no I and You or I and It.

from The Book of Pleasure:
You are conscious of the gay Butterfly you observe and are conscious of being "You": the Butterfly is conscious of being "itself," and as such, it is a consciousness as good as and the same as yours, i.e., of you being "you." Therefore this consciousness of "you" that you both feel is the same "you"? Ergo, you are one and the same-the mystery of mysteries and the most simple thing in the world to understand! How could you be conscious of what you are not? But you might believe differently? So, if you hurt the Butterfly you hurt yourself, but your belief that you don't hurt yourself protects you from hurt-for a time! Belief gets tired and you are miserably hurt! Do what you will-belief is ever its own inconsistency. Desire contains everything, hence you must believe in everything-if you believe at all! Belief seems to exclude commonsense.
There is no doubt about it-this consciousness of "Thee" and "Me" is the unwelcome but ever ready torturer-yet it "need not be so" in any sense! Is it not a matter of Fear? You are fearsome of entering a den of Tigers? (And I assure you it is a matter of righteousness-(inborn or cultured)-whether you enter voluntarily or are chucked in, and whether you come out alive or not!) Yet daily you fearlessly enter dens inhabited by more terrible creatures than Tigers and you come out unharmed-why? 
I invite any readers to share their thoughts on this enigmatic piece. Clearly here we have a type of explanation of Kia, the state of Neither-Neither, as that in which both you and the butterfly are neither you nor I. We have, as well, the assertion of the power of belief. It is your belief that you don't hurt yourself when you hurt other things that protects you. Much has been made of belief in Chaos Magic but I have never been particularly please with the discussions. In general I think belief is over-emphasized both in life and in magic and too often there is far too little explanation of why belief should have any power at all (if, in fact, it exists to begin with). I intend, in the near future, to offer a discussion of "belief" and an argument for why, in fact, we don't "have" beliefs in the usual naive way we think we do. 
For now, however, let us stick to Spare. How does belief work here? First, it is always inconsistent. Why? There is a hidden assumption here found in the sentence, "Desire contains everything, hence you must believe in everything-if you believe at all!" What is hidden behind the "hence" that connects desire containing everything to the need to believe in everything if you believe at all? Clearly desire and belief must be connected, even identified. The assumption seems to be that on some level we believe what we desire and desire what we believe. On the surface this seems untenable, don't we often believe things "against our will" as it were? Belief can be sorrowful, terrifying, unwanted. We often fight hard against things we eventually can not help but come to believe. 
But in Spare's system desire is not what it seems. He is very clearly working from a position heavily influenced by psychoanalysis, in which our conscious desires are not the full story. We have, as well, a sea of hidden unconscious desires we rarely admit to ourselves. At this point it is necessary to remember Spare's view on constitutive desire, it is desire which creates the world. It is for this reason that desire contains everything, everything arises from and is an expression of desire. For this reason, then, belief should be made secondary to desire. Remember the earlier dictum, "What you cannot conceive as yourself is yourself (as another reality)." In this sense all desire is desire for the self, all love is self love, and the self differentiates itself into multiple realities precisely out of this desire for self love. To love the self one must be plural, divided, and this self-multiplication arises from the basic desires of the self. This is classic gnosticism. If we take belief to be the conviction of knowledge, i.e. we believe what we feel is real such that "...actuality, like belief, is asserted by feeling." Belief, then, is always a feeling of unity with what is believed, the recognition of the self as another reality, which is the fulfillment of the fundamental desire for self-love. It is for this reason that desire containing all necessitates belief in all.   

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