Friday, August 2, 2013
Voudon-Gnostic Time Travel
I would like to take some time to consider the conception of occult time-travel offered in Michael Bertiaux's The Voudon Gnostic Workbook. I suppose, if my considerations are successful, I wont have taken anything of value at all.
Michael gives us 25 definitions "towards a zothyrian psychology of time-travel" in Part One, Chapter Three, Section Four on "The Aiwaz-Physics" of The Voudon Gnostic Workbook. This is the only section I want to deal with for now, and specifically just the first 9 definitions which provide, I think, the foundation for the entire psychology/metaphysics of time. Here are the first 9 definitions:
"1. The unconscious = the archetypal realm of possibilities feeding into the present (ego-id) and past (transcendental-id).
2. The superconscious = the archetypal realm of possibilities feeding into the present (ego-id) and future (transcendental-ego).
3. The transcendental ego = the future part of the Self.
4. The transcendental id = the past part of the Self.
5. The future is "inside" the transcendental-ego.
6. The past is "inside" the transcendental-id.
7. Because of the "action" of the transcendental-ego, the superconscious "appears" as the future.
8. Because of the "action" of the transcendental-id, the unconscious "appears" as the past.
9. The "action" of trying to connect with ego and id creates time-lines."
This alone is enough to melt anyone's brain without bringing in the Animus, Anima and other concepts that show up in further definitions.
Let me say a few things here from the start. I believe we are being presented with an Idealist conception of time. Although Michael is very straightforward about drawing on Jung, I think he is also drawing heavily on the phenomenological philosopher Edmund Husserl. Though I am familiar with both Jung and Husserl I am MUCH more familiar with Husserl, so I will focus on him as the basis of my interpretation.
You could say, in a sense, that for Husserl our experiences of reality are constituted in and by consciousness itself. Consciousness, however, at its most basic level is not something individual and "subjective" but rather is understood by Husserl as the Transcendental Ego. One reason we find the word "Transcendental" here is that this "ego" is understood as neither "your" nor "my" ego but rather an ego which transcends any particularity. It is out of this universal ego that our particular "empirical egos" arise and on this universal level that they are grounded. In his later work Husserl eventually comes to the conclusion that the Transcendental Ego is time itself. In other words, the basic constituting activity going on universally on the part of universal consciousness which allows for all our experiences and particular consciousnesses, is the flowing of time (taken now as an action of the Transcendental Ego rather than as something that just happens which we passively experience).
Good enough so far. Now, Michael's picture adds a whole bunch of elements (for Husserl the structure of past/present/future are all derived from the Transcendental Ego's actions of retention and protention). But for starters we can see how elements of time are going to be associated with various elements of the (Transcendental and Universal) psyche. So lets list the elements of the psyche (at least as found in the first 9 definitions) and see what sense we can make of them. We have:
the unconscious, the superconscious, the ego, the id
the transcendental ego, the transcendental id
The first group are all elements which each one of us "have" and which each one of us individually "is". I can talk of MY id or MY superconscious. The second group, sticking to the nature of the transcendental, are not particular or personal but rather universal. Here you might think in terms of Universal Consciousness and the Collective Unconscious. These are things we might each, in a sense, be part of but we can't "have" or "be" a transcendental ego or transcendental id (in fact, by their very natures there can only be ONE t-ego and t-id).
Let's pause for a moment and go over, generally, what the basic terms unconscious, superconscious, ego and id would normally mean in a Freudian sort of framework. The Id is the collection of drives and hungers. It is a grasping, clawing, needing, thoughtless sort of repository of energy (you might think of an unrestrained animal or a human infant). It is worth noting that, for Freud, we are all bi-sexual (or perhaps omnisexual) at the base level of the drives.
The Superconscious I am interpreting as the Super-ego which is, roughly, what we might consider our conscience. It is the collection of societal repressive norms we are trained/raised into. The main action in the psyche comes from the superconscious keeping the id from fulfilling its every desire. Of course, in something like Freudian psychoanalysis, the Superconscious is more an enemy than anything else. Generally it is overdeveloped, tyrannizing, and sets standards and goals for "us" which we never can (or really even should) achieve. Psycho-analysis often consists in making the damn superconscious ease up so it doesn't make us miserable all the time. The key to the rest of the story, however, is that psycho-analysis has what you might call a "hydrolic" model of the psyche. The Id is not just a child which can be made to sit still. It is energy (for Freud it is Libido). So, when the Id tries to grab for something and the Superconscious says "No" the hand of the Id doesn't just stand still, the energy is gonna go somewhere. Thus we have the repressive hypothesis where the energy of the Id is forced to find other releases (rather than raping and eating endlessly etc. we engage in the various social outlets (careers etc.) which are simply sublimations of more basic urges). This, in fact, is the foundation of society, the sublimation of Id energy into various controlled channels.
Alright. Now, the next step is that the pressure of the Superconscious works primarily through shame such that we learn at a basic level that the urges of the Id aren't just bad to fulfill but rather are bad to even have. The superconscious seeks to repress the very existence of the Id, thus we get the unconscious which contains all those various energies, urges, desire etc. that the superconscious wont allow us to even be aware of having. From this entire structure, then, arises the ego as the illusory self we consciously think we are when our basic nature (Id) has been rechanneled or hidden by our social training (superconscious/super-ego).
Now, Michael offers us the Transcendental-Ego and Transcendental-Id as well (Why no Transcendental Super-Consciousness? What would such a thing look like or where would it originate?). Together we might, perhaps, wish to call these a collective unconscious (a little odd, perhaps, considering the Ego is supposed to be conscious for Freud but then again it wasn't generally conscious for Husserl). The T-Ego would, I imagine, consist of the various constituting activities I mentioned before. The T-Id, alternatively, would be the motivational force for the constitutive activities of the T-Ego. This is, in a sense, the huge oversight of Idealists like Husserl and Hegel. Granting that everything that exists is something like one great self-discovering mind you are still left, always, with the question of why something like the Transcendental-Ego does anything at all. If, for Husserl, the T-Ego is Time then why does time flow at all? etc. Now, if the Universal Mind is understood on the model of Ego/Id then it does things because it itself is made up of basic urges and desires (Id). This is something not unlike Schopenhauer's idea of Will as all that really exists. For Michael Bertiaux we have something like Will (T-Id) and Structuring (T-Ego) as what basically exist and out of which everything else arises.
Now, can we make the connection with time? Based on the definitions we might say that the Past is the Transcendental-Id but the past is Experienced as the Unconscious. The Future is the Transcendental-Ego but it is experienced as the Superconscious. The present is made up of the Ego and Id. (Note that the present has no transcendental reality then. It is, in a sense, just an appearance due to the transcendental interplay of past and future. This is also true, in a sense, for Husserl and his student Heidegger).
Why would any of this be the case?
The Id and Unconscious alike are that which we can not escape (they represent the basic energies of our psyche and, ultimately, our basic natures). However, they are also that away from which we are constantly trying to move and often what we are seeking to forget or overcome. This fits very nicely with the past. The past is that which makes us what we are, we can not be without our past and we are always dependent upon it's existence even when we forget it. The past is what motivates all our actions (the energy/libido of the Id) and also often what our actions seek to overcome. So, transcendentally the past (as in the past in general) is the Transcendental Id which motivates the movement of time while this is experienced personally in terms of the unconscious (foggy memories and meanings, fears we don't understand the origin of, dreams which harken back to the forgotten etc.). Indeed the very story I told of the way in which the elements of personal psyche form each other locates the unconscious in something like a "once-upon-a-time conscious id" which has been crushed into obscurity. Now, when we consider that the Transcendental-Id is supposed to be "the past of the self" and not just the past in general we can begin to think about our origin in something like the primordial ooze of the drives and desires of the universe itself. We arose from the random thrashing of the energy which is existence.
Now, take the future which is the realm of goals, reasons, plans and ambitions. All these things are the element of the superconscious. It is to the future that we look when considering what we should and shouldn't do or be. Now, the Transcendental-Ego is identified by Bertiaux (somewhere that I can't find right now, damn it) as the same as the "Higher Self", "Divine Self" and so on. This makes sense when we realize that the Transcendental-Ego on a full Idealist model is God. It creates everything that is and it is the ongoing event of existence of which everything is a piece. So, the Transcendental-Ego is the end point of any possible personal development. It is the completion and wholeness towards which we aim and so it is not just the future in general but also our personal future. Of course, if you think about terms like "Higher Self" or "True Self" you can see why this would manifest on the particular personal level in terms of the superconscious (the very idea of their being higher, better, or truer things is an artifact of the superconscious).
So, we start on the level of transcendental-id and we become particular ego-id's who experience the transcendental level in terms of our particular unconscious and superconscious while aiming at, and moving towards, the Transcendental-Ego (universal oneness etc). This struggle to connect "the ego and the id" which, I think, means as much the Transcendental Ego and Id as our own egos and ids, which also encompasses a struggle to connect the universal/transcendental to the personal/particular, is what constitutes the flow and experience of specific time-lines.
The final point, then, is that since time is constituted by elements of consciousness (both particular and transcendental/universal) which we can potentially have access to then time itself is manipulable and available to us in its entirety. The right forms of meditation, ritual, conscious-energy manipulation, changes of consciousness etc. can open the gates to time travel. This is clearly the most interesting part, the question of how one would go about using the complex structure we have attempted to elucidate above to arrive at concrete results. It is also a question we shall have to explore in the future.