Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Speculations of Kadmus: Escaping the Two Great Deceptions

0. The following is an experiment. It began as an attempt to construct a coherent metaphysics simply, directly, and briefly working from experience alone and using as few assumptions as possible. This view was then applied to key elements in the history of religion and philosophy. Having done this the basic ideas developed were used to reconstruct elements of occult philosophy, practice, and several forms of mysticism.
Nude Descending a Staircase #2 by Marcel Duchamp
1.The history of thought as we have inherited it is dominated by two ideas that are really one and the same. These are substance and monotheism. The first idea states that for any event or change something unchanging must exist as the foundation. It is assumed that actions can only be performed by things. Monotheism is the idea that ultimately all events have one foundation or, alternatively, the truth of reality is unity and singularity. Science and atheism are as much the offspring of these ideas as religion and mysticism. 

2. It seems Eastern thought no more aids us in this impasse than Western. The burgeoning divine hoards of Hinduism are founded on Brahma. The wheel of Karma is one. Even the truth of Buddhism is always all and one. This is also true of the Tao, that great conjecture of unity. We perhaps have the most hope in Shinto, which can direct us back to the rich paganisms predating the Biblical Innovation. Or, perhaps, Buddhism’s ultimate manifestation in Zen can teach us something.

3. Zen offers us the idea that there is no secret, no need for foundation, and no source. It is here now. Thus speaks Zen.

4. What is ultimately the case? Shit happens. A leaf blows by on the wind. My left heel aches slightly. There is a winding and an aching. There is a glimmer and a whooshing. Leafing occurs.

5. There is occurrence. There are occurrences. I occur, from time to time, now in this way now in that, amidst other occurrences. There is leafing for me and me-ing amidst the leaves.

6. Monotheism and Substance Ontology infect every system of thought into which they enter like viruses. Old ideas are given new meanings.

7. The forces of Order as we know them come from this, that it is assumed the highest value is to partake most in the One which is Unity. All must answer to a number of simple principles. Thus is born coherence and consistency. To co-here, to hold together. To be con-sistent, to stand-forth-together.

8. Desire is the drive to differentiate, to incohere. It sets-out, it tears-off, it is ex-static in opposition to stasis. Neither desire nor life are consistent. That which desiring-lives stands-forth-apart and holds-apart.

9. Perhaps it always comes back to desire, desire which gives the lie to monotheism or else itself must be given up. Even in the mythology of the monotheist’s creator one is driven, at the most primordial level, to ask “why?” What desire motivated creation and does not this desire and its outcome mark the ultimate failure of monotheism? The story: Once there was One, but the one was insufficient to itself and so made others. Or: Once there was One which now amuses itself by pretending to be Many. We are left with the eternal and necessary failure of any unity and singularity or with a shadow-play farce.   

10. Before the Biblical Innovation, Chaos was the first. Look to Tiamat or the Greek Theogony. Of this Chaos we cannot say “One”. Of it we can say “Nothing”, or “Unbounded Many”, “Plurality free of Unity”. Indeed, the Greek Chaos from whence all came means a chasm, a gaping abyss. But this primal Nothing is just the context and the real first was Eros, i.e. Desire. First there was Desire, and the Desiring Earth. First there was several and the several became many through Desire. The Earth birthing children from desire. Eros – the will to multiplicity.

11.The Ancient Greek religion, indeed all true polytheism, are Religions of Remainders. Monotheism must privilege the One, the Origin, the Unity, the End. For the Religion of Remainders, however, priority is always shifting, unstable and fragmentary as the Many continue to overflow. Zeus is a third generation patricide. Half of the gods are illegitimate and most share no clear family connection. Here is a religion of Bastards and Late-Comers. Here is only the illusion of hierarchy and the breakdown of genealogy. Before the Biblical Innovation or Parmenides’ Speculation there was no “One and All” but rather “…one and one and one and one…”

12. The Dilettante as the Chosen of Being:
We must be one, we are told. The truth of our existence must approach the ultimate truth, the unity, of Reality. We are bombarded with both an is and an ought. We are an “I”, we must have a meaning, dedicate to a purpose. We must discover that one meaning which was already there. Our True Will.
            Look at me, this knot of vectors. The strands that weave this web produce no one work. My vectors produce no single straight outcome. Amidst the many me-ings there is no “I”.
            The truth of the self is a polytheism of identity. I walk many ways sacred to the thousand and one gods. To the poly-vocal tone of my prayers a crowd replies in dissension.
            Dissension is the mark of being and contradiction the signature of truth.     
            I am the dilettante. Foster family of multiple purposes, each unweaving the previous or pre-empting the next. I am the dilettante, blessing the verdant overflowing of life with the watchword “Flourish”. I will not prune the jungle-garden of myself nor limit the spreading rolling wave of multiplying being.

13. Change. The question of what change is and how it is to be understood, has haunted the history of thought. The answers, our enemies, arose from the problem of change and, indeed, derive their importance from it. Substance, Monotheism, both are born from the confrontation with change and a terror in the face of it.

14. Witness Aristotle, father of Substance and Monotheism, insisting that change requires unchanging substance as a substrate and all motion requires the impetus of one unmoved mover.

15. But Aristotle saw another possibility as well, and laid the foundation for a path we have not taken. For he made change more basic than time.

16. Aristotle, in the book which founded western physics, announces that time is but a measurement of change. Time, which was to become an inescapable tyrant, was beholden to and dependent upon alteration. Time, which from Newton and Galileo on was to be the medium along with Space for all Being, was for Aristotle an effect of beings. Even Einstein didn’t go as far, suggesting only that the medium is altered by its contents.

17. If time is a measurement of change it is not One, i.e. itself unified, unless change is unified by principles first. Here, of course, Aristotle fails by turning to Substance to ground change. But what occurs when we recognize change without Substance or universal principle? Without our fantasies and fear born conjectures?

18. The view of time as a measurement of change remained throughout much of the medieval period but always as bastardized to some one unifying unchanging, and thus timeless, force. Thus Monotheism and Substance.

19. Change without Substance, without Principle, without Origin, is Event.

20. The Plurality that is Being breeds through correlation. Individual events, unique and incomparable, coalesce through whims of their own. They coalesce as new events, new singulars after previous singulars as new particular unities. Far from connections, each new correlation is a multiplication of difference and a dispersal. When you and I come together there is you-ing, I-ing and now us-ing. One and one and one and one…

21. The realization of plurality ends the rule of reason. Each event is unique, unprecedented, and uncaused. Each overflowing which is a being arises of itself, or rather from nothing. Self-moved, or rather simply moving, there is no cause or reason. All is utterly contingent, utterly sufficient, utterly fragile. With each occurrence time begins for the first time.

22. Desire is an event’s drive to become another event. All events are change. Thus desire is the being of event. But here our language fails, there are only desires and events, no “Desire” or “Event” generally. Here, this, now is the eventing, the particular unique eventing of a failed discussion of the illusory generals “Event” and “Desire”. These generals only appear and exist in this particular, and this one, and this one…

23.       Elements of Chaos Magic, and especially the sigilization of desire, represent striking breaks with, and escapes from, the traditional dominance of Substance and Monotheism. What was magic and mysticism before this? A desire for unity. A desire for the Whole, to be the Whole, to conquer the Whole. Magic was about the unity of the self, the secret heart of the self, and the method of making this self more and more God. To know God, unite with God, become God.   
            But there is no God as there is no Self. There are only gods and selves, the endless happening of the many. But this is what Sigilization leads us to, for the manifestation of desire has everything to do with the explosive cataclysmic transformation of the self.
            Sigilization takes a desire found in words, born of a desire foreign to words, and translates it out of words by returning it back to the pre-linguistic. Sigilization transforms desire, it does not simply achieve or manifest desire. This is because all desire is ultimately desire-to-change. Sigilization destroys the self by exploding and multiply desire.
            This is why it is important to recall Siglization, as born in Chaos Magic, was derived from Freudian psychoanalysis. The Ego, in Freud, is the illusion arising from the war between two Others: the Unconscious which, if it isn’t perhaps without language at least speaks a language other than our own, and the force of Social Control found within the symbolic structure of our language and social context. The war between the impossible “I” which I will never know, i.e. the unconscious, and the Social Master I internalize as the Ideal-I and which I can never satisfy, i.e. the Super-Ego, is the everyday self of the Ego. It is an escape from this that Sigilization offers by sacrificing the “I” to the Unconscious, and the Super-Ego along with it. 

24.       Chaos Magic was born from the Thelemic sacrifice of all belief systems to the True Will. But what is this “True Will” and must it not be born from Substance and Monotheism? Despite appearances, this is in fact not necessarily the case.
            The “True Will”, we might say by way of preliminary formulation, is an effect of the totality of the universe’s causes and effects. The orbit of the star is determined by the gravitational warping of space-time by every object with mass in the universe, it is the complex web of every effect woven into all the others. In this way the movement of the star is the movement of the totality and the freedom of the star rests in its recognizing itself as the manifestation of the Whole.
            But this is an analogy, a story, a mythos. It serves understanding by way of illustration but it is not itself truth. This is clear when we recognize that Totality and Whole are images and not experiences, hypothesis unsupported by life.
            What becomes of our myth when we restructure it in conformity with life? It is necessary first to state the obvious. In neither the conception of True Will as total universal effect nor our renovated conception will there be anything at all like a “personal individual will” which can be thought in terms of choice or power. In our first analogy all Will will have the full power of the universe and, as the essence of my nature as an expression of the universal totality, there is nothing “I” can do to choose or change my Will.
            In moving to our new understanding let us first recall that Nuit is limitless, the circle without circumference, and Hadit is everywhere and nowhere, the indiscernible center of a limitless circle. The True Will, as the concentration of Nuit’s force at the point of Hadit, has something inescapably indeterminate about it. Indeed the limitlessness of Nuit and locationlessness of Hadit perfectly capture the lessons from life we are attempting to depict.

25. The Thelemic Derivation of Principles:
            1. Events rather than subjects or objects.
            2. Events tell us nothing of supposed unity or substance.
3. It is from events, their ever-shifting partial relations, that time arises as a generalization and illusion. Time-ing is one event amidst others.
4. The circle is defined by the center and the center by the circumference. The indeterminacy of one reveals the indeterminacy of the other. Nuit’s limitlessness is Hadit’s locationalessness. The determination of one, shifting and momentary in and as an event, is the determination of the other, i.e. an event determines space as well as time. Indeed, as Aristotle suggests, time is a measure of change and space a measure of time.  
5. The True Will, Horus, is the play of Limitless Nuit and Locationless Hadit. But the relation must be reversed. The Event, Horus, projects the play of Limit and Location.
6. True Will is Eventing without illusion of substance or unity. As there is no True Self, but rather event and event and event… There is no personal True Will. To surrender to this event now is to be one with True Will and one with this momentary particular Universe projected incompletely by this event.
7. Each event is a partial whole, an incomplete indeterminate whole, the suggestion of an impossible whole. There is no final Whole.  
26. The Toltec Formulation:
1. The Toltec system as expounded by Don Juan Matus or Carlos Castaneda divides Reality in two, there is the Tonal and the Nagual.
1.1 The Tonal is the coherent world of everyday experience and the Nagual is the indescribable mystery that lies beyond it.
2. The Toltec system is an Idealism similar to Berkley or Husserl. In other words, in the Toltec system all that is real is perception, i.e. experience of feeling. In other words, the only things that exist are experiences of perception and thought.
2.1 The Nagual is the limitless sea of experience, the unthinkable collection of every possible perception.
2.2 The Tonal is what occurs when various perceptions draw together into a unity.
2.21 This unification of perceptions is called Life and its point of unity is called the Bubble of Perception or Center of Attention. The appearance of this unity conceals the Nagual.
2.22 In other words, the coherent world of everyday consciousness is a limited unification of an endless multiplicity of all possible perception.
2.23 Reason is the pattern that arises from the chance unification of perceptions. It relies upon cause and effect, stability, similarity, objecthood and ego while in fact these are illusory constructions of a chance unity of previously disconnected perceptions.
3. The unity of perception that is life can change or dissolve entirely. When the unity of perceptions that is one’s life dissolves entirely we call this death. When changes in the unity, or dissolution and reassembly, occur one has experienced the Sorcery of the Toltec. Sorcery consists in changes to the unity of perception.
3.1 The world only is the unity of perception so changes to this unity are changes to the world, including body, self and others.
3.2 One experiences the Nagual when one dissolves then re-unifies the collection of perceptions.
4. In an ultimate sense, from the perspective of the Nagual, there is no cause, structure or law for the unification, change or dissolution of unities of perceptions. 
4.1 Unification, dissolution, and change to unities is an Event in our sense i.e. without grounding, cause or justification beyond itself.
4.2 This is all the more the case insofar as time and space, the necessary presuppositions of all cause and coherence, arise from within unifications of perceptions and do not exist independent of them.
4.21 There is no time or space in the Nagual as there is no self, world or object.
4.3 However, such changes in the unity of perceptions are approached from within the Tonal in terms of the logic and patterns arising from the chance connections found within a unity of perceptions.
4.31 These patterns appear in terms of Will, Choices, Actions and Sorcerous Practices. Thus, from within the Tonal, one can seemingly learn to unify, dissolve and alter one’s unity of perceptions but in actuality all events are uncaused and the Will is an effect and not a cause. 
5. The concept of Unity implies a force that unifies or maintains unity. In actuality there is no such force so that there is actually no real unity. There is the occurrence, as it were, of intersection but no ground for this seeming connection.
5.1 In other words, the unity of perceptions is only a seeming unity. Within the Nagual, which is Truth, there is no such unity. 
6. The “Experience of the Nagual” always arises from the reunification of perceptions following a dissolution. As such, this experience of the utterly mysterious is structured nonetheless according to a Tonal.
6.1 When so structured the Nagual appears, for example, as the energy emanations or bands of a massive energetic unity often called The Eagle.
6.2 From the Nagual, however, there is no such unity, no One called the Eagle, and no emanation. There is only the unthinkable multiplicity of events.
7. Insofar as the base level of reality is the event of perception, dreams and hallucinations are as real as everyday life.
7.1 Dreams are a repeated shifting of the center of attention that structures the unity of perception. Dreams, therefore, provide access to other ways perception can be unified, i.e. other lives and worlds.
7.2 Mastery of dreaming allows one to act from dreams upon everyday reality.
7.21 This is so insofar as changes to the unity achieved in dream can remain upon waking.
7.22 This means changes to dream worlds can cause changes to waking worlds.

27. The Sufi teach that Allah is constantly recreating itself every second. Descartes taught that the same amount of power needed to make something is needed to maintain that thing in existence. It is the same, then, to think of the universe as constantly preserved in existence or constantly recreated from one moment in time to the next. Nietzsche once asked whether we could tell the difference between possessing one soul or being the passage through which a river of countless souls flowed one after another seamlessly. What we take for being the Same may just as well by impossible Multiplicity and the endlessness of events.

28. Gurdjieff, Autonomy, and the Occult Phenomenological Method
1. Our investigation suggests that Selfhood is an event occurring amidst others and that it is an effect or corollary of various occurring events. Most importantly it is multiple, unstable, and groundless. There is no “I” over time, only different and often disconnected I-ings.
2. The mystic Gurdjieff makes a very similar point, claiming that a person has (at least) four personalities.
3. Modeled on the work of Plato and Aristotle, the influence of which gave rise to Neo-Platonism and its offsprings Qabbalah and Sufism, Gurdjieff alters various tripartite theories of the self. These models claim the self is: “Emotion, Sensation, and Thought” or “Heart, Body, and Mind”. To these, Gurdjieff sometimes adds “instinct and reflex” thus producing “Emotion, Sensation-Instinctive-Response, and Mentation-Thought”. The fourth personality is the totality and unity of these three.
4. It would seem this prioritizing of totality and unity would be an anathema to what we have claimed concerning multiplicity without unity. For several reasons, however, all is not here as it seems.
5. Note that from the start Gurdjieff insists that each of these are to be considered individual independent personalities. They are not, as they were in Plato and Aristotle, parts or components of the self. Here we have the rule of one and one and one and one… In order to stress this let us look closely at the concept of freedom.
6. Gurdjieff stresses that each of the first three personalities are merely the outcome of mechanical forces. They are “only the result of external effect, Man is a transforming machine, a kind of transmitting station of forces.”  This is as true for thought as for physical reflex.
7. In general, then, the several selves are nothing but machines. The automatons swarm about the earth. But what, really, does this mean? It means that each personality is an event that has no reflexive power over itself. Events are not caused and so are not self-caused. Events are their own law, or rather are utterly lawless, but they do not give any law to themselves. Gurdjieff claims that each personality as an event is “done” but cannot “do” anything independently itself.
8. What, then, is the key to autonomy and freedom? How does one come to “do” anything? The answer rests in the proper formation of the three personalities into the fourth, or totality. Again that damnable word “totality”! How the prejudice of monotheism haunts all our steps! But to escape this prejudice in Gurdjieff we must look at the content of the actual practices whereby one escapes the automaton.
9. The practices of Gurdjieff consist primarily in the very careful observation and separation of each of the separate personalities. One might, for example, pay attention to the physical sensation in one finger while counting a tempo with another finger while feeling an emotion one connects to a third finger. The key is to do all three at once in order to discover and reinforce that the self, and its attention, is not one but rather three. One can be sensation, emotion and thought each at the same time with each remaining entirely separate. Other practices involve similar divisions, for example paying complete and equal attention to one’s breathing and an external object at the same time. Again, the focus is on clarifying that the attention of the self is several and not one.
10. These practices serve to show that the infamous “totality” of the fourth personality is a division, an insistent multiplicity, and not a unity or totality. We can strengthen this point by demonstrating how this makes freedom possible within Gurdjieff’s system.
11. It seems that much of the automation of the personalities derives from their interconnection. Smell triggers a thought that triggers a memory that triggers an emotion that triggers a bodily action and so on. Since we can’t control what we smell we find nothing of this chain, so long as it remains intact, is really under the control of any one of the personalities. Each personality must ultimately be motivated to respond and the motive always derives from something outside of itself. Gurdjieff’s practices serve to break these chains of causation. A multiple self can smell without feeling and feel without acting and so on.
12. The key here is that there is no magical extra power that grants one control over the personalities. They are not governed by a fourth. The key to freedom which Gurdjieff calls Will is just the disconnection of the different personalities and their interplay such that one can cancel another (for example an imagined outcome can quell a fit of rage). Freedom, Will and Totality are actually, then, just the embrace of the multiple and disjunctive events which are various self-ings.
13. These musings lead us to propose the following occult practice: The Occult Phenomenological Method or O.P.M.
14. The O.P.M.
1. “To all impressions thus. Let them not overcome thee; yet let them breed within thee. The least of the impressions, come to perfection, is Pan.” Aleister Crowley The Book of Lies
2. Any impression, any event, is the birth of a new universe and the explosion into being of a new you.
3. You are multiple and Gurdjieff’s four personalities are just a guide for the investigation of the thousand and one personalities.
4. Take a moment, this moment now, and pay absolute attention. Note with care the Events out of which this moment, and the you you are in this moment, are crafted.
5. Is there an emotion? What sound assaults your ear and what emotion and thought and reaction accompanies this noise? What do you feel in your body? What colors are coloring before your eyes and what do they mean to you? Observe as many such events as you can.
6. Having noted each of these events note their complexity, note how there is no color without memory, thought and emotional response. Note how the feel of your body gives rise to non-bodily events. Note how each thing happening around you carries with it the “you” who notes it. Pure seeing, thinking, hearing, feeling are all abstractions and no one event is a pure one.
7. In this we go beyond Gurdjieff’s illusion of four pure selves. The many-more-multiple-self is not thought and emotion but the inexpressible complexity of even one event in which we fancy we find these woven strands.
8. Note the tensions between these events and the you which yous in each event. Concentrate on the multiple yous you find in one moment in the form of the many events. Focus on their contradictions, their failures to blend, their battles.
9. This practice, brought to perfection, leads to the multiple experience of the multiple-self without center, unity or totality.

29.       Somewhere Thebes is born.
            A hand scatters serpent’s teeth,
            the seeds disgorge their gory product,
            and clash of battle commences.

Kadmus calls,
Chaos calls.
Ompehda Balatah!

Somewhere for someone
illusion sets. A serpent stirs
and scenes of wonder 
            scatter as stary sky.

            Kadmus calls,
            Chaos calls.
            Ompehda Balatah!

            Somehow shackles break,
            this is the law of events.
            No shadows last forever,
            always lies languish.

            Kadmus calls,
            Kadmus falls,
            Chaos is born.
            Ompehda Balatah.

Cadmus Sowing the Dragon's Teeth, by Maxfield Parrish, 1908


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