Month: July 2011

Oh! It’s Magic!

There’s been some recent controversy in various blogs over the legitimacy of occultism and magic that was mainly fueled by Miguel Conner’s article. His argument, inspired by Alan Moore’s disjointed, caustic and adjective-riddled up-the-ying-yang piece of polemic called “Fossil Angels” is that modern occultism has fallen (or conceived in to be more accurate) into the mire of Dungeons & Dragons (no disrespect to D&D players) kind of phoney baloney. This kind of occultism has fallen into rank mediocrity and bourgeois, narcissistic materialism rather than containing any truly inspired spiritual or artistic vision like say a William Blake painting.  Alan Moore defines “true magic” as writing, creating music or painting rather than attending some boring old occult lodge,  hearing them drone on and on about nonsense.

Although I certainly agree (for the most part) with his blanket assessment, I do think that “magic” reflects a certain human need to wrap a cordon of mystery and possibility through rituals or gazing into a crystal ball or reading a stack of Tarot cards. Humans are creatures imperiled by their every next breath, with every heart beat closer to death. Humans try to shake a little truth out of their stabs in the dark. “Magic” which is defined as containing supernatural powers and influence over the forces of nature and the “spirit world” reflects an innate need to control and “mastery” over one’s destiny in an uncertain, nonsensical and powerless world. The gods have abandoned us long ago to our whims and vices. They have far more important cosmic issues to attend to. They no longer hear prayers and care only to the extent that their mission of planting the seeds of potential consciousness in the soil of the world is long over.

While we do retain consciousness, the mind/body perspective still remains subjective and lacking in autonomy. There is a limit or “veil” that even our spiritual “eye salve” can reach, much like hitting a brick wall. And both modern occultism and (drifting dilettante) new age paths have muddled this spiritual vision to a great degree.

Both the ancient Neoplatonist teacher Plotinus and the author of Allogenes voice a paradoxical proclamation of learned ignorance: “If you should know him, un–know him” (Allogenes) as per the superlative Unknowable deity, the unconditional reality without form or existence. In essence, if you want to know the transcendent realm, the negation of all preconceptions and though is necessary to gain deeper levels of insight and awareness as opposed through the means of ritual magic, since it is based on form and subjective consciousness. The unmanifest God can only be comprehended by the human mind through either paradox and/or ascent vision mysticism.

“Magic” doesn’t automatically mean “Satanist” or “evil” (although the Bible certainly seems to think so!), but let’s face it: most if not all forms of “magic” isn’t about communing with God or even attaining self-knowledge. The closest thing to this kind of “high magic” would be theurgy, but even that is up for debate. Magic isn’t a spiritual practice. As one blogger put it, it’s more of a “psychic art” (as in “psyche” or “soul” of the tripartate Gnostic system of substances). It’s about many magician’s own admission of applying one’s will in the material world to produce an effect. It denotes a person with a “will” of “power” and by owning it, you own proper.

According to Aleister Crowley, any willed or intentional act whatsoever is “magick”. He says it quite literally in Book 4: “Every intentional act is a Magical act.” He even gives an example for this:

“It is my Will to inform the World of certain facts within my knowledge. I therefore take “magical weapons”, pen, ink, and paper; I write “incantations”—these sentences—in the “magical language” ie, that which is understood by the people I wish to instruct; I call forth “spirits”, such as printers, publishers, booksellers and so forth and constrain them to convey my message to those people. The composition and distribution of this book is thus an act of Magick by which I cause Changes to take place in conformity with my Will.”

With that kind of definition, that could mean almost anything. So I took a magical shit? A magical piss? There’s a certain amount of fetishizing behind the word which becomes so malleable that it loses nearly all its meaning. Kind of like the over and sloppily applied word “Gnostic”. Anything that sounds remotely mystical is often erroneously considered “Gnostic”.

The one thing I don’t agree with Conner’s article however is the notion that occultism is dead as the title of his article obviously indicates. Sure it usually takes the form of narcissistic masturbatory egotism. It’s mostly verbose flowery language to describe something that exists beyond the rational and easily explainable. Regardless of what someone may say for or against, the occult groups remain and still do their own thing. Whether they are increasing or decreasing is a whole other debate entirely.

That all being said, I’m not about to dictate what a person should or shouldn’t do. The important part is to take philosophy, religion or even “magic” and make it your own way and not rely on someone else’s style or technique. Discovering your own voice is what really matters in the long run.

And on that note these meme images are pretty kick-ass.

Heaven & Hell

 “Every one who has ever built anywhere a “new heaven” first found the power thereto in his own hell.” – Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals.

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“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.” – Siddhartha Gautama.

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‎”He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.”

“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”

“The pride of the peacock is the glory of God. The lust of the goat is the bounty of God. The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God. The nakedness of woman is the work of God.”

William Blake, The Proverbs of Hell.

It all fits.

“The Rich Gettin’ Richer, The Poor Gettin’ Poorer.”

“They are dismantling the sleeping middle class. More and more people are becoming poor. We are their cattle. We are being bred for slavery.” – Some Bearded Fat Guy from They Live!

I recently re-watched the campy cult classic They Live! the other day. In the movie, an unemployed George Nada (Roddy Pipper) travels to Los Angeles during an economic depression, looking for work and happens to stumble upon a small, covert fifth-column type of rebellion and their special made “sunglasses” that lets people “see” the truth past the veil. This “veil” or “signal” rather blinds the human populace to the facade that a world-wide conspiracy (or as conspiracy theorists call “The New World Order”) have propped up through the media moguls and their subliminal propaganda campaigns (Obey, Submit, No Imagination, Conform, Sleep)  and control that the Power Elite have embedded into nearly every societal facet (money, politics, advertisements especially, the police, military, religion, etc).

Of course as it turns out, the men behind the “Power Elite” are in fact quite literally zombie/corpse, “formaldehyde-faced” looking aliens that have their tentacled influence throughout society and have lulled the human populace into a comatose and entranced like state of rampant consumerism and materialism. All the while, the world around them crumbles and falls, draining their natural resources until waste and ruin remains. Far-fetched huh? Well, you don’t have to be a super-whiz to see there are strong parallels between the film and current events. Except for maybe the alien part? Maybe.

There’s a great article on Dangerous Minds that explores these same themes. One specific excerpt jumped out at me:

It’s been quite a scam: the Savior State borrows immense sums from future taxpayers to bribe the current crop of citizenry, and these same citizenry pay the rising interest on that growing debt via their taxes. In other words, the debt-serfs pay for the bribes that keep them complicit.”

Well, that’s if you’re lucky! Do you think that the relatively poor rely upon Jesus Christ’s words about it being harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle? They perhaps feel sorry for the Koch brothers? Misplaced compassion? Paying taxes isn’t all bad and might be better directed to the Power Elite, but of course their servants in the Republican GOP (and Washington in general really) work day and night with utter dedication for this to not happen. All sorts of ham-fisted lunatics and fanatics have taken over the Republican Party (as if they were sane to begin with). Their mantra is quite simple really: cut taxes for the rich, and the poor can eat the last few crumbs falling off the end of rich men’s generosity. The fact that the matter is, corporate America and their Gringotts goblins on Wall Street, are booming. The “trickle-down” economy of course doesn’t actually trickle down, rather it trickles up! Never-mind the fact that the income distribution is so disproportionate, that it’s more accurate to call ourselves a kleptocracy than a democracy, a banana republic rather than a free republic.

That’s how capitalism works, like it or not. It already has named winners, everyone else has to work their butt off for little or nothing. Of course the corporate state isn’t going to hire you, why would they? It’s the LAST thing they have on their minds. Rather, they’re thinking creative ways on how to avoid paying ZERO taxes and raking in more profits. I suppose the archons must have their pets, too.

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21

“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24

Of course, Jesus’ proclamation to give to the poor and needy is a complete anathema to the Republican “Family Values” and their slave masters. In fact, the recipe that Jesus gives to commune with the divine is so alien to them and the “American Way” that its any wonder any of them call themselves Christian. I guess Jesus wasn’t very clear with his analogy of the rich man and the camel. If you’re content in being a rich and gluttonous “Randroid” sociopath and let the poor get their reward in the afterlife, you’re going to hang out with Satan and roast in hell for all eternity.

Most people just cower, inside, in fear, and suck up to the Power Elite while their little world and quality of life crumbles, and they are herded like cattle into the primordial swamp. No wonder conservatives revile you as you bow and scrape before them while they’re pissing on you.

Writing In Blood

Climbing the Mountain of Triumph.

In Chapter 7, “Reading and Writing,” of Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche writes:

“Of all that is written, I love only what a person hath written with his blood. Write with blood, and thou wilt find that blood is spirit. It is no easy task to understand unfamiliar blood; I hate the reading idlers. He who knoweth the reader, doeth nothing more for the reader. Another century of readers—and spirit itself will stink.”

The above excerpt affirms the “gutsy” and brazen spirit of Nietzsche’s affirmation of life rather than the denial of it that is often found in many religions. Nietzsche was a truly brilliant, arrogant (and rightly so) insufferable prick—even more so because his very logical philosophy rings so truly. Nietzsche is by all means a very complex philosopher and one shouldn’t take his writings at face value. Thus Spake Zarathustra is no exception since it is a literary work expressing various aspects of his philosophy summed up as the “Will to Power” through the overman or “Übermensch” by the means of parables and colorful allegory. Nietzsche’s philosophy is, first and foremost, a declaration of freedom—in all respects, including the intellect. This freedom often inferred a complete dissolution from the chains of Judeo-Christianity (which I will get to in a more in-depth future blog-post).

Books that are “written in blood,” or in other words, the drawing inspiration from the pre-rational mind deep from the unconscious, for example are far much deeper and passionate then the detached, stiff sober writings of the purely cold and rational intellect. The purely cerebral works of academics and philosophers have no place in Nietzsche’s world. It is this disturbing descent into the rabbit hole that is the unconscious that the best writings are realized. Jung did it.  This dichotomy was often represented as the two dualities embodied in Apollo and Dionysus. Apollonian order and rationality struggling against the Dionysian glorification of the purely instinctual were the almost cosmic forces at play inherent in man and society.

Much like the periods of the sun’s daylight and the night’s darkness and faint illumination of the pale moon, one cannot exist without the other force to balance each other out in an almost Taoist-like fashion. Each side serves as a viable function. Dionysian existence was the means to accept the tragedy inherent in our angsty, emo-ridden world and an affirmation of it despite the most terrible circumstances that one might experience. Yet, his philosophy would often be expressed in such related aspects of the Dionysian: the will to power, the eternal recurrence and the Overman. It is these “evil” and painful Dionysian forces in the universe that incite fear in people that they are wholly shunned. Zarathustra goes to great lengths to affirm life in spite of the darkness and potential terrors one might find in the shadowy corners of the world.

Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy tells us further about looking for the light in tragedy:

“But what changes come upon the weary desert of our culture, so darkly described, when it is touched by the magic of Dionysus! A storm seizes everything decrepit, rotten, broken, stunted; shrouds it in a whirling red cloud of dust and carries it into the air like a vulture. In vain confusion we seek for all that has vanished; for what we see has risen as if from beneath the earth into the gold light, so full and green, so luxuriantly alive, immeasurable and filled with yearning. Tragedy sits in sublime rapture amidst this abundance of life, suffering and delight, listening to a far-off, melancholy song which tells of the Mothers of Being, whose names are Delusion, Will, Woe.”

Nietzsche embraced the chaotic and irrational passions and conquers them through his ideal figure of the Übermensch rather than simply extinguish them that many philosophers before him had taught. Although Nietzsche had often disagreed with Plato, he still owes much of his inspiration from the ancient philosopher. In Republic IX, 588a-589b, Plato has intellectual and carnal appetite at odds with one another and illustrates this in an allegory, suggesting the human soul contains three features: the man (logos), a lion (thymos) and a hydra (eros). A healthy person is encouraged to use the man to train the lion in order to keep the thrashing hydra beast and its irrational passions at bay so that peace may be achieved. The opposite may be said for someone who has not tamed the hydra within.

Likewise, the Übermensch as represented as Zarathustra is a master over his irrational soul or “hydra” and wholly embraces it with all its fortitude and ugliness. Nietzsche however seems to disregard the dualism posited by Plato in regards to the body of being made up of physical and non-physical (spiritual) substances through the affirmation that “blood is spirit.” People do not have bodies. They are bodies. It is their physical characteristics that truly define their existence, here in the now, instead of  the stressing of the metaphysical and mystical qualities of another world.

Writing from fiery inspiration of the belly is the true creative hallmark of every writer. Without the passionate drive to create, every work of art cannot exist. In fact, every living thing and person on the face of this planet cannot exist without the inherent drive to create and promulgate its interests by the fuel of the passions. It’s the call of the Dionysian lust which inspires passion. The true Übermensch masters both Apollo and Dionysus within one’s self. Zarathustra is the “lone wanderer” within the valley of life, taking on an almost spiritual sojourn that is of itself a most arduous task:

 “Before my highest mountain I stand and before my longest wandering. To that end I must first go down deeper than ever I descended-deeper into pain than I ever descended, down into its blackest flood.”

Yet Zarathustra does not waver in face of adversity and instead laughs in the faces of his obstacles:

“Ye tell me, “Life is hard to bear.” But for what purpose should ye have your pride in the morning and your resignation in the evening? Life is hard to bear: but do not affect to be so delicate! We are all of us fine sumpter asses and she-asses.”

In other words: Don’t be a pussy. Those who constantly whimper to avoid pain and suffering remain little men and bereft of virtue and good merit. The writer likewise must face the scourges of the mind, of their existence and slay them with a sword of triumph (or at least conquer them and keep them enslaved to their will).

“I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity—through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!”

Most people live constrained and enchained to their past, while others live in a non-existent future which has not happened yet. Both the past and the future are different forms of non-existence, against which we compare and define the present moment. The teacher, Zarathustra knows ultimately that both these theoretical states of existence are irrelevant since the true joy of living and creating exists in the present moment, right here, right now.

His vision of the present is one of a bright, heroic future that proceeds from the magnificent now. The debilitating implications of eternal reoccurrence (that the universe is in an infinitely, constant samsara-like loop) becomes of no consequence because the self-realization that the higher-man Zarathustra has overcome these obstacles within and without. Without this knowledge, mankind remains enslaved to their pasts, their customs, to the decadence of society and perpetual mundane worldliness. Get some balls and move on with life! Volition is your friend. Write something that you truly love, not what you think someone else might like. Stumbling over artist or writer’s block? Cut it down! Do not do what you hate. Do what inspires. Do not slink into the corner in the face of difficulty.  Follow your bliss. It’s entirely up to you.