Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ichtheology: Tail

...and all spoiled goods go into her nabsack: curtrages and rattlin buttins, nappy spattees and flasks of all nations, clavicures and scampulars, maps, keys and woodpiles of haypennies and moonled brooches with bloodstaned breeks in em, boaston nightgarters and masses of shoesets...

Thus Always

Echoes of events from twenty years before continue to be heard. The first of these "Ichtheology" posts began with an account of an accident I had at the start of March, and that of a similar accident I had almost exactly two decades previously in 1993. In both accidents I chipped a front tooth.

On the same day, Feb. 28th 1993, the siege of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas was launched by US Federal authorities. The post mentioned how this siege ended in an apocalyptic climax on April 19th, an event that was marked two years later by the Oklahoma City bombing.

On April 15th, 2013, the Boston Marathon was struck by the blasts of two bombs apparently placed near the finish line of the race. As Obama noted in his evening address to the nation after the attacks, "Today is a holiday in Massachusetts: Patriots' Day." Patriot's Day was originally held on April 19th, the same day as the events of Waco and Oklahoma City, to commemorate the first battles of the American Revolutionary War on April, 19th, 1775.

The states of Massachusetts and Maine now celebrate Patriot's Day on the third Monday of April, when in Boston it is comemorated by the Marathon. In 1993, April 19th was also the third Monday of the month, Patriot's Day.

Loren Coleman has written an extensive post concerning this theme in his Twilight Language blog. Eleleth of The Mask of God profoundly and poetically ties all of this, as well as a bewildering procession of other media, to PKD's concept of "sacred history." Points of contact between the Wake and the Boston bombing are convincingly and disturbingly highlighted in the Finnegans, Wake! blog. The weave of narrative convergence becomes tighter. 

The connection with Waco is already clear. To punctuate this connection was the fact, reported on local Texas TV, that a Waco woman, a participant in the marathon, had ran across the finish line just minutes before the bombs went off. Two days afterwards, though, the resonance of the present with the Branch Davidian conflagration was unmistakeable. A massive explosion occurred at a fertilizer factory just north of Waco, and only a couple of days before April 19th.

In both events, all of the staples for proper conspiracy theory-mongering are present -- prior warnings, already tightened security, suspicious "black-ops" personnel spotted, conflicting media reports, entanglement with state and corporate corruption, etc. The telltale sign for all conspiracy theorists of a "false flag" event was also very conspicuous -- there were similar drills in effect in both Boston and in Texas.

As is usual in this blog, judgement is suspended. These types of events end up invariably being bottomless. Consensus is never reached. Ultimately this may be to our advantage. Power can only rest on certainty and if certainty is in doubt the ground on which power is built becomes ever more shaky. Given uncertainty, alternate and counter-narratives can be easily spun. This blog is one such strand.

Once again, whether factual or not, this has become a tale of two brothers -- Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, the Emperor and the Joker. The presence of Sandy Hook families in the marathon ties together the two tragedies. The explosion at the fertilizer plant recalls the fertilizer-based truck bomb of Oklahoma City. Patriot's Day reminds us of Patriot Day -- 9/11.

April 15th was the day Abraham Lincoln died after being shot the evening before. This brings to mind the words of John Wilkes Booth --  "Sic semper tyrannis!" ("thus always to tyrants") -- shouted during the assassination. The same words were printed on the T-shirt worn by Timothy McVey during his arrest on April 19th, 1995. These words were originally said to have been spoken at the stabbing of Julius Caesar. 

All acts of "terror" coalesce. Why is it that the subtle cords linking all things are most readily traced in tragedy? Why does time appear to coil and loop through these most fractured of moments, these micro-dramas of the Empire's collapse and rebirth? The cycle rolls on, but does it ever end?

A major theme of Philip K. Dick's writing is the idea that time is being held or programmed to repeat such a continuous loop. According to Dick's postmodern Gnosticism, the control of time -- really the projection of the illusion of time -- is the primary means by which humanity is kept enthralled by the Demiurge and the Archons. In Dick's theology, however, there is also a "divine invasion" which aims for the opposite outcome.

The Just, the Meek and the Humble

The idea that the wheel can be broken, that the nightmare of history can be awoken from, is also the central thrust of the thought of Terence McKenna. In a 1991 essay entitled "I Understand Philip K. Dick," McKenna lays out how his own imaginings compare with those of PKD. In this comparison we are offered extremely important clarifications on what exactly this "divine invasion" might mean.

McKenna begins his essay at the same point as the 1975 breakthrough Rolling Stone article on PKD, discussed in an earlier post. On November 17th, 1971, Dick had his California home broken into and some of his valuable papers stolen. On the day before, on his 25th birthday, McKenna was deep within the Amazonian rain forest in ecstatic anticipation of the imminent Apocalypse.

I turned twenty-five the day before. It was no casual birthday either. I met my natal day by sitting down and sincerely preparing myself for an Apocatastasis, the final Apocalyptic ingression of novelty, the implosion really, of the entire multidimensional continuum of space and time. I imagined the megamacrocosmos was going to go down the drain like water out of a bathtub as the hyperspatial vacuum fluctuation of paired particles that is our universe collided with its own ghost image after billions of years of separation.

The Logos assured me that parity would be conserved, all sub-atomic particles except photons would cancel each other, and our entire universe would quietly disappear. The only particles that would remain, according to my fantastic expectation, would be photons, the universe of light would be exposed at last, set free from the iron prison of matter, freed from the awful physics that adhered to less unitary states of being. All mankind would march into the promised garden.

This was Timewave Zero. This was 12/21/12 before anyone had ever heard of Twenty Twelve. According to the "Logos," the discarnate, transpersonal intelligence arising as an inner voice to McKenna while tripping on mushrooms, the final Omega Point of all time and space would occur on his birthday in 1971. It did not happen. McKenna, undaunted, proposed other end dates before mathematically perfecting his Timewave and settling on the Winter Solstice of 2012. Nothing dramatically transformative appears to have taken place on this date either. Was the Logos lying?

It does not necessarily follow that because nothing happened on these dates that nothing comparable will ever happen. Mckenna was the first to admit that he was merely an "entertainer" of the Timewave and that its zeropoint, marking the total ingression of novelty, was more or less arbitrarily selected. The ever-accelerating pace of new information, though, has not slackened. There is still good reason to suppose that things will reach a point of absolute culmination. History still desires its own cessation.

2012, in other words, is still to come. But from another vantage point 2012 has already happened. It happened in the imagination of Terence McKenna on November 16th, 1971, and as an event in the imagination it is eternal. It only lacks physical manifestation. This manifestation could be Dick's Zebra, and according to McKenna it is no accident that on the day after this test run for 2012, the day when 2012 was imaginatively born, Dick's house was broken into. McKenna sees an uncanny but definite continuity between these two events.

How peculiar that on the first day of the new dispensation in my private reformist calendar, he had been burglarized by extraterterrestials, the CIA or his own deranged self in an altered state. The torch had been passed, in a weird way the most intense phase of my episode of illumination/delusion ended right where Phil’s began.

McKenna refers here to the many theories Dick had on who or what perpetrated the break-in. What McKenna did not mention, perhaps because even in 1991 he did not have full access to the Exegesis, is the theory that in the end proved most convincing for Dick. This theory, as related previously, is that agents of the Black Iron Prison broke into Dick's house and filing cabinet in order to obtain highly subversive theological papers left to Dick by Bishop James Pike.

It could be that the stealing of these papers is what prompted Pike to return in spirit form to Dick during the events of 2-3-74. As this vital information could not be transmitted in writing it had to be conveyed more directly. If this is the case then it is possible to construct a somewhat crazed narrative that brings the visions of Dick and McKenna much closer together than even Terence put into words.

The return of Jim Pike is the Parousia. He is the Second Coming -- the coming of Christ, of Dionysus, of the bodhisattva, and perhaps of the Antichrist as well. McKenna also describes what he thought would happen on 11/16/71, and by extension on 12/21/12, as the Parousia.

I had no radio, no way to contact the outside world at all. Who needed that? I knew with perfect clarity that the world of time, the illusion of history was ending. Divine Parousia was entering the world, and the just, the meek and the humble were leaving their fields and factories, pushing back their chairs from their office desks and workbenches and walking out into the light of a living sun that would never set for there could be no setting for the eternal radiance of the Logos. Tears of joy streaming down their cheeks, the illumined billions were turning their eyes at last to the sky and finding there a consolation that they had never dared hope for.

McKenna was completely isolated from the external world. As far as he knew the Parousia had entered our dimension. Within his imagination it certainly had, and perhaps even physically -- or at least as the decision to do so -- it had as well. The Second Coming did not come with a dramatic blast of trumpets on high. It was much more like the slow movement of a zebra emerging out its camouflage of high grass. It only gradually and subtly comes into view. Only those with the best vision see it at first, and perhaps these few are unsure if it is real or imagined, but eventually all is revealed to all.

A Duet of Folly

The crazed narrative goes something like this:

The McKenna brothers first foresaw its coming during their "Experiment at La Chorrera" on March 4th, 1971. When nothing conclusive occurred on this day the Logos assured Terence that his birthday later that year would be the decisive date. The next day the agents of the Black Iron Prison, almost as if they were aware of the significance of the date, reportedly stole Pike's papers from Dick's locked filing cabinet. It was at this moment that Pike, the bodhisattva, the incarnation of the Parousia, made his decision to return in person. 

Pike, as or with the Cumaean Sibyl, directly caused the downfall of Nixon and temporarily prevented the full descent into tyranny. Total tyranny would attempt to manifest again in the present, and especially in the years following 9/11, but would again be slowed, and hopefully halted, by the final revelation of Zebra, signified in part by the expectations of 12/21/12 and the publication of the Exegesis in 2011.

McKenna apparently or jokingly believed that something like this, being unaware of the even more germane Pike information, had happened. McKenna called the combined and only superficially unrelated visions of his own and Dick's as a singular case of folie à deux -- two individuals going insane in the same way together but with no obvious connection between them. In certain respects, though, Dick and McKenna were connected:

May Day found me in Berkeley sheltered by friends so concerned about my state of mind that they considered committing me. I was only a few miles from Phil, who was rapidly going nuts too, as his psych admission of 3 May ‘71 attests. It was always like that with PKD and me. We never met but we lived around each other for years. In Berkeley, we both lived on Francisco St. within five blocks and a few years of each other. We both had roots in Sonoma County, in Orange County. How many times were we a table or two away from each other in the Cafe Med? How many times did I hurry past him on the Ave on some stoned errand? Later his homeopathic doctor was my doctor.

McKenna claims in his essay that he understands the apparent madness of PKD. It is a madness that he at least partially shares. Interestingly, though, McKenna remarks that he knows where Dick got it wrong. McKenna agrees that the present world from 1974 onward is illusory, but it is not only  caught in an AD 45 time loop. Instead, according to McKenna, time is fractal, self-similar, compressed, and this is precisely the concept that Dick was lacking.

But he [Dick] got very close, his intuition was red hot when he reached the conclusion that a unified abstract structure lay behind the shifting always tricky casuistry of appearances. The concept he needed was that of fractals and fractal mathematics. The infinite regress of form built out of forms of itself built out of forms of itself unto infinity. The principle of self similarity. Phil was right, time is not a linear river. He was right, the Empire never ended. 

Parallel universes is too simple a concept to encompass what is really going on. The megamacrocosmos is a system of resonances, of levels, of endlessly adumbrated fun-house reflections. PKD really was Thomas and Elijah and all the other precursive concrescences that came together to make the cat-loving fat man who compacted trash into gold. The logic of being that he sought, and largely found, was not an either-or logic but a both-and and and-and kind of logic.

The idea that Dick was missing, McKenna explains, is to be found in one of PKD's favourite books, the I Ching. It was from the I Ching that, as directed by the Logos, McKenna derived and extrapolated his Timewave Zero theory.

What Terence asserts rings partially true. Dick's notion that time is being held back and endlessly run through a loop during the apostolic period in order to prevent the return of Christ is a difficult concept to swallow. It is easier, and seemingly more scientific, to believe that time consists of successively denser compressions of all prior epochs. It also points to a way out of the loop -- eventually time is infinitely compressed and a zeropoint is reached: Timewave Zero.

There is a sense, though, that both visionaries could be correct. McKenna is less clear on what novelty actually entails and what causes it to accelerate. Dick, though, has answers for these questions. Any real novelty in this world arises from VALIS and its apparent acceleration is result of VALIS gradually revealing itself.

If McKenna failed it was in his attempt to measure and quantify his vision. He tried to make it scientifically acceptable, and in doing so he both failed to convince the scientists and he betrayed its poetry. But perhaps the Timewave is correct in principle. Intuitively it does seem as if things are accelerating, reiterating, becoming progressively intertwined. The whole phenomenon of synchronicity would appear to confirm this. Certainly, global population, resource use, mass production, media proliferation, information output, etc. have all exponentially increased over the last century.

McKenna repeatedly suggests that all of this is building to a grand crescendo, pulled forward by the "transcendental object" at the end of time. What is this object? McKenna, following Alfred North Whitehead, posits that there are two basic forces in play: habit and novelty. Habit attempts to prevent change. Novelty is the engine of change. McKenna does not view these as being evenly matched. Novelty always has the edge over habit. It builds on itself and it eventually will overcome habit entirely. This is the moment of singularity, concrescence, maximum novelty.

McKenna's schema is self-consciously Gnostic. It can be traced back to some extent, like most Gnostic beliefs, to Zoroastrian dualism. Novelty has certain parallels to Ahura Mazda, the god of truth and order, while habit can be compared to Angra Mainyu or Ahriman, the god of falsity and chaos. In some respects, though, the two poles might be reversed. The Hero and the Beast may exchange roles.

Dick presents a similar Gnostic dualism. The world is dominated by the Black Iron Prison, ruled over by the Demiurge or Belial, and is opposed by VALIS, the true god. While McKenna grafts his Gnosticism onto the relatively recent materialist and evolutionary paradigm, Dick's philosophy is far more traditional in many ways. He remains within the vastly older human story of the Fall and Redemption. One gets the feeling that this is also where McKenna's true concerns lie, but for some reason he tried to reconcile this with scientific materialism. This was his shortcoming.

Creation Liberation Organization

As McKenna explains, though, the point of singularity is really the Parousia. Timewave Zero is really the Second Coming. We must not, however, think of this narrowly. This is not the relatively simple matter of the return of a messianic individual. This type of "savationism" is rightly criticized by John Lash and others. Instead, with this return, the whole cosmos will be transformed. Once again, as PKD wrote in VALIS, "The entire universe, possibly, is in the invisible process of turning into the Lord."

While this belief is definitely Gnostic, it is also Biblical. In the Book of Romans (8:20-21) we read:

20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope

21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Creation itself will be liberated. For all of its talk of "a new heaven and a new earth" this point is really not emphasized in modern Christianity. It is a difficult, and extremely radical, thing to imagine that all of reality will be redeemed. Only the Gnostics have fully contemplated this doctrine. The literary critic Northrop Frye, in his Fearful Symmetry, explains that William Blake was this sort of Gnostic.

In Blake there are certain modifications of the orthodox account of the Fall. One is that all reality is mental, the fall of man's mind involved a corresponding fall of the physical world. Another is, that as God is Man, Blake follows some of the Gnostics and Boehme in believing that the fall of man involved a fall in part of the divine nature.... The conclusion for Blake, and the key to much of his symbolism, is that the fall of man and the creation of the physical world were the same event.

With the Parousia, therefore, comes the recreation of the world. The fascinating suggestion that is addressed through the writing and talks of both Dick and McKenna is that this may be an emerging and progressive phenomenon.

From McKenna comes the idea that this process is evolutionary and accelerating. And from Dick, grounded more firmly in the poetic tradition, we find that this process is intentional. It is an invasion, a conspiracy. Perhaps with a synthesis of the thinking of both men, along with the profound insights of Blake, Joyce and other modern Gnostics, we can begin to make sense of our time and even actively participate in the invasion.

In one of his more tranquil, less apocalyptic, moments Blake writes in "The Little Girl Lost" of this transformation:

In futurity I prophetic see 
That the earth from sleep 
(Grave the sentence deep) 

Shall arise and seek 
For her maker meek; 
And in the desart wild 
Become a garden mild.

As explored in previous posts, this transformation is also an anamnesis -- the loss of forgetting. We must arise from sleep and remember that the world always has been the Garden. To be redeemed of the Fall is to awake to the mirage of the Fall. Just as the Empire has bound us within the illusion of history, it has also convinced us that corruption is natural, that we are all original sinners. Fredy Perlman's monumental anarchist classic, Against His-story, Against Leviathan!, imparts the deeply subversive nature of Gnosticism:

Visionaries called Gnostics reject all attempts to organize counter-monsters in order to oppose the monster [the Empire] that shackles the world. They say the Archons, especially the Archon of Archons in the old testament, do not only enslave the body but also hold captive the spirit of human beings, encase the spirit in armor, put people to sleep. The Gnostics aim to remove the armor, to wake from sleep, and they insist that such awakening can only come if one remembers the primordial events that gave rise to the monster, not if one forgets.

The Second Coming is thus a cosmic revolution against the Empire that never ended. As Blake repeatedly stresses, though, the revolution is not materialist. It is of the imagination. Perlman's book is the history of the resistance to history. This resistance has also never ended. It is Novelty and it is growing. It is the gradual revelation of Zebra, and, as Blake taught, revelation is revolution.

Out of a Pickle

The publication of the Exegesis in 2011, Jung's Red Book in 2009, and Joyce's entry into the public domain in 2012, were all aspects of this revelation. The entire 108-year period from 1904 to 2012 was an ever-building movement to full revelation. This transitional phase can be studied, year by year, in depth, but it is illustrative just to examine the decade of the Forties.

Dick placed immense and understandable importance on the discoveries of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946 and the Nag Hamadi Library in 1945. VALIS is living information, an idea that also comes up in the thought of Terence McKenna, and it was in these texts that it lay dormant. But to take McKenna's more expansive view, this living information was also revealing itself in other locations during the years surrounding and contained within this crucial decade.

Finnegans Wake  was published in 1939, itself a divine and gnostic virus that continues, and now more than ever, to entirely transmute language and reality. With this book the critical decade of revelation begins.

The decade closes symbolically in 1950. During this year Tibet was invaded by Chairman Mao's People's Liberation Army and the high lamas and other esoteric teachers of Tibetan Buddhism were forced to flee. Joseph Campbell said that Tibet, being so difficult to travel to, was "like a pickling jar for the tantric traditions." By invading, the Chinese in effect forced the jar open and the still living tradition of Tantra, much like Gnosticism, was disseminated around the world.

In the years between these two events the world is turned upside down. Nearly all of humanity is embroiled in the most devastating war by far in our history -- a war that only ends after the detonation of two atomic bombs which killed and maimed hundreds of thousands. An orgy of unprecedented destruction was unleashed. Even after the world war, though, the craziness continued in different forms. In Sinister Forces, Peter Levenda highlights the year 1947 in particular:

1947 was the year the CIA was created, and the penetrating of secrets; it was the year of the famous UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico and the subsequent concealing of secrets; the year the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, and the exposure of secrets. It was the year Winston Churchill made his famous "Iron Curtain" speech, thus declaring the beginning of the Cold War. It's the year that the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) begins its full-scale investigation of Hollywood. It is the year that inventor Arthur Young leaves Bell Helicopter for a full-time study in paranormal phenomena. It is the year that the US Navy begins Project CHATTER, the search for a viable truth serum, a magic potion to unlock the secrets of the mind. It is the year the Corporal is launched: America's answer to thte V-2 rocket, compliments of Jack Parsons and the rest of the JPL rocketeers.

Four years before the appearance of the UFO over the skies of America, during the depths of WWII, another manifestation of the living information, of the plasmate, revealed itself. This "discovery" was perhaps the very antidote to the bombs that would fall two years later. On April 16th, 1943, "Bicycle Day," chemist Albert Hofmann accidentally absorbed an active dose of LSD at his lab and cycled home. The modern psychedelic age had begun. At a congress to celebrate the Sandoz chemist's 100th birthday in 2006, Hofmann strongly suggests that this event was not an accident.

Wired Magazine reported this as such:

"LSD wanted to tell me something," Hofmann told the gathering Friday. "It gave me an inner joy, an open mindedness, a gratefulness, open eyes and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation."

A Youtube video, if we can trust the translation, of Hofmann's actual speech at the event appears to show Hofmann going much further:

...and I thank in the end the LSD that made itself so discrete and mysteriously noticeable. Would I have worked totally clean the LSD could have never made itself known. Somehow it entered my body and made itself noticeable. It requested from me.... that first LSD trip was unconscious. It was a wonderful experience. I had to find the cause of it. And on this research for the cause I heard a mysterious voice that I could identify as the LSD. Without this small mishap which is surely not a mishap it was surely destined in my fate that I was supposed to discover this substance. Without my little uncleanliness this congress would have not been possible. But I believe what the LSD told me, "make me known in the world that I will not be forgotten." And I believe I had the possibility through friends that the voice of the LSD expanded itself until this wonderful congress and it will further, through you, make itself notable in the world...

Thanks to MKUltrasound for pointing me to this story.

Is LSD, then, like the Gnostic writings, like the UFO, like the diffusion of Tibetan esotericism, like the Wake, part of a combined and intentional  revelation of living information? If so, from where does it emanate? What is its purpose? And is it not the same as what PKD called Zebra?

As soon as we begin to consider this, though, we are struck once again by deep ambiguity. Is LSD really the antidote for the bomb or are they both part of the same process of unfolding novelty? Did the UFO really arrive to free us or does it indicate a new stage in our collective enslavement? Does the revelation of esoteric wisdom lead to mass liberation or to its consumerist dilution?

William Klaus of the iAhuasca blog has recently made the brilliant observation that the stripes of Zebra and the bars of the Black Iron Prison are the essentially the same. A change in perspective is all that is needed to switch from one to the other. Additionally both can be represented by Hexagram 1 of the I Ching, Chi'en or the Creative, which consists of six yang lines. Comparisons are also made to the bar code and the Mark of the Beast.

The first hexagram itself contains all of the other hexagrams, symbolically formed when Zebra is partially hid in yet moving through tall grass, and so also represents all of the archetypal qualities of time. I think it is important not to be reductive here. We should not reduce these stripes or bars to Time, or Creativity, or the BIP, or Zebra. No element should be viewed as taking precedence over, or providing the foundation for, any other element. All are present and at play at once. In a certain sense, although not entirely, it depends on our perspective. 

The Anti-Tolle

One such possible perspective explodes as another mind-bomb tossed into the quiet of cyber surburbia by the contrarian Wrong Way Wizard. In a post concerning the accusations of writer Sophia Stewart that Hollywood illegally ripped off her ideas in its Matrix and Terminator franchises, Mark LeClair clearly lays out his own grim take on just where we are in the big picture.

LeClair makes a convincing case, although I have not read Stewart's book The Third Eye in order to verify any of this, that Sophia Stewart was made a victim of Hollywood. This raises the fascinating question of whether The Matrix, a movie with Gnostic themes which purportedly both shows the reality of the dark illusion that we live within and the means by which to escape, is itself a propaganda piece for a higher level matrix or prison. What is more interesting to me, though, is the conclusion that LeClair arrives at in consideration of the case.

Surely, these two choices [plagiarism or Stewart's complicity], these final choices in the conundrum of Sophia Stewart--they mean exactly the same thing. We are fucked--good and fucked. We live in a reality that is clearly and absolutely bound by a principle of suffering, torment and servitude that serves the orgiastic passions of Nazi Golfers from the Future. Just say they don't exist. Ignore them or admire them--choose not to see.

Art is a parlor trick. It is a method of fleecing rubes of their will. The future is a Satanic Deception. An elite class of Evil Scumbags, somewhere, somehow, some time, managed to make rubes of us all--to ensure our servitude in the ever widening net of pristine Golf courses that will one day cover every inch of our beautiful and savage Earth. And when they can automate it, they are gonna kill everyone. When you look around the table, if you don't know who the sucker is, then you are the sucker. I have seen the sucker and it is us.

Earlier in the post, "Nazi Golfers From The Future," LeClair summarizes this in even more stark and simple terms, "Evil is Winning. Winning is Evil." This is the nature of reality and there is no escaping from it. The best we can do is wake up to this fact, but it is difficult to see why this would even be beneficial or necessary. We might as well stay asleep.

Certainly it is hard to argue with this grave assessment. The world is in an extremely terrible state. There are about one billion people suffering from hunger on the planet and an equal amount of overweight and obese people. This massive imbalance is but a symptom of the total, cancerous aberration which is the current world system. A tiny fraction of a percent of incredibly wealthy and powerful individuals, the "Nazi Golfers," thrive off of a system based on embezzlement and warfare that inflicts varying degrees of misery on the rest of us.

Nor can we say that this is, despite its postmodern overlay, a particularly uncommon perspective. The Gnostics of antiquity believed that the universe was created and ruled by an evil Demiurge. A thread of this belief has persisted throughout history.

In the early modern period, Blake also believed that the whole world was dominated by Satan. The laws and customs of the world are, accordingly, Satanic laws and customs. To conform to this world, to be comfortable within it, is to consent to the opposite of what is good and true. Satan may have been the ultimate rebel, but in a world ruled by the devil only the rebel is good. The dominant religion of Satan is nothing that openly calls itself "evil," or even deems itself a religion at all. It is the modern paradigm of scientific materialism.

Man must and will have some religion; if he has not the religion of Jesus, he will have the religion of Satan, and will erect the synagogue of Satan, calling the Prince of this World ‘God’, and destroying all who do not worship Satan under the name of God. Will any one say: ‘Where are those who worship Satan under the name of God?’ Where are they? Listen! Every religion that preaches Vengeance for Sin is the religion of the Enemy and Avenger, and not of the Forgiver of Sin, and their God is Satan, named by the Divine Name. Your Religion, O Deists! Deism is the worship of the God of this World by the means of what you call Natural Religion and Natural Philosophy, and of Natural Morality or Self-Righteousness, the selfish virtues of the Natural Heart. This was the religion of the Pharisees who murdered Jesus. Deism is the same, and ends in the same.

LeClair uses many of the same terms as Blake does here in Jerusalem. We are under the thrall of the Synagogue of Satan. Blake appears even more radical in his critique, though. It is the family, which demands that the odd, individualist family member fit into society, that is most Satanic for Blake. And it is the all-pervasive ideology of Deism or scientific materialism which most hampers our imagination. Blake cannot be accused of ignoring the evil and suffering that exists everywhere. He has peered deeply into it and has found it even in the closest and most intimate of places.


Blake, though, seems to reach far different conclusions than LeClair does in his post. This world is permeated by evil, but to claim that it is winning, or that it has won, or that its rule is somehow determined and inevitable, is an error. As we saw above, Blake believed that there is no Fall without a Redemption, no Songs of Experience without Songs of Innocence, no Hell without Heaven. Instead of believing that a single Messiah would come and deliver us, Blake thought, like Dick and McKenna, that the world as a whole would be redeemed and transformed from its fall.

Le Clair claims that Joyce and PKD were, in agreement to himself apparently, convinced of the current and eternal triumph of evil:

James Joyce knew this stuff as plain as day, I think. PKD sure as hell did. These men were not artists. They labored in poverty, madness, blindness and obscurity. And they were naturally bitter. It hurts to know the awful truth and not be able to share it. But some give it the old college try. They are never thanked, generally despised, always misunderstood, and finally their effort to tell the truth is co-opted into the maintenance of a theosophical false promise.

Effervescent ladies, so carefree

It is certainly true that both writers suffered greatly in the ways that LeClair lists and in other ways just as soul-crushing. Both men definitely experienced extended periods of bitterness and despair. But to claim that they would agree that the sovereignty of Evil was a done deal is to miss at least half of the story. It represents a gross misreading of the two authors.   

PKD, as is argued repeatedly in these posts, came to the conclusion that compassion was the way out of the maze. With compassion the wheel could be transformed. Joyce even more obviously held the view that we are no more oppressed entirely by the bitter than we are perpetually blessed by the sweet.

Joyce took delight in the fact that his own name contained joy. He compared his surname with Freud, whose name similarly means happy. Ulysses ends with the word "Yes," the last word in a string of yeses in Molly Bloom's soliloquy.

...I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

Joyce appears dismissive of this yes as a "female word," but it has been pointed out by people like Robert Anton Wilson that the first word of Ulysses, "Stately," contains a yes as does the title Ulysses itself. The whole book is marked by affirmation and joy, not bitterness. The joy, however, is not simple-minded. It is not the joy of endless summer and icecream. It is an affirmation, in the Nietzschean sense, of the whole cycle of life from birth to youth to old age to death and beyond. It is a Yes!, but this Yes also affirms the No. Bitterness and sweetness are both savoured. In this, as Frances Phipps argues in Let Me Be Los, Joyce is certainly following Blake.

Joyce is warning us that in his difficult, lonely task of writing a new kind of book which was following in the footsteps of two of mankind's greatest mythologies, the Egyptian religion and that of William Blake, unless one undertakes to unlock with the key of a purpose identical to Blake's, of awakening man out of his deep sleep, one can not solve the problem of understanding him. 

Finnegans Wake, more than nearly all others, is a book that shouts yes to the whole cycle of existence. It, in itself, is this cycle in all of its manifestations. From its infamous first sentence we should be aware of this:

riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

This is the cycle of the river, and the inclusion of the word "vicus," referring partly to the philosopher Giambattista Vico, shows that it also is concerned with the cycle of history. The first word alone, as well as the fact that this first sentence directly continues from the book's last, indicates that it is involved in the whole cycle. It revels the riverrun in its entire course -- from sparkling mountain stream to muddy estuary to rainclouds rolling in from the sea. This vision of the river is also found in Dion Fortune's 1935 book, The Mystical Qabalah (Yikes! Mystical! Qabalah with a Q!):

These successive phases and planes of manifestation might be likened to the successive reaches of a river. It starts as a mountain stream; in the next reach is a series of rapids and waterfalls; then come water-meadows and placidity; and finally the great waterway between docks bearing shipping. The different reaches of the river remain constant; the type of water in each is constant; clear and sparkling in the upper reaches, loaded with alluvia among the water-meadows, and fouled with grime below the docks. But at the same time the water itself is not constant, for it does not stagnate on any reach, for they are all in unbroken communication the one with the other; they "emanate" each other, to use the language of the Qabalah. But the water changes its nature as it progresses because something is added to it by the experiences it undergoes in each reach; alluvial soil from the water-meadows; city grime from the docks.

Is this evidence of the co-option of Joyce's work into a "theosophical false promise"? Likely not. Joyce's own interest in Theosophy and the Kabbalah is well known, and it is probable that Dion Fortune and Joyce influenced each other or at least shared certain assumptions. This is not a perspective that denies the existence of evil in any respect. It merely demonstrates that the grime and the clear, fresh water do not exist apart from one another.

Like any spiritual symbol -- the cross, the yin and yang, the swastika, the tree of life, Dee's Monas Hieroglyphica, etc. -- the riverrun embodies the cycle of life in its entirety.

To claim, as LeClair seems to, that Evil has won and it is just a matter now of waiting to be sent to the gas chambers ignores this cyclic process. There is no final triumph of evil. Sun Tzu advised not to underestimate the enemy, but it is also crucial not to overestimate the enemy to the point of paralysis. Satan may currently rule the world, but he will not always.

Aphrodite's Beard

In both his post and in the comments to his post, LeClair shows what, in less thoughtful writers, might be called "nostalgia for the real." Lana Wachowski is not a real woman. Obama is not a real African American. Elite Jews are not real Jews. In each case we have been duped by mere simulation. (And it should be emphasized that LeClair is making an important philosophical argument here, not a confession of bigotry.)

Again, this may be the case, but those things that many feel nostalgia for -- the nuclear family, the nation state, fixed gender roles, conventional morality, racial categories, etc. --  are in themselves elite/Satanic deceptions. Nature has already fallen long ago.

Nor is this type of "transhuman" mutation, of race, of sex, of species, anything new -- at least within the imagination. The Roman poet Ovid's first century work, Metamorphoses, is solely about the transformation of the sexes, of gods, men, beasts, plants and monsters into one another. Matter is not fixed. All classifications are blurred. Is Ovid, in this way, only an ancient version of the Wachowskis? Is he merely a poet for the Empire?

This is certainly true to an extent. Ovid was immensely popular in Rome, but he was also eventually and mysteriously exiled to the shores of the Black Sea by the decree of Emperor Augustus. The reasons are not clear, but there is always an ambivalent relation between poetry and power. Several centuries earlier Plato famously wrote in the Republic, that sacred text of people like Dan Quayle and neocon guru Leo Strauss, that poets were not welcome in his ideal state.

Why not? For Plato poetry is too emotional, too concerned with matter, too far removed from the ideal, philosophical abstractions of the Forms. Could it be also that poetry, unlike priestcraft or even philosophy, is all about transformation, metamorphosis, things that cannot be pinned down and neatly categorized? The Empire demands dogma, well-defined laws and castes. Poetry blurs all of this and sets it into motion. This was why Ovid, like the poets of the Republic, was sent into exile.

But what of the current manifestation of the Empire? What of Ordo ab Chao? Are all of the traditional categories now being blurred, dissolved and deconstructed intentionally in order to create an even more perfected totalitarian structure out of the smashed debris? This is certainly a possibility. Even if this was the case, though, the effective response is not to cling to the old forms, themselves manufactured by the controllers, but to, as Baudrillard suggests in his Fatal Strategies, extend these deconstructive extremes even further out into chaos.

Make all discourse impossible. Desire far beyond what the system can ever hope to satisfy. Have things become so chaotic that is not possible for any new order to emerge. These are the fatal strategies needed to overcome the Satanic dominion of the simulacra.

In any case, there seems to be a role for true poetry, for ambiguity, for metamorphosis and mutation. Not all boundary-dissolution leads to the dead-end of the transhuman conspiracy. The shaman, of course, has always embraced mutation and marginality. The archaic shamans were the first poets, the first shape-shifters and gender-benders. They were the physical and social mutants of their societies.

Chukchee shamanism has another interesting aspect. There is a special class of Chukchee shamans who "undergo a change in sex." They are "soft men" or men "similar to a woman," who, receiving a command from the ke'let, have exchanged their male clothing and behavior for those of women and have finally married other men.... Ritual transformation into a woman also occurs among the Kamchadal, the Asiatic Eskimo, and the Koryak.... Though rare, the phenomenon is not confined to northeastern Asia; transvestitism and ritual change of sex are found, for example, in Indonesia.... in South America (Patagonians and Araucanians), and among certain North American tribes (Arapaho, Cheyenne, Ute, etc.).                       -- Shamanism, Mircea Eliade.

Even in tribes quite outside of the sphere of Empire, such transformations occur -- not only of gender but also of living humans into animals, gods, mythic beings, ancestors. The Brothers -- be they Shem and Shaun, James and John, Lucifer and Jesus, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, Andy and Lana -- are also Lovers. They exist simultaneously in confict and in union.

The two contraries, at once defiling and sanctifying, are the two halves of HCE. He is the omnipotent Eye in the Pyramid, "some dub him Rotshield and more limn him Rockyfellow," but he is also the chief and most tragic victim of the Fall. He is at once Savior and Satan, bodhisattva and Nazi Golfer from the Future.

The Dessert of the Real

Joyce, like Blake and PKD, celebrated the entire cycle. As with Carl Jung also, these authors chose the Whole over the Perfect. While the latter principle perpetually aims, like the Nazi Golfers, to eliminate all contradictions, all imperfections, it will always be incomplete.

The Perfect will always lack. It is only the Whole which embraces the constant interplay of opposites. The Whole's affirmation of the cycle transforms it. The nightmare of history is created by those who attempt to perfect it, to make it pure. It is ended, or at least greatly altered, by realizing that no element, even evil itself, is ultimately dominant, determinant or essential. All is in play at once.

The Wake reflects this at every point. Puns like "laughtears" are affirmations of living contradictions. Joyce also follows Giordano Bruno in this -- "In Tristitia Hilaris Hilaritate Tristis" --"In sadness, joy, and in joyfulness, sadness."

McKenna's Timewave Zero is essentially a cosmic pun imagined as an evolutionary Omega Point. Dick's divine invasion is the same idea expressed in gnostic theological terms. But time and eternity are likewise interchangeable. Both exist right now, and it is in this "simutaneity," as Blake called it, -- where all events occur at once -- that the Black Iron Prison is torn down and the Empire finally collapses.

This may be called "mystical," but it is not about the future. 2012 already happened in 1971, in 1943, in AD 45. It happens every time we open Finnegans Wake. It happens within every event of mass tragedy when, with seemingly ever-increasing frequency, synchronicity multiplies both on collective and personal planes. The syncs entangling the lives and visions of Philip K. Dick and Terence McKenna also both foreshadow and encapsulate this singular moment.

Synchronicity in general is difficult to make sense of unless we consider that there exists a point/non-point where and when all space and time are infinitely concentrated, and the patterns of within and without are of an indivisible identity. The final ingression of novelty, the ultimate triumph of the divine invasion, is exactly this.

And yet, life is a piece of shit. Inarguably, Evil is in charge. All of these authors saw this deeply. They experienced it. But, incredibly, they affirmed that it is possible to wake up, to remember, to witness eternity in an hour. These authors are neither Tolle nor the Anti-Tolle. Joy and sorrow, summer and winter, yes and no are all present. By beholding at once the terrifying cycle in its entirety, as Arjuna was shown on the eve of battle, it is changed.

It can't be ruled out, though, that these authors are advanced agents, unwitting or not, of the Empire. Their work is to capture the final few who are not seduced by the Spectacle in any other fashion. Even the oddest can be ensnared in the nets of theosophic priestcraft. Perhaps total denial is the only honest route. Even synchronicity is manufactured on high, John C. Lilly-style, and used to delight, amaze and direct. This can't be ruled out, but the point is to be open.

Net or not, the tale is told in Robert Calasso's Ka that during the Buddha's last days, at the fading of the great physician who taught that all was suffering, he told his disciple Ananda that life is "sweet." Is it? Certainly it isn't for millions on this wretched planet, but is it? Utopia is most definitely NOWHERE, but a Joyce/Bruno pun would also have it as NOW HERE.

Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it.

1 comment:

  1. This has been such a great run of posts and has really helped me to reevaluate some concepts that have been on the shelf for some time. I can't thank you enough.