Wednesday, December 20, 2017

What is the Material World and is it Dead?

There is no god
apart from poppies and the flying fish,
men singing songs, and women brushing their hair in the sun.
The lovely things are god that has come to pass, like Jesus came.
The rest, the undiscoverable, is the demiurge.

-- "The Body of God," D.H. Lawrence

It is important to notice that Lawrence is not denying the existence of God. Instead he is saying that no deity exists apart from and beyond nature. The divine is immanent, in other words, and transcendent only as far as the transcendent is just another perspective on the immanent. A question of epistemology and not ontology. Two truths as opposed to two worlds.

Songs, fish, flowers, flowing hair are patterns and rhythms of the World Soul. They are fluctuations and potentialities, meeting points of forces and messages, that take on recognizable forms for a moment. All perception is continually created and destroyed in like manner. No form resists transformation or penetration from others.

The World Soul is an immense sphere of spheres. A toroidal flux of doubling circulation. A "tantric egg" with its unattainable polar extremes -- pure subjectivity and pure objectivity, God and Nature -- snipped off and allowing movement both without and within. The demiurgic whirling outward, amnesiac of its own origins, and the christic swirling to the centre inside.

The Newtonian God -- the God who made a clockwork-like universe, wound it, and withdrew -- died a long time ago. This is what Nietzsche meant and this is the God who is being observed.

Anyone who is looking around for a simulated icon of the deity in Newtonian guise might well be disappointed. The phrase "God is dead" applies aptly, correctly, validly to the Newtonian universe which is dead. The groundrule of that universe, upon which so much of our Western world is built, has dissolved.

-- The Medium is the Massage, Marshall McLuhan

McLuhan rightly interprets Nietzsche here, and as usual brings the story forward. The clockwork cosmos was always a fiction, a linear and causal fable stemming from our adoption of the printing press and the clock as metaphors for all things. The gears have rusted and the springs have sprung. The cuckoo is spasming on the living room carpet. The line of the horizon has indeed been sponged away.

Every compass needle spins like a weathercock in a strong wind. Our navigation systems cause us to drive into the sea. This God has died. There is nothing above that is not also below. Electronic media coils us all together in a fashion that is entirely disorienting, "a brand-new world of allatonceness" that is also archaic and tribal. The old laws etched in stone or bound in leather no longer make sense.

To the savage this stone or tree or yam has mana or orenda, that is what concerns him; but gradually, -- and this is another high road to impersonation -- from the multitude of things that have mana, there arises the notion of a sort of continuum of mana, a world of unseen power lying behind the visible universe, a world which is the sphere, as will be seen, of magical activity and the medium of mysticism.

-- Themis, Jane Ellen Harrison

Yet the primal songlines and resonance fields remain. Points of intersection, spots made sacred as sites of epiphany and ordeal, rare instants spun up or down by accelerated extropy or entropy and allowing a break thru. These uncanny rocks or bushes or pieces of art ring off of each other, a sound audible for the attuned, richening in colour and contrast. A continuum of mana.

The plane or sphere (the geometry is dual and in motion) of immanence is here given character, provided with eyes and ears. Harrison goes on to explain that this continuum subsequently became synonymous with the World Soul. Its transcendent qualities are attributed only much later.

God  -- plural and feminine and animal and multi-desiring -- once swam through mineral and fire and dream and speech. And still does. All pronouns break down at this stage. Verbs enfold each person, place and thing mistakenly classed as discrete and inviolable. Adjectives and adverbs burst out of these bright bundles of noise as sparks and flares.

The treetops absorb sunlight through language. Fungal fibres secrete verse and prose to cliff-clinging roots. Imagination circles through this medium -- creation and procreation -- not visible but felt and smelt (who dealt it?) keenly and with the constant premonition of possible danger.

We think the material or machinic aspect of an assemblage relates not to the production of goods but rather to a precise state of intermingling of bodies in a society, including all the attractions and repulsions, sympathies and antipathies, alterations, amalgamations, penetrations, and expansions that affect bodies of all kinds in their relations to one another. What regulates the obligatory, necessary, or permitted interminglings of bodies is above all an alimentary regime and a sexual regime. Even technology makes the mistake of considering tools in in isolation: tools exist only in relation to the interminglings they make possible or that make them possible.
-- A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari

"...the libido suffuses everything." The continuum is above all a continuum of desire. Libido, orgone, chi, mana, mojo, kundalini, groove, beat. There is no isolation. All systems -- musical, geological, linguistic, historical, ecological, make-believe, technical, political-economical, poetic -- mingle together in sometimes discernible overlays and juxtapositions. Bodies before goods, creation before production.

There is foreplay and long drawn out planes of intensity and slight but shattering ruptures of climax. Things newly spawned at each juncture. Hybrids and miscegenations and mutations, beautiful half-breeds and freaks, purity and finalized order really a death wish of the ignorant and afraid. Overwhelming kaleidoscopic becomings and recomings of food and sex.

Tubules, satyrs, striations, murmurings, the "ping" frog in the deep jungle a couple hours before dawn. Mating, eating, fucking, migrating, trading, swapping, frolicking, composing, dissolving, congealing. All "fixed" and "stable" towers of control become decentred, uncertain, disinformed by their very attempt to reassemble the clockwork organism and its spurious species, races, nations, roles. 

In this light, the embodiment of the soul and the tension caused by its separation from divinity was not a fall or an error but the sine qua non to stimulate the circulation of Eros. For only in the embodied soul, in its self-alienation and inversion, could the divine genuinely experience separation, and consequently, an eros for itself.

-- Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus, Gregory Shaw

There is no fall but the autumn, drifting gently downwards to welcome sleep and dissolution and escape from the cold. God willed a mate and enabled Her to possess absolute freedom. His desire -- love and lust and something far beyond both, the stellar force and urge -- impelled Him to redeem the cosmos, a painful hunger for eventual and impossible unity, perfect bliss.

Yet, in the telling of Mater Matter, God himself is a toy. Nothing was willed that was not always already there. The cycle is only the process of the so-called Creator regaining his memory. Her eros is both constant and on the move. The circulation of souls is the inhalation and exhalation of the greater continuum.

"What planet in this?" It is all planets everywhere. Both open and closed, infinite and finite, plane and sphere, transcendent and immanent, fueled and charged by desire alone. The demiurge lost in the gaze of his own reflection, a pinwheel blown by winds that never were not.

Seeing himself [a Fairy] in my possession, thus he answer'd me:
"My master, I am yours! command me, for I must obey."

"Then tell me, what is the material world, and is it dead?"
He, laughing, answer'd: "I will write a book on leaves of flowers,
If you will feed me on love-thoughts & give me now and then
A cup of sparkling poetic fancies; so when I am tipsie,
I'll sing to you this soft lute, and shew you all alive
The world, when every particle of dust breathes forth its joy."

-- "Europe: A Prophecy," -- William Blake  

The very elementals, fed from thoughts of love and the musings of poetry. Photosynthesis as erosynthesis. Now they have retreated, turned inward, burrowed and burrowing. They still wait patiently for someone with an offering, with an intention or a rite. Long centuries of waiting has affected certain changes both in outline and in attitude.

Those dustbunnies appearing mysteriously -- seemingly out of nowhere -- in the irregularly swept corners of train stations, some as big as hamsters, composed of insect legs, dandruff, congealed breath, lint, radiation, crumbs, morgellons fibres, electronic components, body hair, leaves, ragged q-tips, loneliness, world domination plots, condoms, tsunamis, skin cells, intoxication, broken dreams, smoke, aftertastes and coloured threads, are every one of them alive and sentient, witnesses to the joyless commuter parade.

Sprites and nixies in a former incarnation. Neglected and malformed by the Nothing, by the grey belief that the material world is dead.  

Let me feel the mud and the heavens in my lotus. Let me feel the heavy, silting, sucking mud, the spinning of sky winds. Let me feel them both in purest contact, the nakedness of sucking weight, nakedly passing radiance. Give me nothing fixed, set, static. Don't give me the infinite or the eternal: nothing of infinity, nothing of eternity. Give the still, white seething, the incandescence and the coldness of the incarnate moment: the moment, the quick of all change and haste and opposition: the moment, the immediate present, the Now. The immediate moment is not a drop of water running downstream. It is the source  and issue, the bubbling up of the stream. Here, in this very instant moment, up bubbles the stream of time, out of the wells of futurity, flowing on to the oceans of the past. The source, the issue, the creative quick.

-- Preface to the American Edition of New Poems (1920), D.H. Lawrence

With all this comes the humus-bed of new growth. At the tip of the spear, the allatonceness, the spring-fed well of the cave, the moment without bottom. From the mud and the shit and the cataclysm and the supernova, completely novel assemblages jump up naked for their time in the sun. Stories branch out from much older epics and sagas.

Ulysses telling of his final attempt to storm Mount Purgatory, sentenced thereafter to perpetual torment for his treachery and cunning within the deepest gyres of the Inferno. Closest to Satan's horned and icy schlong, but by grace reborn on the banks of the Liffey. Arthur springing from the courts of love, descendant of the child of Venus who brought the bough to the same dark halls, but now also awaiting return.

The inevitable conclusion is that the entire hierarchy of being (which includes the graded hierarchy of transcendence and immanence), when regarded as a display of the One, is equivalent to a kind of miraculous divine 'myth'. This 'myth', revealed in the form of the all-embracing and dynamic cosmic agalma (hieratic statue, image, shrine) is analogous to the obscuring power of maya which (in the Trika philosophy of Kashmir), though being an aspect of Parama Shiva, acts as a veil thrown over the supreme ineffable Principle.

-- Philosophy and Theurgy in Late Antiquity, Algis Uždavinys

The entire Neoplatonic hierarchy, the spectral palette of creation from form to matter, now Brunoized into a endless multi-centred chaosmos. Shiva blowing chillums and spouting Mother Ganga milk-jizm from the top of his head in every mote of dust floating and sparkling in the light of day. The veil of maya, the girdle of Aphrodite, the gilded prison, Penelope's woven shroud, is constructed entirely of perception.

Dulled eyes, stuffed ears, runny noses, scalded tongues, skin stretched and scraped and lotioned out of all sensitivity. Yet just one chapter in the ongoing myth. The reign of dullness and quantity. When mud is nothing other than mud. When perpetual accumulation is somehow figured in to mollify the primal and holy Lack. A Nemean Lion infinitely more ferocious and difficult to slay than filling up the Grand Canyon with broken and discarded TVs. Like trying to satisfy the hunger of a black hole. Like trying to open up Valhalla in the Preta World.

But the wind does not teach despair. There is music. There are colours. There is sunlight. There are absorbing wonders in every crevice and crossroad. Read the stories anew. The scents and emotions of other times and feelings still pass through pages, personalities pass through, and nobody yet knows how this happens. Ciphers, symbols, images, formulas, postures, songs, statues -- all emit rays invisible yet biological, whispering together, sometimes screaming. The veil is also the principle.

There are no hierarchies, no infinite, no such many as mass, there are only
eyes in all heads,
to be looked out of

-- The Maximus Poems, Charles Olson

Maximus of Tyre, Maximus the Neoplatonic philosopher, Maximus the homo maximus -- the man/woman that envelopes the All. Adam and Finn and Albion and Ymir and Pangu and Tiamat and Old Angel Midnight. But a One that is not one. Many eyes, multiple stamens and pistils fire great spoogy pollen clouds to blanket the fields, all endowed with sight, every speck in constant communication with the others.

Slide on down the rhizome tubes, each bend and twist takes us deeper into the ground, further into the past. Reverse evolution (although she never only moved in a "forward" direction anyway). Back to the juncture -- in scientific fable -- of when humanity branched off from the other higher primates. And then go deeper and older. To the fork in the road of mammal-becoming and bird-becoming, of vertebrates and invertebrates, of vegetable and mineral, of tangible and intangible.

And worm yer way back up. Take any route you like. Get lost in there. Emerge as amoeba, as cheetah, as scorpion, as slime mold, as diamond, as werewolf, as ant colony, as Richard the Third. Death is not the prerequisite for this journey. And the trip is not even necessary. What is the incredible and total vista from within of eyes watching eyes watching eyes watching eyes?

Those among us us who have been ordained priests believe that they have the power to summon up the real presence of gods, demons, angels, heroes and spirits. But such theurgy cannot be brought about without the order of the universe being disturbed in some way. When gods descend to the earth the sun or the moon hides for a short time from the sight of mortals.

-- The Manuscript Found in Saragossa, Jan Potocki

Those priests and priestesses, in a more civilized era given the time to contemplate and observe outside the requirements of production, began to notice (very many centuries before our present quantum chapter) that their own imaginings became instantly reflected externally. "Began to notice" -- began to codify and reflect upon what was simply experience and embodied/ensouled existence for their archaic ancestors.

Theurgy is the knowledge and practice that rites and images are the keys to discovering and even manipulating the divinity of matter. The rhizomatic tendrils also extend upwards, to the subtle fire and to the super-lunar orbs and fields. An alchemy of ritual, of hues and shapes and movements and noises, attracting currents through likeness and seduction.

Internally becoming the calm pool around which the fay gather to gaze at their mirrorings. The gravity of eros finding a new conduit, thru the cardiac synthesizer, and affecting even the orbits of stars. The gods are shaken in their halls. Have the Hundred-Eyed Ones awoken again? Yog-sothoth. Beings pour in through the open silver gate.

Iamblichus plays with this subtle and prolific fire. His wisdom and warnings find their way into the texts of the Aeropagite, casting a theurgical glimmer on all subsequent Christian mysticism and eventually retreating into the mountain caverns of Spain, where the Alumbrados fused with radical Ismailis, heretical Kabbalists, gypsy crypto-Kali adherents and even pre-Roman autochthonic antinomians.

And this is the milieu that Polish author and adept, Jan Potocki, discovered there just before he -- terrified by his own werewolf-becoming -- shot himself in the head with a sanctified silver bullet. The very universe was disturbed.

 "But why all the vile rheum -- like r-h-e-u-m."

"I'm shitting out my educated Middlewest background for once and for all. It's a matter of catharsis where I say the most horrible thing I can think of -- Realize that, the most horrible dirty slimy awful niggardliest posture possible -- By the time I finish this book I'll be as pure as an angel, my dear. These great existential anarchists and terrorists so-called never even their own drippy fly mentioneth, dear -- They should poke sticks thru their shit and analyze that for social progress."

"But where'll all that shit get us?"

"Simply get rid of shit, really Jack."

-- Desolation Angels, Jack Kerouac

And at another nexus point -- the Interzone of Tangier (the cavern passages extend under the Mediterranean to exits in opium dens, majoun parlors and tea houses) -- interplanetary agents also assemble. Peyotl to William James to Gertrude Stein to Paul Bowles to Burroughs to Kerouac and Ginsberg. This being only the mostly human lineage.

Analyzed shit. Floods of rectal mucus. Alimentary regimes, circulations and continua in full motion. Saxophone blowouts and assaults from the scorpion and crustacean overlords. And it is entirely about purgation. Post-yage jungle hangovers now transferred to the desert. Junk is Image. Image is Junk. Cut-up as cosmic insurrection. Splice the Word that has become co-opted by priestly hierarchies who are very aware that their trickery is not indefinite.

Bodhisattvas sent to Earth to prevent total psychic supernova. Agents on all sides, pedaling every variety of elixir, a worse swindle than the Pantheon Bar at the base of Mount Analogue, some leading to bliss and some to oblivion or worse. The CIA is only a trifle.

And Ti Jean shipped in right smack in the middle of it with his typing skills, excavating, spelunking-out word gems from piles of scraps of papers and used syringes, his own Mother devotion soon overriding all desire for novelty. But what about the anarchists who do mention their drippy flies?    

Deleuze does not mention Iamblichus in his account of the roots of expressionism, but Iamblichus's position, of all those in Neoplatonism, has perhaps the most proximity to Deleuze's own. For Iamblichus, the ritual practice of pagan theurgy, in which the material world is ordered so as to be rendered "fitting" for the divine, is not a constraining of the spiritual in the material, let alone a coercion of gods by humans. In fact, Iamblichus argues that theurgy is such a powerful form of cooperation and communion that it is not on the basis of contemplation (nous), but through theurgy itself that the soul returns to the One.

-- The Hermetic Deleuze: Philosophy and Spiritual Ordeal, Joshua Ramey

Deleuze and Guattari, themselves students of Kerouac and Burroughs and Castaneda and Artaud and Lawrence and Virginia Woolf and Joyce, are relatively recent lovers of Hermetic wisdom. They draw sap from this lineage that does stretch back to Iamblichus, and further back to grandmaster Plato himself and, as Uždavinys documents, all the way back to the initiates of ancient Egypt and beyond. 

This is at once a marginal, underground counter-tradition and at the very core of both Eastern and Western official philosophy. It is simultaneously royal science and nomad science, reterritorializing and deterritorializing. 

Philosophy, in its essence, is theurgy. It is embodied and initiatic. It requires ordeals and sacrifices to Sophia, Mary and Kali-Ma. It stagnates and gums up when it concerns itself with opinion and the ratio, when like science it attempts to present the "objective," the general grey staleness that is common to every severed and over-coded part.

Philosophy fractures the spectrum of perception when it limits itself to precise definition, to impeccable logic, to single-vision, to Euclidean abstraction, axioms and the grammar of reason. Instead, the love of this goddess is forever bound up with poetry, with metaphor and word games, with breath and feeling, with lived experience and struggle. 

We, dominated by the reign of quantity, think of these two as being sundered. The poets have already been expelled from the Republic, or at least mostly ignored, taken as entertainers rather than co-makers of the cosmos. And the "poets" themselves have also mostly forgotten this calling, as fallen as the "philosophers." Yet when these two brotherhoods/sisterhoods recombine -- the spiritual in the material -- the culture will be shaken and the gods will smile.  

Are these the words of the all-powerful boards and syndicates of the earth? These are the words of liars cowards collaborators traitors. Liars who want time for more lies. Cowards who can not face your "dogs" your " gooks" your "errand boys" your "human animals" with the truth. Collaborators with the Insect People with Vegetable People. With any people anywhere who offer you a body forever. To shit forever. For this you have sold out your sons. Sold the ground from unborn feet. Traitors to souls everywhere.

-- Nova Express, William S. Burroughs 

Through theurgy, then, -- through philosophy as poetry -- souls re-spiral back to the One. And what is stopping them? Surely it isn't possible that anything could stop them? This is true, but it is also true that at some point in the cycle -- the low point, the winter point, the dull point, our point -- the process becomes perceived as having stopped. 

The waste land stretches on to the horizon and it has been thus for as long as living memory. No knight has returned with the Grail. But as we find out in every fairy story -- from Dorothy's journey to Oz and onward -- the eternal reward has been right with us from the get go. "Once upon a time" already implies "happily ever after." If this is the case, what is preventing us from reassembling our perception, from rediscovering the "assemblage point"? 

Blockages, traitors, cowards, lies, collaborators. Vegetative and insectoid only in the sense that basic human warmth, basic mammalian warmth, seems absent in them. Men in Grey, cigar-puffing the petals of hour-flowers, who suck the heat out of any room, or at least temporarily blot it out. Thieves of time. Bodies forever, new stuff forever, youthful skin forever, poor counterfeits of what we already have in overflowing abundance.,c_limit/Oeufs002b-n1.jpg

What truly is more rich, more generous than perception itself? The boards and syndicates con us in this way by manufacturing a false sense of Self. This is the foundational or bedrock lie. All other lies -- the State, capitalism, religion -- are scaffolded on top of this. 

The Self, naturally, is not everything (oh, but it is!) so naturally it experiences Lack (see David Loy). Whereas previously lack was perceived as being the bonds that bind all things together in dynamic harmony, now it is experienced as intolerable unfulfillment. Our own sense of self commands us to attempt to fill up the hole of our being. Once more, an impossible task. The trick that defeats this trick, however, is to let yourself go. Don't buy for a while. Don't consume. Don't trim yer toenails. 

The centre of control is located somewhere within. This is where the infernal King of the World radiates commands. All external archons and agencies ultimately take their orders from this central and hidden axis. 

There are the basic needs of the body that are usually relatively easy to meet (exempting the growing pockets of extreme poverty and misery that exist to keep the entire global system in fear), and there are the artificial "needs" manufactured by the conjurers of lack. And these later "needs" often block out the actual needs of the soul. 

It is this organized body, the body with organs, the body that shits with guilt, the body that clings on to existence in a schizophrenic split from the soul, that is the manipulated robot. Dead souls in a dead world. Killed from within, puppeteered from without.       

Thus, in contrast to Aristotle, Bruno does not believe matter receives its life from form. Form is not the only principle of the individual; soul is not the only life of the body. Rather an individual is alive because a form of the world soul has been contracted by matter. Matter is thus alive, and the entire universe is animated. All things are living in a univocal sense, and there is no longer a hierarchy of rational, animal, sensate, and insensate forms of being. Humans are not distinguished by their rational capacities but by the particular kinds of bodies they have -- the particular matter which has attracted and contracted the World Soul.

-- The Hermetic Deleuze: Philosophy and Spiritual Ordeal, Joshua Ramey

Matter is expressed form, form is virtual matter. Lightning strikes from ground to cloud and from cloud to ground. All action happens between the poles and through them. The imaginative process by which we create the gods is the same process by which the gods create our world.

The ascent up and down through the hierarchy of being, in a further reiteration, is identical to the veil of maya. Its story is the story of myths. The soul, in its apparent experience of separation from God, is already swept up in this story. The "fall" only happens so that a "redemption" is possible. And this entire circling, spiraling erotic dance makes up the vast body of the World Soul.

Not an atom of it is not alive, not aware, not already positioned on every rung of the ladder of being. From every split second of perception springs the perfect projection of a world of sense onto the void and reenacts this story. The Good News. The eucatastrophe. Finnegans Wake. Seasons of bebop and seasons of free jazz. Bubbling up from the wells of futurity.

Heroes and demons and elementals and Olympians. All interchangeable, musical notes and scents and flashes of colour. Machinic mandalas of incandescent iconography. Every squirming, heaving, spurting, bleeding, blossoming Christ-synthesis, ripping apart and flailing with abandon, crazed animal conversation, a pole of shit and a pole of gold. 

In "I, Maximus of Gloucester" he seeks to respond instant by instant to the measure of the breath. The cycle from one turning of the sun to next, however, is the totality of time, as the literal, graspable earth is the totality of space. Maximus's measure is now what seems almost the breath or rhythm of the earth.

-- Charles Olson's Maximus, Don Byrd 

There is no transcendent only immanence, spans of time and space measured by breaths and paces. The tantric egg surrounding us, extending finitely in six directions, is the entirety. It shifts with the inflation and contraction of our lungs.

At very high altitudes, as in the Tibetan plateau, your vision pulses with blood. The heartbeat of the teeming multitude of animals, and the equivalent photosynthetic sap-rhythm of plants, feeds the very gamut of solar maximum and minimum, as Lawrence knew.

The radiance of the stars blood-vesseling towards us, as witnessed from the earthly perspective of our own within. The star is only its own light which, when reaching our eyes, is already inside of us. Our vision, through precisely these same filaments of light, reaches back to the stars grounding the charge, feeding the circuit. All powered by erotic engines, by love.

The writings of the "young Marx", first published in English only in 1959, clearly reveal the philosopher's Romantic roots. The central problem of capitalism is in its fostering of alienation. The worker is alienated from the process of production, from the fruits of his or her labour, from fellow workers, from the rest of nature, from his or her own self.

This analysis has been furthered during the second half of the last century. We are, primarily, alienated from our desires. We have, because of advertising, political propaganda, the stress of the daily grind, etc., lost our ability to even know what these desires are. D&G deepen this perspective greatly. What does it mean to be alienated from desire? What is desire? This post has explored these questions.

Desire is crucially the desire for becoming. For constant becoming. For a becoming that is fully immanent, but that perpetually transcends every category or classification it is placed within. It is sorcerous. The vile rheum. Only wizard poetry which feeds the sun, which transforms men into birds into jotuns into algae blooms, is sufficient to unblock these flows of desire.

Travel back in thought to the split of Hegel and Hölderlin -- let alone to that of Marx and Proudhon -- back to the branching of Goethe and Kleist, further back to the Kalevala and the Upanishads, to a time when the poets and the gods were not fully distinguishable from one another. Only through the imagination is there genuine liberation.

Olson, in his maximal bulk, fully realized this. Verse, coursing back along these same channels of sense and light, is projective. As in a film projector. As in at every instant reediting the movie of the world. Creating the radical and democratic cantos of the everyday. The song of the geological and the daily news, the galactic and the local. Reuniting Pangaea.    

But a naked man, a stranger, leaned on the gate
with his cloak over his arm, waiting to be asked in.
So I called him: Come in, if you will! --
He came in slowly, and sat down by the hearth.
I said to him: And what is your name? --
He looked at me without answer, but with such a loveliness
entered me, I smiled to myself, saying: He is God!
So he said: Hermes!
God is older than the sun and moon
and the eye cannot behold him
nor the voice describe him:
and still, this is the God Hermes, sitting by my hearth.

-- "Maximus," D.H. Lawrence

In Lawrence's Collected Poems, it no coincidence that this poem "Maximus" is immediately followed by "The Man of Tyre." Olson was his spiritual disciple.

Naked Hermes at our hearth. This electric deity flows through all of this. The messenger of the gods to humanity, the lightning bolt itself, the rainbow, the arrow of Eros. And also the vajra weapon. The pulsing vessel of flesh completing the circuit of Sun and Moon. Thoth and quicksilver. The principle deity of Stephen Dedalus and Jack Duluoz. The thrice-greatest inspiration of all prose and verse, and also trickster retrogradic magus of miscommunication and noise. We pray to Thee.

Burroughs in bed, Deleuze on the train, Olson on the toilet, Kerouac in the cracks of the day. Bodies without organs, waves and wombs without end, Molly Bloom's long succession of lovers, possessed by none, possessing all. Nothing remains dead. Just Zen shit.

In a universe of waves quel difference betwixt one wave & t'other? T s all the same wavehood & every little unlocatable electron is a Tathagata pouring electromagnetic gravitational light at the constant speed of light (which can be heard in the sound of silence) & so this endless radiation of mysterious radiance is merely the minutia magnificent endless Tathagata Womb manifesting itself multiply & so not at all, for, all things are no-things but if this bores you it's because you want bricks in your soup. Empty.

-- Old Angel Midnight, Jack Kerouac


  1. So much, so much, dancing in the air! To shine forth is key! 87

    1. Good to see you're still out there, Dennis. Thanks.

  2. Per yer... "Every compass needle spins like a weathercock in a strong wind. Our navigation systems cause us to drive into the sea. This God has died. There is nothing above that is not also below."

    "With nothing to believe in, the compass always points to Terrapin" - R Hunter

    Thanks for your eloquence... deep wisdom and inspirational!

    1. Thanks, Jack. Good match. Not all who wander are lost.

  3. Replies
    1. I don't know why it was anonymous/unknown...derp.

      Jim Kincaid

  4. Thank you Znore for another great exposition! Your analysis of the Neoplatonists was extremely thorough and cogent. I find the "Perennial Tradition" in philosophy somewhat amusing for some of the reasons you stated in your blog. But, at the same time I have a soft spot for it considering the history that emerged from Christianity, especially. The Neoplatonist’s were furiously working out a system of “mystical philosophy” centered around the “ineffable one”, which they saw was the logical continuation of Plato’s metaphysics as an answer to the emerging Christianity, but were shut down before it was completed as its own philosophical system. Even if this line of thought wasn’t shut down, I’m not sure it would’ve ever culminated in a full system due to the highly abstract nature it represented. Also, it would’ve been hard for it to be institutionalized in a way whereby which it would’ve been understood by the masses, and wouldn’t have become corrupt in some way; for that is the fate of all institutions. But, nonetheless it’s a fun thought experiment to muse what it could’ve possibly been like if it was completed and gained momentum in its own right.

    For Plato and Plotinus, there was a stress on understanding the "hierarchy" of being in a rational, geometric way before having the "ineffable experience of the one". In other words, both individuals stressed the conceptual, discursive reasoning behind the experience itself, which seems to reveal the constituent makeup of reality, but only understood as abstract categories of existence; usually as pairs of opposites emanating from a single source. This is perhaps why, in the beginning of Algis’ book Philosophy as a Rite of Rebirth, he mentions the hopeless and self-mutilatory situation that philosophy has put itself in, represented today as postmodernism, as an ultimate form of skepticism if taken to extreme conclusions. This is no better or worse than the extreme idealism of the late 18th century and the advancement of Newtonian physics and the emphasis on reason and logic, which committed the same error, but with the apotheosis of reason and the system of logic as absolutes, rather than the modern-day stress of systems of anti-systems, which is absolutism guised as relativity.

    To be fair, Algis’ admonishment of postmodernism is not in the same vein as Jorden Peterson et al. Jordan Peterson is largely arguing against the extreme conclusions fomenting in the humanity’s departments that, seemingly, weaponize indignation created by subjective arbitrary categorization reinforcing false dichotomies between individuals, groups, institutions, and states to perpetuate specific ideologies, whether conscious or subconscious in motivation. The reinforcement of the group identity over the individual weaponized by the younger generation’s feelings of resentment in modern day culture is what he fears will create a catastrophic social situation (Mr. Robot anyone?). To be fair, again, Jordan Peterson has also ridiculed the dependence on logic alone, and pinpointed the same issue from a different context that manifested in the 18th century, as I’ve just mentioned; however, I digress. The general point Algis is making is that philosophy not understood as theurgy becomes reliant on discursive reasoning alone. This is basically like numbing or stultifying a sense organ of the body. The result, relying solely on reason and logic, has been the destruction of reason and logic, whether one is a rationalist or empiricist. Both have culminated in their own self-destruction by ending in reductio ad absurdum’s of endless skepticism, which can be weaponized either way. Without an anchor of transcendent, direct experience of the moment, logical analysis always ends in paradoxes otherwise.

    1. Back to the point, towards the end of the Academic tradition before the schools were closed by Justinian in 529 CE, Iamblichus, a "late Neoplatonist" (the categories are largely arbitrary between early, middle, and late periods of a philosophic trend. They merely represent the continual progression and "working out" of that philosophy, and nothing more.) Before they were closed, there was a sort of "split" in the "Neoplatonic tradition" between the "founder" Plotinus, and Iamblichus towards the end of the tradition. The quotations are just to stress that these are general historical assertions, and there are a couple of different interpretations.

      Whereas Plato, and eventually Plotinus et al (you can include Porphyry in here I believe, as well as a couple of others) stressed the importance of discursive reasoning as a pre-requisite to the experience, Iamblichus believed this was absolutely unnecessary, as you stated aptly in your blog, and at worst harmed the student with expectations that are impossible to describe because language itself breaks down in those states, which also means categories become fluid rather than remaining static, the opposites we witness as categories of being (paradoxes) in nature become a kaleidoscopic mixture of the various "antinomies" discursive reasoning, or logic, comes up against when reasoning to the ultimate concepts of being, space, time, matter, consciousness, etc. that are resolved in the ecstatic, non-dual states catalyzed by theurgic activities (IMO psychedelic drugs combined with hieratic rites causing theophany’s, and, eventually, the divine madness; a sort of spiritualized science, I call it repeatable/reliable mysticism.)

      According to Algis Uždavinys, these inner mystical states, this “hierarchy of being leading up to the ineffable one” was the model made manifest in the various phases of Ancient Egypt’s civilization for state order. In other words, the state model was a theurgic model of these ineffable states of being, the hierarchy they represented, and its relationship to the construction of material existence personified as the god Thoth, scribe of the Gods (also Metatron’s cube, often associated with or as another representation of Thoth.) What is odd, especially about Ancient Egypt, is the relative strangeness of the civilization, both in individual function, social function, and state function especially in contrast to the neighboring civilizations that existed at the time. The developments in personal hygiene, women’s rights, especially property rights, were acutely advanced for the time. There was no police force, and the stratification resembled the mythologies of the various city states embodied in all of the institutions Egypt created, at various stages of Egypt’s history, which was a theurgic model. A theurgic state.

      Ironically, this is exactly what Plato did with his Republic, but the difference being the Republic was his idealistic vision of order and justice modeled loosely off this chain of being, this hierarchy of being revealed in hypostatic, visionary bliss. Unlike Egypt, and perhaps pre-historic India at various times, the Greeks never tried to actualize it in their model of order, nor was there ever a philosophical/cosmological cohesion and understanding amongst every member of the society to agree to participate in that model.

    2. For this reason, Plato stated that his republic was impossible in phenomenal existence due to the nature of deficiency, or change (time) that exists in everyday experience. Trying to model an ineffable, seemingly static chain to a world of flux would only create corruption, overtime. This is ostensibly corroborated with the various stages of Egypt’s civilization, so it’s a fair critique by Plato himself. However, the real issue is whether or not, IMO, there is an anchor or institution of shamanism, if you will, to reinforce the boundary dissolving nature of the experience that reinforces the possibility of organizing a state to model mythology. Otherwise, the ego becomes confused and rigid in order to believe that’s it’s really lost and corrupt, to perpetually rediscover itself infinitely, but when the “rediscover” part is lost, individuals become perpetually lost with no reminder of salvation, and so enters the existential crisis of modernity, supposedly.

      To circle back around and end this lengthy rambling of mine, the Perennial Tradition also represents another progression – archaic values gleaned from the transcendence in the moment were lost, that felt presence of the moment. The fall. In the fall, we devise history and lengthy rational discourses trying to “solve” the problem of existence, and in the end, it spirals back unto itself realizing that there was nothing to solve, only to experience, no matter how tragic, painful, blissful, or boring that experience was during this brief quality of time named by the ancients as being the Kali Yuga. From the dialogues of Plato, to Plotinus’ et al. insistence of logical understanding, to Iamblichus and later Dionysius the Aeropagite stressing the necessity of the experience as itself, for itself. A little habit/novelty?

      Anyways, great blog as always thank you!