Cosmos Café [2023-02-23] -- WI Thompson’s 'Imaginary Landscape' 2

In your time zone: 2023-02-23T19:00:00Z

ZOOM video conference: Launch Meeting - Zoom


Thompson begins his Wissenskunst journey, illustrating our lost cosmology by taking a detailed, interpretive look at the folktale “Rapunzel”. He emphasizes that such tales are much deeper than mere symbolic expressions of earlier mentation, and hypothesizes that our most ancient forebears recognized (or felt or experienced) a essential connection between the tale and the world in which we find ourselves. In other words, his approach will not be a mere rational analysis of the contents of the tale, rather a structured exploration of chaos evoked and ordered through it.

The social and political turmoil of the 60s gave rise to not only a rabid scientism but also to a severely deconstructionist postmodernism and a largely ungrounded new-ageism that have greatly impacted our collective psyches. By establishing a reasonable and structured method, he approaches the tale in a focused yet imaginative way in order to unlock the deeper strata of meaning therein, namely the literal, the structural, the anthropological and cosmological levels. This appears, of course, as a mighty undertaking for such an easily-overlooked little tale, but the higher he climbs the deeper he seems to descend: into the depths of meaning in the story, but also to the possible origins of the story itself.

In some sense, the journey he has planned through the book is mirrored in the exploration of this particular tale, a fractaled image, if you will, of the trajectory of the text as a whole. How successful he is at this is, of course, up to you, the reader, to decide. This is not your everyday stroll in the garden.

Reading / Watching / Listening

Thompson, William Irwin (1989) Imaginary Landscape: Making Worlds of Myth and Science, New York, St. Martin’s Press; Chapter 1 “Rapunzel: Cosmology Lost”.

Lab section

Taking his impulse from the first four sentences of the Prologue (p. xi), we agreed to try and make time – before, during, and after our reading – for some “open reverie” in relation to the text; by practicing some attentive receptivity, collect your impressions, feelings, and thoughts to share at the beginning of our upcoming get-together.

Reading Schedule

  • Feb 09: Acknowledgements, Prologue
  • Feb 23: Chapter 1
  • Mar 09: Chapter 2
  • Mar 23: Chapter 3
  • Apr 06: Chapter 4
  • Apr 20: Epilogue

Seed Questions

  • What role do the eyes, the metaphor of “vision”, play in the Rapunzel story? How significant do you think this is?

  • Which other of Thompson’s metaphors caught your attention? How do these interact with the vision metaphor just referred to?

  • What do you think of Thompson’s four-phase interpretive schema? How does it compare/contrast with other schemas you are familiar with or perhaps have developed on your own?

  • How well do you think Thompson succeeded in doing the story justice?

Context, Backstory, and Related topics


Cosmos Café [2023-01-26] – Deja Vu all over again … or another spin of the wheel?

Cosmos Café [2023-02-09] – WI Thompson’s ‘Imaginary Landscape’ 1


English-German dual language version of the Rapunzel tale (For comparison to WIT translation)

The Motherly Sorceress: Frau Gothel as a Non-Villainous Mother-Figure by Jessica D’Aquin

Young Women Were The True Originators of the Grimms’ Tales by Christine Lehnen

Proposed Agenda

  1. Welcomes and greetings

  2. Sharing results of the practical exercise for this session: receptivity – impressions from open revery opportunities

  3. Sharing of other impressions and ideas generated by the reading

  4. Deeper engagement of the reading for this session

  5. Wrap-up and hand-off to next session


Indeed not! By the time Thompson is done with his analysis of this rather (at first) simple-seeming fairy tale, we have taken magical mystery tour from the origins of human consciousness through the orbits of the planets. Some of his inferences do indeed seem far-fetched, but one also senses a method to the madness, or rather, a structure to the chaos.

Thanks for posting that picture of actual rapunzel. I wish I could eat some! I’ll check in again, as I give the chapter a second read and some more consideration.


It (well, the leaves these days) is an especially popular winter green around here (lots of vitamin C) … we had it twice this past week in fact. It does have a number of aliases, besides rampion: corn salad, lamb’s lettuce, field salad. Mixes real well with other leafy greens, but it also good on its own, and given it’s somewhat nutty flavor pairs well with salad seeds (like sesame, and particularly linseed).

Surprisingly, most of them check out, but he said at the beginning of the chapter, “it is this edge between chaos and order that is most fascinating”, so even the ones that are stretched a bit are not mistaken, merely something of an overshot. You have to admire his ability to still hold it all together, in spite – or because – of it all.

This is one of those pieces of writing that in many regards gets richer with every re-reading. At least that’s my experience. I’ll be reading it more than once again this time through I’m sure.



Some questions about models and myths.

And Is there a relationship between Mozart’s Queen of the Night aria ( mentioned by Thompson) and the destabilizing behavior of the Witch in Rupunzel ?

Below is a clip from a musical version of Grimm’s fairy tale as de-constructed by American composer Steven Sondheim . In this clip the Feminine Archetypes are captured in a weird imaginary landscape . The young woman grapples with a mercurial matriach figure. Could this be an embodied, post-modern ,feminist ~queer motif? Is the witch trying to escape with the young woman from a compulsory heterosexual society? How does queer feeling turn into new kinds of cultural forms? And what do these pre-modern archetypes mean in a scientistic, AI informatic society hostile to magical, mythical and queer thought-forms?

MCLuhan’s model uses these questions when exploring cultural artifacts.

What is retrieved?
What is enhanced?
What is reversed?
What is obsolesed?

Thompson was a Meta-historian. Is his model different~similar to McLuhan’s? And then what happens to Sondheim’s musical use of the deceptively simple fairy tale? What are the overaps between Broadway, Hollywood, and the Brother’s Grimm?


A check-in if a queer feeling can be experienced in a heterosexual person ?
I sometimes get confused about what I can or cannot relate to in terms of
the range of human Feeling/Empathy & Still Honor the Difference?


And when a heterosexual person…what kind of person is that heterosexual person?

And where does heterosexual person come from?

And if a queer feeling whereabouts is a queer feeling?

And what was feeling before queer feeling?

And if a queer feeling …what kind of if is that?


Zen Pause

1 Like

“Not quite. I’m thinking of a queer feeling I sometimes get, a feel that I’ve got something important to say and the power to say it—only I don’t know what it is, and I can’t make any use of the power.”

― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

“Because,” he said, “I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you—especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous Channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you,—you’d forget me.”

― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre]

queer-feelings.pdf (472.4 KB)


“Gay Power / Black Power / Women Power / Student
Power / All Power to the People”

Thanks, Marco, for the Heather Love interview as her take on the movement has awakened in me a resolve to work out the strange biosemiotic topologies of my own forbidden affective zones, those splits between groups and within groups, both the random and the ordered, that my dreambody unfolds. That’s why I ask odd questions. I resist the tendency to oversimplfy others.

A reductive, physicalist science is the great threat to our collective survival. Homophobia, sexism, racism, are all a hangover from that tendency to label, delete, generalize which is the hallmark of our scientistic culture. The fragile, unvoiced and on the edge of speech is denied in favor of the brazen, quantifying, frenzy that is ripping up the social fabric. Many outsiders have tried, unsucessfully, to stitch back together our multi-dimensional imaginary landscapes. We need a science of qualities, a spiritual science, a new clairvoyance. Action groups developing this new clairvoyance are few. Most groups want to engage in chat fests.

A first person account. I saw Moonlight a few years ago, with a friend of mine, black and beautiful, an NYU graduate, who had worked hard to get out of the ghetto, but had fallen between the cracks. Struggling with student debt, HIV, crazy family, alcohol, drugs, when the recession hit our queer ship started to sink.But I loved the guy. We had a brief, tortured, love affair that ended violently. Right before we lost it, he put his finger on my heart, and said," Deep down inside, there’s a black woman inside of you."That’s true. Truer words have never been said of me by anyone. There is a black woman inside of me. We still have a shit load of karma to work out.

So, it was with a broken heart that I contacted him and invited him to go with me to see Moonlight. It took a great deal of courage for both of us to revisit the wreck.

In the darkened theater, our underground, unspoken world was brought forth into the public domain, with flickering images of light and color, deep, sad, eyes appear on the big screen, and echos from a borderland music . During this pivotal scene in the clip below my friend, ( the only black person in the intimate, art house, audience) said, with utter disdain, " Fucking black world."This statement made me squirm. As a white guy I could not feel that way about black people. But he could.

In this cathartic scene, the center will not hold. The tensions between characters, explode. And when there is no container for these inarticuate tensions, these deep injustices, then what happens next?

What holds the tensions that holds a civilization together in the long term is the outsider within you. An invisible third contains the polarities. Knowing how to do this 1st, 2nd, 3rd interplay is a skill that most humans at this time do not have.

Art, such as Barry Jenkins, ( a straight, black man), produces in this film, is such an immersive art, that we can’t find our boundaries. The resurrection of the Imaginal body, which is the body of Christ, unfolds, with ruthless compassion, in this wise film.

Can we turn the crucifixion into an acupuncture treatment? This may be a task for the future human who has not arrived yet, who must be prepared for.


My friend Mark Binet had a line in one of his poems, “My soul is multiracial,” which I always thought was a powerful statement.

I think “identity” is a politically necessary fiction, which retrieves the tribal, enhances the self, obsolesces the universal, and reverses into war, if that’s all there is. We need identity because we are oppressed on the basis of identity, first of all from without. That said, many indigenous groups in history develop a concept of being the “true humans.” As cities, and eventually civilizations develop, those on the outside are deemed the “barbarians.”

I am currently following an author who sees disembodied spirits, future events, and people’s past lives on a regular basis, as just the way he is and has been since childhood. He seems like the real deal and I have no reason to doubt him, from the way he presents himself. He believes—or rather, perceives—that each of us has been here many times before, in different bodies and life circumstances, and that if we’d only see this for ourselves, through the power of #consciousness, then we would not have as much to fight about, and would take better care of this planet we share.

As mentioned in our last Café, Rudolf Steiner also believed that the category of the “human” is much more than human in the conventional humanistic sense of the term—more like a cosmic being that is inherent to the universe. The human is the site of where spirit and matter wrangle out the terms of manifestation.

I remember seeing Moonlight and it is a breathtakingly beautiful film. What I appreciated about Love’s paper is her recovering a sense of the tragic, and of memory, that complicates and deepens a notion (“queerness”) which is often these days flattened to an identity marker or personal style. While this may not be exactly my personal history in this lifetime… maybe it is from another lifetime, on deeper level, or in a cosmic sense.

And to bring this back to Thompson, part of the power of his writing for me, as I’m getting into it, is that it opens up a felt sense of the inner richness and dimensionality of the ancients texts and peoples he studied—as if those ancient Egyptians and Sumerians and Paleolithic humans and proto-humans could have been us… because actually, they were.


A Quote from Love’s piece I found very Deep within as one attempting Being “true humans.” I have Experienced in this Life…

From my perspective, it takes a lot of work
not to acknowledge ambivalence or sadness when you read these
books…One of the things I like about teaching literature is that students get
really caught up in the text, and we are tracking all the crazy, curious,
mixed-up feelings in these books—without necessarily stopping to
ask ourselves. Is this good for gay politics? Is this how X should have
been feeling? When things go right, we can get pretty lost in the text.
But at the same time I think that the frame around the entire experience is about reclaiming and affirming these historical figures—and
sometimes, “like saying grace”, we stop to reflect on the historical development that allows us to be reading these texts in the context of a
queer studies course being offered as part of a general university curriculum. That is lucky.


A Musical response to … Imaginary Landscape: Making Worlds of Myth and Science


I can’t conceive the nucleus of all
Begins inside a tiny seed
And what we think as insignificant
Provides the purest air we breathe

But who am I to doubt or question the inevitable being
For these are but a few discoveries
We find inside the Secret Life of Plants

A species smaller than the eye can see
Or larger than most living things
And yet we take from it without consent
Our shelter, food, habilment

But who am I to doubt or question the inevitable being
For these are but a few discoveries
We find inside the Secret Life of Plants

But far too many give them in return
A stomp, cut, drown, or burn
As is they’re nothing
But if you ask yourself where would you be
Without them you will find you would not

And some believe antennas are their leaves
That spans beyond our galaxy
They’ve been, they are and probably will be
Who are the mediocrity

But who am I to doubt or question the inevitable being
For these are but a few discoveries
We find inside the Secret Life of Plants
For these are but a few discoveries
We find inside the Secret Life of Plants


" We will not be able to understand the morphology of the future if we model it as the oscillating. periodic attractor of good guys vs bad guys." Thompson, p. 166

Rudolf Steiner saw the Christic impulse as a capacity for making contact with and re-balancing between demonic and satanic forces. These forces appear in a Luciferic version which wants humans to transcend and escape the human body through perpetual ecstatic process and the Satanic version which wants humanity to become one with the machine, reject the subtle realms, and contribute to the emergence of the Cosmic Nazi . Christ, an adept performance artist, has the capacity to communicate from the Imginal and re-enter disruptive scripts and narratives of these shape shifting, diabolic, competing forces . Then He~We might turn the crucifixion into an acuptuncture treatment. In Steiner’s view it’s not about defeating evil but transforming it.

Aaron French, an informed esoteric researcher, offers a sober appraisal of this titanic struggle. I hope his video inspires each of us to share our spiritual research and bring forth a new kind of rhythmic intelligence…and integrate an invisible third.

And with all of that…what do you want to have happen, today?


I’m curious about the differences between Daemonic, Demonic, and Satanic, as well as what it means for the Binary to become the multi-polar or Ambiguous. These are not merely scholarly questions, but now squarely in the mainstream of our popular culture. The fairly tales are pyrotechnic and in our face.

For example, the recent Grammy Awards—sponsored by Pfizer—featured a performance that many commentators (especially conservative Christians and culture-war reactionaries) labelled as “satanic.” This is a recurrent theme, and of course, goes as far back as Milton (!)—who famously gives Satan much better lines than he does G-d in Paradise Lost.

Reportedly, the actual Church of Satan was hardly impressed by Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ performance, and consider Lil Nas X’s Montero a more properly provocative pro-Satanic piece. At the beginning of Montero, Lil Nas X states, “In life we hide the parts of ourselves we don’t want the world to see. We lock them away. We tell them ‘no.’ We banish them… but here, we don’t.” Worth noting is the non-binariness and transgenderedness of Smith and Petras respectively (marking the first time a transgender artist has won a ‘Best Pop Duo’ Grammy Award)—and this is progress.

Perhaps, in a culture war context, one could understand the celebration of the satanic as an “enemy of my enemy” type of alliance, putting extreme emphasis on the pole that the other side repudiates—and nothing truly evil, such as the Holocaust or Putin’s war in Ukraine—but in fact the work of the Good. Beneath the theatrics, one might see a form of advocacy for an expansion of the domains where love (or is it just pleasure? or both?) can be valorized and freely expressed.

And yet, I wonder, how far are our cultural and financial elites are willing to go to make a point? And when does the celebration of so-called Evil become just another form of the Banal? In the 35 years, since I was an impressionable youth watching TV, it seems the shape of the debate—its fundamental structure—hasn’t really changed. (A deal with the Devil, sponsored by Pfizer. I have mixed feelings.) Maybe we just used to have a kinder, gentler sense of humor…


A few comments. Daemonic is an inner voice that Socrates listened to. He would often go into a catalyptic trance in the middle of the street to commune with his daemon. The voice never told him to do anything but it often told him what he should not do. And we all know what happened to Socrates.

The Daemonic also figured into many gnostic orientations as a kind of personal genius, a direct knowing, unmediated by worldly powers. The gnostics recognized the forces of darkness and light. Manicheans, gnostics, Christians, Jewish sects, overlapped, in a vast underground network. The evidence for this hidden gnosis was discovered in the desert of Egypt, where the heretical texts were preserved in cave. The figure of Jesus in these texts is much different from the Gospels. There is a vast literature on this subject. Many in contempoarary culture are drawn to these rather queer personas and shadowy figures in this underground.

Disambiguiting from ambiguous thought forms invading our interiors and exteriors can be challenging. Steiner thought the old style of clairvoyance was vanishing quicky to make room for a new kind of clairvoyance which takes the cogntive into its embrace. His ultimate goal was to free us from the tyranny of the brain~body and to allow the subtle bodies to take the lead. This is especially difficult transition to make in a post-truth culture on the verge of exhaustion.

About the videos posted. I thought the Grammy Awards performance was rather tame like a halloween tween party. The peformers seemed aged regressed. This couldn’t shock anyone.

Lil Nas, in contrast, is more transgressive. He embodies a maculine physique with a strong fem fatal driver. We used to call this a ‘power bottom’ . He is less Satanic in my view and more Luciferic. This is a story about beautiful, stoned, black, angel, playing a lavendar guitar, under a tree, and who then gets caught up in the serpent’s erotic spell, a queer version for sure. The puritanical Milton would be horrified.Then moving through different dimensions, down to the center of the alternate earth, an effortless slide, like a ketemine trip , through the symbolic landscape of the Rider-Waite tarot deck with a dash of Aleister Crowley. Its all hyper-ironic with lots of charisma. Lucifer uses altered states and drugs to get you to check out of a worldly, procreative, hetero normality. I feel a black on black Luciferic style is active in this video, creating a downward descent through the lower chakras, into the bowels of the earth. Is it tantric party time for the woke left? A great deal is being enhanced and reversed in this testosterone driven, soft gay porn cartoon. It is a journey of the alone to the Alone, which retrieves the alienated rebellion of the Pyramid Club in the 80s back in the East Village before the smart phone invasion destroyed the heat from the street. 5G brain rot has set in.

You don’t have to look far to find the presence of great evil in our current culture, I will leave this to another call but like to put enough on the table to rise to the occassion of Thompson’s enigmas. How we respond to imagery is very mysterious and has a long history of causing trouble as art can arouse wierd feelings, some of them we are unaware of and can plunge us into madness.

Bringing attention to talk about high art is good, too. The pop vs the cultivated is important to consider as we weave magic, science, and the primitive together. I look for people, like Aaron French, who brings AI , UFOs, and Steiner into a strange mix. Thompson was very good at mixing it up and letting new things pop up. This is what the internet age provides us with if we use it wisely.


These are the words that landed on/in me that
Relate to the Reading this week…

Now I’ve done my best, I know it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch,
I’ve told the truth,…

To Desolidify our concepts ( sense of self) so perception/s can Move & Play!!!

1 Like

Turning in my homework, just under the bell…

Summary of Fallen Bodies in an Imaginary Landscape

Mother made us hunt for beasts
and gather wild greens from the forest
after father had expelled us from the garden
of our being unborn—

We would have to fend for ourselves
from now on…

And so conceived the agrilogistics
and constructed city walls, established rules of law
and codified the disciplines of industry, decreeing
a technocracy of reproduction—

We captured the sun-king in a calendar
of 10,000 years, sequestered the moon in a capsule
of chemical cocktails

Yet in our secret hearts, we questioned
the diminution of an original mystery, wrote up curriculums
for rewilding our disposable bodies

Longed for arrows that could fell
a falling man, and wounds that would heal themselves.

Note: some slight edits made post-Café.

1 Like

Recording from today’s session below. Thanks, everyone, for another threshold experience in the Café!

Speaker View

Gallery View



For Ed…

And something funny…

Feeling the Vibrations Underneath Radiating the Porosity of Earthly Living?