Reality is Analog is by far the most compelling thing I’ve read about Stranger Things. Not only that, but it was thought-provoking while helping me clarify to myself why and how I’ve come to many of the same conclusions.
Thank you for your comment, @sue. I’m glad the essay rang true for you.
I dont know anything about Stranger Things, but the piece is very well written and well positioned, referring to the nature of reality. I would just like to put the whole topic in a more accurate philosophical/ontological basis, according to my opinion. Intellectualism is an abstract/negative anthropocentrism, and not a real one. It worships the human reason, which is a particular product of the historical Man, and not humanity per se. On the contrary, it is responsible for cruel discriminations and divisions on the body of humanity, constituting a suppressive ideal which stands against the deep and real human nature. The necessary connection with our non-human environment is a connection with our most deep humaness, since universality is the most fundamental trait of mankind. This connection marks the upcoming complete/real anthropocentrism, a new universe transformed by the experiential touch of the human presence.
Thank you, J.F., for a thought-provoking essay. Your discussion of ‘analog’ ways of engaging reality strikes me as important. The discussion of philosophy is very helpful. And towards the end of the essay, when you bring up neoliberalism, this goes very well with the essay. I’m looking forward to hearing the podcast!
Thanks, @richard. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Would love to hear your own take on the series.
@mankinddivine – Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure what you mean by “our most deep humanness” and an “upcoming complete/real anthropocentrism.” How will this superior anthropocentrism be better than the old one? And how will it transform the universe?
hey! thanks for your mail!
the new “anthropocentrism” is not an -ism, not an ideology, but a lived reality - an ever living reality, i would say better. It is when man becomes actually the center of his own existence, which in turn becomes actually universal, meaning the possibility of experiential contact and dialogue with everything that exists.For this to happen it needs of course a radical transformation of mankind, a new kind of man, a post-historical mankind. This happens through two consequitive and closely interconnected acts of liberation 1) Liberation from Capital (and from all historical exploitation and alienation), 2) Liberation from Death, achievement of physical immortality. These two acts together constitute what i call THE REVELUTION OF THE 21st CENTURY (“revelution” is a mixing term of revolution and revelation), which is the realization of the divine nature of mankind. At least, this is the powerful and all-convincing vision about mankind that I had on 2001, and I have then articulated as “mankinddivine theory”. One of its mottos: " The universe does not begin with a God. The universe ends with a God"
How this immortal Human-God transforms the universe? Human existence is fundamentally transformative anyway, we historical humans transform the universe already from the start of our presence on Earth, although in an embryonic and increasingly alienating way. In a few words, the Human-God transforms the universe through divine power and magic.
Does that include technology? I am not sure, up to which point it does. Technology for sure is magic on its own (I have also read TECHGNOSIS, what a book!), the strongest magic throughout History, the one which actually drives the historical course, as Terence Mc Kenna has rightly claimed. But still, my intuition is that technology is about to be overcome, together with History. The complete/real Human God will do his magic without tools, only by virtue of his own physical/spiritual existence.Now, talking about technology, i got some comment on the digital issue of nowadays. I am born 74 and im totally analog, and thats also my philosophy of life. But still, i need to say that on understanding digital: Digital technology, like all historical technology, does not only practically determine the human reality of its time, but it also indicates, it tells us something about that particular reality. The “message in the medium” of the digital does not concern Reality as such, but the specific human reality of the 21st century. And what does it tell us about that reality? The fundamental trait of digital is the division of the real, the polarity between 0 and 1 which constitutes the digital reality. And indeed, the human reality of our times is a split reality - a split of cosmic proportions, if we accept the cosmic nature and evolutionary “mission” of mankind. This split is at the same time 1) sociohistorical, meaning the class split between the ruling minority and the oppressed majority of mankind, and 2) ontological, meaning the “ontological dilemma” which according to my theory shapes our 21st century: Death or Immortality of mankind. This is perfectly reflected on the digital polarity between 0 and 1, zero indicating extinction and 1 indicating completion. So, reality in general may be a both/and situation, but our specific contemporary reality is definitely an either/or one. Its either them or us, its either death or immortality.You say also that the digital is composed of already-made units, while reality and life is always in the making. The latter is definitely true in general, but still there are specific phases in that, there are certain evolutionary circles/spirals in the flow, and there are also specific points of completion of these circles. Our era is definitely one of these points, the point of the completion of the entire historical course of mankind, the End of History era, and this is perfectly reflected in the structure of the digital: The baby is already made and integrated in the womb of History, now it just needs to get out and be born.
Thank you for the clarifications, @mankinddivine.
The either/or mentality that the digital metaphor can serve to illustrate does not, in my view, characterize only the modern mind. It characterizes conceptual thought in itself, and conceptual thought is as old as grammar. It’s what William S. Burroughs referred to as the “word virus.” Nor do I think that the either/or mentality is a particularly bad thing. On the contrary, it’s essential if we’re to make sense of anything in the world. The problem arises when we begin to think of conceptuality as having primacy over reality because of an implicit belief that the concept of a thing or event exhaustively describes that thing or event as a whole.
So, either/or has been with us from the start. And my sense is that it will be with us until the end – or at least, for as long as we continue to operate with language and concepts. On a personal note, it’s hard for me to put into words the aversion I feel to cosmological theories that posit a teleology for humankind, casting us in a universal drama in which the fate of the universe hinges on an imagined historical event in the future. I’m not saying that such a “revelution” can’t happen, since all things are possible. But I fail to see how arguing that such a change will or must take place could help us deal with our current problems, be they collective or individual.
The truth is that the future, like everything else, is wrapped in absolute uncertainty. Nobody knows what is going to happen because anything could happen, at any time. The only cultural shift we need, in my opinion, is the acceptance of uncertainty as constitutive of the human experience and, indeed, of reality itself at the deepest level. For me, this means abandoning the grand historical narratives that would assure humanity a central role in the universe’s unfolding.
Many thanks for the gift that you have offered us in this essay. It is a formidable exploration of the roots of our current mindset and a truly wonderful piece of writing. As always with your work, this essay reveals itself in layers. I will have more to say a bit later on, but I wanted to comment first on this idea of the “Upside Down.” This concept or vision or experience or whatever you might call it has a great deal of resonance for me. Quite often, when writers speak of a field of universal consciousness, they tend to imagine this as a kind of smooth, unbroken, and luminous expanse. This suggests to me that their visionary experience is perhaps more limited than they know. While this sense of luminous vastness is indeed one aspect of visionary experience, to see only this without some equal sense of complicating darkness is probably to view the beyond through the idealizing lens of intellect or the filter of pious sentiment.
Schwaller de Lubicz calls attention to the crossed arms that you often see in images of the mummified pharaoh. To move from one dimension to another is always an act “crossing,” a reversal of right and left, or of up and down, a movement from the front side to the back side of a mirror; it is never in a movement in a straight line. This is the reason, I think, that it is so difficult to see from one side of creation to the other, in spite of the fact that this luminous field of consciousness is real. This is the reason, too, that Egyptian initiates prepared so rigorously for their journey to the other world, as if they were preparing for a war.
Whenever my spiritual or creative explorations seem to be going to consistently in one direction, I always assume that some sort of reversal is in store. Even when you do your best to prepare, however, there are times when such a reversal can violently take you by surprise, when your sense of reality is yanked out from beneath you and you can do little more than observe. Here is one example of an unexpected voyage, which was not so much a voyage into different world as into an alternate aspect of the world in which we live. If we had not discarded so many inconvenient “externalities,” including large portions of the human race, perhaps this underworld dimension, too, would have appeared in a more benevolent light. Or maybe not.
In 1980, just before or after Reagan’s victory, I had a kind of upside-down visionary experience, in which dread and horror were the dominant emotions. I was visiting my family in Worcester, at the house where I grew up, and was dozing off in my bedroom. This was a room in which I had many out-of-body experiences, at first involuntary, and, as time went on, more voluntary, if not completely under my control. I was less grounded and more loosely wrapped back then. I was used to strange things happening. In any case, I was just dozing off in my bedroom when, all of a sudden, an incredible kind of a rip occurred, as though the top layer of North America had separated from its under-layer, and I had been sucked through some jagged opening into the darkness underneath.
The experience was intoxicating, in a way, in that it involved a sense of vast expansion, as well as a kind of split-second initiation into a layer of secret knowledge. I saw darkness swirling in intricate and yet chaotic patterns, like rivers of oil flowing into lakes of oil, a kind of world war of kaleidoscopic clouds, boiling beneath the surface of the Earth. It struck me that Earth’s overlords all had knowledge of and access to these forces, which the greater part of humanity was quite content to ignore, much as we choose not to think about the insides of our bodies, particularly our digestive systems. The dominant reality here was power: acts of naked power and the lust for ever more power and the incantation of key words of power and raw magical assertions of the will.
I felt that, with each act of power and magical assertion of the will, a piece was being ripped out of the Whole—which I saw as being a luminous sphere, or a fabric, or a body—a Whole whose structure had been originally self-evident, but which was becoming more and more difficult to see or to imagine. What was seized by forces in one part of the Whole was taken from another, until only an underground sea of darkness, heaving with ill-gotten wealth, was left. As I said, the experience was a visionary one, but with none of the sense of liberation that usually comes with such experiences. I was traumatized, and barely able to function for several weeks. At first, I couldn’t speak about or conceptualize the experience at all.
As important as it was, I have seldom written about the experience too directly, perhaps because the darkness did not have clear-cut edges, and because the information came at me in an overwhelming rush. It took me more than a year to begin to incorporate some of the insights gained into my work. In the three and a half decades since, I have come to realize that this experience of the secret order of the underworld was not only, or even primarily, a metaphorical one. Instead, it was a preview of the political, cultural, and economic forces that would manifest, like a death flash video, in the events of the external world.
–Here is a painting by Max Beckman called “Death” that is in keeping with this upside down theme.
Hello @brian.george51. Sorry it took me to respond to your post.
First, thanks for your kind words about the essay. As I mentioned in our email exchange, I’m delighted that it rang a chord with you. Yes, the idea of the Upside Down presents us with a vision of the “unconscious” – or what have you – that is much more undulated, striated, bumpy and, most importantly, populated than what we might usually imagine. I’ve always thought of the imaginal as having its own geography, with regions of light and regions of darkness. This, of course, is completely consonant with the way it is presented in myth and folklore.
Your deftly described vision of “a darkness swirling in intricate yet chaotic patterns” reminds of me of Fritz Leiber’s short story “The Black Gondolier,” which deploys a potent image of fossil fuels as an intelligent demonic being, as well as an underworld in itself, that rises up to consume the psyche of the protagonist. It is interesting to note this evocation of black oil in light of the timing of your vision in the Reagan era.