The Snare of Distance and the Sunglasses of the Seer / Part Two

Originally published on

Brian George, Monkey on the Lightning Tree, photogram, 2002

“The Proteus who sleeps inside us has opened his eyes. And we say what must be said. These jolts are for us what snares and tortures were to the sea-green prophet.”—Giorgio de Chirico

If we are a storehouse for the “seeds of every form and the sprouts of every sort of life,” as Pico della Mirandola argues, who knows but that we might not scare ourselves? “The New Man is living amongst us now!” said Hitler, “He is here! Isn’t that enough for you? I will tell you a secret. I have seen the New Man. He is intrepid and cruel. Even I was afraid of him.” Once, we were not so easily impressed. We had not yet volunteered to be eaten by the gods, they to whom we had recklessly given birth. We were not afraid of giants, who burned as brightly as atomic bombs, nor of tiny beings with large eyes, who were skilled at creating simulacra. Our craniums were large, and open at the top, but we did not necessarily need large bodies to go with them. One size fit all. It was endlessly interactive. Mercury had attached its power to our ankles. We did not need wings! Few realize that the oceans fill the footprints that we left, that megaliths mark the vast multitude of our navels, or that the sky is filled to overflowing with our tears.

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Much stupider than they think, Earth’s top one percent are nonetheless quite adept at playing games. Let us posit: that they rule by reactivating some antediluvian trauma, the fear of which has been bred into our bones, the records about which have been hidden in the coils of junk DNA, which they, and they alone, have somehow learned to read. Such feats of micromanagement! All data is then made to correspond. Not being actual prophets, of course, their reading of these records is hit or miss at best. “As you are figuring out the world,” they say, “we will have manufactured a new one, and then another one after that!” This does not mean that they are actually in charge. Like us, they are subject to whatever spells they cast, and, as the apparatus of the Great Year turns, they are swept along with the other 99 percent. No part can ever be taken from the whole, nor does the One increase when added to itself. We move as One, unconsciously, and pushed forward from behind.

Brian George, Time-Spiral, 2003

As we free ourselves from the common wisdom, paranoia may be the most immediate of temptations. All conspiracy theories may be true, or none of them, or a fact from this one and an archetype from that one, but in the end such labyrinthine explorations may not lead to greater freedom. The trap is this: that we are always the good guys, and someone else is always to blame for every evil in the world.

Appearances to the contrary, it is possible that the things that matter most are actually very simple. As citizens of the greater city of the cosmos, who have now been grounded, it is our job to remove the layers of obfuscation that cut each person from the core of his/her power, so that each may again serve as a kind of movable Omphalos. Gently but persistently, we must bring our attention back to what I will call the “Boy Scout (or Girl Scout) Code of Conduct,” as this was understood by the Ancients. The 21 “Anamnesian Maxims” that correspond to the seven “Anamnesian Virtues” are below. These are formatted as injunctions. To the extent that they can be interpreted at all, there are some that must be followed to the letter. There are others that might put the practitioner into conflict with the Authorities. In your cultivation of virtue, or “virtu,” if you go with the classical understanding of the word, you must read not only with your own eyes but also through the eyes of your opponent. You must read between the lines, as well as what is on them. Obey at your own risk. These 21 “Anamnesian Maxims” are as follows:

  1. We must love to act well for the sake of acting well; all action is circular, and no Uroboros can remove the tail from its mouth.

  2. We must work hard and stick to our projects through any and all obstacles, until, as if by magic, we one day finish what we started. Looking back, we must thank all of those forces that conspired to destroy us. We will have died more than a dozen times since we set forth from our blackened port. We must not be so naïve again.

  3. We must learn how to accept the full responsibility for our actions, and be the first to gladly admit it when we are wrong. If we discover, as in a dream, that we have caused harm to the innocent, we must accuse those who have dared to point their fingers at us, for it is they who have tainted our otherwise spotless minds.

  4. We must cultivate a smile, and be able to transmit warmth from the solar plexus. It is in this way that our energy will tempt space to self-organize. As much as does the sun, we will then be able to micromanage each event.

  5. We must be willing to meet each person on their own terms, however self-deluded or sociopathic they might be. We will know that we have succeeded when their flaws become an almost exact mirror-image of our own. We must then kiss the horror that confronts us in the mirror.

  6. We must be generous with our friends, but more generous with our enemies. We must hold them as close as Teddy bears. For they MUST be kept off balance. We must trust that our sense of style will make up for the catastrophic damage that we cause.

  7. Putting fears aside, we must do our best to act with some appropriate degree of courage, which may mean standing still. We must practice death, as though our lives depended on it, and be willing, at any moment, to shrug off what we love.

  8. We must speak honestly, to the extent that we can hide behind a mask.

  9. We must keep to the Mean. We must do nothing in excess, except when we choose to violate this rule. This is part of the natural equilibrium of the Mean. Lacking excess, it would not know what it is, or how to tell its butt from its elbow.

  10. We must act justly. We must treat others in the way that we would want them to treat us, especially when they deserve a good slap across the face, which, at the appropriate moment, we must know how to apply.

  11. We must kill first and ask questions later, like the gods, so long as we have the best interests of our sacrifice at heart.

  12. We must care for the orphan, and marry our brother’s widow. If needed, we must be willing to make love to our neighbor’s wife. Grave indeed are the responsibilities of the caretakers of the cosmos!

  13. A window is open, and we must thank it. As was done “In Illo Tempore,” we must be able to zip from one place to another with no need to cross through the intervening distance, for this will reduce our dependence upon gas.

  14. As blunt as need be, we must perfect what Hemingway called our “built-in bullshit detectors.” We must, if and when we choose, speak truth to power, or else operate beyond the edges of the stage. We must cultivate a sense of the innate law of the omniverse. It is utterly obscure. It is as soft as a breath.

  15. We must boldly go where no man has gone before, at first together, then more and more alone. No other will survive the wreck. Once having washed ashore, you will there find Argos, your aged dog, who has been waiting with bated breath for your return. He is a good dog. He wants only to lick your hand before he dies. A loyal companion, he will even then share the deep intelligence of his nose. He will be waiting with his cold head resting on his paws, on the last dock, as the ocean swells.

  16. To the one side Birds and to the other Snakes: Keep eyes wide open, but do not enter any contest where you would have to stare them down. Do not offend them with such words as “high” and “low,” for, already, they tend to regard you as a snack.

  17. We must cultivate curiosity, for there would be no world without it.

  18. We must stay alert, and have no fear of boredom. A wait of 12,000 years is not other than the blinking of an eye. We are not, in fact, obligated to bring new worlds into existence, however much we might like to pretend that this is so. No, for we are on a wheel. On this wheel, each of the spokes functions like the gallery of a museum, and, from where we stand, we are free to wander into and out of any period that we choose.

  19. We must be able to bring objects across a threshold with us, whether gargoyle breastplates or stringed philosophical instruments, and then fully translate them into this world from our dreams. Do it well, and these objects will blend seamlessly with other props in the environment, although some few may note their faint radioactive glow.

  20. We must be good little boys and girls—or else! But no, we are free to be as difficult and subversive as we want, so long as we keep the Bindu always before our eyes and the apparatus of our primal energy intact.

  21. We must cultivate the ability to break through any mirror, leaving, as we go, little evidence of our passing. Moving in and out from behind the surface of projection, we must snatch the archaeological relics that we need.

These seven virtues and 21 maxims will allow us to stay grounded as we venture to reconstruct the non-dual architecture of the city, which exists in no one place. For observe, my wide-eyed shipmates, there is no such thing as time, and the lightning bolt that directs us falls crazily where it will. The emptiness that is space shows no sign of disturbance. We cannot leave, for we never did exist, and, in flashes, it now seems that the whole world is transparent. This transparency then continues to open up and spread, period after period, world after world.

Once, the Kundalini hid its teachings inside forms, as a test of whose skill in camouflage they served, and from whose potency they had been created. We must later on help to free these teachings from their forms. They are subtle. They may make no sense. We must harmonize the scalar energy that spills from the HAARP technology of the Everyday Object. We must break the Sumerian seal that prevents us from speaking with our own reflections in the mirror.

Having once been set in motion, the Kundalini stirs up and expels a volcanic flux of images, as it burns through every obstacle in its path. It rips continents like sheets of paper. It dismantles the prosthetic bodies of the gods. It unravels all of the complexes that defend us from our fears, leaving no means by which blessing can be sorted from disaster. It expunges every trace of the antediluvian records, all arts and sciences, yet without even a small detail being lost. “But why is this necessary?” you might justifiably ask. It is possible that it does things just to show us that it can. It is possible that the Kundalini simply likes to play. Or, alternately, it is possible that our childhood is over, and that, finding ourselves cold and naked on the coast of a dead ocean, we must figure out how to grow up. Said Tertullian, “I believe in the Resurrection BECAUSE it is impossible.” So too, at the tail-end of the Kali Yuga, if access to our first mode of vision would now seem to us impossible, it is for this reason that we must treat our abandonment as a test. It is possible that good vision depends on our having nothing much left to lose. For there is no place that does not see into your bones, your muscles, and your nerves. Of limitation the master, perhaps this is the reason that you have allowed yourself to be blind.

At some point, cooling down, upon finding that there are no laws left to violate, the Kundalini may become much nicer than it was. Then as smoothly as a bell tone through the zodiac or as the arcing of a current through the ocean, it will move on to its predetermined end. Each atom will have 108 eyes.

We do not always have to be picked up and transported to view one dimension from the vantage point of another. A state of clarity will sometimes do the trick. Bypassing the need for hallucinatory display, we can glimpse just how the dimensions fit together, and why they interact as they do. If we desire to reset the parameters of our vision, it will be necessary to begin at the beginning, like those long-eared poets who lifted up dead cities with their words. Joining hands, they danced upon black waters. Withdrawing to their austerities, they each embodied the previous holders of the lineage. They felt no need to speak. When they did speak, what was hidden became clear. Like them, we must not only find a way to begin at the beginning, we must determine just what a “beginning” is.

Brian George, Coiled Snake, 1992

The world is almost infinitely complex, as is time, and human nature, but we should start by drawing a circle on the ground; we should place our feet at the center of a turning 10-dimensional torus, which can be statistically renormalized as a circle no more than 10 feet wide. There, we will begin our invocation. It should be there, in this circle, and not elsewhere, for there is no other space. This circle will be powered by our breath, and its centripetal vortex will then gather up what it needs. Visions will be allowed to visit, but fears and traumas and hatreds and projections will be required stand a few feet off. A standing wave will lead us to the center of the sun, inside of which are cities. Back home, at the edges of the circle, we will find that our bioenergetic vehicles have been transformed into stones. At first worshipped by the masses, they will later come to be seen as normal parts of the environment. In passing, we will note that a day takes 24,000 years. Hieroglyphs buzzing in geometric networks will spontaneously rearrange themselves. The earliest strata of creation will no longer be above us, but rather somewhere closer at hand. Rooted in the philosophical silence of our stones, which do but do not resemble us, we will traverse the disfigured wonders of the landscape. We will gather what we need, no more and no less. We will improvise as we go. Thus will we “walk on the ruins of a vast sky,” as Yves Bonnefoy said.

We must start from where we are, and trust in our own direct powers of perception. If we know, with close to 100 percent certainty, that there will be earthquakes in an earthquake zone, then we will know that this is not the ideal place to build a chain of nuclear power plants. We will laugh as we stare in wonderment at the expert who would be so rude as to disagree! If we know that all reserves of oil are going to give out in our lifetimes, whereupon our way of life will stop, then we had best make haste to reduce our carbon footprint. We should do this not in order to be politically correct but rather to strike a blow against the tyranny of the object. If we fear that, for purposes of GPS surveillance, we may one day be implanted with a microchip, then we had best soon rediscover how to come and go from our bodies. If Monsanto has insured the triumph of genetically modified Frankenfoods, then it might be best to think small: a few out-of-date seeds could be planted in the yard. With some luck, we will figure out how to farm before the last of the trucks stop running. At the end of a night of purgatory in a pup tent, we must prostrate ourselves before the pure light of the Ur-Plant. We must beg it to expound upon the occult depths of green, as well as on why our shoots are just barely coming up. It is important that we push beyond our embarrassment to ask. We will, ideally, have no use for assault weapons. Instead, we will share a good meal with our neighbors. Joyously simple, and on our backs carrying the sum of our experience, like the weight of the whole world, we must dare to be as naked as at the moment of our births.

Brian George, Coiled Snake, 1992

We must access, without moving, all of the records that we need, and with our small flutes challenge the bone orchestra of the empire.

In the end, it is predictable that any prophesy will fail, for the omniverse is far more contradictory than a clock, and, although we can envision it as a being with two hands, it is in no way obligated to use only the hands that we can see. Then too, of necessity, some chaos must always be added to the mix. In order to get from where we are to the sphere that we once inhabited, we must set foot on a path that does not exist, and in bodies that have not yet been created. There is no door to the Macrocosm. Again, we must find the key.[/details]

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So far crickets chirping in this forum. Ah, but take heart: "15) We must boldly go where no man has gone before, at first together, then more and more alone. No other will survive the wreck. Once having washed ashore, you will there find Argos, your aged dog, who has been waiting with bated breath for your return. He is a good dog. He wants only to lick your hand before he dies. A loyal companion, he will even then share the deep intelligence of his nose. He will be waiting with his cold head resting on his paws, on the last dock, as the ocean swells.” I love the image of a faithful dog. “Deep intelligence of his nose” is slightly ludicrous, but I know what you mean. That sense a dog has is remarkable. Some of these maxims have a Nietzschean accent. They are curious things. I find that I already practice certain aspects of them. Remembrances, a recovery initiated through energetic engagement. That you call them Anamnesian is very fitting.

Moving into Part Two, your voice continues to be that of a guide and instructor. A curious voice. It has a complex effect on me. It penetrates the fog of my moods. Sometimes I resist, grumbling to myself, at other times I give in and let that voice open up and do its work in me, shifting things around in my imagination. Sometimes it’s like a mongoose or some other creature let loose in the attic. I hear a big crash, and wonder what the hell is going on up there. I rub my temples. One might rightfully ask, Who gave this man the authority to speak in this way? Who does he think he is? Does he get himself into a “state” to write that way? Is that voice some entity speaking through him? Each sentence, so carefully constructed, hammered and honed, seems to work with the others not only to define content but to open up space for possible creative endeavor, to point to infinity, or to space beyond space, if that’s possible. One knocks up against pure limit, a knot forming in one’s throat. The sentences don’t passionately and spontaneously flow together and carry one along with usual earthly gravity, in a more human voice. This isn’t your usual narrative, nor is it only like a poem. Something Beyond weaves its way into that voice. The signs and symbols are used like materials built into Living Architecture, with an oculus in the center of the dome, developing further, pushed and pulled in the womb of extremes, until it breaks through our normal perceptual apparatuses, and flowers, so to speak, into a torus form, rendering the whole into a peculiar kind of Observatory. A Pantheon for the new age, or for ages yet to come?

Since coming to know you, Brian, I’ve often thought you are a kind of architect. It’s in how you construct your pieces. In the forum for Part One I mentioned a vessel, or Noah’s ark. Of course that’s not quite it, but I think I’m pointing in the right direction, or giving a sense of the gist. I also think reading your work of spacecraft, of a vessel for exploring outer space.

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Hi John,

You wrote, about the tone of the essay, “I rub my temples. One might rightfully ask, Who gave this man the authority to speak in this way? Who does he think he is? Does he get himself into a “state” to write that way? Is that voice some entity speaking through him?” I sometimes ask myself the same questions. I certainly have no desire to craft some grand persona for myself. I have no use at all for self-important would-be teachers, self-proclaimed Zen Masters and faux-Native American Elders, apocalyptic jet-set visionaries who continue to charge hundreds for weekend workshops right up until the date set for a cataclysmic pole shift, etc. Such people are always hectoring others about the importance of shattering their egos as they inflate their own to grotesque proportions! Odd as it may seem, I am just speaking from my own experience, or rather, a particular aspect of it. I write many other types of things as well. For example, I have a 35-page essay called “Visiting Saint Joseph’s,” which took 12 years to write and began with a visit to my daughter’s kindergarten class. To some extent, in this type of exploration, I am as much of an observer as a speaker. I do not usually write to express an existing opinion; I write to try to discover what I know, and this often requires sinking to a somewhat non-personal depth. The text itself is the teacher. An essay often begins much more simply, perhaps in response to an email from a friend, and then, bit by bit, it tends to become more and more of a an archeological descent. The voice in a piece like The Snare of Distance both is and is not “me.” To put this another way, I have written enough, taken enough creative risks, and—as I mentioned in the forum for part one of this essay—made enough mistakes, that a kind of forum has been created in which personal self and alien presences can freely meet and mix.

Lest you think that I am only being modest or metaphorical when I speak of making untold numbers of mistakes and seeing the path of my creative development in terms of a series of wrong turns, let me assure you that this is not the case. For example, in 1993, while still struggling to find a way to work with and translate some high-energy experiences that unfolded in the wake of a yogic initiation, I wrote an 80-page book of “visionary” poems called “The Preexistent Race Descends.” As I was writing this, I felt the almost continuous presence of some type of guide, a psychopomp figure that I tended to interpret as my “Daimon,” who often seemed to be whispering in my ear. How exciting! While this book did involve multiple revisions, it was far more in the direction of being “channeled” literature than anything that I have done before or since. It was also garbage. My sense of transport as I was writing it was equaled only by my sense of despair and disgust and disbelief when I read it over again at a distance of six months. In the end, I kept only the title. Quite curiously, though, I do believe that the voice speaking in my ear was, in fact, that of my Daimon. In retrospect, I can see that he/she/it was engaged in the very mischievous project of demonstrating that I should not take any vision at face value, that everything, no matter how miraculous it might seem, should be weighed in the hand, picked apart by the intellect, and tested against the full messiness of my day to day experience. By subjecting whatever visions I might have to this fairly complex and time consuming process, it is my hope that a space is created that is the space of the work itself, that readers will be active participants in the ongoing process of discovery, and that they will move into rather than away from those things that do not at first seem to make sense.

The maxim with the old dog was one of the last revised and is one of my favorites. Dogs obviously have mythological importance, but the tone of the piece was perhaps influenced by my love for and great appreciation of our family dog, Tao. She is now eleven, has a hard time going up and down stairs or jumping up on the couch, but is just as fiercely loyal as she ever was. Even if she is sound asleep, her ears point up at the slightest unrecognized noise, and she is still quite capable of barking up a storm if any USPS, Fed Ex, or UPS delivery people attempt to leave a suspicious package on our porch.

Here is Tao hanging out with our cat Colette.

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Thank you for the response, Brian. Your writing definitely has multiple levels and a magnificent spacial sense. The images exist in inner space with many sides and facets, not flattened out, approached from often unpredictable and surprising angles, and with a sense of forcefields and possibility in the gaps, in what you leave unstated or unexpressed. Maybe that’s where the Kundalini is, uncoiling and slithering and weaving in and out of what you form and shape to coax and direct it. That’s one of the fascinating things about your work. You obviously work and rework, take apart and put back together. You burn and soften over a fire, then take out with tongs and hammer out your lines; then plunge them into ice cold water, ridding them as much as possible of impurities, striving for a hardness and permanence and perhaps even an impossible essence, a weapon never before seen, a weapon which is also a kind of musical instrument. What you create is not confined to the stage but spills out into the streets and could also win a battle. There’s a resulting solidity, a kind of architectural foundation and structure which can withstand much. As Goethe said, “Architecture is frozen music.”

The despair and disgust you have experienced looking over your writing after some time has passed I can well imagine and even relate to. Rather than giving up, however, regardless of the varied and mixed result, I find it encouraging how instead of being swallowed up by the void which opened up in you, everything you touched falling apart in your hands, as happens to so many during the beginning phases of creative endeavor, effectively silencing them, you fought through personal inward resistance, probably looking insane at times, grinding your way through, the sparks finally catching fire. In that furnace you then melted down even further what was in you, the harder stuff, the metal. Hardly anything is “readymade” in the body of your work, especially anything from the commercial everyday world. Everything is boiled down, recast and reforged, built back up, and truly made into your own. The wonder of it is that it only seems that it comes from another world, like an asteroid dropping to earth.

With the crickets chirping so far in this forum, the mongoose causing a ruckus in my attic, as well as murmuring in the distance, those who are thinking out loud and have only to come closer - what a musical performance this turns out to be when adding what you wrote: “We must access, without moving, all of the records that we need, and with our small flutes, challenge the bone orchestra of the empire.” I love that line, which ties in partly with Maxim 19 which I also love: “We must be able to bring objects across a threshold with us, whether gargoyle breastplates or stringed philosophical instruments, and then fully translate them into this world from our dreams. Do it well, and these objects will blend seamlessly with other props in the environment, although some few may note their faint radioactive glow.”

Adding the first part of my comment here, the inward struggle and agony endured and pushed through, often seemingly futile, for the sake of ultimately bringing only a few durable, potent and worthy lines into existence, to the second part of my comment here, thinking of instruments and their ranges and qualities of sound, the music possible, expressing the beauty and wonder of the world, but what really goes on “under the hood” for its creation, I think of something Kierkegaard wrote which has been stuck in my mind and has haunted me ever since I first read it:

"What is a poet? An unhappy man who in his heart harbors a deep anguish, but whose lips are so fashioned that the moans and cries which pass over them are transformed into ravishing music. His fate is like that of the unfortunate victims whom the tyrant Phalaris imprisoned in a brazen bull, and slowly tortured over a steady fire; their cries could not reach the tyrant’s ears so as to strike terror into his heart; when they reached his ears they sounded like sweet music. And men crowd around the poet and say to him, “Sing for us soon again”—which is as much as to say, “May new sufferings torment your soul, but may your lips be fashioned as before; for the cries would only distress us, but the music, the music, is delightful.”

(Aw, look at the trusty and faithful doggie Tao and the elegantly subtle and pretty kitty cat Colette. I don’t have a dog or a cat but I love animals. Imagine a couple of dogs, and one named something like “goddammit” or “fuck you” and the other “love me well” or “hug me tight” for the fun of taking them out in public and calling out to them while clapping one’s hands after whistling. One could get a third dog and name it “voices in my head.”)

Now I end with something very important, Brian (ha ha). I’m entrusting this to you and risking exposing myself to public ridicule. This is a photo of myself I just took about half an hour ago with a Snoopy doll I fished out of my closet and have blown the dust off of, and which I’ve had since I was a baby boy. It’s been though thick and thin with me, through sickness, groundings by my Dad, tough times in elementary school, through good times and bad of my early youth, and I’m certain I wet my bed with old Snoop squeezed under my armpit.

He looks a little worn out, doesn’t he? If he suddenly came to life I wonder if he’d attack me or cuddle up to me. Probably a little of both. But he’d no doubt attack me first for leaving him in a musty closet collecting dust. Then he’d attack me for when I was a shy and sensitive, afraid little boy and under the covers got my pee on him. I’d have to settle him down before I could start to explain that I was in a very bad place at the time and didn’t mean it.

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Hi John,

Wow, that is a very large Snoopy. When I was a kid, I had a pink elephant—called very unimaginatively “Dumbo”—who was about the same size. When I was eight, Dumbo ran off to rejoin his friends at the circus. I have not yet recovered.

But now on to less serious topics. You wrote, “The despair and disgust you have experienced looking over your writing after some time has passed I can well imagine and even relate to.” And “The images exist in inner space with many sides and facets, not flattened out, approached from often unpredictable and surprising angles, and with a sense of forcefields and possibility in the gaps, in what you leave unstated or unexpressed.” I emphasize this element of despair and disgust not in order to be humble but because it really is essential to the adventure of the creative process. It is very easy to be lulled and seduced by the Siren-song of the depths, as well as by some fantasy of absolute intuitive flow. For years, I couldn’t read Ginsberg’s Howl or other pieces of Beat writing because I felt that the Beats had naively bought into their own myth. I have only recently granted them a reprieve. (The movie about the obscenity trial for Howl, also called Howl, nudged me to reconsider my position.) I also want to emphasize these elements of despair and disgust to continue to point to the importance of the method behind the work and to remove attention from any hypothetical virtues of the author, who, to some extent, is as much of a bystander as an actor in the devious movement of the creative process.

Let me give you another example of the type of trap into which I have repeatedly fallen. After I graduated from high school, I took two years off to work and save money before moving to Boston to go to art school. Most of my friends had already left for college, and this was a rather solitary period. My routine was pretty simple: I worked in maintenance at the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, where I cleaned ink off of surfaces that were immediately covered with it again; I spent large amounts of time in the various Worcester libraries, trying to compensate for the holes in my education; I did artwork, and I devoted a passionate amount of energy scribbling in my notebooks. Because I had no spiritual teachers at a time when I was having some intense spiritual experiences, I had to improvise my own fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants methods of exploration.

One exploration, which lasted about three or four weeks, now strikes me as equally strange and absurd. I was reading the Egyptian Book of the Dead at the time, along with whatever other ancient and alchemical texts I could get a hold of, and I had become obsessed with the idea that there existed some sort of an “Ur-Language,” which I saw as being made up, on the introductory level at least, of primal sounds such as Ra, Ma, Grrr, La, Aaaa, Tee, Ha, Pta, etc. I decided to divide sheets of paper into three columns, and to form words and sentences out of these basic units, with one syllable to a space. Very complex, and I guess hallucinatory, patterns would then arrange themselves in my mind and, I thought, on the page. At the end of this “raid of the inarticulate,” I came up with an eight-page piece that I took to be a masterwork. When I finished writing this, at 3:30 AM or so, I placed the pages in a neat pile on my desk, right next to my bed. When I woke up the next morning, the last three pages of the piece were missing. No one else had been in my room. I searched through every piece of paper in the house, but the pages never did turn up. In retrospect, I am not even sure if I actually wrote these or if perhaps I dreamed that I had written them. At the time, though, I could not help but wonder if jealous entities had stolen them because I somehow managed to penetrate too far into the unknown. As I was searching for the pages, I also read them over to myself. To my great horror, I found that they did not make any sense at all, and I couldn’t even begin to piece together again whatever patterns I might have seen. In the end, nothing at all came of this exploration except for the instructional value of the experience. I had traced out complex patterns on a beach, which the incoming tide then entirely erased.

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Less serious topics indeed! That’s a damn crazy experiment you attempted, a fine piece of insanity, Brian, with the attempted forging of some kind of Master Key to unlock deep mystery, eight pages with each page divided into three columns, and so on. That’s proof positive that every once and a while deadly seriousness needs some comic relief. On the other hand, it’s also proof of your incredible ability to suspend judgement and concentrate, even in the face of very strange phenomena. You keep going where most others would exclaim, “This is nonsense!”, and abandon it. In some sense you’re an extremist (of course I don’t mean this in a political sense). You go way out there in your thinking, and while doing so maintain your focus and concentration, even amping it up the crazier things become. But that’s the only way to make a true discovery, isn’t it? One must venture out into the Wilds, where one could really lose one’s mind, or one actually does lose one’s mind. You touch on this in your piece here; it’s an important part of your message.

“Ur-Language”… you mention an “Ur-Plant” in your piece here. "At the end of a night of purgatory in a pup tent, we must prostrate ourselves before the pure light of the Ur-Plant. We must beg it to expound upon the occult depths of green, as well as on why our shoots are just barely coming up. It is important that we push beyond our embarrassment to ask.”

It’s funny that you had a pink elephant, as in “the pink elephant in the room” (that thing everyone knows is there but dares not mention: collective denial). Whoever gave you that pink elephant was prescient. One might say that pink elephant, dearest Dumbo, never disappeared or abandoned you. There was a “be fruitful and multiplying”, right around the time of the learning of the birds and the bees, and now there is a family of pink elephants. And they have brought others into the fold, to inhabit the blindspots of collective humanity. Those beasties in the room, and now outside too, which others turn away from in dread and collectively deny are the very thing you yourself are drawn to, befriended by you, you being their keeper and interpreter of their language.

The following is marvelous and not unrelated:

“The Proteus who sleeps inside us has opened his eyes. And we say what must be said. These jolts are for us what snares and tortures were to the sea-green prophet.”—Giorgio de Chirico

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I suddenly have a feeling that this forum has become a labyrinth, and that as I’ve read through your posts, which are blindingly brilliant, I have become thoroughly disoriented. I thought we might have some nice discussions, but this is hyperdimensional ping-pong. This is Bruce Lee on acid, battling mutant clones of himself in 5D.

The labyrinth seems to unfold in the distance between minds, the intimate distance, an estrangement under the skin.

I am new to Brian’s work; I don’t feel the familiarity that you seem to have, @JDockus. I’m still in the early phases of an unexpectedly strong inebriation—whatever it was I drank is taking effect, and I’m realizing, with a sinking feeling, I may not have done my due diligence with respect to set or setting. I’ll have to breathe and wing it, I guess, again.

What’s odd is that I’ve found myself, in the past few days, in multiple instances, quoting Brian’s virtues and maxims to friends facing existential dilemmas. They share them with me, life decisions, creative conundrums, and it occurs to me that Brian’s words are the perfect dose of compassionate wisdom to respond with in the moment. I’ve even shared his work with a client struggling with feelings of morbidity as he anticipates global cataclysms and his own mortality. I thought the honed humor would help.

Is this the birth of a new American Metaphysical Religion? Will we all go blind staring into the hypersphere?

My old Jack Russell/Beagle mix is going blind. She’s had a full cataract in her left eye the last couple years, and now her right eye is clouding over. I love that dog. She embodies a part of my soul. A prima donna, who will attack another dog for the simple reason that it exists. A relentless hunter of small furry animals—who never catches the squirrel. It’s just a matter of time and fate before she transcends the Matrix.

In the collegial spirit of sharing, here’s my picture (from before the cataracts):

I love this photo because it seems to transmit some demeanor of full realization. Do you feel the spontaneous invitation, as I do, to sit darshan? This is Mooby: avatar of canine consciousness itself. The Promised God-Dog is Here.

I truly love the discussion, though. Thank you. I hope to read more. If I can manage my other responsibilities more efficiently, I will participate more as well. I don’t mind the sound of crickets at this stage of the game, when the moon’s ensemble is so sonorously rich.

Oh, thank goodness! Another voice! Delightful! Thank you for adding yours, Marco Morelli, and a great pleasure to meet you. I noted to Brian off to the side that the whole point of posting work at such sites as this is for the mixing up of diverse voices in the comment boards or forums. Certainly I’ve been sticking my neck out, feeling even that I overreach or overstay my welcome, probably trying Brian’s patience at times, but he’s so worth interacting with and getting to know, I cannot abide by nothing turning up here. I risk being a nuisance for good reason.

This two-part piece of his at this site is only the tip of the iceberg of his overall body of work. With him it’s not only his “official” work, those pieces he has worked so hard on trying to perfect, which is of such great value, it’s also he himself, his open way of communicating and whole manner of conducting himself. You should read some emails he has sent me. There are passages so rich in insight and marvelous that I imagine his overall correspondence could be gathered into another work. He seems to custom-fit responses for one’s own particular concerns, and I’m amazed at how effortless he makes it appear. No doubt that is because of all the solitary hard work he has put into his craft through the years. I’ve often imagined him as a kind of celestial machine, where if you “feed in” or share some vital aspect of yourself with him, and pull on the lever, a scroll of the most sublimely eloquent prose comes out, not only corresponding to what one fed in, registering that it has been understood, but transformed brilliantly, sometimes even beyond recognition, still one’s own and what one had originally fed in but returned by him almost like a gift, with one seeing it as if for the first time.

Whatever scary depths that open up interacting with Brian, whatever off-the-beaten path one finds oneself on with him, whatever strange or foreign intersection, I’ve learned slowly but surely that “behind the mask” or whatever more forbidding aspect he projects, he really is a good guy. I laugh to myself, because you can literally express anything to him, whatever is on one’s mind, and one feels around him it will lead, not to clashes of Ego, or arrogant posturing and games, but into genuine mutual exploration, where both, and all witnesses, benefit. I love the guy. I myself am definitely in ways different in nature from Brian, but around him and the challenging and fascinating responses he gives, I’ve been helped immensely in developing my own voice.

P. S. Mooby is your dear ole’ doggie’s name? Ha ha! Love it. What a name. Ahab’s got nothin’ on Mooby. She definitely appears regal, a queenie. That steady look on her face says it all, like she has x-ray vision, that dog’s supra-sense, “the deep intelligence of the nose” that Brian mentioned in his maxim. By that look I sense Mooby “senses” straight through all the shenanigans of humans. Does she still play? I imagine now if you threw a ball down near her, and it came to a stop, she’d just turn her head and look at it, as if to say, “Come on now. You can do better than that."

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Hi Brian, et al.

You left out Maxim 0: We must relinquish all musts, inner or outer, in order to finally cut the mustard. :yum:

I’d like to address the idea of the stupidity of the 1% also. It think it may be true of 99% of the 1% but not of the 1% of the 1%; not at all. These do not appear to be driven by a goal of wealth or worldly power but something deeper & darker.

Also, tho they may not be included in the 1% in terms of wealth, there is an elite-intelligentsia class that most certainly are not stupid and yet appear to be part of the Plot for World Domination, not via force but via persuasion, characters such as Aleister Crowley, George Bernard Shaw, Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, Gregory Bateson, Margaret Mead, Gore Vidal, Richard Dawkins, Arthur C. Clarke, Whitley Strieber, to name just a few who can be directly linked either to social engineering programs or to organized sexual abuse, or both, yet are probably the tip of a cultural iceberg that has pretty much sunk the Titanic of our individual soul-connection capacity for discernment via the cultural colonization of our consciousness through every last sphere of influence, religious, scientific, magical, artistic, political and spiritual.

Paranoid, moi? I agree that they is us, however, which is sort of the point. Conspiracy theory is woefully naive in imagining some external groups pulling strings (tho these also exist), when manufacturing the values, beliefs, tenets, narratives, that we adopt from birth on and use to navigate reality means that we, ourselves, are conspiring with every breath and word to keep shiny and bright the golden bars that imprison our souls, yea and verily, unto the ages.

Anyway. None of this prevents me from enjoying my cat. I would post a picture, but I don’t what hir Soul to be absorbed by the Borg, not just yet.

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Hi Marco,

When I first looked at your photograph of Mooby, I thought, “The young Krishna! Where are his Milkmaids?” According to Deng Ming Dao, animals do indeed sit darshan. In Dao’s wonderful The Wandering Taoist, he describes how the masters who developed the earliest schools of the martial arts carefully studied the postures and movements of all of the animal species. Each of these postures and movements was as an act of innate genius; to study and then imitate them was to discover the secrets of the maximum possible generation, flow, expression, balance, and conservation of energy. A crane standing on one leg for six hours while it waited for a fish was in no way different from a monk standing on one leg while he waited for some flash of enlightenment.

I love the expression on Mooby’s face. He does seem to be a kind of avatar of the occult genius of Jack Russell-hood, and you can feel all of the mischievous and confrontational energy just waiting to explode. About a year and a half back, my wife Deni and I watched a documentary on the Honey Badger, so called because of his fearlessness in diving headfirst into beehives. Like all Mustelid’s, or weasels, the Honey Badger is not only far stronger than his size would suggest, it is also absurdly brave, and it will wander off to attack a lion just because it seems like a good day for a fight. From what you describe, Mooby is also like this. I think that this particular type of exuberant recklessness touches on Gebser’s concept of “primordial trust.”

If I reach way back into my own childhood, I can remember a time—almost a prehistoric period, really—when, in my own small way, I shared in this attitude. I would wake up at 5:00 AM, pointlessly happy, and sing for several hours before breakfast. This is certainly strange to remember, since I never sing now. I can remember how it felt to be a kind of small mobile sun. I can remember what it was like to get into fights, for no reason at all except for the sheer reckless overflow of exuberance. My neighborhood was a wilderness, filled with wonders, and it did not seem like anything bad could ever happen. Something catastrophically bad had, in fact, already happened, when my parents had separated when I was four. I had not even been aware that they were fighting. And then, one day, my mother packed up a few of our things and moved us back to live her/our family house in Worcester. None of the reasons for this break were clearly explained until much later, and I guess I thought that it was only a matter of time before my parents would reunite. This did not happen. At some point, I was forced to acknowledge that the world had broken apart at the seams. At the age of six, I became an introvert. I suspect that, on some unconscious level, my creative explorations have been an attempt to regain something of this sense of primordial trust. I have had to travel a considerable distance to even begin to recover what had been so casually lost.

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Hi Jasun,

You wrote, “I’d like to address the idea of the stupidity of the 1% also. I think it may be true of 99% of the 1% but not of the 1% of the 1%; not at all. These do not appear to be driven by a goal of wealth or worldly power but something deeper & darker.” The whole of the economic, political, media, and corporate landscape does strike me as an exercise in black magic, a part of which is instinctive and a part of which is quite conscious. This exercise may be sophisticated in its means, but it is also, I believe, still fairly basic in its ends, to the extent that anything is. Even wealth and power can be seen as ritual acquisitions; how much of either can anyone really use? Just beyond this, as you say, there may be a space where something more opaque and perhaps more pointlessly malevolent is going on. If I were going to look for examples of opaque malevolence, though, I don’t know that I have to peek behind any curtains. There seem to be more than enough immediate examples of it to go around! And if I were going to piece together some sort of super-intelligent dark globalist cabal, I would probably select a different cast of characters, one that did not include Margaret Mead and Arthur C Clarke and Aldous Huxley. But I think your point is that they are dangerous exactly because they widely admired and appear to be so innocuous. Richard Dawkins, on the other hand, I would be happy to put on any sort of a hit list.

Exceptions aside, I think that I get what you are saying. We are far more at risk from those who have somehow managed to successfully appropriate and rearrange the almost invisible substructures of our minds than we are from any external form of coercion. This has probably been true from the time of the first empires and bureaucracies. I think that it is the rule rather than the exception that the most successful form of colonization is internal. Get people to enthusiastically embrace the forces that oppress them, and there is only a minimal need to resort to force. The brilliance of this method can be everywhere seen in the sad spectacle or US politics. The threat of career death or prison or physical violence is, of course, always there, just out of sight, in the background. I still don’t think that any of this necessarily demands any depth of intelligence or breath of ritual power on the part of the colonizers. To some extent, the process would seem to be an almost automatic one; wealth generates wealth and power tends to accumulate in smaller and smaller circles. Those with power want to hold on to it and those without it want to be a part of something larger than themselves. These are natural enough instincts, which are just as naturally perverted. Whatever the opaque malevolence that we might attribute to some person or group, my attitude and strategy remain the same. As the Roman playwright Terrence said, “Nothing human is alien to me.”

Contrary to what John Lamb Lash and some other contemporary theorists assert, when the Gnostics spoke of the hypnotic power of the Archons, I do not believe that they were referring to the actions of gray aliens from Zeta Reticuli or of blood drinking interdimensional reptilians or whatever; rather, they were pointing to the all too familiar political, economic, artistic, religious, and occult powers that have somehow managed to monopolize the foreground of our attention, who have caused us to believe that we are smaller than we are. (There is a good smallness, of course, of the sort that allows us to slip though the eye of a needle, as well as a bad smallness, which causes us to kiss the boots of those who do not have our best interests at heart.) In The Snare of Distance, I have tried to point to the space that exists between and beneath and within and around things.

All that we see will pass. The familiar will again become strange, and will then cease to exist altogether. The current global empire—which is perhaps maintained by a web of conjurations—will inevitably fall, as has every previous one. “But ours is so much bigger!” some might argue. Unfortunately for the current empire and its henchmen and apologists and true devotees, great size is no protection, as has been proven by the Mastodon and the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The common adage “Time heals all wounds” is, of course, not especially reassuring, and, viewed from one angle, even silly. This is sort of like saying to a person suffering from an agonizing attack of appendicitis, “Don’t worry, you will soon be dead.” Viewed from a different angle, such a statement may indeed point to a meeting place in which all of our current problems will be redefined. It all depends, I guess, on what we think death is, and on how we imagine the space that will open up beyond it.

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My new go-to response to all lamenters.

Hey Jasun H. Hard to argue with Brian. I wouldn’t argue with him, anyway.

Where you claim paranoia perhaps, I’m probably more ignorance is bliss (though I’m far from blissful). It’s true, however, that Public Personalities, especially now with social media and the technological means to spread messages and to help them go viral, can exponentially increase power of Persuasion. There are now Wizards of Oz (plural). Now even brazen stupidities gather force and through sheer magnitude alone, making it seem there’s more than meets the eye, grind and wear down otherwise sensible and intelligent individuals and turn them into idiotic followers.

Mind Parasites may be planted, but it requires food to make them bigger and stronger, and a catalyst for them to attack. One might ward them off and starve them, by making oneself less appetizing, and remain not completely immune or invulnerable to them, but at least resistant and immune enough to fight Malevolent Persuasions when they come a-buzzing around.

An aura of Empire does surround certain individuals, to the isolated mind drawing them together in peculiar “occult” associations, making them seem to be part of a new nazi regime, or something like that. I find it hard to believe however that World Domination is behind it, unless this isn’t meant in a conscious and deliberate sense, as in certain individuals actually sitting around behind closed doors and plotting, but in some shifty and slithery metaphysical sense. If that’s the case, it leads to speculation on the nature of evil and how it exists in the world. One wonders if evil is an entity in itself. One wonders if it has its own kind of consciousness, and through seduction and hypnosis, fattens itself on the lifeblood of those who harbor greed, lust, pride, etc. Are the seven deadly sins the portals through which the evil power enters and takes over the soul? Does evil have its own kind of instinct and find and manifest in those who have the strength to contain it and the charisma and skills to give it expression and voice, they soon becoming aware of the dark power which “possesses" them, becoming absolutely intoxicated by it, and has them preying on fear, subjugating and controlling those individuals it can, turning them into cult followers? In itself it may be that evil doesn’t exist, existing as illusion does, but it gathers a semblance of reality, the appearance of it, seeming finally to be even greater than reality - that’s the “occult” part of it - a power of magnetic attraction and persuasion generated and actually increased by all those who allow themselves to have their energy sucked into it, parasitically fed on, fattening it up and making it seem greater than what it is, being dispossessed, disinherited, hopeless, despairing, bitter and cynical, denying every last shred of their humanity, to drown themselves in the mob mentality. In some way it’s an Ouroboros, the “occult leaders” through which the cold-blooded message is spread is the Head, and it gets itself off by deep-throating its own tail, and ejaculating venom.

(Look here, Jasun. I can’t believe it. I’d never have thought myself capable of writing Porno Metaphysics!)

P. S. I like your gravatar picture of the cat and blossomed flower. It’s striking and has charm even in miniature. Is it a painting you yourself made?

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There are the specifics and then there are the generalities we make from them. We enter the discussion bringing with us the generalities we have been indoctrinated to believe in, such as the generality that most individuals, artistic or otherwise, are acting relatively independently and are motivated by similar things as ourselves. Or we slowly adopt another generality that is the reverse of this, that most public figures are part of hidden agendas and dark practices, etc. It’s way easier to argue generalities than specifics, since the former are finite and the latter are not. Brian & I could get into why I include Margaret Mead and why he wouldn’t, and so on. In the long run, I expect that would be more fruitful (God is in the details) but – who has the time?

On the other hand, the generalities we end up believing in and propounding are either those we have been indoctrinated with (making them to my mind worthless) or they are based on our own research, experience, investigation, and discernment, and hence of great value to ourselves, at least as temporary stepping stones from one side of the river (total social indoctrination) to the other, total social autonomy, enlightenment, freedom, etc. and if such a thing exists.

Arguments about generalities are generally (!) philosophical ones; discussions about specifics are more about facts and factoids and interpretations of them, such as my ongoing arguments with people about whether the information we have about Aleister Crowley indicates he was complicit with organized sexual abuse and/or ritual murder. Or whether it can be established that Whitley Strieber has CIA connections and his alien abduction experiences have the earmarks of dissociative trauma states plus mind control, and so on.

I’m not especially interested in evil as an independent force or as anything but a side effect of being and acting unconsciously for too long, over too many generations. And even that’s speculative, I’m mostly interested in examining the evidence of a widespread complicity with things we consider evil that permeates our social reality and, once uncovered, more or less invalidates everything we think we know about it and ourselves. The area in-between conscious, willed “evil” (participation in these darkly destructive practices for whatever end, I would say it is a spiritual end more than a mundane one) and unconscious, unintentional “evil” of the majority (I presume) of humanity that has been roped into these agendas (by being birthed through and weaned on a culture deliberately created by these groups), that’s what interests me. As someone who has lived his life on that line, close to the agendas being perpetrated but unaware of them, I have unwittingly aligned with them, aspired to ends instilled in me by them, and so on, and suffered unduly as a consequence of that unconscious alignment with “evil.” This is a seed-sorting process: to separate what is truly the “I,” of the Soul and identify its pure, clear signal, from what is not-I, a blind, that is of the world and constitutes the noise that has been organized (or self-organized) to simulate a, even the, signal and lure me into a seeming infinity of dead-ends.

This is “Neti Neti,” the spiritual path at a pragmatic, mundane level, recognizing that every element within my environment has an equal potential to deceive me as to guide me, that, seen as apparent individual agents, these elements are always deceptive, and only when seen as part of a larger, conscious design can they be recognized as reflections of my own unconscious struggle to become conscious (world domination = mastery of one’s own attachments to externals…?).

Of course it is not enough to say (to oneself), “It is all lies!” or “Everyone who is anyone is part of the psychopathic elite!” and so on. This only leads to subjugation to another generality. One has to see the specifics of it, time and again, until it becomes a lived experience of that “conspiracy” that is not only all around us but all through us. What happens then, I don’t know. A letting go into the morass of evil? A relaxed and even amused submersion into and absorption by that which is most abhorrent to us? The shadow that is the soul, seen from a backwards I?

The cat flower? A doodle I did which my wife turned into art and then I made into an avatar. Seems as though that’s a microcosm for something? The simplicity of the creative life…?

Thanks for the clarification, Jasun. Absolutely agree that up in abstraction and generality is cake. A bear formed of clouds cannot maul one, though one might delude oneself that one has more strength and ferocity than one has, by strapping on a parachute, and leaping down through the bear formed of clouds, and dissipating it. Down in the details, not just abstract details, but those that reach down and are woven concretely, with irreversible staining, into the actual fiber of one’s existence, one’s flesh and blood mortal personhood: that’s where the difficulty is. There are plenty of things I grasp intellectually, abstractly. That’s not really the same as really understanding it. Intellectuals can be some of the dumbest people. They can explain everything to you, but in the moment of truth: that’s where the character is revealed. I can playact as “the good guy”, the “virtuous one”, gleaning certain characteristics of “goodness” from examples held up and praised by the moral majority, and do a fine job imitating them, and have others patting me on the back and praising me. Oh, but to go down into oneself and actually try to face those dirtier and nastier currents bound up with larger evil practices in the world: that shall always be where the real struggle is. I think, for instance, of a nice juicy hamburger one can enjoy. There are all the adverts and commercials around it, the images that make the hamburger appear succulent and delicious which make us forget about the slaughterhouse. This is how the disconnect operates.

So I see how it is you are making the connections you do. It’s very fascinating to me. Certain images flashed before you would trigger panic, perhaps, sweating on the brow, a larger vision in which the one image is but a detail, flaring up and revealing something much more sinister to you. You could be a madman, or really see vividly something the mass of humanity is blind to, and will surely come to pass, whether you bang on a drum proclaiming apocalypse, or just stay silent. That’s part of the dilemma too. One feels connected to so many disturbing things, which one has such difficulty expressing. Those who are still asleep - one can’t tell them. On the surface they still play roles, are puppets, don’t realize that someone else is pulling their strings.

Down in the deeper layers of ourselves, maybe we’re all lunatics? At least that’s the first realization one has, when the puppet strings are cut. One falls to the ground and shits all over oneself, drools all over oneself, thrashing around, speaking in tongues. I know I did. I know I have some seriously fucked up things down in the shadows of myself, still a lot of work to do, personal battles, but at least I’ve come this far, and this is my voice, puppet strings have been cut.

Gotta run. I’m going to San Francisco Opera tonight, to see Dream of the Red Chamber. I saw that title and thought Masque of the Red Death. But it’s not related. My Mom in her old age keeps active, and has risen to head usher at the Opera House - I’m proud of her; so she slips me in free. Opera and Ballet. It’s certainly an acquired taste. In my younger days (I’m 47 years old) I’d be thrashing in mosh pits and slam dancing; now I’m in with the gray hairs. Maybe this guy will make a surprise appearance tonight.

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Back from the Opera, early morning hours here. Nearing 3 am. I’m a night owl. The opening sequence of the Opera I saw, The Dream of the Red House, was powerful. The Opera is based on an epic novel which is considered a great classic in chinese culture. The opening sequence was almost out of Dante’s Inferno. A mass of figures in dirty, dark ash-colored cloaks, no individuality discerned, all faces in shadow, with smoke rising from rocks in the backround; the scene dimly lit. They sing of being lost, not having a place. Symbolic of the mass humanity, lost souls. I wish I had the lyrics. Really poignant. Pertinent to the discussion here. I wish I could’ve just watched this opening alone with you, Jasun, just to hear what you might think of its meaning. An old chinese monk tells the story of the suffering in store for earthly love. He doesn’t sing. He speaks clearly and plainly, without any affectation, as an old monk would. Next scene a giant boulder, one that dislodged and fell from heaven, and within it, as if two nuts in a shell (done with superimposition), a nude male figure and nude female figure clinging together in somewhat fetal position. One of the figures is the male protagonist of the story, the other the female protagonist, both together “soul mates”, perfect for each other, one like a watering stone “born with jade in his mouth", the other a rare flower: together they create beautiful music, transcending earthly pursuits, status, money, etc. Of course this love is doomed by all the ruthless conniving and jostling for position in the world. But to return to the opening sequence: The old monk says he has the cure for the wound to the heart, earthly suffering, and holds up a mirror, which he says has two sides, one side reality, and the other side illusion. Pay not attention to illusion, he says, for this is what the reality is: then rear-projected onto giant semi-transparent mesh which hangs from ceiling to floor of the stage, with the male and female protagonist up out of fetal position and now on their feet, appears a hell scene with flames like you see on old asian manuscripts; then the hell scene twists in the center, turns like a vortex, distorting it all, and then turns into an idyllic scene. From there the story begins. Very effective opening sequence. I think I liked the opening the best.

Opera is hit or miss for me. Sometimes it bores me out of my skull. The stretching and extending to contain the Big Voices sometimes becomes a bit much, even striking me as absurd. Sometimes what could be conveyed in five minutes, is dragged out, and goes on and on. “Die already!”, one gasps to oneself. That’s the regular Joe part of me that thinks that way, or maybe the tasteful artist. There’s something to be said for economy of expression and restraint, and the Opera I’ve seen that showcases that has been very enjoyable. But overall you can’t really laugh and dismiss because the raw talent on display is remarkable. At times everything comes together and the spectacle is truly magnificent and powerful. It’s always interesting to see how certain material is handled by the director, choreographer, theater director, set designers, etc.


Anyway, Jasun, before I clicked on your gravatar picture of cat and flower to get a closer look at it, and with all this Opera swirling around in my head, and you mentioning it as a “cat flower” - I actually thought of this connection with Munch’s painting “The Flower of Pain.” Seeing you calling it “cat flower”, I imagined the flower growing out of the cat, a blood flower, the cat’s body being the soil. Munch’s painting depicts the suffering of the artist, wounded and bleeding from the heart into the soil, the blossom obviously symbolizing Art. The sap is his blood. I put two versions of it here. Isn’t the one with fuller color interesting? The artist (Munch) appears to have his eyes gouged out or to be blind in immediate earthly sense (The Sunglasses of the Seer), but the Sunflower has an open eye in the center of it, looking down. That’s no doubt the mind’s eye, the eye of the Seer. It’s perhaps another way of saying that the artist only truly sees through his art, and at that only when it develops far enough, blossoming, and in the meantime he stumbles along, lost and helpless, groping in the dark, tripping and falling often, making a pathetic fool of himself.

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I’m afraid I might have been the Philistine at your side, grumbling about “not enough action.” As for the pathetic folly of artists, perhaps why every Hamlet wants to be a clown because he knows that this is closer to the truth of the human experience? Traveling into one’s unconscious to find inspiration for conscious expression can only ever backfire horribly and this is perhaps the only kind of success an artist can hope for - that backfire by which the unconscious replaces the conscious, that is, becomes conscious at the cost of that part which was previously conscious, or thought it was, the supposed self creating supposed “art.” Hence the quote somoene posted at my podcast recently:

Tradition Twelve
“Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our
traditions, ever reminding us to place principles
before personalities.”

The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao; the artist who can be recognized is not a true artist.

A flower is that which is one with the flow and hence can never be pinned down. You can never step in the same unconscious process twice.

I have Falstaff very much on my mind lately, Jasun. Incredibly rich character, not your traditional buffoon or clown, but as wide as the world, as shifty, cunning and deceitful, with nihilism screaming out of the depths, him trying not to get sucked in, doing what he can, not having time to look good, transparent hot mess of a man, having these pathos-filled accents about him, but his jolliness and wit saves much. He has a great heart. In the end he is loved. I certainly love Falstaff.

Recently Chimes at Midnight came out on Criterion, Orson Welles nearly perfect for the part of Falstaff, and I’ve watched it twice already, and am going to watch it again.

(The Munch painting above got cut off on the bottom half when I hastily posted. Just click on it for the whole painting to appear. I’m novice with computer stuff, shambling along.)

I get what you mean about anonymity. If I brought out more of my own thinking, Jasun, I think we have serious points of agreement. Though you come at it from the more subterranean part of this thinking, down where everything does continually shift and change, what you wrote makes me think of this passage by Simone Weil, from her essay “Human Personality”:

“So far from its being his person, what is sacred in a human being is the impersonal in him.

Everything which is impersonal in man is sacred, and nothing else.

In our days, when writers and scientists have so oddly usurped the place of priests, the public acknowledges, with a totally unjustified docility, that the artistic and scientific faculties are sacred. This is generally held to be self-evident, though it is very far from being so. If any reason is felt to be called for, people allege that the free play of these faculties is one of the highest manifestations of the human personality.

Often it is, indeed, no more than that. In which case it is easy to see how much it is worth and what can be expected from it.

One of its results is the sort of attitude which is summed up in Blake’s horrible saying: “Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires,” or the attitude which breeds the idea of the ‘gratuitous act’. Another result is a science in which every possible standard, criterion, and value is recognized except truth.

Gregorian chant, Romanesque architecture, the Iliad, the invention of geometry were not, for the people through whom they were brought into being and made available to us, occasions for the manifestation of personality.

When science, art, literature, and philosophy are simply the manifestation of personality they are on a level where glorious and dazzling achievements are possible, which can make a man’s name live for thousands of years. But above this level, far above, separated by an abyss, is the level where the highest things are achieved. These things are essentially anonymous.

It is pure chance whether the names of those who reach this level are preserved or lost; even when they are remembered they have become anonymous. Their personality has vanished.

Truth and beauty dwell on this level of the impersonal and the anonymous. This is the realm of the sacred; on the other level nothing is sacred, except in the sense that we might say this of a touch of color in a picture if it represented the Eucharist.

What is sacred in science is truth; what is sacred in art is beauty. Truth and beauty are impersonal. All this is too obvious.

If a child is doing a sum and does it wrong, the mistake bears the stamp of his personality. If he does the sum exactly right, his personality does not enter into it at all.

Perfection is impersonal. Our personality is the part of us which belongs to error and sin. The whole effort of the mystic has always been to become such that there is no part left in his soul to say ‘I’.

But the part of the soul which says ‘We’ is infinitely more dangerous still."

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Hi Jasun,

“Let him die as he leaps through unheard of and unnamable things: other horrible workers will come; they will begin from the horizons where the other one collapsed!”—Rimbaud, from a letter to Paul Demeny

Many thanks for your insightful comments. I have been gone for only a day, and already I am far behind. I’m afraid that I can only attempt to answer a small portion of the issues that you have raised.

You wrote, “Traveling into one’s unconscious to find inspiration for conscious expression can only ever backfire horribly and this is perhaps the only kind of success an artist can hope for - that backfire by which the unconscious replaces the conscious, that is, becomes conscious at the cost of that part which was previously conscious, or thought it was, the supposed self creating supposed ‘art.’” And, “The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao; the artist who can be recognized is not a true artist.” These are both very dogmatic statements from someone who is arguing so energetically against dogma! One might almost suspect that they were being made by an artist with a particular artistic method to protect. The famous statement about the Tao is also a philosophical statement about the treacherousness of philosophy, found in a text, the Tao Te Ching, and written by a scholar-poet of a sort, Lao Tzu. However real or mythical this semi-anonymous poet might have been, this figure was nonetheless a scholar-poet, who, contrary to his own very specific instructions, saw fit to dispense advice. I wrote an essay a while back called “Anonymous, and His International Fame.” Like Lao Tzu and Rumi, Rilke and Paul Celan, I believe that it is possible to have one’s nonlinguistic cake and eat it too! Over the past ten years, as I have been quietly going about the business of expanding my vision and opening up my hearing, perhaps several dozen people have lectured me on the superiority of silence over speech. “Those who don’t know speak!” they say, “Those who know are silent.” Curiously, very few of these mystics have lectured me in a calm and beatific way.

If one were going to make a list of all the things through the centuries that artists were/are not allowed to or not supposed to be able to do, the list would be very long indeed. A good artist will disregard all such advice and then calmly proceed to do exactly what he wants to do, in accordance with whatever guidance might be available. And if the artist correctly places his efforts on the altar of the unknown, his failures will be just as illuminating as his successes, if not more so. I just cannot accept hard and fast oppositions such as silence vs. speech, conscious vs. unconscious, honesty vs. art. This way of thinking assumes that the artist, or, more broadly, the human being, is the passive victim of circumstance, with no choice but to bounce mechanically back and forth between contraries. The fact that we are indeed often trapped by our limited understanding of how opposites fit together is, to my mind, not an argument against art but rather an argument for it. Good art is by its nature open ended, and, while it does not offer anything in the way of a guarantee, it is one of the few things that challenges us to step or leap beyond our immediate backgrounds and personalities and allegiances and beliefs. And if such art does not succeed in entirely transforming us, so be it. While there may well be more effective methods of deepening or transcendence, these have problems of their own; they too often reach for height or depth while leaving the complex middle ground of experience behind. I assert my right to walk and chew gum at the same time.

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