decoupage wizard box copyright Jonathan Zap dialogue copyright Kleeman and Zap
—–This inquiry consists, so far, as a very strange exchange with Harald Kleeman— Australian hermetic philosopher, Christian mystic and artist. His site is called Sanctuary (click on Hermiticism to see our collected dialogues). This dialogue picks up from a previous strange dialogue : Piercing the Veil and Dissing the Source Code of the Matrix of Patriarchal Fundamentalism .
Hi Jonathan. I’ll go along with your proposals. Your question about the AA has opened up a well of reminiscence – both sweet and incredibly poignant. As there is a fair degree of self disclosure in your writings, I will even the balance a little.
In this, my world of discourse, AA stands for generic universal inner-plane Order – by definition a singular phenomenon. As its chief characteristic I cite that mindset which intends the emancipation of humanity by increasing the range of its creative choices. It is akin to a force in nature, aligned with the evolutionary principle, in that universal evolution tends to higher consciousness and thereby greater freedoms. It follows that among its adepts may be such as have never heard of the AA or Aleister Crowley for that matter. The AA presents itself as a teaching and initiating order, purporting to communicate the methods of mystical and magical attainment in non-sectarian language, which latter means developed from first principles or deriving from the wider spectrum of initiated teachings. This kind of spiritual lingua franca works for the reason that all magic is based on the concept of the microcosm – man as the measure of all things. According to this system, as formulated by Crowley, two crises attend every spiritual career – the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel and the Crossing of the Abyss. By common consent AA is taken to mean, Astrum Argentum or Silver Star. The star is said to be Sirius – in certain ancient mythologies considered the origin of the gnosis. However, it is also the star within – the true or authentic self – which is another reference to the Angel.
My introduction was occasioned by a teacher during my last year of school under circumstances which stood in amusing relief to the conservative educational environment. I saw immediately that here was something which would be central to the direction of my life. With this, my first initiatress, there was exposure to psychism, Tarot and Astrology, with the accoutrements of a Bohemian lifestyle against a background of New Age ferment which enchanted Sydney at that time – the early 1970’s. There was a vibe in the air. I remember a troupe of minstrels called the White Company, which seemed to materialise out of the ether at various venues and locales to do magical theatre. I studied yoga with Sydney’s Brahmin queen Swami Sarasvati, and I had a separate mentor in the elements of ceremonial magic. There was a good supply of esoteric literature, and I saw in albums like Close to The Edge the prophetic evidence of our imminent translation into a spiritual pure-land utopia.
Perhaps more significant though was my subjective, inner-plane, development which seemed to advance with incredible rapidity. Very early, for instance, was bestowed on me what I recognised, decades later, as my motto as a Magister – I am the soul source and centre of time space and mind. I saw and adopted the esoteric truism that the self is the progenitor of one’s world of experience. My magical diary consistently anticipated revelations I found echoed a short while later in conversations and books. Angels taught me the art of intuitive improvisation on the guitar and keyboard, a practice which combined with glossolalia and mystic verse, producing a phenomenon which manifested spontaneous magical songs at gatherings and in solitude. In fact I behaved as a master of magic on several planes – during a period I would later characterise as one of spiritual romance. For although I seemed to be in contact with quite profound entities, the change in me seemed superficial. Entirely untouched was what we call the Jungian shadow, such that my energised life was a rollercoaster of ecstasies and agonies. To force the issue I arranged for something like a year long retreat in the mountain region of Katoomba.
The result was my meeting a prophet of Jesus who became my mentor in the Christian faith. I believe he saw himself as a kind of John the Baptist with respect to the Second Coming. For seven (or three and a half) years I tried – with utmost desperation – to penetrate his teachings, going insane through (in the language of the AA) a premature plunge into the abyss, which is to say, before securing a conscious link with the Angel. The psychology is well described in your Dostoevsky And The Profound Egocentric. Without the stabilising elements of convention and without recourse to the higher genius, the soul falls subject to powerful subconscious currents and attractors – one’s personal stations of the cross. In my case exhaustion and a ghostly indifference eventually supervened, such that I left the work entirely. I read a little of the literature of Zen, which gave comfort in this period, but for the most part my life was entirely purged of spiritual concerns.
Thus it came as a bolt out of the blue when, almost seven years to the day, as I was sitting in my room one night, the Angel appeared and revealed all that I had sought. The dialogue thus inaugurated continues to this day, and some of the Angel’s conversation is reported in the incomprehensible language of mine. In the ensuing ten years or so I developed the theoretical perspectives which now characterise my thought. I read all of Crowley’s books, and widely in many different areas, and began to see my life in perspective. The Bible also became an open book. I developed my guitar skills and my approach to intuitive improvisation as a instructional medium for individuals and groups. From my job in an academic library I switched to teaching music and occasional performance. This in the lovely city of Brisbane, by the way.
Now we fast-forward to the present, in which I am an exile in the city of Sydney, helping to care for our ailing mother, and pondering the literary opus of which this dialogue is a part. Under consideration is a classic account of the rebirth experience. We see that prior to rebirth, or concurrent with it, must be a letting-go – of our concepts, ideas, indeed of our self – as all spiritual traditions attest. This is possible, as it is necessary, insofar there is something which remains. There is, as I variously indicated, a natural doctrine – the intrinsic uncontrived dharma, the canon of nature, the universal logos – something which exists apart from our grasping at constructs – something which in fact sustains us – so that, in undergoing existential death, we are not annihilated. And this something – let’s just call it something – is the grand attractor in the presence of which we find ourselves. For the abyss, of which it is spoken here, has opened for humanity as a whole.
We can trace the phenomenon back at least to the nineteenth century Romantics – artists, writers, philosophers who launched themselves upon the subjective empyrean and confronted the dark night of the soul. One of these – a writer I read while in that space myself – is Nietzsche. Here follows my translation of a verse written during his Mediterranean period. The poem Der Geheimnisvolle Nachen describes a sleepless night – nothing will do, neither a good conscience nor the accustomed opium trance. So he goes down to the beach. Under the stars he ponders:
One hour – easily two,
or was it a year, when
mind dissolved all of a sudden
into eternal indifference,
and a void without obstruction
opened up – and it was gone.
So far, so good. The tragedy is in the concluding verse, which breaks with the haunting surge up to the stated climax and sinks into banal contrivance. There is reference to the sleep of amnesia and to blood – some decades hence Germany finds itself under the yoke of National Socialism. It is my view that Nietzsche, without the benefit of initiated teachings, recoiled from the abyss experience and consequently went insane. One could say that he chose madness as a bulwark against the horror of the abyss. Other figures come to mind – Van Gogh, Ibsen and Strindberg all exemplify telling aspects of the symptomatology. The outcome is variable. Others again – I cite you Jung and Tolkien – maintain a complex tissue of sophistry, and so seem to avert calamity for themselves, but their ambivalence precludes resolution and is the essence of stasis. So there are various adaptive strategies in this space, not least of which, in terms of resultant human suffering, is that of fundamentalism – the stance of the ideologue, who brandishes some idea, as plucked out of a hat, and fashions it into an idol. Finally there is existentialism or nihilism – the pseudo-philosophy of the abyss itself.
For Europe on the verge of the twentieth century – for the world in the void of post-modernism – the set and setting is all wrong. There is the evolutionary imperative, the thrust toward interior gnosis, but no initiatory context – rather an intellectual and spiritual legacy which urges a fearful and desperate clinging to constructs and creeds. Even for the fictitious characters of Dostoevsky the prognosis is doubtful, given the milieu of the Orthodox religion with its negligible traces of Asiatic shamanism. Though the dissertation raises the possibility of redemption or rebirth, there is no suggestion of how exactly this would manifest. This is why I am addressing the matter in some depth – and because it’s important. To return to Nietzsche’s example, I propose that, had he embraced the experience of the void, he would have emerged a wisdom sage rather than the raving lunatic of his final years. He would have been able to write the final verse – a verse which only a Magister could have written (see One Star In Sight for the grade structure of the AA).
All authentic spirituality emanates from ‘above’ the abyss – from the Neshama in Cabalistic terms, which is broadly synonymous with the intuition. This is why the Masters are not understood and why attempts to square the circle – to rationalise the language of mysticism – leads to religion in the negative sense. It is necessary to transcend the reason in the disclosure of a higher faculty. Although rational intellect retains its place as an engine of analysis, when it is used consistently – and this is where many fail – it eventually becomes apparent that there are no rational foundations, no ultimate atoms of meaning in the analytic realm. The reason – the analytic mind itself – is rather revealed to be the substance of the abyss. This, as indicated, is the point at which to ‘let go’ so that the higher – more inclusive – faculty can declare itself. But the sacrifice must be an authentic existential phenomenon. It cannot be contrived, which is the other critical issue here. There is the partial surrender (the sacrifice of fools, as Ecclesiastes has it), which is intrinsic to religious pathology and the root of a kind of ‘downward transcendence’, often resulting in the abrogation of reason and a raft of insane ideas. In the case of spiritual rebirth, however, the reason is not abandoned – it continues to function within its sphere, purified and refreshed, allowing for ongoing engagement at the analytical edge.
The world, the while, has entered a post-rational stage by a kind of default – through the abrogation of intellectual rigour without attaining to higher epistemological ground. The attitude is perceived moreover as fashionably attractive – partly because it constitutes a simulacrum of enlightenment. Yet it is not for lack of the real that the world is languishing in darkness. The voice of the Angel is clear and distinct and multitudes are hearing it. Lacking rather is the spirit of discernment – of perceptual rigour – in the presence of innumerable voices. In the apotheosis of Babel one voice is as good as another. But for those who are spiritual this is an amazing time to be alive. A recent oracular statement, involving the I Ching hexagrams hsien and feng – influence and abundance, coincides with my view that heavenly influence – divine revelation – is so abundant in this age that there is insufficient room to contain it. The revelation unfolds in exponentially expanding vistas, dwarfing the analytical faculty into oblivion.
We obtain rational closure in that the enlightened mind sees time from outside – beginning to the end. He sees that all is accomplished – the mystery is made known, there is nothing further to be said, as stated in certain texts of doubtful renown, … when he opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven … and elsewhere, … he that is entered into his rest has ceased from his own works, as God did from his, and elsewhere again … it is finished. One could assume that earlier difficulties regarding this dialogue are due to where we are in (or out of) time. So I welcome your suggestion regarding a more informal dialogue. Specifically I’d like to dispense with the formality of taking turns – the constraint of a necessary response. Instead of facing one another, as per the Socratic stance, let us turn a little in the direction of what we are contemplating. The ideal, as I see it, is something to inspire us without imposing any burden. For me this is actually a matter of practical import, as, with the end of the Australian summer in sight, I am considering full immersion in my new project – something I took up last year – namely creating original music on computers.
So thank you for allowing me to indulge in these reflections and by all means send me yours. There is this to be said for a dialogue situation, that it brings up all sorts of stuff that might not otherwise come up in exactly that way. Though the world has crossed a subliminal threshold, what is there but to plough ahead? – HK.
Your thoughts on magik stir up many recollections, unanswered questions and strange longings. The whole subject resonates, and there are multiple threads of meaning and intrigue, some of them seeming to be within grasp, and others dangling hyperspatially, just beyond the edges of perception.
Magic, and a dream about magicians, came to define this whole era of my life, the last twelve years, a cycle that began in February of 1995….
This is what I started to write, eager to venture into this subject which I find so numinous and shrouded in unknowns. As I reread your entry, however, I discovered a threshold guardian, a statement you make about others but that reflects back on you, and which warns me that this dialogue, as presently conceived, cannot be a venture into the unknown. Before you make that statement you make another which has me wondering about your motives in engaging dialogue:
…as I was sitting in my room one night, the Angel appeared and revealed all that I had sought. The dialogue thus inaugurated continues to this day, and some of the Angel’s conversation is reported in the incomprehensible language of mine.
If “the Angel” has already revealed to you everything you sought, and that dialogue continues, than what purpose can our dialogue serve? At best you would be conceiving of the dialogue as an interactive monologue, where you would work with Christian patience to get the complete and continuing divine revelations you have experienced into a form more comprehensible to me. Also, one may have contact with actual entities, but they may not always be what they seem, and, as I have mentioned earlier, the trickster aspect of the unconscious is never to be underestimated.
But even more alarmingly you write,
It is my view that Nietzsche, without the benefit of initiated teachings, recoiled from the abyss experience and consequently went insane. One could say that he chose madness as a bulwark against the horror of the abyss. Other figures come to mind – Van Gogh, Ibsen and Strindberg all exemplify telling aspects of the symptomatology. The outcome is variable. Others again – I cite you Jung and Tolkien – maintain a complex tissue of sophistry, and so seem to avert calamity for themselves, but their ambivalence precludes resolution and is the essence of stasis.
You cite some figures who, according to you, went insane because of their failed relationship to the abyss. I don’t know anything about the lives of Isben and Strindberg, but two of those you mentioned, Nietzche and Van Goh, had obvious neurological problems. Nietztche was in the advanced stages of syphilis and Van Goh was severely bipolar and with a long family history of same. Still, since I am a sometimes critic of neurological materialism, I could let that pass. But then you write,
I cite you Jung and Tolkien – maintain a complex tissue of sophistry, and so seem to avert calamity for themselves, but their ambivalence precludes resolution and is the essence of stasis.
I can’t let you get away with that, there is no way that the work of either of these towering figures can possibly be called “sophistry” and this is so amazingly ungrounded and unwarranted that from a psychological point of view such a projection has got to reflect back on you, and has me wondering if you do not unconsciously fear that your own beliefs, expressed in excessively ornate vocabulary, are a fragile, confectionary palace which you occupy as a hedge against the unknown. The need to diminish Jung seems a particularly troubling symptom, as he is the personification of the penetrating insight that can see through so many forms of inflated religious mania that even forty-six years in his grave he can still generate transferences, and could easily be sensed as a splinter in the mind of one who had unconscious fears about living in a world that was a complex tissue of contrived beliefs.
But that’s an abyss I’ll leave you to ponder for yourself. This might be too much of an intervention as it is, but you seemed to have asked for it, consciously or unconsciously, since you know I am a Jungian and my website has an entire Tolkien section, and you very well know that I am blunt and confrontational. So I sense you as a wizard whose magic has been largely devoted to the conjuring of a vast palace of marzipan, glittering with ornate beliefs, unconsciously fearing and inviting the wrecking ball of abrasive psychoanalytical insight. You need to decide what your next move is in relation to the abyss, stasis in your gothic palace of beliefs, a self satisfied, if secretly insecure wizard living in a world of your own enchantments, unwisely taking pot shots at actual, empowered wizards like Tolkien and Jung, or venturing toward resolution yourself, coming down from the tower and willing to face the abyss yet again.
I was going to venture into a whole series of questions I have about magic, was going to present myself as the inquiring rube and was also going to throw this open to my friend Freddie, who is an initiate in the Golden Dawn, or possibly to my friend Rob Brezsny who is steeped in those traditions, but now that I’ve confronted what you have revealed about yourself in these remarks I feel that the dialogue (or possible trialogue or quadralogue) is also at a threshold. Is this going to be a real inquiry into the unknown or are we going to be stuck in the stasis of what Rob Brezsny calls tragic magic , magic turned in on itself to create intricate systems of self delusion? If angels have already told you everything you need to know than there is no dialogue, I should either enter your palace and sit at the feet of one to whom everything has already been revealed, or else allow these confectionary lattices of self referential thought to come spinning toward me from your exile in Sydney which will only turn me into the compensatory psychoanalytical wrecking ball, the object you seem to be unconsciously inviting. But I don’t feel very interested in playing either role. If, on the other hand, you are willing to venture out of the palace and into the unknown, the journey of the abyss which is more powerful when it is not prematurely resolved, then we might have a dialogue which will actually get somewhere.
Jonathan. The guy who wrote:
… the Angel appeared and revealed all that I had sought.
is also the guy who wrote:
… yesterday’s ideas don’t excite us … The soul wants – needs – fresh manna in order to evolve.
Though I would not expect you to recall my every word, I would expect you to have some intuitive apprehension by now of the general drift of my thought. For without such apprehension this adventure must founder (as we see here) on the rocks of semantic intransigence. I don’t know if I express myself adequately. I mean, for words to communicate, there must be a degree of empathy, of sympathetic resonance, some direct apperception of mind. You will not find it strange, I trust, if I proffer that I find such apperception lacking on your part. And I find this more than passing strange. For I have no cause to consider you other than a skilled and careful reader. Yet I find your above reading so incongruous with the tenor of my thought that I am perplexed. What can we make of this fundamental disconnect, which looks set to perpetuate itself through countless mahayugas?
I will venture that the cause lies in basic distrust, which you are attempting to validate. For I find you in the grip of an obfuscating tendency: the insistence on a rigid and preconceived interpretation of my opus. With this you’ve placed yourself in the curious position of assuming greater insight into my linguistic intent than I have myself. Now I don’t have a problem with that. However, I empathise, and share your regret that we can’t go deeper faster.
As I was sitting in my room, the angel said to me, you have the cart before the horse . Now the context and meaning are here irrelevant. Suffice it to say that this statement eased my despair of seven years, it allayed my fear, and allowed me to clamber out of the abyss, back onto the isle of humanity. When I say, the Angel revealed to me all I had sought, I mean he provided The Answer to my perplexity of soul up to that time. He gave it as a seed or germ, like the first ray of light at dawn. Not a revelation of the sun in its strength, but enough to dispel the darkness. Now that seed continues to unfold.
Perhaps this obviates your question as to the possibilities of this dialogue. But as to the revelation, it is not of occult or mystical knowledge. Indeed the more it unfolds, the less I am sure of anything in the realm of knowledge. The revelation is of Christ , as prophet, priest and king. But it’s probably true that the perspectives gained, the emancipation from all manner of thraldom, allow insight into all sorts of domains, usually considered occult. A few more answers, point by point:
About Tolkien and Jung, … such a projection has got to reflect back on you . Yes, of course. My sweeping comment, I offered it as a talking point, not as my final word. And to gain from your own perspectives. I find it marvellous that you have special affinity with two major figures, with whom I don’t particularly resonate. I’d like to expand that with regard to Jung. Contrary to some earlier remarks, I recall having read Memories, Dreams, Reflections . It’s actually one of the first books I read in my search. Now I know, that’s saying very little. I remember eyeing the collected works at the University of Queensland, more or less intimidated by their bulk. I am correspondingly grateful to Jung scholars (such as yourself and Werner Zurfluh) for filling the gap to some extent. Nevertheless I would venture that Jung’s thought has become quite integral to my own, as, indirectly, one encounters him almost everywhere. For, alongside Crowley, Gurdjieff, Blavatsky and Steiner, he stands as a seminal figure of the New Age paradigm. My reference, specifically, was to the tension I noted in this work between nineteenth century empiricism and the upwelling of the occult. The fact that this antinomy was not satisfactorily resolved in his lifetime, as I tend to opine, hardly diminishes his stature.
As to Tolkien, I remember when we were young and hope sprang eternal, The Lord Of The Rings was like a Bible to many of our contemporaries. I made an effort, but could not get into that tome. It may be a matter of temperament, but, somehow, I find Tolkien’s mysticism and magic unsatisfactory. Also on the point of aesthetics, in a complex work of art I require integration or synthesis. I seek that sublime simplicity which invariably characterises the profound, as we observe in nature – the source-book of the aesthetic canon. All this notwithstanding, or rather because of this, I appreciate your Tolkien studies as aiding my own appreciation of the man’s opus. While on the subject I will reveal that I, also, have a favourite allegory. It is The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.
The Abyss , capitalised, is a technical term in AA and Golden Dawn parlance. A nutshell definition would be: The infinite regress of the reason; the chasm between intellect and intuition. It is in this narrow sense that I use the term in my biographical account, though I failed to employ capitals. My sense is that your use of the term is somewhat more general, roughly denoting ‘the unknown’ as per your concluding statement.
… has me wondering if you do not unconsciously fear that your own beliefs … are a fragile, confectionary palace which you occupy as a hedge against the unknown. … So I sense you as a wizard …
It’s a slightly strange feeling to be so regarded and hard to know how to answer. I mean, if you already know that I am deluding myself, my protestations of innocence will necessarily be meaningless. In the end you will need to form your own judgement, both concerning my claims and your role in this dialogue. All I can say is this: Your characterisation does not meet any person that I recognise. I neither fear your critique (and, incidentally, it doesn’t pain me, except for the said regret), nor do I seek debunking as a form of deliverance from my delusions. I seek critical perspectives, not because I feel epistemically insecure, but because I am trying to forge a language for communicating certain ideas. I believe the angelic revelation to be an uncontrived phenomenon – because I could not have imagined it, and because it partakes of the nature of inspiration. Yet I’m not incapable of entertaining the notion that for twenty-eight years I might have been in the grip of illusion. I think rather that I tend to be hypercritical of my own position, and that, as a sensitive individual, you’ve tuned into this vibe, joining the chorus. But I don’t think you’ve presented much of a case.
If … you are willing to venture out of the palace and into the unknown … then we might have a dialogue …
The suggestion is that I am not engaging honestly or authentically, and that this explains our failure to communicate more deeply. Now I understand there are citadels of conceit, against which even the gods labour in vein. If my spiritual dwelling is of this kind, then perhaps you have good reason to disengage from this dialogue. But I think I have well acquitted myself, answering your challenges without sophistry or evasion, such that very little, if anything, remains to substantiate your assertion. I, by contrast, can make a reasonable case that an element of psychological constraint imposes on your conduct of this dialogue, citing your consistently prickly manner, your focus on the nonessential, and projections as to my purport so antecedently improbable that my jaw drops in disbelief. Similarly the way you bristle with indignation at comparative trifles suggests a (quite likely unconscious) diversionary tactic, a grimfaced determination to find at all costs some weakness which would discredit my claims. The compulsion to find such a weakness suggests a categorical reluctance to entertain the possibility that these claims might be founded.
By this you may discern which of present protagonists is bound by fixity of agenda. If not the distrust I mentioned earlier, what hinders you from entertaining – on a provisional basis if you will – the essential tenets of my exposition, irrespective of any truth-claims one could legitimately make on their behalf? What hinders you from entering a compact of folly with this fool, who keeps insisting on his folly?
‘If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.’ – Not King Solomon this time, but William Blake.
I’m very glad that you’re willing to continue, and I am ready to pursue the inquiry into magic, but will first attempt to briefly summarize why I think there has been so much contentiousness. Many aspects of it are over the top and due to my own personal shadow. There’s a lot of Mars in my chart, I do tend toward the aggressive and often that is more than what’s called for. Like so many baby-boomers I’m the narcissistic personality type, and I was brought up in a couple of cultures—-New York Jewish intellectual which favors the ruthlessly abrasive Socratic dialogue, and New York street culture which celebrates skill in dissing. The simpatico of minds and spirits would, no doubt, have more chance of transcending such tendencies if we were meeting face to face, and semantic differences would recede, but since we’re not, words are our meeting place, and therefore the semantic looms large.
Perhaps the most sympathetic motive (for my contention) is that we have in common a tendency to war with idolatry, even a fervor for such war, and though the pennants and banners, the shields and swords we carry into that forever war bear different colors and insignias, we are motivated by parallel forces—a primal will to overturn idols of illusion and delusion that obscure the light. An idol of supreme aggravation for both of us is any person, institution or doctrine carrying any aspect of false religious authority. Given such a parallel you might expect that we would amiably compare experiences and techniques, talk shop as fellow idol-slayers. Perhaps if we met in person this parallel essence would be more apparent, but given a meeting of words, when I meet the army of your words coming over the hill, when I see that army from my hill, it is not immediately clear just what sort of army is coming toward me.
Like many idol-slayers, there is a wariness that can border on paranoid aggressiveness about incursions of the numerically gigantically superior idolators who forever take on new guises and who say, or sing, doing their modified cover of the classic Who song, “Here’s the new boss! Very different than the old boss!” Imagine my wariness when I see that your approaching army has pennants proudly rippling in the sun bearing all sort of mystical Christian symbols, the very brand icons of some of the most dangerous tribes of warlike idolators ever to step forth from the long skull shadows of history. This army approaches with an olive branch and announces that it has nothing in common with all the Christian armies that have oppressed me, and my ancestors for a couple of millennium. Forgive me, but my first thought is not, “Onward Christian soldiers of an entirely different sort!” The general of the army is consistently civil in tone, but from my vantage I see what look like giant size wooden horses being pulled forward, horses made not of wood, but of the depleted uranium armor of word spells alloyed with a mystical religious vocabulary, an armor that glows with the radioactive aura of absolute conviction.
The general is congenial, even self-effacing, but at other times assumes the mantle of irreproachable authority, “…it will not do to remonstrate… “, etc. The general says that he is more like a ghost, and that I am doing battle with phantom projections. Some of that is partly right, but there are also, from my point of view, genuine radioactive horses, genuine idols coming toward me….wait just a moment…stand by…one of my lieutenants is approaching with urgent demeanor, “Sir, we’re getting another gigantic radar return incoming from Australia!” I go to his station where, in fact, there is a huge blip on the radar screen, a radioactive horse blip, stroboscopically glowing on the screen . “Sir, the giant radioactive horse is sending us a message!”
“OK, lieutenant, let’s put the message on the screen.” An infinitesimal pause as the incoming stream of zeros and ones from Australia is converted to text and then, in Times New Gothic font appearing on my screen is the following:
A word about scripture as the obvious object of contention. No apologia, merely an observation. To whit: Dynamic Paradoxicalists should appreciate our Bible as bulging at the seam with paradox. Atheists with an axe to grind are fond of documenting these – apparent contradictions – in the scriptural canon. I have collected hundreds from various sites on the World Wide Web. While many are contextual, many others remain that qualify as genuine paradoxes. Does this disqualify the text, as claimed? Not at all, in that paradox is inherent in the rational apprehension of anything.
Senior military staff gather round me examining this message and one of them, a cognitive space defense commander, offers a preliminary analysis,
“Sir, this appears to be a new defense, a new radar-reflecting type of stealth technology that is attempting to confuse our sensors. We can identify it as a highly radioactive patriarchal document containing multiple warheads of pernicious nonsense but it is trying to create a phantom radar return, it is trying to trick our sensors that its radioactivity is actually an aura of mysterious paradox. If I may sir—”
The commander throws a switch and a ghostly, phantom image appears on the screen, an image of a large, fluffy white sheep with a bouquet of flowers in its mouth, a bouquet of olive branches and white lilies, and attached to the bouquet a gilded silk pennant is attached that says, “Paradoxes.”
“Looks harmless enough Commander, let’s not get paranoid here, we can safely allow a flower-wielding sheep into our cognitive space.” I respond.
“Sir, but take a look at this image, we filtered out the distortion field and here’s the actual radar return.” Glowing on the screen I see a large missile, a dense hull of gunmetal rationalization, and inside the warhead of the missile, blinking in radioactive yellow-green, an ominous, strangely familiar rectilinear object.
“Commander, that’s not what I think it is, is it?”
“I’m afraid so, sir, yes it is.”
“Not the… not the Bible again commander?”
“I’m afraid so sir, the very toxic document that has been used in more hostile incursions into cognitive thought space than any other, sir, the Bible, this time given a special radar-reflective coating. If we weren’t careful sir this object would have been allowed into our thought space as a collection of benign paradoxes.”
” OK, thanks commander, please send for our diplomatic staff and have them meet me in my ready room. I want to send a message to the Australian general that is not offensive in tone, but that shows why we view such deceptively shielded projectiles as offensive. ”
After working with the diplomatic staff we hit transmit and put the out going message on the screen:
Thank you for your recent messages, there is much in there we agree with and we want to move forward on the open avenues of possibility that lie before us. We must object, however, to the recent attempt to cloak this radioactive document in paradox. The Bible has got some great parts in it, you point out Ecclesiastes, and I agree with you about that part, but as you should know this is a document crafted by many human authors, edited by other imperfect beings, mistranslated by still others, and brutally misused by countless hordes. When it says in one part, “Thou shalt not kill” and in another part says anyone caught picking up sticks on the Sabbath should be stoned to death, that’s not a paradox, the later item is simply a bit of archaic, malevolent, patriarchal nonsense (the diplomatic staff restrained my original word choices) and this kind of stuff needs to get edited out, not accepted through some heroically strained attempt at framing it as mysterious paradox. The glaring, radioactive portions of the Bible are not divine paradoxes misinterpreted by atheists with axes to grind in cyberspace as you suggest. You can put lip stick on a pig, even an exotic shade of lipstick like “Cobalt Blue Paradox Divine Sheen” but to us it still looks like a pig. The big immature ego in the sky of the Hebrew Bible who is jealous and vengeful and lets Satan pick on Job, is much more in need of some forensic psychoanalysis (see Jung) than humble obeisance. While we regret our part in the Cold War of Words of the passing Aeon, and are ready to move forward, we must also point out some of your cognitive thought space incursions (such as this most recent incident) which contributed to the atmosphere of heightened tensions.
So why don’t we drop religion as an object of contemplation (and even as a source of vocabulary and insignia, if possible) and move onto white magic.
Wait, my diplomatic staff says that’s another cheap shot, religion as artifact of the dark arts by implication. OK, let me rephrase, actually religion, like everything, is woven of light and dark magic, it has its white magic (keep those great Gothic cathedrals with the awesome stained glass coming!) and its black magic (most everything else) but then again so does every other area of human endeavor, or cosmic endeavor for that matter.
We each have our own mismatched cultural baggage, the Bible works a lot better for you, the Lord of the Rings and Jung’s collected works work better for me (though they could also use some editing). But let’s stow away the mismatched cultural baggage and take a journey to a place so near and yet so exotic, let’s inquire into magic, it’s theory and practice. I’ve just been rereading a bit of Crowley, Magik without Tears, and I find his definition of Magik, and his theorems and postulates of Magik presented near the beginning of the book to be exemplary, genuine logos stated with elegance and precision. So here is an encouraging example, a man of light and dark parts, Crowley, crafting key insights, and this is encouragement that we as fellow creatures of light and dark parts, living in a cosmos of light and dark parts, can gain insights and discover applications related to Magik and instead of merely dissing the artifacts of patriarchal source code, the poisonous flowers of the Babylon Matrix, we can inquire into what would gain us access to the source code, what we need to know to avoid, or at least greatly reduce, our own tendencies to misuse such access. Intuitions and realizations about this subject have been bubbling up, numinous bubbles, and some bubbles need to get popped, but others may metamorphose into magical orbs.
Before continuing, however, some questions:
Do you feel we have each made ourselves sufficiently clear, have sufficiently expressed what led to our inevitable and instructive impasse?
Do you feel we are still at an impasse? Are we ready to go forward into the inquiry into Magik?
Do you think it would be helpful or harmful to allow any other voices to join us if we are willing and able to journey past the impasse? Of the three people I mentioned, so far only Tyler has come forward as a willing participant. We’d be inviting in a voice from a different generation (I believe he’s 23), but who is very literate and has read a lot more Crowley than I have.
I hope this finds you well, and depending on your answers to the above questions, I am ready (unless diverted by the muse) to create an opening inquiry into the subject of magic.
Paradoxically Yours, Jonathan
|Jonathan. I also have wondered what limitations are imposed on our dialogue through being confined to the written word. It’s an interesting question – in particular with respect to meta-content, implicit point of view and so forth. To what extent, I wonder for instance, are nuances of humour conveyed – important, as they are, for signalling a sense of proportion.
I was and remain prepared to progress as you suggest, but I have some doubts regarding the terms proposed. The suggested détente seems too shaky a foundation for so sensitive a project as dialogue on magic. Insistence on an area of taboo is likely to distort our discourse in unexpected ways. Consider for a moment the extent of this taboo – the Bible, a foundation document of the Western canon, setting the tone over centuries, and furnishing a symbology, referenced alike in esoteric and conventional thought. Indeed until around the Enlightenment the magi of Europe practiced their art in the context of a Judaeo-Christian worldview. A discussion of magic without reference to its magical iconography, therefore, would be like sailing without regard for the weather.
Let us consider Aleister Crowley, who, by his own account, rejected Christianity. His opus magnum Book 4 (Weiser edition) lists among its indexes some eighty biblical citations, and there are likely as many indirect allusions to the scriptural canon. The Bible, in other words, is employed to convey magical concepts. Regarding its chief doctrine, however – that of vicarious atonement – Crowley was specific in stating his antipathy. And I respect the man for taking a stand upon his convictions.
Your attitude, alas, I perceive as one of evasion. You say in effect, let’s not look in this direction. Content rather to dismiss the matter, you claim a case where none has been made. Considering the size of the continent you wish to keep shrouded in conceptual darkness, this makes me deeply uncomfortable. I am convinced that the spectre you are seeking to banish would continue to impinge on your magical circle. This is not a matter for banishing, but analytic deconstruction.
Surely there is naiveté in the suggestion that a linguistic purge will cleanse the spiritual temple of iniquity. The matter is answered with your own satiric quip: ‘Here’s the new boss! Different from the old boss!’ You make light of the matter, citing mere cultural dissonance. Yet I detect real terror underlying the solicitude of your diplomatic staff. It is of course a radical proposition, but I suggest that the terror can be diffused. To put the matter succinctly, there are no missiles – no warheads of pernicious nonsense. I do not propose inaccuracy in the rendering process, rather an instance of human error in the interpretation of the image. What our communication essentially conceals is an invitation to closer scrutiny. It is precisely because symbols are potential Trojan horses, that such scrutiny is urged. We, in our part of the galaxy, have learned to apply the analytic lens (as well as a certain secret light) to render symbols transparent. Our conclusion is that ‘evil’ derives from the formless realms – it’s association with specific symbol systems being a matter of opportunism and convention. And I don’t mind boasting that this insight has served us well in banishing many of the bogeys, which unfortunately still haunt the greater universe of discourse.
I am amused by your reference to my ‘mantle of irreproachable authority’ as so utterly unlike the nuanced deliberations of one Jonathan Zap, who calmly proposes to edit Tolkien, Jung and the Bible. Well, and why not? A man has a right to his convictions. But what underlies his blithe assurance – the assurance alike of intellectuals as of the man-in-the-street – is an implicit belief of the order that if this really was a divine revelation, it would conform to my expectations, expert that I am in all things spiritual . Until we have recognised our angel and the absurdity of our subjective prognostications, deep down that is how we think.
This attitude is displayed in your references to the unpalatable in the biblical text. Your response is of course justified, as it is understandable. But your conclusion that the text is diseased is easily refuted. I can make a case for its internal consistency, which you would likely find compelling – if you can refrain from averting your gaze and set aside the habit of defence by bluster. I admit there is terror in contemplating a light so bright, and I am aware of my responsibility for turning it on. But the genie is out of the bottle and I can’t see our way to stuffing it back in. What, incidentally, do you make of my own position in the said regard? You must believe, if I am consistent, that I support stoning to death.
I grant your contention that Yahweh may need the analyst’s couch – I mean, I’m prepared to entertain this idea at length. But the notion that he lives in the sky – where does that come from? Don’t you agree one should first understand what one is vocal in dismissing? You have here a unique opportunity to obtain most rare information, as mysteries are flung to the wind with prodigal abandon. What you do with this information is of course up to you. Like Crowley, you may reject its truth-claims, and you would similarly retain my respect. But I suggest that insight is the proper basis for a discussion of magic, not misapprehension and taboo.
So if the terms include my silence on certain subjects, I cannot agree to the proposal. This said, however, I have no intention of furthering my proactive pursuit of the contended domain. I am content that the essentials of my exposition are more than adequately covered. Thus I feel free to explore new frontiers, provided no constraint is imposed on the dialogue. You may assume that our relations will not be used as a platform for preaching. Indeed I vouch that none of my offerings can be construed as preaching. What I have disclosed is a point of view.