Q-ing Out

October 8, 2008
“Another side of the deficiency of general historical life is that individual life as yet has no history. The pseudo-events which rush by in spectacular dramatizations have not been lived by those informed of them; moreover they are lost in the inflation of their hurried replacement at every throb of the spectacular machinery. Furthermore, what is really lived has no relation to the official irreversible time of society and is in direct opposition to the pseudo-cyclical rhythm of the consumable by-product of this time. This individual experience of separate daily life remains without language, without concept, without critical access to its own past which has been recorded nowhere. It is not communicated. It is not understood and is forgotten to the profit of the false spectacular memory of the unmemorable” (Society of the Spectacle, #157).

“Another side of the deficiency of general historical life is that individual life as yet has no history. The pseudo-events which rush by in spectacular dramatizations have not been lived by those informed of them; moreover they are lost in the inflation of their hurried replacement at every throb of the spectacular machinery. Furthermore, what is really lived has no relation to the official irreversible time of society and is in direct opposition to the pseudo-cyclical rhythm of the consumable by-product of this time. This individual experience of separate daily life remains without language, without concept, without critical access to its own past which has been recorded nowhere. It is not communicated. It is not understood and is forgotten to the profit of the false spectacular memory of the unmemorable” (Society of the Spectacle, #157).

Monke

October 8, 2008
Abstract Entity

Abstract Entity

Vision Questing in the Polycosms

September 21, 2008
A gaze and a smile

A gaze and a smile

In class today, the teacher gave the instruction to gaze at a point – the perfect point.  He said that any point would be the perfect point by virtue of our gazing at it.  He then offered the observation that many of us would probably see the infinite number possible points of perfection and feel hard pressed to choose one and settle on it.  ‘This’ he said, ‘is the thing about humans.’  All-possible-perfection somehow impedes decision.

… I see some connection to our pink dragon dialog back home, a few months ago, but–”

Orolo got a funny look on his face.  He’d forgotten. “Oh yes.  About you and your worrying.”

“Yes.”

“That’s something animals can’t do,” he pointed out. “They react to immediate, concrete threats, but they don’t worry about abstract threats years in the future.  It takes the mind of an Erasmas to do that.”

I laughed.  “I haven’t been doing it so much lately.”

“Good!” He reached out and gave me an affectionate thud on the shoulder.

“Maybe it’s the Allswell.”

“No, it’s that you have real things to worry about now…”

***

“All right.  So, I think I know what comes next.  You want me to restate your theory of what the brain does in terms of the polycosmic interpretation of quantum theorics.”

“If you would so indulge me,” Orolo said, with a suggestion of a bow.

“Okay.  Here goes,” I said.  “The premise here is that the brain is loaded up with a pretty accurate model of the cosmos that it lives in.”

“At least, the local part of it,” Orolo said.  “It needn’t have a good model of other galaxies, for example.”

“Right.  And to state it in the terminology of the old interpretation that fids are taught, the state of that model is a superposition of many possible present and future states of the cosmos — or at least of the model.”

***

“The important thing about the model, though, is what?”

“That it can exist in many states at once, and that its wavefunction collapses from time to time to give a useful result.”

[This is a way to think about divination – readings = a collapsed ‘snapshot’ of superposed quantum wave functions that gives a ‘useful result’.]

“Yes. Now, in the polycosmic interpretation of how quantum theorics works, what does all of this look like?”

“There is no longer superposition.  No wavefunction collapse.  Just a lot of different copies of me – of my brain – each really existing in a different parallel cosmos.  The cosmos model residing in each of those parallel brains is really, definitely in one state or another.  And they interfere with one another.”

He let me stew on that for a few moments.  And then it came to me.  Just like those ideas we had spoken of earlier – suddenly there in my head.  “You don’t even need the model any more, do you?”

Orolo just nodded, smiled, egged me on with little beckoning gestures.

I went on – seeing it as I was saying it.  “It is so much simpler this way!  My brain doesn’t have to support this hugely detailed, accurate, configurable, quantum-superposition-supporting model of the cosmos any more!  All it needs to do is to perceive – to reflect – the cosmos that it’s really in, as it really is.

“The variations – the myriad possible alternative scenarios – have been moved out of your brain,” Orolo said, rapping on his skull with his knuckles, “and out into the polycosm, which is where they all exist anyway!” He opened hishands and extended it to the sky, as if releasing a bird.  “All you have to do is perceive them.”

[This is the working model for meditation, the practice of perceiving the myriad possible alternative scenarios, both in the brain-mind complex and in the world[s] outside.]

“But each variant of me doesn’t exist in perfect isolation from the others,” I said, “or else it wouldn’t work.”

Orolo nodded.  “Quantum interference – the crosstalk among similar quantum states – knits the different versions of your brain together.”

“You’re saying that my consiousness extends across multiple cosmi,” I said.  “That’s a pretty wild statement.”

“I’m saying that all things do,” Orolo said.  “That comes with the polycosmic interpretation.  The only thing exceptional about the brain is that it has found a way to use this.”

Difficulty

September 18, 2008
Mounted on a horse, standing still, weeping tears of blood.

Mounted on a horse, standing still, weeping tears of blood.

The Receptive

September 13, 2008
Dragons battle in the field; the blood is dark yellow

Dragons battle in the field; the blood is dark yellow

The Creative

September 11, 2008
The First Hexagram

The First Hexagram

Theory to distinguish between Religion, a Religion and Spiritualities

September 3, 2008

Wouter Hanegraaff:

Let me begin by pointing out clearly that my book title “New Age religion” in no way means that I consider New Age to be a religion. Religion I propose to define very precisely as

any symbolic system that influences human action by providing possibilities for ritually maintaining contact between the everyday world and a more general meta-empirical framework of meaning.

New Age provides such a symbolic system and can be seen as religion in these terms. As I have argued elsewhere, religion in this sense can take concrete form in “a religion” (plural: religions) or in “a spirituality” (plural: spiritualities. Please note that I never use the word “spirituality” in the singular). We can speak of a religion if the symbolic system I just referred to is embodied in a social institution. Spiritualities, in contrast, can be defined as

any human practice that maintains contact between the everyday world and a more general meta-empirical framework of meaning by way of the individual manipulation of symbolic systems.

I cannot go here into the implications of this threefold definition. For my present purposes, the important thing is that New Age, according to this approach, is not a religion because it is not embodied in a social institution. It does, however, qualify as “religion”, and it manifests itself as a multiplicity of individual “spiritualities”. This theoretical framework allows us to see the essential difference between the secular esotericism of New Age and the traditional esotericism of before the 18th century. Traditional esotericism did produce “spiritualities”, but such spiritualities were always grounded in a religion, such as  Christianity (or more specifically, Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism), Judaism, and so on. For example, the 17th-century theosopher Jacob Böhme developed a spirituality of his own, which not only qualifies as Journal of Alternative Spiritualities and New Age Studies religion but was also grounded in a religion: the Lutheranism in which he had been raised. Compare this with, for example, the extremely important but still badly neglected figure of Jane Roberts (channeller of the Seth-messages and, in my opinion, one of the most important religious innovators in Western culture after the second world war): she likewise developed a spirituality of her own, but this one was no longer grounded in any religion. We find here a constellation typical of New Age religion generally: New Age religion consists of multiple individual spiritualities that are rooted not in the soil of any religion, but in the soil of a non-religious secular society.

Peter Panic = Susto

September 1, 2008

From Jaime de Angulo:

I want to speak now of a certain curious phenomenon found among the Pit River Indians.  The Indians refer to it in English as “wandering.”  They say of a certain man, “He is wandering,” or “He has started to wander.”  It would seem that under certain conditions of mental stress an individual finds life in his accustomed surroundings impossible to bear.  Such a man starts to wander…

He will speak of what is on his mind to no one, but anyone can see that he is not all right.  He is morose, uncommunicative.  Without any warning he will get up and go.  People will probably say of such a man: “He has lost his shadow.”

SUSTO

SUSTO

The concept of susto functions as an etiological category. When a person suffers from certain forms of social dysfunction — listlessness, depression, lack of motivation — family members or a healer search the past for a frightening event that may have caused the soul to leave the body. Thus, when persons believe that they are performing their social roles less adequately, according to their own criteria, than others in the community, the illness category of susto provides an explanatory framework within which to conceptualize their experience and seek appropriate healing. Perceived social and personal failures are attributed to a culturally defined sickness. [Susto]

Drinking ayahuasca provides the shaman with information concerning the current location of the lost or stolen soul — where it has fled or been hidden away — and the progress of its return in response to the calling song. It may take hours or days for the soul to make the return journey. Don Emilio Andrade tells of singing back a stolen soul. Suddenly he saw a road, and in the center of the road a small shadow. As he sang, the shadow became larger; when the shadow was just six or seven meters away, he saw it was his patient. The soul entered into her through the top of her head, and at that moment she awoke. He continued to blow tobacco smoke on her, until she was completely recovered. [Steve Beyer]

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS WILL HAPPEN TODAY

August 31, 2008
A Virus Worth Spreading

A Virus Worth Spreading

MUSICAL LINGUISTIC OBJECTS BY DAVID BYRNE AND BRIAN ENO

Ground State Training: Learning the Ways through the Garden

August 31, 2008

The Sixties Style Sheet

LSD settled into the era of materialism, a realm of science and rationality, the land of stimulants and alcohol.  That alone made it revolutionary.

To begin with, this world has a different kind of time.  It is the time of biological rhythm, not of the clock and all that goes with the clock.

Alan Watts, the Joyous Cosmology

And there was a seeming fork in the path: one way eschewed the past, embrace the Future, the apocalyptic, the New Age, Aquarius, a new calnedar, a radical rupture with history, messianic, into the heavens – space colonies.

Better living through chemistry.

The other way turned to the earth, to the old ways, seeking models in pre-industrial cultures, tribe, tradition, anthropology, plants.  Land.

Another Iteration of Fork’d Path Garden

[Starting at least 4000 years ago] Yogic techniques developed to include a broad array of practices, from the subtle breath control of the pranayana schools to the bhaktic ganja smoking of the saddhus, from the alchemical energy transmutations of the sexual tantras to the bare-bones, stripped-down mindfulness practice of the Buddhists.

Two advocates discuss their ways

Characters

SIMPLICIO, a practicioner of the poison path

SAGREDO, a practicioner of a traditional meditative discipline, let’s say, Zen

***

SIMPLICIO: We’re for doing it the easy way.

SAGREDO: The Same.  What could be easier than the direct and immediate practice of ground state training?

SIMPLICIO: True, if it works.  But for how long do you have to do it?  Years and years, I’ve heard.  And some never get it.

SAGREDO: It’s the same with your way.  But even those who do not attain True Enlightenment find some peace and inner serenity through our way.  Even their health generally improves.  They are less predatory and more compassionate.  They laugh more, and have more poise.  Can the same be said of your way?

SIMPLICIO: Yes… well, for some.  For others, not, I admit.  I’ve seen some who have followed our way for thirty years emerge as Great Egocentric Assholes.

SAGREDO: (Sigh.)  It’s the same for us, I’m afraid.  And the always feel so righteous about it!  Maybe we should talk about our successes.

SIMPLICIO: I’m for that.  Some of our adepts are so advanced that they look like ordinary people.  You would never know, unless you are an adept yourself.  Like ordinary people, but maybe with an extra radiance.  Otherwise they are like everyone else: a doctor, a mother, a professor, a contractor, a farmer.  Like others, but probably with a double life – besides the day job they may have a life in the arts.

SAGREDO: Or in a spiritual practice.  Sounds like one of ours.  We like to say, “in the world, but not of the world.”

SIMPLICIO: Yes, the other world teaches us that.

SAGREDO: Tell me, how would you characterize the difference between that world and this one?

SIMPLICIO: In the other state one can experience the Unity, and the truth beyond selfhood.  Also, one can see beyond the perceptual mold that we, collectively, have reified.  How would you state it?

SAGREDO: What ‘other state’?  It’s right here…  You see the intrinsic problem with your approach?

SIMPLICIO: You tricked me.  You set me up.  I’ll get back at you when it’s time to dance, instead of this Zen stuff, like being wise.  But let me ask you, do you find that there are some who are so ensared by the Illusion that they haven’t even glimpsed that there is anything else?

SAGREDO: There are many such.

SIMPLICIO: We have the edge, that way.  Our poisons have the power to crack open the World.  The experience shows people that there is more to the world than they could ever have imagined.  And it works on almost everybody, even the deeply cynical.  Is it not a good thing to crack open the world?

SAGREDO: Yes, if it sticks.

SIMPLICIO: We say that it is the sticking that is the problem!  In our ordinary mind we forget, we say “it’s this,” or “it’s that.”  That is the frozen part, the ice cubes, the seeming.

SAGREDO: Touche.  You set me up.

I saw sagredo bow, and simplicio bow back.  I blinked and they had merged back together, into Salviati, who was lounging at the base of a tree, just loafing, chewing on a spear of summer grass.

Salviati

Salviati