Building a Better Brand: Progressive Ingression

I don’t imagine too many of you have had the experience of flaking flint or obsidian into tools. It’s not too hard to get a sharp edge, but to actually craft a reliable tool that you won’t accidentally maim yourself with, that won’t shatter when you use it… that’s pretty hard. Pressure flaking is an incredibly intricate technology.

The reason you probably don’t know how to do that, is you don’t have to. And the reason you don’t have to is that you almost certainly have plenty of sharp objects at hand, ready-made out of strong and flexible steel.

The reason you have sharp steel tools is because the original understanding of how to manufacture sharp tools was combined with metallurgy, embodied in our technical and economic social process and subsumed into the material assumptions of society. The manufacture of sharp tools is something we take for granted and have rendered ubiquitous.

Along the way we’ve done similar things for fire and heat, metallurgy in general, electricity, chemistry, animal husbandry, agriculture, and computing.

We don’t have to think about it, because it’s been incorporated into the material stratum of reality, subsumed into the base level understanding of the world we were born into.

I just had it pointed out to me the other day, that every kid in school today, was born into a world of the internet. For them it’s just another thing, like knives, electricity, and medicine. I didn’t really get consistent use of computers till I was 21 or so. I have to think about computers. These new kids don’t, or won’t.

What this means, to round out the four corners of our essential depth scientific model, is that once you’ve mastered your skills and had your depth experiences, and communicated them amongst the society, is the depth experiences are embodied in material form. What started out subjective becomes objective. Your vision becomes an artifact.

Now, anyone can take that artifact and examine it from all angles. Because that artifact embodies certain truths in objective form, other people can take things away from it that you might not. That artifact often becomes a new paradigm in the proper sense. You can take that knife, that fire, that electricity and make it the basis for new experiments, that create new illuminations, that can be communicated to others and embodied in material form, to be themselves incorporated into new injunctions.

Even something as apparently simple as a book does something spoken language can never do: it binds communication into an inert form that can be retrieved by others without the need for a person on the other end. And no, this is not ideal communication, but it makes possible a one to many model of transmission, rather than a one to one model. It makes society as we know it possible, whether by book, radio, television or the internet. Nothing can ever really ‘capture’ a depth experience, but that’s not the point. You capture what you can, and what you can capture makes a big difference. Material artifacts are no substitute for face to face communication, but in the inverse way, face to face communication is no substitute for a material artifact.

Not only that, but in this way you create the basis of economic progress in the true sense. You can do more with less, and realise gains in quality for the same amount of energy. And this is because every new generation doesn’t have to recapitulate the experiments and artifact construction of the previous one. They can take the existing assumptions and build on them.

So in the large sense, there’s no real difference between a modern technological information society, where scientific breakthroughs are concretised as machines, and a shamanic society where, from time to time, groups of people in a psychedelic trance can apparently create new forms of plant life, and certainly new medicines, pharmacological innovations or social stretegies. No difference, except perhaps in scale or emphasis. The essential dynamic is the same.

And all of these are examples of the trend of the progressive ingression of intelligence into matter, as Mark Pesce would put it. The material stratum of reality is ever more suffused with the informational contents of intelligence. Before we even got here nature was busy chewing up the mineral and chemical world to make more plants and animals. Plant and animal intelligence is the same as bacterial intelligence is the same as human intelligence is ultimately the same as computational intelligence. Progressive ingression. Our dreams take hold of the world. It is the gnostic/alchemical dream of the union of spirit and matter.

So if we take our four corners together it’s easy to see where incomplete models of this work fall short.

-without depth experiences you have dead technical repetition, acting out calcified understandings until the world and yourself undergo thermodynamic entropy

-without skills and mastery you inhabit a world of superstitious randomness and episodic chaos, with no rhyme, reason, or logical progression.

-with no communication or community you become a hermit or madman, unable to express yourself, be understood or contribute anything to society.

-and without an embodied material understanding, regardless of the profundity of our inner lives, or our shared dialogue, we would still be naked apes flipping over rotten logs to forage for grubs. Even now, the chasm between our minds and bodies would quickly become insurmountable, or more likely, our minds would come to conform to the absent expectations of what the physical world can or should be.

So we have our essential method of epistemology, and our essential dynamic of manifesting those depth experiences, and we’ve struck down the arbitrary gatekeepers around certain corners of this… so what does this all amount to?

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Magickal Record 04-23-07

    My self immolation continues. Although, at least, I burn in a good way. Sift my ashes, if you will.

My apparent fruition seems to be holding up. I’m not having visions of Moses and Elijah in the garden or anything, but there seems to a be a real difference that’s holding. I will save the detailed discussion for the last bit of the Augoeides series ( more on that below ) but suffice to say, anytime I start feeling kind of squeezed by my delusions, a small application of mindfullness is sufficient to jolt my body-mind back into a stable state of instability. I realise that probably makes little to no sense, but paradox is the currency of the realm, alas.

Recently I’ve been rereading one of my favorite books: the farther reaches of human nature by abram h. maslow, who is probably somewhat familiar for his hierarchy of needs model, which only really scratches the surface of the things he was working out near his death, which is what appears in this book.

In it he says a lot of things which have become cliches. Things about authenticity, growth versus fear, taking responsibility, flow and whatnot. These words get abused by corporate whores and bad hacks to create more reasons to do things you hate and probably should hate. But to read the words of the man himself, and his feeling for them is a much different affair. When someone means what they say, you Know It, and I hope that something similar is present in my work, sometimes, which I do occasionally worry about.

It’s easy to get caught up in telling people what they want to hear, or in a similar vein, telling it to them in a way they want to hear it.  Both of which are a far cry from  saying what you think and why you think it.

Sometimes I think I’m very far away from what I set out to be, so long ago.  Part of what I’m doing now is trying to redress that. The only reason I got into magick, for example, was because it was what I thought science always should have been. Most people seem to treat it as a free lunch, or in some perverse, paradoxical way, a lot of work for a free lunch. Kind of like those people who will work desperately hard to stay on welfare or a disability pension. I could do with a few less perverse paradoxes myself.

Meditation is a kind of a weird paradox itself lately. Every time I sit, I get into deep and stable states of equanimity, but in a some strange way, the fact of it becoming so easy makes it less compelling to want to do it. I’ve found this about myself in a few areas. If it doesn’t involve turmoil, struggle and bitter resignation, I don’t always care enough to do it. Like my identity has become tied into the bitter struggle for everything ™.

I’m tired of that. Just let me do what I like, and let me like doing it.

The grand experiment of joblessness is coming to an end. Either business steps up soon, or I’m off to update my resume. I’ve done most everything under my control to make it work, so it’s in the hands of god, now.

My computer situation is a comedy of errors. First my hard drive at home shit it’s guts out, which was okay since I could work at the office and at Alaina’s place. Then her house mates decided I was too ominous and threatening to come and go during the day when she wasn’t there, so I had to give her the extra key back, so I’m left with the office. I can’t record here, or edit audio here, so that’s back burnered for now. I’ll squeeze the outstanding items in somewhere, but a regular stream of audio missives in on the slow track now, along with the microphone related projects I had in the works.

I’m looking for a window for my water fast. People get alarmed when you tell them that you’ve stopped eating. Like some iraqui prisoner on hunger strike. It’s easier when you don’t have to sit around telling people ‘no, I’m not hungry’ over and over again.

so, the Goals List 

-finish the building a better brand series this week

-record the last augoeides in the next two weeks

-get to the gym at least three times a week

-buy some real food

-schedule the water fast

-meditate for a hour everyday even if I don’t feel like I need to.

-call R. to fix my hard drive

-own up to what I really like and don’t like and what I really want, not what I think I have to do

Building a Better Brand: Back on the Rails

In mainstream science, it’s well understood that progress proceeds through a process known as subsumption. Meaning, earlier and and more rudimentary understandings and processes are incorporated into the assumptions that later understandings and processes are founded upon.

Seems simple right? But in ‘magick’ this is often not the case. Often because of the ritualistic, culturally bounded, linguistically mediated, and internally subjective nature of the process. The tendency is to treat artifacts of occult knowledge as if they were unique items that arose out of nowhere and represented idiosyncratic keys to certain aspects of reality that cannot be generalised, reduced to first principles, or subsumed into new theories and injunctions. They are often treated as ‘loopholes’ in the normal fabric of reality that hold no larger implication to be investigated.

By all rights, an experience of some disembodied voice, or the ability to makes something happen by thinking about it, ought to inspire a whole chain of experiments and cultural dialogue to resolve it’s larger implications and build on that new understanding. But by and large, this doesn’t happen. In general the response of the ‘community’, to whatever extent one can be said to exist, is to look for better and better ways to exploit the inexplicable, but seldom to approach the fact of it’s apparent inexplicablity.

But really there’s no reason whatsoever to think this way. In fact, this is a symptom of what you could call atomistic thinking or ‘magical thinking’ in the way it’s usually meant, as in epistemically naive and superstitious. In societies that operate on this basis, for example, there is often a name for every bend in the river by which they live, but no name for the river itself.

Interestingly, in those same societies there is often a well developed body of shamanic knowledge that is continually being tested and refined by the segment of society that deals with it. The depth experiences of the shamanic class are continually integrated, interpreted, and shared amongst the community.

Which brings us to our third corner, which is the importance of integrating depth experiences into the discourse of the culture. This is, after all, how language evolves, and how it becomes possible to talk about things that are new. Without this, your experiences will always remain your experiences and while others may benefit from your understanding, without the communication of your depth experience at the highest possible level of fidelity, they will have no opportunity to replicate it themselves, and hence there is little chance of it being subsumed into the overall cultural progression of knowledge and skills.

This of course, brings up this issue of effective communication, which in this case is often a bucket brigade nightmare of translation difficulties.

First you have your subjective experience, then you have to represent it to yourself in some way, then you have to translate that representation into language, which someone else hears or reads, selectively filters through their presuppositions and expectations, represents to themselves in whatever way they can, and then perhaps acts upon, to repeat the cycle.

In light of all this, one could easily begin to think that developing a science and technology that incorporates exquisitely detailed internal representations and strives to replicate them across a certain educated class with perfect fidelity, is futile, even impossible.

Certainly, there are many many variables and hard- to- language nuances that exist in such matters as meditation, assuming different persona or thought forms, or attaining to different kinds of trance or gnostic state. But one need look no farther than something like the buddhist literature to find a millenia old documentary record of hundreds, even thousands of people’s experiences of meditation practice, and how it is broken down into absurdly discrete units of experience which can be the subjects of injunction.

Or, in something like martial arts, where one one must develop a level of feeling awareness of balance, space, and motion that to the average person borders on the unfathomable or absurd. This is almost entirely internal, and in many cases, even when there is an outwardly visible sign of such things, it’s happening too fast and too subtly to process in a visual way.

Are these things daunting to the point of frustration? Yes they are. Are they impossible? No. Can they be incorporated into language and made an object of cultural discourse, which is then built upon and refined? Emphatically, yes.

Part of the reason for this sad state of affairs is frankly down to a long history of persecution. Plain old materialist science had plenty of problems to begin with, never mind altering your internal workings, redefining the boundaries of souls, or upending the usual understanding of causality. So in many cases adepts were either starting from scratch, working with baroque codes and symbols that were meant to foil almost everyone, or reconstructing a whole tradition from fragmentary bits and pieces. And we still have all these problems today. To the point that it’s almost inconceivable that we might in fact be working within a coherent tradition, with a coherent history of development and progress, of experiments that fall in a discernible order of secession, subsumption, and evolution. From the modern perspective it looks like a bunch of puzzle pieces, with no box, and no big picture to work with.

But there’s no reason it needs to stay like that. Like I said before, these days, no one cares what you do, so the real project is to decipher the codes, reassemble the fragmentary tradition(s), and bring our personal experiments into the shared cultural dialogue, where we can sort out the language sufficiently to get a handle on what’s not apparent to the outer eyes and ears. Certainly there are some experiences that are impenetrable to language, but they are almost always surrounded by things that can be assimilated into words just fine. Yeah it’s hard, but working inside of a coherent tradition, with a coherent discourse, would sure take the load off a bit, wouldn’t it?

Otherwise, your most profound depth experiences will live and die with you alone. Which is a tragedy for us all.

Building a Better Brand: …We Are, After All, Professionals

So before we go any farther I want to go back and clarify what it is we mean exactly by depth experience, gnostic state or magickal trance, because these are not only versions of the same thing, but also exist on a line of continuity that includes things you probably take for granted. Because we’re getting to the point where we can’t talk about things in terms of just magick or just science as we normally think of them anymore without defeating the purpose. As now we’re hitting on things that both are lacking separately.

Even in mainstream science the experiential part of the knowledge process has a certain mystical connotation. It is sometime referred to, as wilber had said, as an ‘illumination’. There is a kind of mysterious aura to it, because you’re pushing out the boundaries of mind, and since mind is us, you’re pushing out the boundaries of self as it understands itself.

One need look no farther than a baby as it discovers it can control it’s own hand, or recognize itself in the mirror to find a gnostic state equal to most anything you or I will ever know again. That is a point on the line of continuity we’re talking about, and illuminations just like it are what we mean by depth experience. Something that increases the dimensional aspect of the world as we know it, and of ourselves. So it is at once both simpler and more profound than either science or magick usually thinks of it.

The difference between the simple and profound is really a matter of complexity and complexity is relative. And the seeming complexity of an experience is often a function of the skill it takes to evoke it, and skill you have to interpret it with.

And so, accordingly, the next pillar of our new structure, which probably ought to be self evident but often isn’t, is skill. Oddly enough, there are still people out there who think this field is the way to get something for nothing, and it partly why ‘magick’ has such a shoddy reputation.

One example that’s instructive for our purposes is with some users of psychedelics. Now, far be it from me to suggest that no one should approach these things as a quick ride into a depth experience for recreational purposes, but that has nothing to do with what we’re talking about, really. The point is, even in cultures where psychedelics form the backbone of the shamanic traditions, there is still a body of knowledge, and a skill base around how to use them and what to do when you are using them. White people in a delirium of cultural appropriation almost always overlook this, conveniently. Doing it in this way is a step back into treating ecstasy as an episode, not your vocation.

If you want professional results, you have to treat it the way a professional does, quite simply. And just because there are no professionals around to give you a smack upside the head doesn’t get you off the hook. A surgeon can’t get away with diving in with a scalpel and no knowledge of what to cut or where, any more than a shaman can drink some ayahuasca and hope that a cure for the guy dying over there is going to land in his lap.

In a larger sense this is implicit in our learning behavior. Not only are we constantly experimenting, but we are constantly engaged in a process of progressive mastery of our experiential domain. This is how you can build experiments on top of other experiments. If you don’t master something at the bottom layer of the pyramid, then the thing runs a grave risk of collapsing at an inopportune moment because you went and built ten more layers on top of the one you neglected. And if you never bother to master anything, it’ll be sheer luck if you even get to the upper layers at all.
Just because someone tells you that all you have to do is whack off over a sigil, or do a mantra , or some visualization, or whatever and you’ll get a result, and that’s all there is to it… does that mean it’s true? Of course it doesn’t. Does it mean there aren’t ten or twelve layers of intermediate experiments that underpin the one you started with?

In prehistory people used to bargain with spirits for boons. Then they realised, no you don’t have to do that, you can just pray to the universal intelligence, and sometimes it would work. Then they realized, if you reintroduce some ritualistic elements you can get better results. Then someone figured out you don’t need any of that. Just a statement of intent and an altered state. And maybe you don’t even need that. I regularly have my intentions manifest without having to whack off over anything. I just clean up the ecology of my intentions, and state my wishes.

So the real cause and effect mechanism behind all that is still somewhat obscure, but successive experiments bring it forth in greater and greater resolution. Each experience allows one to fine tune the injunction, and slightly changes the resulting experience. But if you never take the experiment apart to see why it might have worked in the first place, and just repeat some ritual by rote, or even worse bolt another ritual on top of the first, you could very easily lose track of the causal mechanism. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen chaos kiddies who think that the only way to make something happen is with squiggly lines, and they add so many layers of complexity on top of the squiggly lines they have no idea what they’re doing or why. That’s how science turns ( back) into superstition, and we need to root that shit out.

So does this mean that you probably have some remedial work to do? Yes it probably does. But it also means that when you build the thing properly, it will start to work properly, which is almost certainly less work in the end than fucking around and hoping for the best. And if that’s too hard of a swallow then maybe you should find something else to do.

The saving grace however is that you don’t have to master what I say you should be mastering. My opinion doesn’t matter. It’s you who decides what aspect of reality requires your mastery, what parts of life are the ones where you search for depth experience. It could be anything. It could be an area where you already have skills. The point of knocking out those walls before was to show that whatever you’re doing, whatever you want to be doing, still fits into this framework. Music, painting, chemistry, or playing video games is just as valid a source of depth experience as any other. Again, just points on a line.

Depth experiences can be found anywhere, but they still all require some chops.

Building a Better Brand: The Great Leap Forward

So, now that we’ve described a rather large space, wherein a fairly universal process proceeds in pretty much everyone, how do we narrow that down? How do we go from infants munching the carpet, to practitioners of science in the ‘deep’ sense?

What we’re really asking here is what makes a ‘magician’ what they are? What are the quintessential features that distinguish them from all the other natural scientists plugging away at their inbuilt learning algorithms? What’s the difference between blind process that can stagnate ( and in most people eventually does just that ) and an intelligent process that yields all the phenomena we’re concerned with?

In this matter it helps to cut away some of the historical detritus and go back to the original template for those who practice deep science, science in the ‘big’ sense. I am , of course talking about the shamans.

Now bearing in mind there is a certain amount of controversy when you try to fit all shamanism into some template, but the preponderance of the research yields enough commonalities for our purpose.

Essentially the shaman is master of a set of techniques which allow them to transit into higher and lower ‘worlds’ and gather experiences from them, which are then deployed for the benefit of the community, both culturally and materially.

So lets break that down into a four cornered structure which we can then use as the basis of our current project.

The first corner is, above all, the central importance of depth experience. We are talking about ecstasy here, in the strictest sense of the word. Not as in pleasure, or as in pills that you drop down your neck and dance till you dry up all your spinal fluid, but ec-stasis, the literal act of standing-outside.

99.99% of the human race treats this ability to reach ecstatic states, to transcend the normal boundaries of the world as we know it, as an unpredictable episode. It’s something we all seek, we all want, we all build our lives around, but rarely does anyone develop a sophisticated understanding of how achieve depth experiences, of how to make ecstasy into a vocation, not a episode. Even the most debased chaos kiddie whacking off over sigils is still supposed to achieve what’s called gnosis or the magical trance, which is really just two more names for the same thing, so there’s really no getting away from it. Swinging a hammer does not make you a carpenter.

Without this understanding our experience is going to be limited to transiting the surfaces of things, poring over the minutiae of the world as we know it, and waiting for our next unpredictable episode of depth experience to kick us in the ass. Nothing in the world has every been discovered or created without a depth experience on someone’s part. One need look no further than Rene Descartes and his angelic vision, or Einstein and his imaginative riding of light beams. And historically, the only people who have ever developed a sophisticated understanding of how to do that, at will, are people who are usually known as magicians. Yes science proceeds through injunction, but where do the injunctions come from in the first place? It’s a bit of a chicken and the egg thing but the overall trend is for humans to probe the edges of understanding very cautiously, very tentatively. And why?

Because no one wants to fall off the edge of the world, and only a madman would jump. This is the normal understanding of things, anyway, but we do things a bit differently round here…

next time: corner number two

Building a Better Brand: Do the Evolution, Baby

So, let’s knock down another wall, and this is the fetishised conceptual distinction between magicians, and ‘regular’ people, and since we have already demolished that wall, between regular people and proper scientists.

Nothing is every going to admit most people into the dogmatic halls of the scientistic priesthood, just as no amount of metaphysical piffle or anthony robbins style cheerleading is going to convince most people that they can benefit from Magick as it’s usually understood. Believe me I’ve tried it.

We are essentially abandoning both of those, and building a third thing, or more accurately, reclaiming the original thing that all of these calcified institutions came from in the first place.

And where is that, you say? Simple. It comes from little kids.

And no, this is not some pre-trans fallacy wherein we romanticise the unformed ignorance of a neonate child. Or exhort the beauty of ‘innocence’.

Again, no. We’re talking about something very specific here, and it’s how unformed neonate humans learn. The learning process that is innate in us.

Check out this talk here by Mark Pesce, which is really good overall, but in the first ten minutes or so, you’ll get a good summary of the work of Jean Piaget, who studied the developmental psychology of children. You could almost say he invented the field of developmental psychology.

What he essentially found was that all humans start out as what you could call natural scientists. We spontaneously formulate simple propositions out of our innate curiosity, which we then test, and use the results to formulate new propositions which are then tested themselves, and so on.

Sound familiar?

So if every human being who ever lived has a rudimentary form of our fundamental epistemic method built into us, which we use to methodically build a working theoretical model of reality, which begins with cause and effect, materialistic physics, internal and external relationships, and which we found our personalities and emotions on, how is this any different, than what scientists or magicians do?

Not at all, really. The only difference is that most people have this natural response conditioned out of us by acculturation. At a certain point we are taught that it’s not necessary to do this anymore. We instead entrust this process to the hands of ‘experts’ like scientists, or marginal flakes like magicians.

Ultimately, the only difference between them and us, is that scientists and magicians keep doing it, keep testing, keep thinking, keep formulating new experiments, into realms that are not obviously apparent to the externalised senses. It’s like an iterative process, where you start with sensorimotor spacial relationships and emotional connections, and if you carry it on long enough, you end up with relativistic physics, samatha jhanna, nanotechnology or contacting disembodied intelligences.

It’s like most everything in the world: you don’t insert it like a cog into yourself. You have to grow it, indeed, if you don’t grind to halt, it’s inevitable that you will.

Question for all the ‘magicians’ out there, or for that matter the ‘scientists’: how many of you, after some time in your chosen pursuit had the realisation that some of things you were doing, some of the ways of thinking, some of the natural curiosity or unusual awarenesses you had to work so hard to attain, were actually experiences you’d already had as a child, and then forgot?

Quite a lot, I’ll bet.

And since some of you are probably going to ask what’s up with that video, manpretty grim stuff. But I can assure you, very little of that behavior is the product of a healthy natural curiosity that is allowed to grow. But it’s almost certainly what happens when you don’t.

Building a Better Brand: Return of the Prodigal

So the first thing we need to do is start knocking down some walls. And the first wall is the one that’s grown up between science and magick. It’s funny how easily people forget people like Alfred North Whitehead, Giordano Bruno, Wilhelm Reich, Roger Bacon, John Dee, Nikola- fucking-Tesla already!

And no I’m not talking about doing some sort of trite postmodern quantum mechanics thing, as you might see in such insipid tripe as what the #$%@ do we know or it’s sister piffle the secret. Or the endless stream of soft headed new age bunk that suggests that if you squint hard enough at your incense stick or jar of essential oils, you will be initiating a new ‘paradigm’ ( there is a slightly disturbing truth under all this, but rest assured it’s not quite what anyone thinks it is). Indeed, our biggest difficulty right now is understanding what a paradigm actually is.

To help out I will call in the big guns right off the bat, none other than the bald god of integral himself, Ken Wilber. And be at ease, as this is not really about any of those slightly sketchy wilberisms, but rather discussion of what science really is, and what it’s not.

So, to recap… real science, a real scientific method, consists of three things.

an injunction: something you do so you can have…

an experience: which is then subject to…

a conformational process: be it peer review, replication, checking against the literature, or simply an adequate interpretation, which is then used to formulate new injunctions.

That’s it. There’s nothing in there about materialism, or objectivity, or standard notions of distance or causality, or measuring it on instruments, or conforming to what the wilbernator calls the bullshit metaphysics of the current scientific priesthood. These are extraneous postulates, not science.

Sitting in meditation, doing a ritual, charging a sigil, divination, performing a metaprogramming process… these are all injunctions, when properly constructed. These are properly regarded as paradigms, which each can bring forth data, which is then subject to confirmation and review, hopefully as rigorous as possible. Any experience, be it internal, external, subjective or not, is equally valid as datum for properly formulated experiment, and is equally valid as subject for confirmation.

So what we can then say, rightly, is that good science, and good magick, are the same thing. The fact we have not regarded them as such is due to the epistemic abuses and prejudices of mainstream scientism and the general sloppiness in the method of most occultists, which is largely attributable to the slipperiness of quantifying interior experiences, as much occultism straddles the line of interior and exterior experience. But it can be done, once we clean up our own rat’s nest of assumptions, sloppy thinking and careless documentation.

So at a stroke, we can demolish the narrow science, the bullshit scientism that currently exists, and we can also shed the baggage of naive, superstitious, sloppy, excessively postmodern new age ‘magick’, and rightly walk into the court of real science, deep science, science as it was conceived and intended to be, on it’s own terms. And no one can stop us, except perhaps our own carelessness.