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.


26 thoughts on “Building a Better Brand: Do the Evolution, Baby

  1. “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?”

    erm, yes. But also I have been stuck for about three years in a sort of spiral trap or something. Every year is the same. Every week is the same. Every day is the same. And it’s getting ridiculous. For example I watched family guy the other day and reacted to one of the jokes in the exact same way as I had when watching family guy the year before and the year before. The exact wording. The exact physioogical reaction. And this wasn’t DejaVu. This time it was like I was out of my body watching myself react in the same way. And it happens more and more often. I am fucking terrified, and I don’t know how to break out of it, this spiral trap. Can you offer some advice or something? Ive been doing your alchemy for the braindamaged series in the past couple of weeks (stalling at lesson five: concentration, of which I can muster up 20 minutes before something rattles me). Should I just continue with that?

  2. That’s one of the best music videos of all time, in my opinion…reminds me of some of Gerald Scarfe’s work on Pink Floyd’s Wall movie.

    I’m still a dabbler, I admit, in these arts. But I’m glad I seem, in my fitful starts and stops, to have done some things right.

    The insight about the perceptions of children is great–and I’m pretty sure that the gnostic/essene magickians who made up the teaching-character Jesus were getting at that when they have him say one must become as a child in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

    ITSHGW: Maybe switch up your patterns. Stop watching Family Guy and take a walk instead. I know that’s probably just one example of what you’re experiencing, so I hope I don’t seem flip. But seriously: try switching up your habitual routine and write down what you’re experiencing and see about uncovering your most fear-inducing interpretations of it and deciding not to hold on to them too tightly. See what happens.
    Zac will mayhaps have other perscriptions for what’s unsettling you.


  3. 20 minutes is better than most people can manage.

    I wouldn’t worry so much about the repetition. the fact you even notice it is a sign of progress. the fact you even notice it when you probably don’t want to, is also progress. just keep your attention in what you’re doing and gradually focus in on the impulse or pattern that keeps bringing you back into the same loops. once you apprehend that on a deep level ,it will dissolve.

  4. Thanks to both of you. It’s always nice to know you’re not going (completely) insane.

  5. The video presents a decidedly one-sided view of the progression of human evolution and human history. We see only the victories of evil, and never the good in Man or the victories of those who do good. Perhaps that is the point, though.

  6. Why not just be an elitist? Why not use magic to get what you want? I mean the old magicians thought they had to keep it really secret. Now its pretty much all over the place, but still people won’t accept it. So let them not accept it.

    I think there are only so many people alive on Earth at any given time. If you are alive you exercize your will in an act of becoming. If you don’t, you just drift along, and become a sattelite for a stronger willed person.

    Let the drones be drones I say. Its like teaching a pig to dance. You get all dirty and you anger the pig.

  7. I think that video is awesome BTW.

    I first saw it on Jason Godesky’s blog.

    At some point I began rooting for the winners, instead of the losers. That’s how I look at it. Its the will to power. Nietzche and all that shit.

    Think of Gaia or God, or whatever and think what she is most proud of in all creation. Bunnies and cows and stuff, munching away on grass?


    What’s more fun to draw? Peaceful pastoral scenes and cud chewing or violence and action?

    The video speaks for itself.

  8. That was cool. It’s interesting that Bloom uses lions as a prominent illustration of his theories. I talked about lions a ot on my old blog. I mean being a lion means being savage. To successfully mate, a male lion needs to kill another lion and kill all his cubs.

    Then he reigns, along with a coalition of his buddies for about 4 years, hopefully long enough to raise a generation or two of his own heirs before another coalition kills him and takes over.

    Generation after generation.

    I wrote about this stuff and also how tribalism is related to racism. I asked all these questions, from a primitivist perspective, like “How can this be? Civilization is supposed to be the epitome of savagery and racism, yet nature is savage and to be a member of a tribal community is to be a racist?

    Jason Godesky and I had it out on my blog, he posted pages and pages of stuff, it got nasty,soon after that I deleted my blog, he stopped blogging, this network of primitivist bloggers all shut down.

    I think this whole Primitive=good civilized=bad assumption, just perished of its own internal inconsistencies.

    I think its a reactionary movement. Its de-evolutionary. Its the cutting edge of reactionism. Its like Bloom said retreating into fantasy.

    I liked the clip. I think he ptered out a little at the end into pretty standard pacifist plattitudes. I have no plans to kill the God of War inside of me. Sublimate it, yes, kill it no.

    I am not even convinced outright war is totally bad. I am not even convinced the war in Iraq is all bad. It will possibly lead to some kind of positive change.

  9. I’m well aquainted with godeski and his brand of internal inconsistancy.

    I’m not sure the polarity you’re suggesting is a real resting place, but I do appreciate experimenting with the headspace. a totally valid magickal act.

    I recommend bloom’s books unreservedly BTW. he’s slightly out to lunch in some aspect of politics, thought. He’s convinced that islam is a real threat to the west, for instance. But when you’re bedridden and a slightly manic paranoid, that’s understandable.

  10. “I’m not sure the polarity you’re suggesting is a real resting place, but I do appreciate experimenting with the headspace. a totally valid magickal act.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by that could you elaborate?

  11. Ted, ask yourself if the people being tortured and killed in that video look happy–then ask yourself why you should give a flying fuck what God or Gaia is most proud of.

  12. I think Gaia lives in the real world. If you live in the real world you have to work with real limitations. How do trees feel when they die as saplings because they can’t reach the light? How does grass feel when the shade of a big oak blocks it out?

    How does a virus feel when it gets killed off by your immune system? How does an idea feel when you reject it for a better one? How does the darkness feel when the sun comes up and destroys it? How does the greenness feel when the fruit becomes ripe?

  13. What bogs me down when it comes to understanding experiments I’m doing at this point in the game is variables. Somewhere along the way I’ve become convinced that there are so many variables involved that if I try and record results then I have to record a vast amount of other things which eventually results in me being bogged down and no longer understanding what is and isn’t effecting the experiment.

  14. Hey Chris,

    I was just thinking of somthing. I don’t know you, but lets have a meeting of the minds here. This is easily the 60 or 70th time I have played that clip of “Evolution”

    On Godeskey’s site I played it over and over again. It was apparently inspired by Daniel Quinn.

    I think it has the opposite of the intended effect on me but I’m not sure. I kind of revel in it. I play the part with the girl dancing flashing back in forth to black and he face becomes a skull? You know that part? I like that part the best.

    I was reading a book by Pinchbeck about 2012 and he quoted Nietzche. Nietzche was talking about somthing philosophers do in pursuing the truth that is like cruelty directed inwardly. I do that with myself. I am very cruel with myself in the sense that I am always trying to shatter my illusions. Nietzche was saying its actually quite healthy to have illusions about things and believe myths. Its self protective. You can be happier that way.

    So I have this way about me. I want to embrace the world. All the cruelty and ugliness too, not just the sublime beauty. I want to see the world as it is. So this song and cartoon embraces a part of existence that is real. I don’t pass judgement on it I embrace it. Initially it started with me wanting to shock myself and toughen myself up enough to see the world as it is and not simply how I would want it to be.

    At some point I kind of got drawn in by the darkness of it. I want to understand it.

  15. Do you see what I am saying though? I just brought this inwardly directed cruelty of my conscience to a breaking point, after the breaking point I just embraced everything.

    I am a shark, and God made me. I can accept it. I can embrace life.

  16. Here is another little tidbit from a site I found on Nietzche:

    “# Assuming, finally, that we succeeded in explaining our entire instinctual life as the development and ramification of one basic form of will (the will to power, as I hold); assuming that one could trace back all the organic functions to this will to power, including the solution to the problem of generation and nutrition (they are one problem) — if this were done, we should be justified in defining all effective energy unequivocally as will to power. (249)
    # Life itself is assimilation, injury, violation of the foreign and the weaker, suppression, hardness, the forcing of one’s forms upon something else, ingestion and — at least in its mildest form – exploitation. (249)
    # That lambs dislike great birds of prey does not seem strange: only it gives no ground for reproaching these birds of prey for bearing off little lambs. And if the lambs say among themselves: ‘these birds of prey are evil; and whoever is least like a bird of prey, but rather its opposite, a lamb – would he not be good?’ there is no reason to find fault with this institution of an ideal.” (Genealogy of Morals §13)
    # The slave revolt in morals begins by rancor turning creative and giving birth to values – the rancor of beings who, deprived of the direct outlet of action, compensate by an imaginary vengeance. All truly noble morality grows out of triumphant self-affirmation. Slave ethics, on the other hand, begins by saying no to an “outside” and “other” a non-self, and that no is its creative act. (250)
    # [T]he rancorous person is neither truthful nor ingenuous nor honest and forthright with himself. (250)
    # Their happiness is purely passive and takes the form of drugged tranquility. (250)
    # [Religions] side with the defectives . . . they confirm the rights of all those who suffer from life as though it were a disease; they would like to render invalid and impossible any other sentiment besides theirs. (251)
    # [Religion] in physiological terms is hypnosis – the attempt to achieve for man something approximating the hibernation of certain animal species. (251)”

    Read this and watch that video again. You might just come away with the opposite conclusion

  17. Well, Ted, I see nothing wrong with accepting that there is cruelty and ugliness in the world. But, as far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t mean I should grant it a “right to exist” by any means. Maybe you’d feel pretty badass being the one to who conquers and dominates. Just remember that, when things turn around and you’re the one getting conquered and dominated, life doesn’t seem so great anymore. You’d wonder why it’s being done to you, and why you can’t just be left alone. And all the world’s philosophical platitudes about a “will to power” wouldn’t comfort you in the least.

    And yes, it’s pretty useless to whine and complain from a position of weakness. Personally, I would advocate ascending to a position of strength in order to fight back.

    Also, I would think it rather contradictory to hold up the “will to power” as an ideal, and then go about denying this very thing to others through suppression and domination. That’s the thing about evil though, it always has to come up with reasons to defend itself, to explain that it’s really doing the right thing. Evil wouldn’t be evil if it didn’t have to hide in the shadows though, would it?

  18. Mr. Blind: part of what you’re talking about is the fact that much of magick is built on rituals, not so much in the ceremonial sense, but things that are done without neccisarily knowing why. that, and you have several layers of intermediate skills that are often under trained. the limbs of yoga are a good example; lots of people want to meditate, but who does the 5 or 6 limbs in front of that to first lay the groundwork? not too many. if one did spend a lot of time on that, the variables would diminish fairly quickly. but most people want to jump to the fireworks.

  19. Today I was looking on wikipedia about Leonardo DaVinci, and it said his approach to observe things wasn’t to do experiments but that’s pretty much all it said. Anyone have any information on the way he did things?

  20. I actually owned a book that was all about davinci and his thinking style compiled by a guy who pored over all the available notebooks. It’s pretty evident that davinci was the very model of a natural scientist. he was pretty informal in his method, but his attention to detail and precision in his craft were faultless. I’m not usre what could possbily be meant by saying that he didn’t experiment… his books are full of ideas that he had tried or considered in depth.

  21. @ Zac: Wouldn’t “necessarily knowing why” just be another magical model one uses to explain the odd phenomenon (odd to me at least) of magic; as sort of a way to comfort the “rational” mind? Similarly, is having some model to explain to oneself so important or wouldn’t just experimenting with various practices and documenting the results (or lack of) be more practical and beneficial? Or both?

    Although at this time I don’t have much experience, but as Mr. Blind put it, there are so many variables that one can only be so certain from just experimenting and documenting. Yet is using some ready made explanation model the way? Or is it to be used more like a map to compare and contrast one’s own experience with; picking and discarding what fits from what does not?

    And I apologize if I come off as asking too much but I’m curious as to what you’d say is the groundwork for effective magic before just jumping into the fireworks as you say.

  22. It seemed like it meant he didn’t take things out of the context they were in and reproduce them in a lab or something like that.

  23. Gen: the way I see it, the ‘injunction’, or what ‘a paradigm really is’, is akin to acting on a belief or model – you perfrom a certain action to get a certain result (the ‘experience’). This is making a belief true.

    An explanation or conceptualisation, divorced from the ‘injunction’ or act, is apparently a degeneration of what ‘paradigm’ used to mean; instead of acting on a model or belief (the injunction), we simply talk about metaphysics. This is simply having a belief.

    Hence, many people have a problem squaring the contemporary view of science (the degenerated ‘paradigm’, or doing nothing more than ascribing to a certain belief – ‘bullshit metaphysics’ as Wilber aptly puts it), with magic, which is essentially an act of science in the original meaning of the word ‘paradigm’ – i.e. you act on a belief.

    Of course, this isn’t an argument for doing away with contemporary science; it just means that although science still ascribes to the three steps or wings, a lot of beliefs have crept in that are NOT science.

    As a magician, I obviously ascribe to the three wings myself, and I also find conceptualising my experience useful too, if for nothing more than finding my way.

  24. All I would add, Alan, is that belief carries the connotation of something that is predetermined in absence of facts. the injunctive process is perhaps more accurately described as a series of propositions which need to be tested, and are revised based on evidence.

    granted, certain magickal processes blur the line between assertion and reality, but if your proposition fails the test it does need to be discarded or revised.

    having ‘explanations’ for phenomena is only useful insofar as it helps to formulate new injunctions. a working theory creates good experiments. your star trek based magickal ‘paradigm’ might ‘explain’ how you got laid by channeling captain kirk, but it doesn’t really yield a clear line of new injunctions, or reveal the causal mechanism and would quickly veer into metaphysics.

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