Some times the structure of my ideas gets a bit stifling, which is usually a sign that I’m getting off track, so let’s just do a little bit of stream of consciousness kinda thing to loosen up a bit.

I’ve been enjoying the work of pierre grimes rather a lot lately, and one of the cornerstones of his method, derived, one presumes, from the platonists and neoplatonists, is an involved process of dream interpretation, ( also, likewise, of daydreams, with a similar method).

It’s hard to distinguish too clearly between what he does and how, and what someone like like jung or freud was doing, except maybe that grimes is resolute in the conviction that the working of the mind are intelligible, and that there is an intelligible order to everything the mind does. The themes and motifs of the dream are always relevant to one’s present circumstances, and indicate where one might be blocked. Identifying these blockages, and the false beliefs that underpin them, are the ideal goal of the practice.

I know for myself that I’ve had several themes reoccur in my dreams for quite a few years now.  Some of them quite insistant, such as finding myself back in high school, while knowing full well that I had graduated. I had mostly presumed that these dreams reflected the resentment I had towards high school and the people in it ( especially the teachers), but I now find myself making plans to go to college, and needing to actually take some high school courses I didn’t bother with at the time to meet the entrance requirements. I could theoretically take them for free at the college itself, but it would conflict with my work schedule, so it seems I’ll be taking them in the evening at an actual local high school…and wouldn’t you know it, but the dream hasn’t reoccurred since then.

It’s odd to imagine that there’s a part of your mind that is constantly trying to feed you personally relevant information, and yet you keep ignoring it, for the most part, all of the time. This is no secret to hypnotists, occultists, or psychotherapists, but to actually realise that on some level you’re making plans, formulating goals, and steering yourself towards them, in a state of ignorance is a pretty amazing thing to experience, and not just think about.

It makes me wonder how far that principle can be extended. alchemy is really about the reconciliation of opposites, with various symbols standing in for mind, soul, god, male, female, living and dead, past and future etc etc… and really that reconciliation is just a recognition that the barriers you put up between those things were provisional constructions that you were always meant to grow out of.  And that all the pain and suffering of life is your unwillingness to endure a natural growth process.

But it’s not really surprising that so few people endure a healthy natural ongoing growth process, because there are rather few examples of it actually happening in the world today. Our fantasy lives are telling: they oscillate between the infantile and the adolescent for the most part: power, sex, self importance, oral gratification, comfort and nesting, dominance, rampant egotism. These are natural at certain stages, for the child, for the young  adult, but after awhile it mutates into pathology.

For instance, the ever growing sexual obsession with barely pubescent girls? It’s not an explosive growth of predatory paedophilia; it’s more likely a sign of more and more people failing to achieve a sexual maturity beyond an early adolescent stage. Prolonged long enough, that could certainly mature into a predatory pathology, which I suppose expresses in our proxy sacrifice of the likes of Brittany Spears.

And why the failure to mature? As we said, a lack of role models, and a lack of clear transitional events. If society lacks the pressure to cross the death-rebirth threshold of initiation ( of any kind ), then the only possible outcome is eventually there are too many children and not enough adults. The children will, by nature, thrust all the responsibility on to those they perceive to be adults, or at least, a passable facsimile.

So naturally the power in such a society devolves to those who can best imitate adults without  actually being one themselves, in whatever context. So the whole thing turns into a stasis. The correct word is neotany. A bunch of emotional and intellectual children ruled by faux adults, all trying desperately to avoid a real test that would necessitate real growth. The epidemic of cynicism, disaffection, fantasy projection, escapism, drug use…mostly just a way to avoid a real ego death that would cause you to grow as a person. Also it makes sense that such a society would be heavily controlled, manipulated and rigged from every angle. That’s the only way to make sure nothing shows up to challenge the false ideas of psychologically stunted  people: stage manage the so-called challenges as best as possible or make sure they are so trivial that there’s no chance of failure.

Of course, when you’re talking about people whose picture of reality is severely stunted, their ability to recognize reality well enough to even avoid it is doubtful. Rather than a life full of minor experiences of ego death that would naturally lead to a full shedding of the ego -identification, you get a persistent pattern of completely avoiding it in any way whatsoever.  So it’s pretty likely the apparent situation will oscillate wildly from stage managed absurdity to abject horror with little rhyme or reason. The whole thing would be colored by an exaggerated shadow projection of the ego death experience, to the point of paralysis and abject infantilism.

Does any of this sound familiar?


54 thoughts on “neotany

  1. It is very hard to become an adult in this society, I’m close to 40, and I don’t consider myself to be one yet.

    Also, I think you hit the problem spot on. And you just made an perfectly accurate description of our actual president (I’m french, our current prez is some sort of attarded half pubescent dickhead).

    I always believed that humanity taken as a whole is now at the adolescent stage.

  2. I’m not a big fan of dream interpretation. Especially as one gets into dream yoga or lucid dreaming, interpretation just makes less and less sense than the narrative and characters of the dream; in my own view, dreams are mostly just karmic residue and intentions. Occasionally they are a doorway to the “psychic realms”. When there is interpetation it’s usually not that difficult but can be very, very hard to come up with practical application E.g., you mention dreaming you are in high school–were you getting enough information from those dreams to have ever unpacked the message?

    I’m a little confused by your use of the term ego–you start off mentioning Jung and Freud but then procede to “ego-death”–are you operating from a psychoanalytic “ego” (in which case, “ego-death” would be a very bad thing) or the more, for lack of a better term, “spiritual” definition of “ego”?

    What’s an example of a “stage-manage[d]” event and how it supresses development? The most recent stage-managed event (9/11–Afghanistan–Iraq) I can think of was made into a causus belli for the sake of individuals in power to experiment (and that’s all I can understand it as) in some real-world application of their pet political theories… it’s hard to see how it could have been a developmental challenge of any type, and for that matter how it could have happened without a stage manager. At the same time it’s quite easy to see how “square” culture is not so much stage-managed as an endless procession of short-lived “trips” to avoid anything like what the Scientologists (hey, some of there stuff works) call “confronting” reality, i.e., separation, aging, sickness and death.

  3. I suppose I mean ego in the more mystical sense, and by ego -death, more correctly in the sense of learning to dis-identify with old projections of the self. not literally the ego dying. you need some kind of image of the self to function, but to think that is ‘you’ at any stage and get stuck there is a mess.

    I think something like iraq was intended as a pseudo-event for the united states. a challenge that wasn’t really a challenge at all. but as I said, the perception of reality on the part of the planners caused the pseudo challenge of the threadbare iraqi military and society devastated by sanctions into complete debacle. and that’s really only one example.

    I did eventually unpack the high school dreams to my satisfaction. I was a classic case of confronting a false belief. I took it as anger towards the educational system, but it was really my anxiety about wanting to continue my formal education, but refusing to explore it because of confused emotions. Feeling superior, but refusing to actually go and test the feeling of superiority, so really it’s all about the same thing this time.

    All underdeveloped people imagine that they’re the shit, but will go to great lengths to rationalize why they don’t need to test that belief. or any belief, really. might be threatening to your arrested images of the self.

    I think the dream interpretation thing works best as an exercise in pattern recognition: it doesn’t really matter if there’s anything ‘there’ to interpret, because learning how to extract personal meaning from the seemingly random is still a useful skill. as long as you don’t cross into the realm of being steered by oracular devices, absent rational thought.

  4. That all makes sense. Good point on pattern recognition, as well–the last retreat i sat on, my concentration got strong enough that I wound up with many, many “psychological insights” (despite the fact that I’d gladly trade them all in for real insights) showing up spontaneously and it was pretty damn shocking just how patterned we can be; when I have been doing ritual work heavily it often feels like causality has been flowing in reverse from the present to the past. I for one don’t like to use dreams (most of mine are about running around an office either feeling tired or anxious looking at sheets of paper, not exactly any depth there) to do that but to each his own.

    I’m not necessarily sure what being “adult” amounts to. at the same time it’s clear that our society needs to grow up, but i want to avoid conflating that with somehow taking a decreased standard of living–it’s toys like cheap DVD players that are essentially holding things together. it’s much easier to think in terms of character and ethical conduct for me, since those can always be improved. meanwhile, “adult” things like owning a house and having a car loan are proving to have been not so much adult as a con game encouraged by huckster, taken advantage of by bankers and enjoyed by the irresponsible, after all.

  5. Typically I can recall about 2 – 3 dream events per night, and while I like to review them upon waking (since the absurdity of the dream stories amuses me) I haven’t found them to be anything more than a hodgepodge of trivialities of the day. It’s sometimes funny when noises in your environment gets translated and reinterpreted into dream stories that has no remote resemblance to the actual cause of the noise — this usually happens if I nap during the day when noises in the environment is a factor.

    Back when I was practicing basic rituals on a regular basis was the only case when I had some interesting dreams that were possibly “psychic” in some manner. I had a series of them all within a two week period. I haven’t had them since, and while they were interesting I haven’t learned a thing from them, don’t know what exactly triggered them, etc.

    I don’t know if I should even mention this to you zac, since it’s rather silly, but about a year or so ago I’ve had a dream in which you were emotionally upset over some issue with medical school. I think the gist of it was that you didn’t agree with their approach to the practice or something along those lines and that’s why you called it quits. I still have a vague recollection of that dream since it was so odd. I’m thinking I read something on this site in which you may have mentioned pursuing medical practice and that might have triggered it. As silly as it is I felt I should let you know since the subject involved you.

  6. Zac,

    I feel nine years younger than I actually am. Which would make me 28, still an adult, though, but not 37. People think I am about 28 too.

    I think people may genetically age at different rates. Both my parents seem younger then they are.

    Plus, I think some people don’t experience as much anxiety as others. So that would age them slower. I think having kids ages people. I am not a parent. Another thing is body types. Mesomorphs look like they are 30 just after they reach puberty. Endomorphs look baby like their whole lives. I am kind of both, so I look like a strong healthy baby faced kid.

    As far as lack of “coming of age” rituals I agree. I also think Hierarchical structures are designed to make people dependant. So the two work together.

    The thing with tribal coming of age rituals and ego death, is that the tribal society doesn’t produce individuation the same way that modern societies can. Living in a tribe you don’t have much of an ego to begin with. You kind of have the role of what a child is that the tribe gave you and then you pass onto the role of what the tribe says an adult is.

  7. We need a coming of age ritual that creates in us the capacity to be independant thinkers living as citizens in a Democratic Republic. Citizens of an “open society”

    Its a tall order. It comes with responsibility. So I think the end result of this lack of adulthood is some type of totalitarianism. Which in a way is magical tribe only on a large scale.

    An Open society requires adults. Debate. ambiguity. Cognitive dissonance. A powerful Father figure requires a bunch of children.

  8. well, I wasn’t so much speaking in physical terms, but mental and emotional. certainly everyone has met people who ought to be old enough to outgrow the infantile rages, obsessive clinging, and histrionic behavior of the adolescent, but haven’t.

    I know what you mean though… I’m 31 now, and I still look about 22, so I guess it’s a good thing I’m going back to school, while I still look like I belong there.

    In thermodynamic terms an open society is pretty much the same as an open system, which imports ordered material, and exports entropy. to the degree a society fails to assimilate novelty, and/or export/minimize it’s internal entropy, you end up with the phenomena of closed societies that we associate with totalitarianism, demagoguery, and arrested emotionalism.

    that’s what interests me about plato, is that he presents a system whereby everything can regarded as intelligible, and thus, entropy is reduced to a theoretical zero. it’s sort of the flips side of the buddhist way, which simply severs the connection to entropy and allows it to go it’s own way. you sort of allow your mind to migrate to a whole series of ordered states and then abandon them as they go entropic.

  9. Well I am reading Karl Popper’s “Open Society and its enemies” and he goes after Plato pretty hard. I’ll have to chack back you when I am done reading it.

    But anyway, my sense is that an open society is composed of skeptical yet open minded people that are confronted with things and make desicions.

    A closed society is composed of people that believe their society is based on absolute truth. They don’t differentiate between the laws of their society and the lawsof nature.

    So I am thinking the coming of age rituals of an open society would be one that creates critically thinking responsible, creative adults.

    Closed societies are identified with magical thinking and everyone having their place.

  10. btw, what does it mean to export entropy?

    To my understanding negative entropy is about making progressively more sense of the world, through time binding and trial and error, things like that.

    Operating on the third semantic circuit of consciousness and creating wealth.

    Closed societies like to shut down the third circuit with taboos and other techniques used to maintain stasis.

  11. I guess what I am asking is what would be “exporting entropy” in a social sense?

    But anyway I liked this comment you made a few posts down:

    “I dunno. I’m sure you know that something as complex as this functions as a dissipative structure, so when it breaks down, it’s very likely to reform, sometimes at a higher level, even.

    not to pick on anyone, but more and more this catastrophic mentality seems like a cop-out, a way to escpe the burden of making postive changes or embracing the engineering task of improving the world.”

    To tie this all up, we all need to grow up and take responsibility for designing a better world. We can do it. Its our birthright as human beings. We are the Negative entropy of the Universe.

  12. people who attack plato usually overlook the fact that he clearly uses political and social metaphors to talk about the mind/soul/spirit.

    I’ve seen some pretty tedious arguments about “the republic” for instance, that insinuate that plato is a fascist or an aristocrat, when it’s in plain language in the first two books that he’s not talking about a literal or ideal state that actually should or could exist, but as an analogy for talking about the nature and benefit of justice in the soul of man. that fucksticks like leo strauss then proceed to construct bullshit neo-conservatism on a brutal misreading of plato is nothing short of criminal

    as for exporting entropy? it’s basically waste disposal; unloading your problems in someone else’s back yard. the social equivalent of taking a shit, which is how organisms reduce their internal entropy.

  13. So could this emotional/psychic entropy possibly be recycled? I think that psychic waste is caused more by conflicting desires, or cognitive dissonance to use a fancier phrase, and that making a firm decisions on any internal debate makes psychic energy available for further growth/movement. Or at least to a better connection to the flow of reality around you.

    In this case, the thing that you decide against is still there to be taken up by someone else, if they have a mind to. It removes any inherent permanent values from decisions, and places them in a more subjective field. This way, nothing is actually waste, it’s just not useful to you at the time.

    Knowing that waste doesn’t just go away (both physically and psychically) is an important realization to have. Just because it’s not usable for one purpose, doesn’t mean it’s not good for something else.

  14. I have to disagree on Plato–look to something like The Laws and his other later works (e.g., the Timeaus), and it’s clear that he is still trying to rectify his theory of the mind and the eidos with a political system, only he’s taken an increasingly legalistic approach. It’s not that dissimilar to Evola–he took his theory of initiation and politicized it. It is, after all, Plato who brings us the concept of the “Noble Lie” and who very may well be the king of Reification… it is hard not to see how he isn’t directly responsible for a lot of problematic thinking, like Strauss-dawg and his boys. It brings to mind Keynes’s quip that what might be helpful and moral on an individual basis rarely makes for good social policy. Like Evola, Plato is another case of babies and bathwater.

    That said, it is very clear that society as a whole is suffering from a great deal of struggle with this “freedom from/freedom to” thing… you can see this in how, e.g., Islamic fundamentalism has risen in states where material weatlh has increased dramatically, but no one quite knows what to do with it–there’s no ideals in place to harness the will to power, which just falls back on, then reifies, whatever symbolic safety net exists, because there was no planned ideal–material progress is the opposite of an ideal, it’s raw matter… this is a difficult line to walk after even twenty-five hundred years

  15. Fair enough. It’s easy to overlook that plato the writer and socrates the person whose words are being transcribed in most cases are different people, and it’s not known how much alteration was done by one to the other.

    For the most part I will back socrates will few reservations.

    the Laws comes after plato was thrown in jail after trying to reform a dictatorship,and is no doubt colored by the man himself , and the timaeus is implicitly an extension of the republic, and can be regarded in the same light.

    but yes babies, bathwater, etc… it’s probably simpler just to plant your flag with neo-platonists like proclus, plotinus and such.

  16. Leo Strauss never said Plato’s Republic was supposed to be a Blueprint for an ideal society.

    Have you read actual writings of Leo Strauss? or just commentary by others who claim to have read him? Its very common to finf people quoting Strauss second or third hand.

    Also, how does an open society take a shit? I still don’t get it. You are saying open societies shit on other societies but closed societies like Nort Korea say don’t?

    I honestly don’t get it.

  17. This doesn’t make any sense. The thermodynamics analogy must be breaking down. From what I understand open societies create negative entropy by learning things. Making order from disorder. So what is a waste product of progress?

  18. entropy is what happens when you change energy from one form to another. the conversion is never perfect, hence there is always some waste, usually in the form of heat. which is why it derives from thermo-dynamics.

    extrapolated into the larger context, it means that a sealed system tends to run down into heat death, as the energy exchanges lose more and more of the total system’s energy into waste heat, or any unusable byproduct.

    if you carried that analogy into culture, a closed society would regurgitate and hang onto the same closed system of ideas until it decayed into the most debased form possible, while an open society would, over time analize it’s content, marginalise outmoded or contradictory stances and confine them to the entropic sinks of klan meetings, holocaust denial websites, and whatnot.

    Progress inherently means that you are adopting new ideas over old ones. the old ones, and their waste products, have to go somewhere. that’s why we sell our old crap to the third world, and backward ideologies breed in economically impoverished and poorly educated enclaves.

    as for strauss, I’ve read a few passages, and a number of secondary sources. If someone wants to mount a compelling defence of leo strauss and neoconservatism, I’d be happy to hear it, but I’ll save my actual reading time for plato.

  19. Most of what people read of Strauss is actually not second hand but third hand or even fourth hand. Second hand would be reading a book where the author is examining the writings of Strauss. Most of the magazine articles are commentary on a couple books like that from left wiing writers. So all the magazine articles, Slate etc. are third hand. Then you get various bloggers commenting on the third hand stuff and you have fourth hand.

    So really to say he is a Fuckstick based on fourth hand stuff you heard is not very rigorous analysis. I’ve actually read 3 or 4 actual books by him which I own. Plus most of the fourth hand stuff is about trying to guess what decisions of the Bush administration are based on his writings,that nobody has read.

    I mean if everyone was totally familiar withy Strauss it would be hard to figure ouit in what exact ways he is influencing the white house. But basically, the Guy is dead and the connection is that a couple of his students were in the cabinet, of which two no longer are.

    So, not picking on you, but whenever anyone I encounter online goes off on Strauss 100% of the time they haven’t read him.

    As far as recent intellectuals that take Plato seriously, you don’t have a lot to choose from. You actually would probably like a lot of what Strauss had to say. He’s a very intelligent writer. Like most philosophers he adresses problems and proposes solutions. The thing with him is that you may not agree with the solutions but you might agree with the problems. I got into him because I read some books by Saul Below, then I saw Ravelstein, picked it up, realized it was about Howard Bloom, so then I read “The Closing of the American Mind” again which got me interested in Strauss, so I went right to the source.

  20. About these social analogies regarding the second law of thermodynamics.

    I think it might break down when it comes to exporting entropy. I mean do democracies like Sweden, France, the US export bad ideas to the third world, or to closed societies?

    For the analogy to make sense that would have to be the case. but do Bad ideas really have to go somewhere? They can’t just die? I mean sure they have a tendency to hang around, but I don’t think that is some law in action.

    RAW turned me onto this analogy, who got it from Karl Popper and Buckminster Fuller. I have a couple of books on order, plus I am geting into “OPen societies” by Popper. Off to a slow statrt. But I dunno.

    I need to really make sure I undersand this. Joh Robb is talking about this analogy too and he doesn’t sound like RAW or Bucky or Popper

  21. well, the analogy is imperfect when talking about ephemeral ideas, except to maybe say that developed societies require pockets of lesser development to exploit, unload surpluses upon, and such, and that this creates the social and economic backwardness that then allows outdated and counterproductive ideas to thrive. so economic and physical entropy leads to social and ideological entropy. in a system with an expanding energy supply you can hide the entropy by increasing inputs, but when energy starts to contract, as it has in net terms since the 70’s, then you have increasing pockets of entropy that have to be reckoned with.

    most of what I’ve read about strauss is second hand direct quotes from webster tarpley. and a few excerpts online. there was that documentary the power of nightmares that dealt with him extensively too. when it comes to scholarship, it isn’t always practical to go to primary sources, and it would be impossible beyond a certain point to keep doing that. “by their fruits you will know them” is often good enough for me.

  22. Well then you can say that about Plato, because the neo-cons are the only academic scholars seriously considering the Classical philsophers as being relevant. So obviously the Classical philosophers are no good because Strauss liked them and third hand I hear that Strauss developed dangerous ideas . No Need to read Plato then. I know all I need to now from people quoting other people quoting Strauss quoting Plato. 😛

    As far as the sociological implications of thermodynamics, I think when it comes to “progrss equalling negentropy” I think it makes a lot of sense, but exporing entropy I don’t think so.

    not the way you sem to be saying it. I mean for an inventor to find somthing that works he has to sell all the things that didn’t work to “backwards” people?

    Like Thomas Edison, tried 9999 ways to make a light bulb that didn’t work, so literally he found 9999 markets for non working light bulbs? That makes no sense. Computers used to take up a whole room, now they weigh a few lbs. So that means in order to have lap tops there has to be people with the huge computers still?

    Besides corporate dumping on the third world, I can’t think of any examples of exporting sociological and technological entropy.

    I googled “exporting entropy” and I can’t find anyone online talking about exporting entropy’ in a technological or sociological sense.

    What are you using as “energy” in your analogy?

  23. Ok here is an analogy from what we have been talking about right here in this thread.

    I read Strass directly as a primary source. He is a very intelligent writer. He has a great mind. Even if he was evil, I like reading things well written by great minds.

    So chances are, HIS IDEAS, translated by his most vehement critics, especially if they are people of average intelligence and erudition, would suffer entropy.

    Much is lost in the translation. Make a copy of a copy of a copy of these critiques (charicatures) of ideas and there would be a lot more entropy.

    What would be negative entropy? I think it would be a person benefiting from the good ideas of Strauss and perhaps incorporating them with good ideas of other people and through that synthesis perhaps making better sens of the world.

    So where is the exported entropy? I mean there is entropy but does that mean that for there to be people who GET Strauss, there HAS TO BE people who mischaracterize him or spread watered down versions?

    Does that mean I could create coherence out of Strauss ideas through exporting entropy? By deliberately watering down his ideas or misleading people about him?

  24. I could care less if the neo-cons happen to be the only ones who take the classics seriously, which I doubt. try googling neo-platonic philosophy while you’re at it.

    or how about this:

    the point, which you’ve evidently missed, is that scholarship can only proceed by building on itself. if i have to read and understand everything that has come before, then within a generation or two, the whole thing grinds to a halt, because you can’t read all the books that exist, even in a small field. that’s why you need good scholarship, so you can trust the opinions of people who have read things you haven’t, and cite them. If I read nietzsche and plato, then I don’t need to go to strauss to form an opinion about nietzsche or plato, and if i form an opinion of those two on my own, I don’t need to read much strauss to know when I think he’s misreading neitzsche or plato.

    in economics they usually refer to exporting entropy as ‘externalities’.

    you think that when they make new stuff, the old stuff just vanishes? your argument doesn’t hold water, because working stuff doesn’t replace non-working stuff. only stuff that already works. people without electric light use oil lamps, or fire, or like much of the world, simply go to sleep when it gets dark. which is besides the point anyway because you’re attacking an argument I didn’t actually make.

    we outsource shitty jobs and sweatshops, we put factories that spew crap in other people’s countries. surely this is not news? technological progress doesn’t come for free. if we invented a new engine that ran on water, you’d still need a tremendous amount of energy to retrofit the whole fleet of existing automobiles, and even more to simply build new ones. either way you have a huge number of outmoded engines, or whole outmoded cars. do we throw them away? garbage is a form of entropy. the energy invested in making those outmoded cars or even just the engines, is lost. if you resell the cars, you’re unloading that loss onto someone else. someone who can’t afford or can’t get the new cars, and then they eat the cost when it finally stops working.


  25. LOL! Well, all I am saying Zac, is to let your mind be an Open system and not a closed system, with re to Strauss.

    I don’t know about that “fruit” thing. Aren’t you into Evola? And I take it you realize that a lot of people into evola are dumb asses?
    You know like Facsists and stuff? White supremacists? Should I know Evola by his fruit or should I read him myself?

    Anyway I did read a smattering of him. Not sure what I think about Perenial Philosophy. Strauss wrote some stuff that was kind of a jewish version of that, bet you didn’t know that?

    Now this conversation on entropy is very enlightening! I think I am figuring it out!

    So what are the implications of this? Do there always have to be people at the top and a bunch people at the bottom until the whole thing collapses? Or can things keep getting better?

    RAW and Buckmister Fuller and Popper seemed really charged up about this negative entropy stuff. Lately everyone I have been talking too is kind of looking mostly at the down side.

    I am encouiraged about recycling. Nature recycles all the shit. My hope is that civilization will be come more like a natural system but still retain its complexity.

  26. I don’t know if I’m “into” evola so much these days, for precisely the reasons you said. there are people who cover the same ground, and are less loaded, so given the choice, I’ll stay in safer water. unless I feel like dropping half my audience, like I did over the global warming thing. which I may do, if I get bored again.

    and I don’t think you need to worry about the stone age coming back. mad max maybe, but probably more like william gibson.

  27. Well, I don’It know who William Gibson is. I get the feling I missed a joke. But I would rather work towards a Just gloabl community, than any of the various Apocalyptic scenarios.

    This is basically what motvates me:

    Bringing technologically advanced and socially humane civilization into harmony with the ecosphere, and not only that but fostering such a civilization to spread through out the World, in whatever various forms it will take.

    It seems like that was what Buckminster Fuller was after. I am aquainting myself with him. What it looks like is that he was a genius, way ahead of his time, people weren’t ready for him. Plus, he was published in a small publisher, his books went out of print.

    But a lot of people are catching up with him.

    I actually agree you about the global warming thing. I think you have been vindivacated a bit too. Lat winter was oneof the coldest on record in terms of global temps, and it wasn’t a fluke. It got many scientists to admit that global warming peaked a decade ago.

  28. So if you could Zac, one last time, help me clear this up.

    Does the act of creating negative entropy, as in making more sense of things, gaining knowledge, finding what works, achievng coherence…does that veryact produce more entropy as a waste poduct that needs to be foisted off onto others?

    Or does etropy just happen?

    More specifically does creating negative entropy create more entropy than otherwise?

    Maybe I am misuderstanding you but the way you explain it sounds almost like People should feel guilty for making sense of things and finding ways to make the world a better place.

  29. This is the third time I’ve tried to post this!

    If anyone here is interested in dream analysis the plato way, please see here:

    Scroll down to essays on dream exploration.

    Grimes argues (and I agree) that Plato’s work is 1). a system/metaphysic for direct spiritual experience, as profound if not more so than those found in the east, and 2). completely non-interpretative. No ‘dream dictionaries’ required. Philosophy is not a dead intellectual word game a la Strauss, or any other so called modern or postmodern ‘philosopher’ , but a practice with verifiable results. The Republic is a spiritual manual that uses analogy, and so although we can say Plato’s approach can be applied to politics, it is fundamentally concerned with Being (just like the Hellenes approach to arithmetic, astronomy, music, harmony, etc).

    As for Evola, I seriously do not comprehend rejecting his incredible contribution to Western spirituality on the basis of his politics. I suspect ditractors have a hard time reading his stuff – I know I do, and I’m into his work – and are left with basing an opinion on those ideas they can easily comprehend (much like the fascists who appropriate his work). The man was a member of the fascist party, yes, just like a great majority of people in Italy at the time, but he never killed, tortured or murdered anyone. He was an accomplished mystic, scholar and writer. Please, read his work and point out where his apparent fascism has infected his occult thought, because I’ve read 5 of his books so far and they’ve all been spiffing.

  30. you’re preaching to the choir when it comes to grimes and plato, but I’m sure someone will appreciate the link. I should have done myself actually:

    as for dubious political associations, in 30 years or less people who hold “mainstream” political views today will be regarded in the same moral category as the war criminals who turned iraq and afghanistan into slaughterhouses and signed off on death squads in central america for 40 years. strauss and his ilk will be regarded, rightly or no, as pretty much the same as the thule society was in regard to the nazis

    “but i didn’t know about the death sqauds!! I just attended the party convention!”

    so yeah, save the moral indignation for the genocidal war criminals you can actually do something about… rather than the safely distant targets for breathless outrage.

    but i know theo didn’t mean it that way, so he shouldn’t presume we’re picking on him.

  31. Yeah, I didn’t mean it that way. I was just using Evola as an example.

    I think a lot current things are fucked up that people will later on will think of as barbaric. One example is the horrible Muslem streotypes in “Iron man”

    I wrote on my blog that 20 years from now it will look like peope wearing blackface.

    But anyway, Alan, have you read Strauss?

    I am not really excited about his ideas anymore. But I find it hard to believe that people into Evola would think Strauss is valueless, if they read him.

    He points out a lot of interesting things. Like for example in Plato’s republic there is a type of symetry in the “unjust spech” Socrates and Thrasymachus are refelections of each other. Which makes them opposites but also alike in some ways.

    Socrates is out for wisdom, Thrasymachus just wants power and wealth. So the thing about Strauss is not that he prefers Thrasmachus to Socrates, but the the Thrasymachuses of the world have a way of leading the fuck tards of the World, the way Socrates can’t. Because Socrates would lead with wisdom and a good number of people, perhaps a majority won’t be led by wisdom.

    Another example is Socrates bitch of a wife. Obviously wisdom didn’t work on her.

    I think the most you can say of Strauss is that he was too elitist and too pessimistic about human nature. But its not like intelligent people don’t come to that same conclusion all the time.

    Basically Strauss viewed first hand about how charismatic Psychopaths have a way of gathering a huge popular following. So it may be pessimistic but that is not to say it doesn’t happen.

  32. But anyway, I am glad I read Strauss. What I think though is that its not so easy to put people in various kinds of classes. Who is totally wise? Who is totally foolish? Who is truly good and who is truly evil?The wisest person no doubt has blind spots and the dumbest person can have good ideas and expertise in some area.

    Getting past Strauss though, I think got me past being more interested in Evola. Which maybe is good.

  33. Zac: I know you’re already down with the plato/grimes thang – it was more for the commentators who hadn’t come across the platonic approach to dream work.

    Free Range Organic Human: My comments about Strauss were essentially aimed at dead Western ‘philosophy’ full stop. I cannot except any criticsm of platonic thought from people who do not understand platonism as a genuine mystical tradition, let alone having actually experienced what Plato is talking about (e.g. The Idea of the Good is not an idea in the intellectual sense, but an actual experience of the Divine Luminosity). I am familiar with Strauss, although I haven’t read his stuff. If I was really interested in neo-conservatives I like to think that I would.

  34. I already said it, but I think criticizing Plato, even harshly, is completely fair. I’d go so far as to suggest that Plato can be divided into a metaphysics and a practical philosophy and when the two meet, which is often, both are compromised. (e.g., is there one practical thing that comes out of the Symposium? Are any of the ideas in it even valid?) That’s part of the reason Nietzsche has such predictive power–he simply took much of Plato’s assumptions, and turned it on its head.

    As an aside, it’s been pointed out that the historical record shows that there were Buddhist missionary-types in Greece concurrent with Plato and his contemporaries.

    In a way, it shows up in the inverse in Uncle Crowley’s work. Much of it is a practical magician trying to come off as a philosopher and it simply fails for that reason, or, to use some of Zac’s terms, a technician trying to be a visionary.

    As far as word games, while Strauss advocated that philosophers encode their actual meaning in an exoteric text (e.g., like Gramsci, whose essays had to pass through prison guards unredacted), he can’t hold a candle to your average post-modernist or “culture studies” type. It’s worth noting that Plato–whose writing is remarkably straight-forward and readable except when he gets into astrology and Atlantis–regularly took aim at the Sophists, the grandfathers of word-games. I’d also suggest that much of the post-modernist project–the writing of which is oftentimes the very definition of obscurantism–even if your typical post-modernist would say otherwise, is to a great extent an elaborate word-game, a parlor game for the upper middle class, aping practical spiritual technology–shadows on the cave wall, indeed.

  35. Strauss didn’t get into word games. He was a political philosopher. Once again everyone seems “to know all about him” and has never read him.

    I have read the Weekly Standard in order to understand Neo conservatism and its really boring. Strauss is fun. Howard Bloom was fun. I guess I can have fun eading intelligent people that I may not agree with.

    BTW, Strauss’s take on Plato’s Republic is that Plato never thought it would work. He was showing why the perfect State can never be created.

    I am getting father into Popper’s take on Plato and its interesting. He thinks Plato was kind of yearning for the magical tribal society of the Ancient Greeks, where everyone knew their place and was loyal to the Patriartchs.

    It makes a lt of sense. It makes sense to me why people join cults or create totalitarian regimes for similar reasons. Open societies force people to be cnfronted with personal decisions. There is more abstraction, less connectedness.

  36. By word games I mean like wittgenstein. The esoteric exoteric stuff isn’t the same as this endless discussion of the problems of language.

    Politicalphilosophers can’t waste all their time on that shit. They have to come up with ways make real life decisions.

  37. My understanding is that strauss held that all important texts had a hidden or esoteric meaning that had to be transmitted privately, so in that sense, all of his works would be word games. It would make sense if he didn’t explicitly write that into his books though.

    I’m still not entirely convinced that socrates is meant to be applied to politics except in the most abstract sense. plato, maybe more so. and not being able to separate them is maybe damaging to both. the whole thrust of platonic idealism is that reality is composed of model-copy relationships, and that any attempt to model the real world on anything other than the idea of the good is utterly flawed. so I think you have to read any practical political philosophy in plato/socrates in that light. it’s so extreme and perfectionist, you might as well forget it, which is pretty much what he said.

    the symposium is, so far as I can tell, about how beauty and the love that springs out of it, is the driving force in the platonic evolution of the soul. all paeans to boy-loving and whatnot are another low level analogy. what drives the soul from image thinking, to understanding to the most brilliant light of being, etc, is beauty. the soul gravitates toward what is beautiful, and so as your idea evolves, so does it bring you soul along.

  38. Well, you are an intelligent person Zac. Not being patronizing just stating a fact. Most of the “esoteric” stuff Strauss wrote is basically available to any intelligent person with a philosophical bent reading him, and unavailabe to people without those qualities.

    I also get the impression that it unavailable to people like W.

    I’ll have to check out the symposium. I did see a clip a while back, maybe from you, about a professor talking about Plato in a spiritual sense. Was that something you posted here? I did like that.

    The Problem Popper has with him, whether he takes him too seriously or not, is that once you make an accurate copy of the form, as accurate a copy as you can make , all change is entropy and entropy increases the more it changes.

    There is no room for progress. My sense is that probably perfection does exist somewhere in the ether but the best way to bring it to earth involves some type of stochastic procss like trial and error.

    I am skeptical of people whom make claims to having the tuth with a capital T outside of subjective experience. When they then seek to attach a program to this Truth I get more suspicious.

  39. I think that the only way to get close to Truth with a capitol T is through subjective experience, that it can’t be reached any other way, although it can be shared with others after it is reached.

    And also, that as you comprehend it and share it, it changes, or at least it’s way of being understood/expressed changes. I think that Truth itself is a stochastic process, that when change happens to a copy of an ideal form, it is not necessarily entropic because Truth itself changes. That’s why programs never really work, especially the more detailed ones. Programs generally don’t allow for change,

    You make an as-accurate-as-possible copy of the form, and then the form chages (or maybe you just grasp a further aspect of the form). And so then you have to make a even more accurate copy, and then the form changes again, and so on and so forth. In this sense, you are downloading the information of that form into life, you are giving birth to the form through your work you are doing. This is why awareness practice is so helpful, because it allows you to perceive the growth/change of the forms more quickly and accurately.

    A simple metaphor would be rocks in a river trying to describe describe the water flowing over them. Don’t focus on the water molecules.

    But then, I haven’t read much Plato, maybe I am out of my depth here… Were Plato’s forms fixed things of which we could only hope to create ever more accurate copies, or were the forms themselves capable of change?

  40. no. the whole point of the platonic form is that is an perfect unchanging thing-in-itself. if it is perfect, any change can only be a deviation. lesser realities only partake of it in a limited way.

    it’s easy to get confused because something like the-good-in-itself has no qualities or attributes that can described except goodness. anything other than that is a deviation. so a lot can happen in the translation from the form to it’s copy in the world.

    popper would be missing the point in thinking that perfection only leaves room for degeneration. you will never achieve the perfection. it’s impossible. you can only achieve better and better copies. that’s why plato sounds fascist when he describes the perfect state. you’re imagining flawed human beings with flawed motivations living in a perfect model of society. the only people who could live in the perfect society are perfect people with perfect internal models of the good. it’s beyond idealistic or Utopian. it’s simply not possible and trying to critique it as if it were talking about a reality that someone is going to live in is pointless.

    so to tie it back in, human being do have negative entropy function, because we have to strive to build ever more perfect approximations of the good to counteract the entropic process of copies of copies of copies that become increasingly degraded.

    most of what plato talks about is how people have no idea what ‘good’ or ‘ justice’ is, so all they can do is copy what someone else is doing, who were themselves copying someone, who ten or twenty times removed might have had an experience of the good-in-itself. this is where the problems in society come from: everyone is aping the appearance of goodness or justice rather than striving for the experience of the thing in itself.

  41. Thanks for clearing that up Zac, I think that’s a good summation of things. When people are aping others, they are no longer creating negative entropy.

    You sort of say it yourself, more or less, that they are removing themselves from having any actual experiance of good-in-itself.

    By aping others, they are moving from an open society to a closed society. Perhaps this is where Plato meets with Popper, although I’m not sure Popper would see it that way…

  42. Well, based on the number of comments you’ve received here Zac, I’d say it’s about time to can the podcasts and go back to writing.

  43. all you have to do is put out a bunch of random thoughts with little context and no particular through line, and any smart person will trip over themselves to take issue with it. I’m not sure that’s a sign of quality writing.

  44. I won’t disagree with you there. I just remember hearing in one of your older podcasts that you wanted to increase your traffic to this site. I think the act of writing, even if the thoughts are a bit random, usually ends up bearing some sort of intelligible structure. Whereas, with a podcast, one is forced to spend a large amount of time passively listening to something that, in all likelihood, will be less structured and harder to return to and analyze.

    Just some friendly advice, because I think you’re somebody with great ideas that as many people as possible need to read and consider. In my view, you’re much more likely to reach them through writing than with podcasts.

  45. “smart person” or smart ass? 😛

    Seriously though, this has been fun. BTW, I think Platos Republic would make a good sci-fi novel.

    It would be kind of like brave new world with all the caste memberes being differentiated through genetic engineering. Kind of like “brave Nerw World”

    I think the Upper caste will be a secret. Secretly its a commputer AI, directing the upper Caste, through”the good”

  46. Zac,

    I’m giving you a hard time in a tongue and cheek kind of way, but also I actually did think of this is as a science fiction novel. I have 50 pages of notes on it. I am not lying to you.

    But I took a long walk this morning and I was thinking about this whole neotony thing. Here is what IU think it is zac, to be a man in this world as opposed to a permanent neonate, you have to cut out on your own.

    Think about this. We are all domestic primates. But studying chimps will only get us so far. We became humans when we headed out into the grassland. I think we can learn more about early human social behavior by studying not chimps but lions.

    Now how does a male lion grow up? He has to leave the pride and start one of his own. Its sink or swim. Most die. Most males don’t last long. The females on the otherhand get to stay in the pride. Because of this all long term and persistent institutions tend to take on stiflingly female energy.

    Think about it. Achieving Status by cutting out on your own is not the same as achieving status by staying in the group. Improving status like women do is through political intrigue. Its like a reality show. You get ahead by being two faced to your peers and by sycophantically impressing the authorities.

    That is what school is like! That is what working your way up in a corporation is like!

    Being an entrapreneur is not like that! Its hard to be a self made man.

    I think Plato’s solution was to create permanent caste systems. But it doesn’t work. Some pirate can always come along and overthrow you.

    Men are expendable Zac. Sad but true.

  47. If you want to start a debate with each other on power, misogyny and gender relations, do it on your own site, please, or on the person’s whose comment it was. I’m presuming he’d be more than happy to entertain it there. I’m not excusing what was just said, I just don’t think this is the place and time to pursue it.

  48. OK zac,

    But said in as respectful and non-controversial way as possible. The Flip side of Pyramidal hierarchical structues often called “Patriarchy” is that when you have just a handful of alpha males controling a bunch of people, the people farther down on the pyramid are less able to express masculine energy.

    Its like this: Familiy Farms, small bussinesses all require adults to be in charge. Big corporations, governmernt institutions that employ large numbers of people, all seem to infantilize people. I would even go farther and sy it feminizes the men.

    I think internally these institutions take on a malignantly female energy. A “nurse Ratched” type energy.

  49. Hello Zac,

    I came across your site while looking up something of Pierre’s. I wanted you to know that there is a workshop in Big Sur that he will be giving if you are interested. It will be next month. I went last year and it was amazing. It is at Esalen and you can find out more on their website.
    good luck with all of your investigations!
    take care,

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