18 May 2010

No, not Disneyland

During my early adolescence - 13 to 15 - I started having what you might consider "mystical experiences". I can explain this no better than to say that the veil of reality would slip aside occasionally, and I would see - or thought I was - glimpses of another, better world, where everything really was all right. It was this kind of thing that led me to a short dalliance with a Baptist youth group, and a long one with neo-Paganism. More importantly, since they happened at about the same time I was discovering rock music and electronic pop, the Gates of Paradise have always been associated for me with certain artists (one particular artist who mentioned Gurdjieff and the Sufis quite a lot in her early work), and my career path as a musician was more or less settled. Is it also a coincidence that I first became politically active around this time?

It's often said that the "psychic centres", or whatever, kick in at around adolesence (something to do with hormones, I suppose) - which is why poltergeist activity is associated with teenagers. But to a large extent, these brief "openings" were more trouble than they were worth. The Gates of Paradise had closed by the time I was about 16, and I spent ten years blundering about in the dark wondering how the devil I was going to get back there. One might also say that it might have been better never to have a glimpse of the garden, if I was going to be satisfied with life in the basement. It was only after some major life changes that I began to experience anything like that again - about 2001, I think it must have been. Coincidence, that it was at this time that I became politically active again, and made the first steps towards a practical musical career?

As a wise mystic said, when you're up to your ass in alligators it's difficult to remember that you went in to drain the swamp, and I've been up to my ass in alligators much of my life, due to Harrowing Childhood issues which I won't bore you with. My Daily Self - or nafs - endlessly replays the terrible things that happened to me in my childhood and adolescence, trying to give the story a better ending this time. This Doloras is almost pathologically determined not to live in the here-and-now, where actions have consequences and what's done can't be undone. But if I can't do that, I won't be ready the next time the Gates of Paradise open.

I like the idea that "nothing is ever forgotten", that I never lost anything in growing up, that the Magickal Kingdom is here and now always hiding behind every molecule if you know what to look for, that I had to grow up and suffer to learn how to integrate that world with this one of Horrible Jobs. That the magick becomes real when I get my music right; that if I "remember myself" I can finally cease my eternal battle with imaginary things; and that by acting in the name of solidarity and compassion in this $2.99 material world - through socialist activism, spiritual psychology and radical cultural-materialist praxis - I can be part of a current which will change the world to one where people are less lost and afraid and hurt and cold and angry and mean. And then I forget it again, and that's how I get lost and depressed.

"We shall not cease from exploration / And at the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know it for the first time" - T S Eliot.

13 May 2010

Typical left-wing hate-trips

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've been depressed.

Those in the know will recognize the subject line of this post as coming from Illuminatus! Now, I thought it was unfair when I read it, because we all know that both the libertarian and the fascistic Right can get some pretty impressive hate-trips on. But the question is: exactly how far does hate and anger get us, politically speaking? (I am inspired to write this by watching all the British Liberal Democrat communities being filled with angry ragequitting posts.)

Anger and hate are, simply, like fire. Fire is very very good for clearing out what needs to be destroyed. But if you don't build something in its place, then what are you doing? Just opening the space for someone with a clearer vision to take advantage of your good work.

Now, I have no tolerance for "lesser evilism", "the left-wing of the possible", all that sell-out nonsense - the political equivalent of "if I can't be a rockstar or a cowboy, I'll be a damn fine junior ad exec". It was kind of lame watching apparent leftists meekly troop in behind Al Gore in 2000, and even lamer watching them do the same for Gordon Brown in the last month or so. (Disclaimer: I was kind of hoping for a hung parliament because it would be funny to watch, and I think I was proved right.) I don't care how much hatred you have for Tories (or how justified it is), you can't fight a negative with a negative, and giving your energy to the acceptable face of the enemy is self-defeating.

But if that's the downfall of the liberal left, I'm no more in favour of the accepted consensus on the radical left - to build forces around nothing more than opposition to "whatever those bourgeois pig-dogs are proposing this week". Of course implacable opposition, rioting, etc are fun and all. But what does it accomplish, if not tempered with a positive? An organisation or movement which is all NO and no YES isn't a political organisation. It's an excuse for having a good time, for letting off steam... no threat to the existing order at all. Easily recuperated. Scenes in Greece are uncomfortably similar to those in Tonga in late 2006, and that didn't end well.

This is why you need a political programme, rather than just a huge list of "Fight Back! Against! No! Overthrow!" - or a "put a clothespeg on your nose and vote Labor/(Social or Liberal) Democrat". But not just any programme - a transitional programme which can be enacted in the here and now, under the current rules of the game, and at the same time undermines the very rules of the game.

(Psychologically, it should barely need explaining that indulging the purely negative parts of the psyche is not healthy. At the risk of sounding ridiculous, revolutionaries - just like Sufis or radical Christians - are motivated by great feelings of love, which is the ultimate positive in the psychic level. We need to get over the feeling of being addicted to "the struggle" - of not actually wanting the Revolution, or the immanentization of the Eschaton, because fighting The Man is a fun lifestyle and we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves if we had whatever we wanted.)

If we as political radicals, gnostics/mystics/magickians and whatever are in it to actually change the rules of the game - rather than just win the game by whatever means necessary - then the question of the deep interaction of means and ends comes to mind, which means what Robert Anton Wilson meant by "bisociation" or T. S. Eliot meant by "the timeless intersecting with time". In our political practice we have to bring the Revolution / Eschaton into active existence in the Real World of Horrible Jobs. That doesn't mean pretending you can live in a different world here and now - but opening a door to that different world while still living in the here and now.


The ongoing mission of this blog is to find a form of words in which the Greater Jihad of struggle over the Ego can be expressed in exactly the same terms as the Lesser Jihad over ignorance, injustice and oppression in the material world.