29 July 2011

I need someone to hold me while I wait for something more

Faith is necessary. The object of faith is irrelevant. It is the power of the faith itself - the overriding of all the "what ifs" thrown up by the intellect and the ego - which makes the impossible possible. The idol is made by the genuflector, not the craftsman. This is why all initiatory paths which have real power call for total devotion to the Ideal or to a particular Master who embodies the ideal. (The truly enlightened never claim to have spooky powers, but sometimes the disciples will tell stories about the Master's spooky powers. This is a sign of their faith which is not discouraged by a true Master.)

(ETA: There's a wonderful piece in the Doctor Who story The Curse of Fenris. For those who haven't seen it: it's World War Two and the Doctor et al are fighting vampires, for some reason, and of course a traditional way to fight off vamps is with a crucifix. A Red Army soldier who happens to be with them protests that he doesn't believe in Christianity; the Doctor asks him: "What do you believe in?" and he answers "I believe in the Revolution". So - get this - he takes the hammer-and-sickle badge off his cap and fights the vampires off with that. Even faith in the cynical bureaucratic murderer Joe Stalin can move mountains.)

For all we have criticised the Leninist sects, you must admit that their belief system gives them incredible powers to face ridicule, to stand on street corners selling badly-xeroxed papers, etc., for an entire lifetime. The problem with some of them is that they don't teach "loving-kindness", or in other words, integrity - instead they have a half-assed belief in "Bolshevik ethics" which, in practice, boils down to the same kind of Might = Right nonsense that we rightly despise when we hear it coming from the fascists (and would make Trotsky spin in his grave). The problem with others is that they've given up actually changing things in the Big World and have become nothing but a substitute religion.

But are we to say that they have no right to exist or to participate in the movement - that they would be better off individually giving up and getting some bourgeois job? Surely they can be annoying, but is that a problem with them or a problem with us? I'm reminded of secular atheists who curse religious believers for "relying on a crutch". The implication is that secular atheists are both ethically and psychologically superior. But what do they do with that superiority? (Can someone point me to hospitals, schools, charity drives etc. started by humanist organisations? I'm sure there are some.)

"Atheism" and "secularism" are both negatives - no religion - but why do you stay alive in the absence of any metaphysical meaning? Is the answer nothing but "pure hedonism" - or, more likely, "live the capitalist dream, earn money to buy leisure commodities, have a good time, then die?" Many people would rather stay in a cult than accept a lifetime of nothing more than psychic masturbation. As Seven of Nine put it before she was reverse-assimilated, "WE DO NOT WANT TO BE LIKE YOU".

The point is: don't be so quick to tear down someone else's faith before examining your own. And yes, you have one, even if it's not in God. I am increasingly thinking Fripp was right when he said "any act based on principle is a good one".

28 July 2011

Physician, heal thyself

I'm embarrassed to have to admit how much of everything I've done in this lifetime - up to and including writing this blog - has been in the service of a story I was telling myself in which I had to train to become a PERFECT GENIUS SUPERHERO - Noam Chomsky crossed with Frank Zappa crossed with Xena Warrior Princess - or my life would be a complete waste of time. That the world was doomed if I didn't hone my gifts and skills to be able to save it.

Wow, it sounds far less convincing outside my head. And then I come on here and rant about "don't get trapped by identities" and "don't let fantasy be the enemy of making something happen right here right now". I think the word we're looking for is "facepalm". Robert Fripp says that the course he was on at Sherborne House in 1975 was full of people who thought something very similar, and the purpose of the course was to beat that out of them.

25 July 2011

Anonymous: CM prophecy confirmed accurate

"Was Project Chanology for the Intarwebz what May 1968 was for French students?" I asked almost precisely two years ago. The answer appears to be "yes". We now live in an era where Anon is taking on governments, the FBI and major corporations, appears to be actively thriving on persecutions and arrests, and is reported as serious news in the mainstream press. This article from around the same time, suggesting that Anonymous had reached its limits because it could not possibly find a more ideal target than Scientology, is laughable in retrospect - obviously the author couldn't imagine them actually going after the Pentagon or the FBI. (But perhaps it was only the intervention of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange which made that possible.)

Also of note is that Anonymous is a "meme", like al-Qaeda or radical right-wing resistance, so nailing individual participants can't stop the signal. The media have never gotten this - they keep going on about "members of Anonymous" being arrested. Newsflash, guys, a "member of Anonymous" is anyone who does anything under the Anon or associated banners. The Clams' "tech" for dealing with enemies is to nail their leaders personally, but Anon has gone past the individual. This is of course what all radical movements should be doing; however, I think we're still addicted to the "leader / Central Committee" structure, which evolved in the case of a Tsarist police state when the telegraph was the cutting edge of information technology. Networked resistance is the next step. Don't let the 4chan crowd or the fascists out-innovate us.

In other death news...

... so what do you think of the argument that "the price of genius is a tortured mind, and more often than not an early death"? I don't 100% buy it. It makes as much sense as arguing that being gay is unhealthy because it makes you want to kill yourself. No, homophobic culture makes you want to kill yourself, and I suggest we live in a creativity-phobic culture.

What is happening is we live in a culture where inspiration is either bullied out of you or commodified. They'll try to destroy you unless you become useful for their agenda, in which case they'll turn you into a brand and a cash cow, which will also destroy you, just with a higher budget. The article also lets off the hook the fact that the music industry has been known to actively encourage drug addiction among its artists because that's a very effect mechanism of control. It used to be quite common in the 80's for club owners in the USA to offer to pay musicians in cocaine.

Robert Fripp knows all about this because he's one of the few people who have been successful enough to be tempted by the Great Deceiver and lived to tell the tale. Of course, he also suggests that truly great artists are channeling a source of power which just burns their human personality away. Was Ms Winehouse a truly great artist? Even a pivotal figure for her generation like Courtney Love's husband? I don't know, never actually heard her work, perhaps you can fill me in in the comments.


No to fascism.
No to race-hatred.
No to Islamophobia and other religion-hatred.
No to the belief that "words don't have consequences" and that therefore free speech comes with no responsibilities.
No to allowing memes of hatred to survive unchallenged in our media and in our conversation.

If there's one thing that you yes YOU can do without getting out from in front of your internet connection, it's to slap down anyone who tries to make Muslims, non-whites, queers or leftists "the Other" who have no rights. (But try to do that without just unleashing hatred against Christians, atheists, conservatives or people who haven't read as many books as you. The "arty queers vs. rednecks" thing is a false dichotomy to stop us embracing the true diversity of our culture and forging unity in that diversity. Ideas are the enemy, not those who hold them.)

ETA: Amanda Knudsen in Norway writes: "I understand that people just want to show solidarity with those killed in the fascist massacre on ut√łya and in oslo, but please, understand that using the norwegian flag is not an appropriate symbol for this. Our response to the nationalist nazi violence must be openness and internationalism, not to support the nation borders that divide us."

24 July 2011

I was asked to tell you this:

You can't achieve holiness, enlightenment, transcendence, self-actualisation or become a Good Person by following a set of rules. (So screw religious fundamentalism and its political equivalent, "programme fetishism".) Religions, codes of ethics and ready-made schemas are, at best, good for keeping you out of trouble, or baking a fine cake. But everything that's actually valuable about being a human being on this planet comes from pure, inner inspiration - "the disciple's infidelity is the master's faith". And to be able to bring that into the real world requires (a) TRUST that what comes out of "the real you" not only can be unleashed on the world but should be, because it comes from God / The Better Place / Universe A; (b) DISCIPLINE to stop your learned habits of behaviour, your ego, all the little things you to do to fit in and survive in the World-As-Is interfering what what can be done to make The World-As-Could-Be a real thing, here and now.

And, of course, "you" don't really exist. You are a crystallisation of Humanity, which is a crystalisation of Nature, which is a crystallisation of the Universe, which the theists among us would argue is an emanation of God. You can only realise that when you get to the point where the survival of your biological entity and its privileges among the particular primate troop you belong to are no longer the only motivating forces behind your behaviour. Screw Ayn Rand - altruism is what brings light into the world, the compulsion to give, the sheer joy of "I was a hidden treasure and desired to be known" - although selfishness is necessary in the World-As-Is to be able to promote that light against the conservatism of the primate mind. Acting from the communal interest of the society you live in in the first step, and - as Marx put it - only when we overcome the contradiction between the self's desires and the needs of the species and of the society the species has created for itself will we be truly free.

Let us be clear, though - as the "true self" grows and strengthens, so does the ego / nafs. It's not a zero-sum game. As previously mentioned, the nafs is a booster rocket, and you cannot get rid of it and survive in this world, nor should you try to. But, if your goal is to bring light into the world, you do need to (a) get in touch with your "higher nature", the part of you which does act from somewhere other than selfishness and inertia, heredity and environment; (b) resolve the contradiction between that and your nafs, so that the donkey ends up pulling the cart rather than just kicking you all the time. The really tricky thing is that the nafs is so excellent at fooling you that you are acting from a higher spiritual goal, when really you're just reiterating stupid primate dominance games or acting from scripts your parents or teachers implanted in you. (This is easily observable by the presence of hypocrisy - manipulative, cruel, grasping religious preachers, or political activists who'd rather keep control of a cult than lose control of a mass movement.) Learning to tell the difference really is a thousand miles of broken glass on your hands and knees.

And in the meantime it means that you do miss out on the Valuable Cash Prizes that the culture or your particular subculture offer you - you will not be popular if you're doing something right, let's put it that way. So very very many of us who set out to change the world or do magick end up just settling for a well-paid gig in the heart of the beast, the kind of gig in which we get a longer leash than the other wage slaves so we can pretend we're free, in return for closing our eyes to the misery and blindness we've bought into. Failing that, being a cult leader is at least some kind of identity. But the need to "have an identity", have a social role, is as much a trap as the need for money. Always best, I think, to have an active social life which has nothing to do with your political or religious or social mission, so you don't turn your mission into your social life, which means your nafs just ruining everything.

Chaos Marxism is anti-fascist

... to the point where we have been traduced by name in the pamphlets of the extreme Right. However, since fascism / conservative revolutionism / radical traditionalism / radical Rightism is self-confessedly in love with the irrational, they often have a strong appeal to those who have become disgusted with the instrumental rationalism (coupled with gross superstition) of late capitalism. This blog is a damn fine attempt to track exactly how they attempt to normalise their foul politics in artistic subcultures which do take the subconscious, the subaltern, the Other seriously. What we are trying to do is to recuperate the unconscious and the irrational for a political project of liberation; to mutually strengthen the rational, not destroy it.

21 July 2011

I am an authoritative source!

Fresh from one of our regularly scheduled autogooglestalks: first came Cramulus' Primer, and now this blog is being discussed as source material for an e-course and referenced in academic essays in Austria. A bit surprising, a lot flattering, and perhaps a satisfactory return for going on five years of thinking outloud.

20 July 2011

Slowly, slowly

Insight on how the financial question is not only a political question, but a spiritual one (emphases added):

Fashioning coin banks out of bamboo, she asked her lay followers to drop a NT 50 cent coin into the bamboo bank everyday before going to the market. "Why not simply donate NT$15 each month?" one follower asked. The amount was the same in dollars, Dharma Master Cheng Yen replied, but very different in spirit. Dharma Master Cheng Yen wanted each person to think of helping others every day, not just one day each month.

I was also urged to get with the programme, learn how to use the internet, and sign up to alternatives to Paypal. In part, this was to facilitate regular small payments - which I have to admit would be extremely useful - and in part to allow Paypal boycotters to spare me a dime. One of the systems I was urged to try out was Flattr.

...with this alchemy change the copper of the heart into gold, slowly, slowly.

And there came a certain poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. And calling his disciples together, he saith to them: Amen I say to you, this poor widow hath cast in more than all they who have cast into the treasury.

18 July 2011

A vital question for those on a mission

Would you rather be a hero, and everyone think you're a villain; or be a villain, and everyone think you're a hero?

01 July 2011

Ooh, this is good.

Some of my best friends are Gnostics, and this, mutatis mutandis, works for any initiatory path, I think. I think I'm personally still working through stage 3. You do have to make compromises with the Prince of This World to be able to survive in this world long enough to change this world. Perhaps the most important thing - which I don't think I ever truly understood until a couple of days ago - is that the game cannot corrupt you if you remember that it's a game.

I, personally, a long time ago (perhaps age 6) started playing a game called PRIDE/SHAME. The object of the game is to see whether you can get everyone in the world to give you uncritically positive attention. This is a game that any human is designed to lose, but playing the game is a way to be able to participate in the world if you're convinced that what you really are is worthless and rejected by God and everything on the earth. And I played the game for so long I thought it was my personality. I still do if I don't keep up my work of "remembering". It's an addiction and it's like sleepwalking at the same time. It's so much easier.