Friday, February 01, 2013

Magic = Spirit x Birth²

A gnote of order before we begin: in discussing this letter -- and the whole book, really -- I will be "attempting" to demonstrate its meaning -- and the meaning of its meaning -- in real timelessness. Yes, the old Raccoon Promise: eternity while you wait! (Or double your lousy karma back.)

I place "attempting" in scare quotes, because one of the central points of this first letter is that no such attempt is possible. For one cannot try to play. There is no such thing as compulsory spontaneity. Except maybe at an Obama rally.

Really, the best I can do is to simply give up and find out, with the rest of you pslackers, where the windbag blows, because I sure don't know.

Nor do I have any authority, if that's what you're thinking! (And only a troll would think that.) To the extent that "authority" becomes present, I can assure that it's not coming from me. However, that doesn't mean the authority isn't fully real, if you catch his draft.

Thus, Letter I, the Magician, begins with the following well known crack by this mysterious master named Jesus: "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you have no idea where it comes from and not a clue where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

What is the context of this puzzling statement, and what does it have to do with the Magician? Jesus has just explained that seeing what he calls the "kingdom of heaven" requires undergoing a "second birth," this one of spirit, not of water.

Now -- little sidebore here -- the further back in history we travel, the more concretely and palpably words such as pneuma, psyche, and nous are understood. In his classic The Discovery of the Mind, Snell writes that psyche, for example, is "the force that keeps the human being alive" and "forsakes man at the moment of death" (d'oh!). It is "breathed forth" and exits through the mouth or through a wound.

Likewise, nous may often "simply be translated as 'to see.'" Thus, Homer can say that the nous of a god such as Zeus "is ever stronger than that of men," which implies that it -- the divine intellect -- is a kind of "mental eye which exercises an unclouded vision."

More generally, Snell makes the important point that, instead of translating Homer to contemporary English, we really need to translate our own speech -- and by implication, our own way of thinking -- into the language and thought of antiquity.

The same holds true of biblical language, for when Jesus uses a word such as "wind" it has a palpable link to spirit and soul (breath). We don't know -- nor does anyone else -- where thoughts come from and where they blow.

So, as to how the Master knows these things -- i.e., the source of his mysterious authority -- he says that he simply speaks of what he knows and describes what he sees. You might say that the kingdom of heaven is what the awakened or illuminated intellect (nous) sees; or, this dimension called heaven "comes into view" with the second birth. There is no need to strictly define it before the birth, any more than you want to plan your child's life before you even meet him.

Spirit, birth², authority, heaven, intellectual vision. I guess we'll have to get to the end of the chapter to fully understand how these relate to the Magician, but in any event, Tomberg says that Jesus's words here are the key to opening this image, and that this image is the key to all the others. To put it inversely, the meaning of this image -- and of all the others -- is closed to the onceborn.

Tomberg says that the purpose of the arcana is to awaken the deeper layers of the soul. The image that immediately blows into my mind is the earth's atmosphere. Herebelow the air is usually pretty stable, punctuated by breezes and zephyrs, with the occasional hurricane or tornado thrown in.

But this is just an illusion, because not too far overhead we have the howling vortex of the jet stream blowing wherever the hell it wants to, and there's not enough xanax in the world to stop it.

Tomberg points out that the arcana are not just allegories, but authentic symbols. An allegory is a figurative and concrete representation of an abstract notion, and therefore involves the opposite of the cognitive movement Snell describes above. In other words, we want to go from abstract to concrete, not the other way around.

An authentic symbol, on the other hand, will simultaneously "conceal and reveal" (what I call "reveil") its essence, depending upon the depth of vision. (Remember Jesus's statement that he is simply describing what he sees, and the etymological link between sight and nous.)

So none of this is "secret." Or, to be perfectly accurate, it is an "open secret," but a secret that protects itself. The image comes to mind of a hybrid CD, in which one layer has the standard CD encoding, while a deeper layer contains the SACD encoding. A standard machine will read the CD layer, but know nothing of the SACD layer. It's there, of course, but for the standard player it may as well not exist.

You playa's out there may want to give that some thought, because there's a whole world of highdef information you're missing out on.

Now these highdef secrets are not "out there," so to speak, but rather, they inhere in here. This "kingdom of heaven" is within, don't you know.

However, it's like a field or a womb, a kind of generative matrix. And, just like a field or a womb, it needs to be fertilized. Yes, things grow in there, but not unless we become fertile. No fertility, no harvest, no bread, no eat. Again, very concrete, not abstract at all.

Assuming fertility, in order to conceive we will need a seed, a ferment, an enzyme, a catalyst, some yeast. Little help, please! The presence of these will stimulate our "spiritual and psychic life." Bearing in mind those literal meanings, they should make the windbelow a little more gnosisable.

Fertility should lead to birth. But that's not the end of it. Rather, as you parents out there realize, it's only the beginning. Furthermore, birth -- and prior to that, conception -- is the quintessential mystery, isn't it? And we are of course speaking both literally and literally, i.e., of both persons and of spiritual ideas (and their consequences!).

Again, spiritual ideas don't just come from nowhere. Rather, like people, they come from somewhere, we just don't know where. What we do know is that in both cases we need fertility (preconception), fertilization (conception), birth (concept), and nurturing (growth).

For Tomberg there is only one Mystery. We shall call this Mystery O for short. When our light strikes O, it breaks out into a rainbow-like prism, and this indeed is our proper prismhouse with all those mansions.

This prismhouse contains all the slackraments needed for further growth into and toward O. Each slackrament is a color in the heavenly reignbelow, and each color has virtually infinite shades.

I don't know why, but I am always entranced by this palette of colors, and our freakish ability to make these tiny distinctions in the realm of light.

Look at the many types of blues, for example. I remember Willie Dixon saying that you can get one type of blues from your girlfriend leaving, another kind when she comes back. One kind from being unemployed, another kind from having a job. You cry when you're born, but dying is no picnic either. That's just how it is down here in this world of fluctuation and enigma.

Well, we really didn't get too far today, did we? Oh well. You know what they say about the wind.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Brief Message from Beyond the Grave

I don't have much time for a post this morning, so let's get right into it. The foreword to Meditations on the Tarot (and you may want to snap up one of those cheap used copies before they're gone) begins with a letter personally addressed to you, the Unknown Friend for whom the book is written, and through which you will acquire "definite knowledge" of Christian Hermeticism.

This is part of the book's charm, since it's a little like the wisest man you've ever met telling you all he knows about the deepest things. Moreover, the author "has said more about himself in these Letters than he would have been able to in any other way." No, not just via the content, but, as we shall see, via his incarnation right before your three eyes.

And what is Christian Hermeticism? It is none other than the venerable Raccoon tradition through which we unite "a spirit of free research with one of respect for the tradition." In this regard it is very much like jazz, which again requires the strictest adherence to musical principles in order to freely and spontaneously explore musical space, or the phase space of musical possibility.

The author says that his purpose is to "incarnate" into the above tradition by becoming "an organic part of it." This is indeed a key principle, not just for this book but for Christianity as such. After all, what are the key principles of Christianity? One is obviously incarnation, the principle whereby the ultimate Principle takes on human flesh.

Therefore, the "imitation of Christ" is more than just an exterior sort of impersonation. Again, think of a musical analogy. One could imitate, say, John Coltrane, and play a note-for-note copy of A Love Supreme. But in another sense, that would be the exact opposite of imitation, because Coltrane didn't copy anyone, and never played the same way twice. Therefore, a more profound imitation of 'Trane would involve the incarnation of his total approach to music.

Can we usefully apply this analogy to spirit? I think so, so long as we truly respect the tradition, and "play" within its rules and boundaries. Tomberg's purpose is to immerse himself in this "millennial-old current of thought, effort, and revelation," so as to help you do the same: to embody the tradition, not just "think" about or imitate it. To the extent that the book contains a lot of spiritual know-how, its real purpose is to facilitate spiritual be-who.

Another important principle to bear in mind involves the verticality and horizontality of Tradition. Revelation is a quintessentially (↓) phenomenon, but it does not, and cannot, remain there.

Rather, it is "received" by human receptacles, who are not angels but men living in this world. Our task, as it were, is to prolong the vertical message forward (→) into time, history, and culture. Indeed this horizontal prolongation is the very essence of Tradition.

However, at the same time, (→) must never be detached from (↓). This occasionally -- okay, more than occasionally -- happens, and when it does, the message is drained of its transformative and otherworldly power. The Word is reduced to mere words, or pneumababble, and becomes more meaningless than profane language, which is at least still connected to its object.

The solution to this problem is again incarnation. When Tomberg refers to various "masters of the tradition," he doesn't do so in order to impress you with his erudition, but so "they may be present with their impulses of aspiration and their light of thought." In other words, it's not about their words per se, except insofar as the words make the reality they symbolize present.

This reality involves light and aspiration. The former is "free" but the latter will cost you. We -- that is, I -- symbolize aspiration as (↑), whereas the light is a manifestation of (↓).

Right here you can see that we totally avoid the pseudo-conflict between grace and free will, because our task is to freely coupperate with grace in the divine spiral of (↑↓). It is through this spiral that we assimilate so as to incarnate, if that makes sense to you.

The (↑↓) is also the essence of what we call verticalesthenics and gymgnostics. As Tomberg says, the book comes down to "twenty-two spiritual exercises, by means of which you, dear Unknown Friend, will immerse yourself in the current of the living tradition, and thus enter into the community of spirits who have served it and who are still serving it."

In short, this is your esoteric bar mitzvah and baptism, through which you jump into the stream of living waters in order to bring it down and carry it forward. And in order to keep it, you must give it away. But only to the sincere and the qualified. The insincere and unqualified will just make a mess of it.

As an upright and tumescent member of the Mystic Circle of Cosmic Raccoons, you do not internalize a doctrine but I-AMbody "an invisible community of spirits" that persists "from age to age," and will shadow the visible Church until further gnosis. Offer void in academia.

There remains nothing more to say in this introduction to the Letter-Meditations on the Tarot, because all other questions concerning them will find a response in the Letters themselves.

Your friend greets you, dear Unknown Friend, from beyond the grave.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yeah, I'm Totally Useless. What's Your Point?

In an interview, Schuon was asked about the distinctions between philosophy, religion, and metaphysics.

Philosophy, of course, "operates only with reason, hence with logical assumptions and conclusions." The trick is that its effectiveness is contingent upon starting with correct premises (or first principles), which philosophy itself cannot furnish.

For that you'll need the uncommon gift of common sense. Thus the old saying, "garbage in, tenure out." Which simply means that if you don't start with reality, your philosophy can never reach it.

For it is written: from bullshit you are, and to bullshit you shall return.

Religion adds several dimensions to the picture, including revelation, grace, wisdom, and salvation. You might say that it provides man with fixed premises that he himself could never have arrived at without supernatural assistance -- say, Torah, or Exodus, or I AM, or Incarnation, or Person, or Trinity, or Resurrection, or Judgment.

Schuon highlights another important purpose of religion, which the modern secular world has, by definition, forgotten: "to establish a realistic social dimension."

It is a truism that the left's secular vision is unrealistic and unworkable in the real world, but people usually focus on the economic pathologies, e.g., krugmania, marxophrenia, obamanoia, etc. But these are all just fancy euphemisms for being broke and not knowing it, or else rationalizations for generational theft.

Much deeper than this is its social/cultural insolvency and moral bankruptcy. Only when the left has succeeded in completely destroying what only Judeo-Christian values could build, will some of them finally appreciate -- like the clueless Colonel Nicholson -- the enormity of what they've done. But most of them will find a way to displace the blame, because being on the left means never having to say you're wrong, sorry, sick, insane, lazy, broke, perverted, greedy, or lying through your teeth again.

So, why metaphysics? Which is a little like asking a monkey, "why the banana?" Human beings are built in a certain way and therefore have specific needs. Schuon says that metaphysics simply "satisfies the needs of intellectually gifted men." However, he isn't talking about profane metaphysics, which is just another branch of philosophy, and therefore not really metaphysics at all.

Rather, to engage in real metaphysics is to touch the divine. This must be so, since metaphysics is the study of being qua being, and God is.... No, let's just leave it at that: God is, period.

Metaphysics is the quintessential business of isness, and God is isness as such. Therefore, "metaphysical truth concerns not only our thinking, but penetrates also to our whole being." As such, "it is far above philosophy in the ordinary sense of the word." Perhaps we should call it transphysics, because it is both above and beyond the call of nature.

Back to the monkey and his banana. A monkey, goddammit, has certain intrinsic needs, and to deny him the object of those needs would be a cruelty. So hand over the banana already!

Likewise, man has certain intrinsic needs, and to deny these is to make a monkey out of him. However, man's needs are not limited to the biological sphere, or even the social sphere, although food, grog, and sex is certainly a good start. But no man can live on bananas alone, nor even on human love.

Rather -- and this is a key to appreciating what man is -- man has a need of truth and of salvation. Allied with these is a need for morals, which represent truth in action, or, say, truth prolonged into the social sphere.

Man also needs, according to Schuon, spiritual practice, which, you might say, is a systematic way to assimilate and embody truth and morality. In short, in order to get anywhere he needs Truth and Way, or Doctrine and Method, or Ass and Roadmap.

I know, I know, MOTT. Don't worry, we'll get there. The spirit blows where it will, and there's not a damn thing I can do about it. Besides, this post is going somewhere, I just know it. And if it doesn't? Well, that'll just prove that the title of the post is apt.

Now, the following may require a bit of a leap, and this does indeed veer or careen into esoterism, depending upon how carefully you derive. For Schuon, an authentic religious tradition already embodies metaphysics, and this may be sufficient to satisfy the average believer.

For example, as we were saying yesterday -- or was it Friday? -- Genesis is chock full of metaphysical arguments and insights, and there is no intrinsic reason why an intellectual explication of them is superior to an implicit, right brain understanding.

I mean, it's all there: radical creation (and the goodness thereof), deiformity, vocation, destiny, judgment, woman trouble, sibling rivalry, and much more.

In fact, this "much more" is precisely what we'll be getting into with MOTT. Much of MOTT is spent unpacking the esoteric or "hidden" knowledge packed into revelation and tradition. Some oddballs have a legitimate need for this sort of thing.

Which is why most people are not my readers. They just don't have that itch, so my scratching would just annoy them. The Unfathomable Lucidity of the B'ob? No thanks.

Now, all of these preluminary meditations have a reason, I'll bet. The reason is that I am attempting to rationalize my peculiar existence. Because let's face it, I am a completely useless man.

What I mean is that this writing I am doing has no practical purpose whatsoever. I don't make any real money off of it (I do receive a nominal sum from you thoughtful folks who click through to amazon and buy something), and I am in a a career in which I could readily earn more money by... by, you know, working more.

I don't usually think about it in these terms, you ungrateful bastards, but this blogging isness does consume an awful lot of time. Over seven years, in excess of 2,000 lengthy posts, thousands of comments. Why do I do it? Why don't I do something more productive and remunerative with my time? That's right, Why don't you make yourself useful, ya' lazy bastard?

Monkeys and bananas, I suppose. I'm not "making up" this need I have. Rather, I'm just pursuing (indulging?) it in the most natural and spontaneous way immarginable. Always been this way, at least from my mid-twenties or so, when my personality fully came on line (yes, it took that long for me to recover from the initial shock of being here).

When I was younger, I used to think it was simply because I was an enlightened sphere walking amongst the grazing multitude of somnolent cubes. But I no longer look at it that way. People are just different, that's all. Strokes and folks. Speaking of which, I don't want to be like my cardiologist, but even less do I want him to be like me!

On the other hand, the historical ubiquity of religion proves that it answers and speaks to a genuine need in man, because to think otherwise is to posit an effect with no cause. What this suggests to me is that all of the irreligious cubes in this world are deceiving themselves. They have the same needs man has always had, because man is man, a self-tautology.

In order to be unaware of the pain caused by this unfulfilled need, they must engage in all sorts of distractions, displacements, replacements, and substitutions. But still the need will be there because the void will persist, a void that cannot be filled by the world, any more than the need for human companionship can be satisfied by food.

The bottom lyin' is that human beings try to evade their uselessness by doing something useful. But reality is utterly useless, which is to say, it cannot be reduced to some pragmatic, goal-directed activity.

The Great Useless, or Big Empty, cannot be measured by the useful. It is our reason, but in itself it has no reason; or in other words, it alone has no extrinsic causes, but just IS. Therefore, it seems to me that the last word in deiformity is to become equally useless, at least for as much timelessness as we can manage.

Look at God himsoph. What does he do? He makes himself useful with six days of creativity. But the proper telos of all this creativity is the sabbath, on which we are enjoined to enjoy utter uselessness.

I remember reading a book by Stanley Jaki, in which he expressed the opinion that this is the whole point of Genesis 1 and 2: its principle lesson concerns the sabbath, our great Day of Focussed Unactivity, Higher Non-Doodling, or slack.

Ultimate truth, like its divine sponsor, just is, and has no reason. And we cannot rest until we are conformed to it, and made equally useless. As useless as, say, a baby. We all need a touch of infanity.

Well, this post is over. Unfortunately, I have to go out and make myself useful.

According to the "physics" of the spiritual order, the more one draws on the divine life, the more one receives that life.... when one receives a gift, one must give it away, since it only exists in gift form, and when he gives it away he will find more of it flooding into his heart. --Robert Barron

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On the Necessity of Esoterism

Before embarking upon our journey into Meditations on the Tarot (which seems to have gone out of print again), I'd like to begin with a discussion of the meaning and purpose of esoterism more generally, since so much of it can appear a little dodgy, as if we're just deepaking the chopra rather than engaging in the Eternal Science (or the science of eternity).

However, it has always been understood that, for example, scripture is susceptible to multiple levels of meaning: the literal or plain meaning; the allegorical, or implied meaning; the conceptual meaning; the moral meaning; the more abstract and esoteric meaning; etc.

I just found this helpful post on the Four Ancient Assumptions of Biblical Interpretation, which points out that, not only is the full meaning of scripture "hidden" or cryptic, but harmonious despite superficial inconsistencies. But in my opinion, the only way to harmonize the inconsistencies is via esoterism. Which is why fundamentalism is entirely soph-defeating, because to insist "that the surface or literal meaning of the text is always relevant and never contradictory requires great skill in sophistry."

Here is one way of looking at it. As we have said many times -- either because or in spite of its obviousness -- human beings uniquely span all the vertical degrees of creation. Rather than representing a point of light, we are more like a line of light, extending from the Source at Raccoon Central all the way down "below" matter, and into the infrahuman realms inhabited by criminals, psychopaths, MSNBC hosts, etc.

The light is naturally brightest at the top, but becomes less luminous the further it descends from the source. I might add that there is more coherence at the top, hence, identity and individuation. The further from the source, the more anonymous, collective, reactionary, conformist, etc. There the differences (to preview Letter IX) blend into -- or are hidden by -- the darkness of the Black Point.

Paradoxically, the Light still shines there but the little darklings can't see it. Nevertheless, darkness is always a function of Light (for the converse could never be true), so the shadows they worship down there are still a kind of left-handed tribute to the BrightOne.

One must also realize that our human home is a kind of middleworld which we inhobbit. Especially with the development of modern science, we can all see for ourselves that we are immersed in "other" hidden worlds, say, the worlds of modern physics, or DNA, or quantum cosmology.

We can of course "tell the story" of our DNA -- or evolutionary biology can attempt to tell the story of human beings via DNA -- but the most complete possible genetic story will never describe man as he is, any more than an analysis of photons entering your eyes at this moment will tell you anything about what those photons mean.

For these are message-bearing photons that I have personally encoded with a weightless semantic freight. This cargo has no effect on the speed of transmission, which is why we say that in this cosmos, by God, thought travels at the speed of light.

Now, anything that exists is intelligible, or it wouldn't exist: to exist is to be the instantiation of an intelligibility. Or in other words, in order to be anything you have to be something, or else you're just nothing: every is is a what. If this weren't the case, then everything would be all mixed up with everything else and completely unintelligible, like the mush in Deepak's head.

Some religions don't like such intrapneumatic divisions and boundaries, which is why the cultures resulting from them are stuck in history and go nowhere. Such religions are defensible, of course, so long as one of your core values is going nowhere.

In other words, in such a metaphysic time is not just illusory, but a kind of cancer on the body of eternity. This was the error (or virtue, if you swing that way) of Parmenides, but it also applies to Muhammadanism and to aspects of Buddhism.

Some of our best friends, the Jews, thought otherwise, and voted for an enthusiastic embrace of history. Which is why time is on their side. Since then every contemporaneous ancient civilization has exited history: Rome, Greece, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, etc.

And yet, the Jews are still here -- despite being the most persecuted people in history -- now prolonged into Christianity and the American founding. Notice too how the left's ceaseless attack on America (and its Judeo-Christian tradition) is an iteration of the same dreary attack that has been going on for roughly 5773 years. Get in line, Barry. We'll survive you too, assoul.

And make no mistake: it is not just an attack on Judeo-Christian values, but on history, on morality, on intelligibility itself. For absolute relativism (and there is no other kind) absolutely negates the Absolute from which all these good things flow: truth, meaning, virtue, unity, love, beauty, etc.

Now, a big part of the leftist negation of truth and reality revolves around its crude materialism. I myself am an enthusiastic and even crude materialist, but that is not all I am. Again, for us, matter is just one of the vertical degrees of being. It's a great place to visit, but we wouldn't want to live there.

But as it so happens it is the easiest one for us to negotiate, since it is so sensual and ponderable. Other realms are just as intelligible but not as sensible, and this applies to both the above and the below. For example, the quantum world isn't sensible -- or even imaginable -- but it is surely intelligible.

Likewise the spiritual world. It too is obviously intelligible, but not necessarily on its own terms. Rather, in order to encode and communicate it, we must generally use language borrowed from the sensible world. Hence the power of myth, which embodies a truth (or multiple truths) that are difficult to express in lingo that is fully wideawake & cutandry.

Or, consistent with what we've been saying about left and right brain differences, there is a certain manner of speaking to and from the right brain that completely eludes the left (which may even denigrate the wisdom of the right, depending upon how far left it has fallen). Just last Sunday I attended a religious ritual -- a baby naming -- that quite effectively bypassed the left brain and went straight into the heart via the right. Either that or I'm just getting soft.

Of myth, James Schall writes (in Pieper) that it "seeks to find a truth that does not seem to be expressible by philosophic argument."

You will have also gnosissed that we learn from myth or parable "from hearing," and "not from argumentation." Or, the myth is the argument, only in a different mode. Genesis surely involves many sophisticated arguments, but fully explaining them -- at least for most people -- may actually be less effective than simply hearing them.

Indeed, this is why the myth survives: because it is a true story that never happened but which happens every time. Pieper speaks of an "original revelation" that seems to be embodied in world myth, and people such as Jung, Campbell, and Joyce would certainly agree on that score.

"Could it not be the case," asks Pieper, "that the reality most relevant to man is not a 'set of facts' but is rather an 'event,' and that it accordingly cannot be grasped adequately in a thesis, but only... in the presentation of an action -- in other words, in a story?"

Note also that man cannot actually live without myth, which is precisely why the myth of leftism persists despite a total lack of logic and practicality, and an unblemished record of failure. Many thinkers (such as Voegelin) have seen that the left is essentially a secularization of the ancient myths, which is why the initial "denial of eternity" soon enough begets "the effort to replace it by political or scientific movements in this world." At which point the bodies begin piling up.

Much of what human beings urgently need to know cannot be conveyed in purely abstract, left brain terms. As the title implies, the author of MOTT meditates on the universal-mythological images of the tarot in order to deepen our understanding of Christianity. Thus, it is fundamentally the type of R --> L --> R brain verticalisthenic we've been discussing in recent weeks.

Just as science takes place in the space between the human mind and its object of study, the science of theology takes place in the space between man and O. Revelation too takes place in this space. If you think about what revelation is, it is a divine message that must be clothed in human terms in order for humans to apprehend it. But again, arguments aren't the only way to encode the message. It can also be encoded in stories, historical events, parables, a book, and even a human being.

As Socrates remarked, "it is difficult, my friend, to express higher things without recourse to sense images. In this we are like the person who knows everything in a dream and in waking no longer knows anything."

You might say that the myth or image is a way for the Dreamer to directly convey what he knows. Thus, as Pieper writes, the "heavenly realm" can be spoken of as a banquet, a wedding, a treasure buried in a field, a fishing net, a mustard seed, a day of reckoning, etc. It is simultaneously each, all, and none of these things.

In the beginning, writes Plato, man "has the shape of a sphere," which has connotations of wholeness, perfection, and eternity. But soon enough we lose that wholeness and enter the linear world of the left brain.

Our task is to help the prodigal brain return to its mythic sphere, now enriched by its novel adventures among the straights and cubes.

Bottom line: I don't think esoterism is necessary for everyone. Maybe just people who are too bright for their own good.