Friday, February 20, 2015

Three Shades of Magic

In Letter III, our Vertical Pal (VP) says that "magic" may be understood as "the power of the invisible and spiritual over the visible and material."

Thus, neuroplasticity is a form of everyday magic, in that it most certainly involves the exertion of spiritual and psychological power over the brain/body. Siegel defines neuroplasticity as "The overall process with which brain connections are changed by experience, including the way we pay attention" (emphases mine). (By the way, I don't want to pretend Siegel would endorse Raccoon orthoparadoxy -- he has a reputation to think about.)

It is important to emphasize that from the standpoint of neurology, this magical power is strictly impossible. Indeed, how, within a naturalistic paradigm, could it be explained? To the extent that the brain changes -- which it obviously does -- it would have to be explained in such a way that the mind is only a passive bystander or side effect of purely physical changes.

In fact, this is precisely how the tenured generally explain the "illusion" of free will. For them, the notion of freedom is a retrospective construct, in that we engage in the act and afterwards imagine that we were "free" to have done so.

I say: someone needs to get out of his mom's basement, or at least leave the campus once in a while. Reality is a big scary place, and you can't just tame it with language -- which is, not coincidentally, what our president is trying desperately to do vis-a-vis ISLAMIC terror.

What is it with liberals and language? On the one hand, secular folks insist that they don't believe in magical things such as religion, and yet, what is liberalism but a giant exercise in magical thinking?

Now Bob, that's a little bombastic. Would you like to take that back? In the words of Rudy, "No, not at all. I want to repeat it."

Just consider some of the magical ideas that are central to contemporary liberalism: global warming, command economics, sexual equivalence, the normalization of sexual perversion, etc. Plus, the ranks of the so-called New Age are filled with liberals who believe in everything from healing crystals to aromatherapy to reincarnation.

Here we need to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate, or white and black, magic. First of all, thats raciss! Leaving that aside, UF says that there are actually three kinds of magic. Looked at vertically, there is the sacred magic that descends from above, and demonic magic that ascends (or is invoked) from below. In between there is "personal magic," whereby "the magician himself is the source of the magical operation."

I would place personal charisma in this latter category, in that it is indeed a mysterious process through which some people are able to exert an immaterial influence on others for good or ill -- say, JFK, whose charisma is such that it completely overwhelms the critical faculties of the average low information voter. Because of this political hoodoo, he always appears in the top ten greatest presidents.

It seems to be the same with Obama, who is the most polarizing president in our nation's history (or at least since they've been doing surveys). This can only mean that he continues to exert his magical charismatic influence over liberals, with some 88% still approving of his "performance." In reality, it cannot be the performance of which they approve; rather, something immaterial must have possession of their souls.

All magic, according to UF, involves putting into practice the following principle: "that the subtle rules the dense." And "It is only magic crowned from above which is not usurpatory." This makes perfect sense, and applies to every virtue, every human capacity, every activity.

Take, for example, freedom, or free will. You could say that freedom is both the ground and goal of magic; again, free will itself is "already" a kind of magical, vertical irruption in the cosmos, but we don't leave it at that. Rather, freedom has a goal, a vector, a purpose. Which is? It is, in the words of UF, liberation in order to ascend.

Now, the difference between Gnosticism and Christianity is that the former falls into the whatchamacallit heresy whereby the human being is able to achieve earthly perfection in a do-it-yoursoph manner, without the assistance of grace, i.e., without surrendering the ego to what surpasses it.

Thus, real magic, according to UF, involves the integration -- there's that word again -- of two wills. It is a we not an I, for which reason UF says that "Magic is the science of love."

Does this imply that science is the love of magic? Oh, I think so. It speaks to the whole poetica scientia thingy we were discussing the other day.

All of this ultimately goes to the Incarnation itself, which is the "supreme work of divine magic," i.e., the complete cooperation of God and man: "the work of the Redemption, being that of love, requires the perfect union in love of two wills, distinct and free -- divine will and human will."

Note that this marriage requires "two united wills," which "are not manifestations of an all-powerful will ordaining, but are due to a power which is born whenever there is unity between divine will and human will." And this brings us full circle, back to "the power of the invisible and spiritual over the visible and material" (VP).

This could hardly be more different from, say, the Religion That Shall Not Be Named, which involves the exertion of one will -- that would be Allah/Muhammad's -- over everyone, which will in turn trigger some kind of magical end to the world.

This is precisely what ISIS wants; as Wood explains, their theology is Islamic right down to the last jot and tittle:

"The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic.... the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam." These assouls "will not -- cannot -- waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers."

Thus, "Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people." They know better than our theologian-president that "The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam," and "instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews 'until they pay the jizya [tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.' The Prophet, whom all Muslims consider exemplary, imposed these rules and owned slaves."

In hindsight, this rambling post has explicated the three forms of magic: there is the legitimate magic of the divine-human partnership, AKA (⇅); there is the dopey human magic of liberalism; and there is the demonic magic of apocalyptic Islamists.


Via American Digest, communist magic:

"No man [more than Lenin] personifies better the replacement of the religious impulse by the will to power. In an earlier age, he would surely have been a religious leader. With his extraordinary passion for force, he might have figured in Mohammed’s legions. He was even closer perhaps to Jean Calvin, with his belief in organizational structure, his ability to create one and then dominate it utterly, his puritanism, his passionate self-righteousness, and above all his intolerance."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

There's a Party in My Brain!

We're discussing practical means of achieving vertical and horizontal integration. Importantly, these are things we should take the time to do every day.

Yesterday we focussed on Focus Time. Turns out that concentrating real hard changes the structure of the brain. But again, mind/brain/relationships is an irreducible trinity, so each one always affects the others.

We've also been weaving some MotT into the cosmic area rug, and isn't it interesting that the very first arcanum -- of which all the others are fractally related -- is all about concentration?

To con-centrate is to gather all of oneself into a kind of central point -- as in how a magnifying glass can gather the rays of the sun into an intense point of light and heat, or maybe how the stylus of a record player is a tiny thing, and yet, exerts hundreds or pounds of pressure per square inch at the business end.

Next up on Siegel's list is Play Time. It's pretty much the best news I've heard since wine as a replacement for working out; that is, "spontaneously engaging in novel activities that capture attention" releases "chemicals that support brain growth."

(Looking back, I should have majored in leisure studies, but I thought Radio-TV-Film would be more leisurely.)

This is not the same as playing an organized sport or having a real major; rather, "the emphasis is on new and creative forms of interacting with oneself, others, and the world." That's what I told my parents, anyway.

Yesterday I suggested that following these posts requires intense concentration. But today I'm suggesting that writing them requires a high degree of playfulness. What gives? Aren't those opposites? No! Go back to Letter I. Its tykeaway is concentration without effort, you know, like a child:

"The little child does not 'work' -- he plays. But how serious he is, i.e., concentrated, when he plays! His attention is still [---] and undivided..."

And we have it on good authority that Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

Receive? Enter? Aren't those opposites again? Only in asymmetrical leftbrain world. In the bi-logically integrated world of symmetrical consciousness, what is inside is out, and what is outside is in. We can be contained by what we receive or "take in" -- which very much goes to communion, among other things.

In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus is purported to say that "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner," "then you will enter [the kingdom]."

This also goes to what we were saying yesterday about parasitical ideologies. Back in college (or whenever it was) Obama took in an ideology that now has him by the basal ganglia. Notice also how grimly unplayful Obama is. He makes Hillary look like the fun girls from Mount Pilot.

But with real playfulness, "our minds can become vulnerable and take risks as we push the envelope to go beyond our usual ways of being and of doing, and our brains can try out new combinations of firing patterns."

Moreover, we can "explore new ways of knowing and exciting and unpredictable things to be known," which helps us "to create higher degrees of integration with new levels of complexity..."

So, yeah,

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Pocket Guide to Magically Rewiring Your Brain and Knowing God

Our vertical friend suggests that what we call "tradition" is the residue, so to speak, deposited by mystical experience.

Thus, while mystical experience is intrinsically unitive, "the death of [a] tradition manifests itself in the degeneration of its constituent elements, which become separated." This is because tradition is more like an organism, a dynamic whole. Just as in the case of a human being, when the soul departs, the body disintegrates.

Contemporary liberalism is a quintessential example of the disintegrated parts of a more integrated tradition living on as detached parasites. Like any ideology, it is "a parasitic system of autonomous thought" which "bewitches or enslaves human consciousness and deprives it of its liberty." Which we wouldn't really mind if they weren't so adamant about depriving us of ours.

A person under such a spell -- our president being a prime example -- "can no longer see the world, or people, or historic events as they are." Rather, "he sees everything only through the distorting prism of the system by which he is possessed." As such, "a Marxist today is incapable of seeing anything else in the history of mankind other than the 'class struggle.'"

Which is why the Obama administration thinks the problem of ISIS can be solved by a job fair and maybe a little counseling on how to get that résumé in shape. Like, don't say "spent two years decapitating infidels in the desert." Rather, something like "two year program of medieval studies with subspecialty in penal justice."

Ideologies, or philosophical systems, or even theologies "separated from the living body of tradition [become] parasitic structures, which seize the thought, feeling and finally the will of human beings." They "play a role comparable to the psycho-pathological complexes of neurosis or other psychic maladies of obsession."

This is absolutely the case. Why? Because back off man, I'm a psychologist.

I would say that a successful ideology is a kind of readymade, or "off the rack" mental illness. An all around ideology will have various compartments in which to "plug in" one's complexes, drives, and conflicts, e.g., rage, envy, greed, the will to power, sexual confusion, desire to control others, inferiority, meaninglessness, etc. No matter how crazy you are, liberalism has a place for you. It's a big tent!

The bad news: its "physical analogy is cancer." Why cancer? Because cancer involves a revolutionary part that declares independence from the whole, and presumes to be the whole. 'Til death do you part. A cancer is ultimately suicidal. As is liberalism. It is unsustainable -- fiscally, morally, economically, spiritually, educationally, environmentally, aesthetically, demographically, etc.

A whole tradition requires whole persons to embody and vivify it. It doesn't really matter how integrated the system if the system fails to reproduce itself via integrated beings. The whole person, for VF, "is religious, contemplative, artistic and intelligent." Or, he must think truth (inwardly and outwardly), be creative, and "do" virtue. This unified wholeness exists in each of us in potential, but the (magical) trick is to actualize it.

How does one go about accomplishing this? VF highlights a couple of methods, the cultivation of silence and vertical openness, or what I symbolize (---) and (o), respectively. This facilitates vertical recollection, as it is difficult to integrate what has been forgotten. In any event, it is this "empty silence which serves to mirror the revelation from above."

Interestingly, in the Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiololgy, Siegel has a chapter on some of the necessary conditions of psychological integration and actualization. Being that these are necessary and not sufficient, they don't guarantee integrated wholeness. It is more the case that their absence will more or less engender fragmentation, dis-integration, and dissipation.

He lists seven mental activities (and perhaps "nonactivities") that need to take place on a daily basis: Focus Time, Play Time, Connecting, Physical Time, Time-In, Down Time, and Sleep Time. To exclude or overemphasize one or another will result in an imbalance, like lifting weights with only one side of your body.

Focus Time is closely paying attention. I am reminded of those studies showing that people who strenuously exercise their brains on a daily basis avoid the cognitive deterioration that comes with age.

This is an example of the brain's neuroplasticity, in that we can engage the will to actually change the structure of the brain: "When we focus on one thing at a time with interest and energy, we engage circuits in the brain that enable neurochemical releases locally and globally to initiate neuroplastic changes in the brain" (Siegel).

Maybe you haven't noticed, but these posts require a kind of sustained attention in order to understand what they are about. They cannot be skimmed, not necessarily because they are difficult, but because they are intensely focussed, and I want you to see what I am seeing.

Focus Time also allows you to grab the reins of your genome. Yes, really. True, you can't make yourself taller or grow a third eye. It's better than that! Via neurochemical mediation, Focus Time "supports the activation of genes necessary to create protein production and structural changes that underlie memory encoding and learning." It also "supports gene activation and synapse formation among the neurons that are activated with attention."

And if you fail?

We've all seen them: "After they complete formal schooling, many individuals stop closely paying attention. This may be a risk factor for developing dementia..."

Which is why "low information" and "liberal" are synonymous terms. Or maybe you haven't seen Watters' World on the Factor.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Original Syntheses and the All of Man

Now that I'm playing the Glass Bead Game between interpersonal neurobiology and Meditations on the Tarot, I see that there are links everywhere. No doubt because I am looking at it from a certain angle, I'm seeing the word "synthesis" all over MoTT.

On p. 20 our unKnown friend mentions Friedrich Schiller, who "advanced a doctrine of the synthesis between intellectual consciousness" (what with its "heavy burdens of duties and rules") and "the instinctive nature of man" and his "urge to play."

This sounds similar to what we've been saying about the synthesis of left and right hemispheres, as well as that between neocortex, midbrain (play) and limbic system (instinct). He was hoping to find that childlike balance in which "duty becomes a delight," concentration becomes effortless, and work is transformed to play.

In short, he was fumbling around for the secret of SLACK. But he was probably just a Freemason, not a Raccoon or Subgenius. Unless the records have been lost.

The idea of play is critical, because one of the things that makes man unique is that he never stops playing. Or at least he is not supposed to stop playing.

This is because, unlike other mammals, man's neoteny is not a temporary condition, but permanent. We never stop learning, growing, creating -- and therefore synthesizing. Play is how a child synthesizes. Synthesis is how an adult plays. Hopefully this will become more clear as we proceed, just in case it isn't obvious. (Hint: the Glass Bead Game never ends. Except in sudden death.)

On the next page, UF outlines what might be called the credo of the magician, or Man of Play: we only truly know "that which is verified by the agreement of all forms of experience in its totality -- experience of the senses, moral experience, psychic experience, the collective experience of other seekers for the truth, and finally the experience of those whose knowing merits the title of wisdom and whose knowing has been crowned by the title of saint."

Do this and you'll be a child, my man! (Apologies to Rudyard Kipling.)

Agreement of all forms of experience in its totality. This includes both vertical and horizontal, subjective and objective, beings and things, ontology and existence. The ONE COSMOS is both the Alpha and Omega of this journey, because again, we begin in relative fusion, move through the bewilderness of diversity and multiplicity, and end in the higher synthesis. Or just say one --> two --> three.

And no, I'm not going all Hegelian on you. This is quite different, in that we must accomplish it, as opposed to it being done through us via some abstract metacosmic geist of pure reason. Nor do I mean it in a pantheistic way when I say that the One Cosmos is alpha and omega, because I mean it in a much more integral way that includes God. I don't just mean the material cosmos.

This is also the principle way to avoid being an infertile egghead. Infertility results from a failure of union and synthesis. It is why the tenured are feckless and not fecund.

In Letter II, UF discusses "the reintegration of the two constituent elements of consciousness as such," i.e., "the active element and the passive element."

Here again we are talking about the fecundity that results from the proper marriage and union of male and female, or sun and moon, or left and right hemispheres. "There is no consciousness without these two elements," just as there is no picking stuff up without an opposable thumb.

Notice how thumb and fingers deploy a kind of force against one another for the higher purpose of grasping. Likewise, we grasp things via the "opposition" of various psychopneumatic complementarities. In turn, every orthoparadoxical complementarity is an important reveilation (in terms of what we were saying yesterday about the veils that reveal).

Another key idea: "Christian yoga does not aspire directly to unity, but rather to the unity of two." Which is what makes it Christian and not yoga (except in the generic sense).

What this means is that the oneness is both anterior and posterior to the twoness. However, this is not a unity of substance, but rather, of essence. And this essence is called Love, baby. Thus, as UF says, it is a non-substantial but essential unity."

Which is precisely what Norris Clarke says in his concise and lucid Person and Being. In it he proposes an "indissoluble complementarity of substantiality, the in-itself dimension of being, and relationality, the toward-others aspect." Ultimately this applies to both God and man because Trinity. Or perhaps better, because Trinity is in-carnated, making possible the journey from unoriginal sin to original synthesis and fruitful union.

UF makes the important point that there is legitimate and illegitimate twoness. I would say that this is because the latter is a vicious (because unresolvable) duality whereas the former is a blessed and fertile complementarity. UF goes so far as to say that evil is a result of illegitimate twofoldness. I'll have to think about that one, but it sounds about right.

Consider, for example, how Job One for the left is to sow illegitimate divisions. I think this is why they are always more comfortable hating than loving. Obama-love could only satisfy them for so long. It is much more natural for them to hate Bush, and now a Scott Walker. They are much more animated by Walker's failure to graduate college (we would say success in avoiding it) than they are by the Islamic State decapitating Christians.

We're out of time. To be continued...

Monday, February 16, 2015

It Takes One(ness) to Know (the) One

Well, it's President's Day, a quintessentially postmodern helliday in which the federal government compels schoolchildren to conflate evolutionary cosmohistorical lightbringers such as Washington, Lincoln, and Reagan with smallminded and malevolent assouls such as Carter and Obama.

That is a perfect example of the very opposite of what we've been discussing for the past week or so: fusion as opposed to integration. The same proglodytes lump all religions together, as if Christianity and Islam "worship the same God."

Likewise, these vertically challenged spiritual dwarves conflate freedom and democracy, as if the latter somehow assures the former. (Remember when the press jumped all over Rumsfeld for suggesting that democracy is overrated?) But a Raccoon would much prefer to live in a monarchy with secure civil liberties than in a moonarchic 'batocracy in which our liberties exist at the pleasure and whims of the prince and the drooling mob that made him one.

Thus far we have covered the vertical integration of brainstem, midbrain, and frontal cortex; and the horizontal integration of left and right hemispheres. Siegel mentions several other biggies, such as memory, narrative, state (meaning temporary states of mind), interpersonal, temporal, and "transpirational" integration, the latter being the closest to what a Raccoon would regard as proper vertical integration, AKA the divine-human nexus.

We will get to all of these in due time, if ever, but over the weekend it occurred to me how compatible all of this is with one of our foundational texts, Meditations on the Tarot. Any Raccoon who hasn't read this book cover-to-cover at least twice probably isn't one. Why twice? Because by the end of the book you won't be the same person, so the second -- or third or fourth -- time around it will be a "new book" for this new man. Hello, noumena!

It's all as clear as day in Letter I, The Magician. Note that this arcanum is a fractal of all the others. In other words, while a "part" of the book, it contains the whole in essence. Therefore, the rest of the book will be a reworking of the same themes, just as in a symphony. I was just reading how old Beethoven would take "a piece of material, an idea," and transform it "into new passages that share an underlying essence but sound different." It "is a matter of contrast and diversity founded on unity and invention: fashioning many things from one thing."

Just so, we can say that the subsequent twenty one arcana are all "in" the first, for as our unKnown Friend says, the Magician is "the key to all the other Major Arcana."

First of all, what is an arcanum? It is a symbol -- an authentic symbol. Which is whatnow? Etymologically speaking, a symbol is something "thrown across." It is a means of getting from here to there -- in this case, a vertical there. As such, "they conceal and reveal their sense at one and the same time according to the depth of meditation." For which reason we invented the term reveil: any religious symbol reveils, meaning simply that it simultaneously veils and reveals (or, more to the point, veils so as to reveal).

This is similar, say, to a veil over a statue. But in the vertical world, without the veil we cannot perceive the underlying essence at all. You could say that we cannot "see" God, but we can certainly see his veils, more on which later. But there are two errors to avoid: trying to strip away the veils in order to see God directly, or elevating the veil to God. The former is barbarism (whether primitive or postmodern), the latter idolatry.

The arcana do not provide us with cutandry & wideawake answers, but rather, render "us fertile in our creative pursuits.... An arcanum, is a 'ferment' or an 'enzyme' whose presence stimulates the spiritual and the psychic life of man." As such, these symbols are what we call essential vertamins to aid in our spiritual metabolism.

In order to integrate and assimilate the influx of vertical forces, we must attain openness (o) and silence (---). Doing so involves being "one in oneself" so as to be "one with the spiritual world."

Now, to say "one" is to say integration. You could say that the spiritual life is essentially the exercise (or verticalisthenics) of practical unity, or of putting "unity into practice." That is, the Raccoon begins with "the basic unity of the natural world, the human world and the divine world." Indeed, without this prior unity, "no knowledge is conceivable." Period.

In short, "The tenet of the essential unity of all that exists precedes every act of knowledge, and every act of knowledge presupposes the tenet of the unity of the world." That latter is especially important, because to truly know anything is a key to the whole existentialada. Nothing would be knowable in the absence of this prior unity.

Having said that, we are again talking about a circular movement that begins in unity (or better, fusion), proceeds to differentiation, and returns to unity, only on a higher level (or in a higher key). It is precisely what the Poet means with that crack about rearriving to where we started and knowing it for the first time, or that metamagical transition from p. 266 to p. 6, AKA the endless riverrun to and from evenadam & backagain.

Think about that one once again: it takes one to know One. Or, it requires integration in order to approach the Source of integration. This implies, among other things, that our vision of God is a qualitative matter that varies with the integral width and depth of the subject.

How could this not be the case? Any perception or knowledge of God must be inflected through the human subject. An unintegrated subject is going to have a more or less narrow and/or shallow conception of God.

Think of the Islamists. How do they have such a dis-integrated conception of God? In a way, it is a perverse mirror image of Obama's undifferentiated, fusionist God. Both are primitive, but in different ways. For postmodernists such as Obama, they invert the words of the Poet by arriving where man started and not knowing it for the first time ever (since man has always known of God); this represents omnipotent ignorance upon omniscient stupidity, or tenure².

Our unKnown friend says some things that sound very much like what we said in the previous post about the integration of left and right hemispheres. In fact, he is saying the identical thing, only with a different vocabulary:

"The Magician [i.e., integrated person] represents the man who has attained harmony and equilibrium between the spontaneity of the unconscious [read: right hemisphere]... and the deliberate action of the conscious [left hemisphere]." Thus, "His state of consciousness is the synthesis of the conscious and unconscious" -- except to emphasize that this latter is not really "un-," but rather, quite oneconscious.

To be continued...