And man, recognizing himself as atone with his source,
rested in himself, and gave mind its proper place as listener
and set desire to the ends that gave his body health
and provided rich gardens for his consciousness to wander in
and set his body to the task of building for his fellows
warm places to rest, plentiful gardens of food,
and quiet, still places to know themselves
And thus spake:
Lo, it was at the beginning! All things void had become
vibratory, and didst burst and burgeon and billow
and finally blossom forth into multiple shapes,
simple at first and ever more complex, each
containing within it the image of its source
of a single string of light
And, satisfied with his speech, man once more rested in himself
For it was that the world was a cradle for the birth of god,
and man his embryonic self
And the name of God is Aum, for it is vibration.
The redemption of the world will be achieved through art and magic. Technics has led us to a nuclear standoff and its most visible proponents have sold us nihilism and a parody of atheism as a token system of ethics. As it stands, the Western world is at its end. Rome is falling. Yet, as the alchemists knew, one must dissolve the old prior to coagulating the new.
Our situation is one of some precariousness, though for us here at the bottom of the world we are far enough from the centers of power that we are likely to escape large scale conflict relatively unharmed. The question becomes, if we are staring apocalypse in the face, if this is truly the fall of the West, what role do we want to play?
Now, it must be said that although America, Russia and China are positioning for war, this in no way guarantees that we will see one. We can hope that compassion and reason prevail and that no-one is stupid enough to aggress in such a tense environment. So we may, and this is probably as likely as not, simply see this current tension dissipate and the powers return to conducting their limited proxy wars in countries far enough away to never truly affect our day to day.
In either case, it is obvious that we are in a position of unprecedented novelty. Philosopher Terence McKenna wrote at length about novelty, which he defined as information and/or complexity, and the manner in which it ingresses into time at an exponential rate. Over the last few weeks we have seen the birth of artificial intelligence, groundbreaking experiments confirming some of the basic ideas in quantum mechanics, mass international tension between superpowers and a variety of other unusual and concentrated events. If we recognize that we are in a novelty spike, we may be able to in subtle ways influence its continued evolution.
There are, in nature, structures in the nervous systems of animals that heavily influence patterns of behavior. Many of these structures are innate, that is, inherent in the organism from birth. These structures are known as “innate releasing mechanisms”, and they activate when the organism perceives “sign stimuli”, shapes and patterns in the environment related intimately to the survival and growth of their species. For example, when certain newborn baby birds are exposed to the silhouette of a hawk overhead, they instinctively duck for cover, yet when the silhouette is of the shape of their own kind, they move towards it.
We human beings are in possession of many of the same innate releasing mechanisms, yet ours are much more mutable and changeable than our animal counterparts. And, presumably, they are programmable if one applies the requisitive mental state and intent. We respond intuitively to many of these IRM’s as they appear in art, in symbolic form, and it is my belief that these mechanisms are largely involved in our emotional responsivity to certain shapes, forms and symbols.
This brings us to the point I wish to make with regards to our role in these interesting times we all must face with an ever increasing clarity of awareness. We are all artists, many of us talented in the visual sphere, many of us with language, many with music. We hold in our hands the key to revolutionary social change in the form of our ability to create and disseminate symbols, memes if you will, that trigger deep emotional responses from an otherwise emotionally deadened public. For if anything is propping up this revolving side-show of misery we call industrial secular democracy, it is the repression of emotion.
These memes can come in any form, but will be most effective if we each read and study deeply into the worlds symbol systems, the shorthand visual languages men and women have built over millenia to describe the activity of the heart and mind. Drawing from alchemy, occultism, Eastern religious and philosophical tradition, art history and literature, we each can form our own detailed maps of the associative patterns of culture, the strongest and most effective symbols to produce the greatest emotional response. Then, we should start smashing these things together in dense packets, almost like highly concentrated bombs of meaning, to convey the fundamental and rarely spoken truth of our age: that the redemption of the human spirit is not to be accomplished with number and measurement as was told to Rene Descartes, the founder of modern science, by an angel in a dream; but rather through the qualitative, subjective technologies of the heart and through the prism of human consciousness itself, with art as its vessel.
I have some recommendations on where to begin for anyone interested. First and foremost, a dictionary of symbols is an absolute must, preferably one with history and information about symbology and each individual symbol. Next, the intrepid explorer may look to Frazer’s “The Golden Bough” or to Joesph Campbell’s “The Masks of God” for a comprehensive overview of the worlds mythological traditions, containing the archetypal sign stimuli of religious imagery, great fable, and heroic deed. From there, a reading into the Western Occult tradition is recommended, beginning with Francis Yates’ “Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition”, covering Carl Jung’s work on symbol, alchemy and magic, and finally moving into the realms of Chaos Magick with “Prime Chaos” by Phil Hine or “Psychonaut” by Sean Carroll (?). An examination of quantum mechanics and general scientific theory is also an absolute must.
This should be enough to give any individual a working knowledge of the sign stimuli most likely to trigger expanded states of consciousness, and the tools to put them into practice in their own lives and in their art. I would highly recommend a thorough examination of the work of Alan Watts, Ram Dass and Jack Kornfield for contextualising meditative and spiritual practice, as the states of empty mind and the ability to clear ones head are important tools to avoid madness. This is not a childs game, working with altered states implies not only creativity but caution, not only recreation but responsibility.
From this point on it is up to the individual artist to give birth to the memes which will best represent his or her personal understanding and convey the strongest experience to their audience.
When rationality fails, we go transrational. When logic tells us we must be A or B, we become AB and C. We define, and are ourselves not defined. We create, and therefore shed the straightjacket of consumption. Our role in these bizarrest of times is to take the situation of human meaning and cosmology by the horns, defining and creating the world that lives in our hearts.
We are the front-line, the boundary condition of human consciousness, those strange few whose thirst leads them into underground caves of knowledge and whose creative fire propels them back out, triumphant into the light of society with the boon of an expanded consciousness. The twenty first century sage works by filling bellies, strengthening bones, warming hearts, clearing minds, and casting spells.
The alchemical revolution never died, it just went underground. And with us, it may just resurface.
Image explanation (If* interested): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetractys