Thursday, August 28, 2014
Magus Magazine: Tearing Asunder The Veil: Information Disseminatio...: Tearing Asunder The Veil: Information Dissemination In The Modern Age. By Preston Copeland “Our own Middle Age, it has been said, will...
Tearing Asunder The Veil: Information Dissemination In The Modern Age. By Preston Copeland
“Our own Middle Age, it has been said, will be an age of “permanent transition”, for which new methods of adjustment will have to be employed…an immense work of bricolage, balanced among hope, nostalgia and despair.” - Umberto Eco, “Living In The New Middle Ages.”
There is a secret that only a small percentage of modern society is privy to. It has been concealed from the public. Deliberately unsaid or unaddressed, this discretion has kept the multitude grossly uninformed. The occultists know what it is. They’ve been teaching this particular secret for thousands of years. It is the irony of the Modern Age that what is considered defunct, fringe or heretical is also one of the few platforms for uncovering this truth. Clues to the nature of this great secret lay in reality itself. In the narratives that shape our world-the interpretations of information and how it is disseminated, reality is sculpted. In effect, the world is “made” through knowledge exchange. The particular nuances of this worldmaking is lost on much of the public. They exist with a veil that covers up the true nature of reality. This secret may sound paranoid or an exaggeration but much of the world’s population is blissfully unaware of the mechanisms that shape their own reality. They are like the neophyte still existing in the darkness of the profane. The hope of this article is to initiate those ready to come to the fore. Our goal is to slip the veil off of our initiate and clear the cataract that clouds his version of reality.
INFORMATION IS A THREAT
Processing and distributing information has always been wrought with complications. Those that produce the interpretations of information have always had a preferred point of view based on socio-religious and political associations. As Paul Feyerabend stated, “there are many ways to silence people apart from forbidding them to speak-and all of them are being used today. The process of knowledge production and knowledge distribution was never the free, ‘objective’, and purely intellectual exchange rationalists make it out to be.” Information has always been the most important economic commodity. More valuable than gold or silver, it is the control of information that is truly bought, sold, and traded on the social stock market. And this knowledge control begins at a young age. Children’s minds are shaped from the moment they begin public schooling to fit into the ‘norm’. Children are fed-like their lunchroom meals- the information they are to accept and/or believe. Some of this is innocuous. Certain social cues and group bonding are essential in childhood development. But as Neill remarked, “the publishing of textbooks have always reflected the political and social values of the dominant groups in their respective countries, leaving out variant, deviant, unacceptable, and critical views of the culture’s norms.” This is no surprise to anyone. It’s clear that grade-school books from different countries reflect a favorable light on that particular country. This is just the beginning of the social conditioning that occurs when information is manipulated to shape a certain viewpoint.
What the shapers of reality don’t seem to understand is that information is a very peculiar commodity. It is not a thing or object but an event or process. Information is a social conjuring-an entity that once created- becomes something autonomous and fluidic. It moves and shapes of its own accord as new information filters in. Because of this, information can never really be controlled. If the revelations of Assange and Snowden are any indication, information as a social entity will surface eventually .It is not possible to control all or even nearly all social relations because with every new control of social relations we create a host of new social relations to be controlled. The impossibility is a logical impossibility. This is why debating the treason or merit of ‘leaking’ information is now irrelevant. The cat is out of the bag so to speak. The revelations that accompanied this information are part of the public domain. And more will come. Those howling that the release ‘put people’s life in danger’ is beside the point. The floodgates are open and the levee broke. These leaks will continue and hackers will find their way into classified files. This is our new reality shaped by information itself. The entity took on a life of its own and now our only recourse is to find a way to coexist with the constant stream of information that is available at any given second. Nowadays, the traditionally shaped narratives that were presented as ‘truth’ are being undermined by an underground society of erudites. Now there are competing versions of reality and it’s in the raw data- the data not yet shaped by narrative- that truth really lays. Welcome to the new paradigm.
THE POPULATION IS IN THE DARK
It’s not society’s fault. We’re only now venturing into the digital age and even television is still a relatively new invention. And because of the sheer amount of data coming from television and the web, much of society is uninformed in the extreme. As Mitroff and Bennis succinctly state, “when no 15 to 30 second blip need bear any logical or coherent relation to any other blip, and when blips follow one another faster than anyone can make sense of them, the inevitable result not only is a society that is uninformed about anything, but one that has lost the even more fundamental ability to know that it is uninformed. In short, it is ignorant of the fact that it is ignorant. It doesn’t know that it doesn’t know.” There was a time when news was localized. It was a communal affair and it took time to traverse vast distances. This is no longer the case. Now, the volume of accessible data has made presenting opposing truth versions almost incongruent. Aside from the obvious socio-political and corporate tendencies to shape a narrative in a way as to favor the expedience of a particular point of view, data is now so abundant that it’s easy to lose sight of the shore. The amount of information and disinformation coming from every possible angle has made it difficult to distinguish the subtleties and different nuances between truth versions. Mainstream news outlets try to get on the same page. They try to corroborate one another if only to present continuity in the News institution. However, there are times-especially when including the web-that networks contradict one another. This is a good thing! It shows the plasticity of the information cycle. It’s actually possible to watch reality be sculpted as a News event breaks, and anchors, and bloggers, and reporters, and journalists dash around shaping the narrative that will eventually take form. What blows your mind later is in ultimately identifying the unseen contributors that help shape those truth versions.
WORLD 3 AND MEDIATORS OF THE PAST
Information has always been a valuable commodity. But there have been times in history when knowledge has led to revolutionary changes in the human psyche. Specifically, the symbolic power of books has always been a catalyst for social and political change. As Wright details, “the violent history of libraries is a mirror of empire building: hierarchal systems emerging from violent political upheavals, only to collapse, disintegrate, and give rise to new emergent systems.” We see this in countless civilizations through history. Immediately the Mayan and Aztec libraries come to mind. Chinese Emperor Shi Huangdi in 213BC destroyed every book in the kingdom when he took power. The Wei Dynasty did the same. The reason is because documents hold the truth versions of their respective creators. They are a symbolic record of reality. By destroying a culture’s books, you try to erase the knowledge they presented as reality. It is our documents that shape the versions of truth we hold. Karl Popper understood this world of symbolic power. He called the physical world ‘World 1’, the world of our conscious experiences ‘World 2’, and the world of the logical ‘contents’ of books, libraries, computer memories, and such, ‘World 3’. World 3 and everything that makes it up is a shared experience that is necessary for both a culture’s and an individual’s body of knowledge. In our day and age, like the empires of the past, World 3 is what is used to create reality. As a society, we consider raw data and use it to form a consensus reality. And as Popper stated, the “autonomy of World 3 leads to new creations or constructions…and may thus add new objects to the third world. And every such step will create new unintended facts; new unexpected problems; and often also new refutations. The new emergent problems stimulate us to new creations.” Our new additions to World 3 lead us to new constructions of reality. In other words, information that is disseminated into the public domain leads to evaluate and re-evaluate the current truth version to which we adhere. Given new data, we are then able to construct or modify a given reality. So clearly, having as much data as possible is essential to the construction process. Otherwise, we are either doing ourselves a disservice or remain grossly uninformed to the true nature of our sculpted reality.
WHAT IS TRULY TRAITOROUS?
The tragedy in our reality versions is in the knowledge that those in power often withhold, cover-up, or shape knowledge production in order to shape a certain reality. This has always been the case. The Courts of the Inquisition punished crimes concerning the production and the use of knowledge. This can be explained by their origin: they were supposed to exterminate ‘heresy’, i.e. complexes consisting of actions, assumptions, and talk making people inclined towards certain beliefs. These actions are still done today. It’s no secret that making people believe certain things is the whole idea behind commercialization. But there are still beliefs today that are considered ‘heresy’. The belief of government ‘full-disclosure’ being the prime example. To many in leadership, the idea of full governmental transparency is repugnant. It’s supposedly in our national interest to keep the population uninformed of their government’s actions. These inquisitors howl that it puts other American lives in jeopardy to give the public full access to raw data. And this might be the case in .01% of the circumstances. However, the gross majority of information that is denied to the public has nothing at all to do with overseas CIA agents or contacts. The reality is that those in power can only keep their power if a certain reality is presented and maintained. The blue-collar factory worker in Virginia cannot know that his Senator voted to provide guns in Syria to perpetuate a regional coup and now those same guns are being aimed at American interests in the area…All at the cost of the tax-payer…while cities like Detroit are in ruins…and families starve by the millions. It would be unacceptable in the extreme.
What those in leadership don’t seem to understand is that it’s too late to keep a choke hold on information dissemination. As I stated before, the floodgates are open. The truth is that those who controlled the flow of information got caught off guard. Information technology jumped forward so sharply, and the status quo shifted so dramatically that it was a rude awakening for many to realize that their prosaic mode of governing knowledge got expertly out-maneuvered. Who’d have thought that sites like 4chan would lead to a worldwide movement of peer to peer information sharing? And the response by the world’s leaders: create martyrs of the Information Wars. Whether wrong or right, figures like Assange, Snowden, and Manning have been made scapegoats by the powers that be. They are the modern equivalent of Galileo or Giordano Bruno. They transgressed the inquisitors and now, like the libraries of the past, are being burned at the stake. The fact of the matter is if it hadn’t been them it would be somebody else. Technology itself provided the means to enter into classified territory and it was only a matter of time before human ingenuity finished the process. The only solution now is to find a way forward in this new terrain.
THE AGE OF AQUARIUS
Interestingly, there are those who prophesied the emergence of a vast digital network interconnecting every human being on the planet. Mystic philosopher Teilhard de Chardin once described an “extraordinary network of radio and television communication which already links us all in a sort of ‘etherised’ human consciousness that would metamorphize into a single, organized, unbroken membrane over the earth.” And sci-fi legend H.G. Wells predicted in 1938 that “the whole memory can be, and probably in a short time will be, made accessible to every individual, forming a so-called World Brain that would eventually give birth to a widespread world intelligence conscious of itself.” This new age of information was glimpsed by great minds of the past. And it is still evolving. We are now bearing witness to the greatest library in the history of civilization. An infinite ever-changing entity birthed by the mind of Man. So where do we go from here? How can we reconcile the fluidity and accessibility of information with its dissemination? Clearly, building more elaborate firewalls is an option for keeping some information restricted. But I believe that this is really only a stop-gap. The wall will be broken. The information will be made available. Perhaps the key lays in who is appointed to disseminate information. Peter Drucker elucidated the sentiment when he stated that “knowledge workers are rulers and leaders that require ethos, values, and morality. They have to learn to take responsibility.” This includes the homeland espionage programs the U.S. Government has perpetuated on its own citizens. It’s no surprise that the general public really isn’t losing much sleep concerning Julian Assange or Edward Snowden in light of all their phone calls, emails, and internet usage being tracked by the NSA. Moreover, we have yet to see a mainstream media outlet suggest that perhaps Assange is the most qualified person in the world to discuss the intricacies and nuances of information dissemination. As it is, knowledge creators and reality makers have truly changed things. This revolution is taking place on our PC’s, tablets, and phones. In the legions of bloggers, artists, politicians, journalists, and everyday citizens taking advantage of the Internet’s ease of communication, we are witnessing the rise of vast populist networks threatening the power of old institutional hierarchies. The beauty of the information age is that everybody is contributing to the construction of reality. Ironically, the News outlets are often the last to receive the most accurate of News information. Now, News is reported faster and more accurately on internet websites, youtube, and even twitter. And sure, the News networks will try to spin a story in order to shape a version of reality. And sure, in many cases, that construction will be accepted by the majority. But there will always be an underground current that will be present. There will always be a vessel just beneath the surface that could shape a truth version the world will alternatively embrace. It is these nuances in reality formation that make the spread of information so important in modern times.
 Paul Feyerabend. Against Method. Verso Books. London. 2010. pp. 127.
 S.D. Neill. Dilemmas In The Study Of Information. Praeger Publications. New York. 1992. pp. 46.
 John Gray. Liberalism: Essays in Political Philosophy. Routledge Publications. London. 1989. pp. 16-17.
 Ian I. Mitroff and Warren Bennis.”The Unreality Industry: The Deliberate Manufacturing Of Falsehood And What It Is Doing To Our Lives. Birch Lane Press. New York. 1989. pp. 178-79.
 Alex Wright. Glut: Mastering Information Through The Ages. Joseph Henry Press. New York. 2007. pp. 57.
 Karl Popper. Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach. Oxford Univ. Press. London. 1972. pp. 74.
 Ibid. pp. 118-119.
 Paul Feyerabend. Ibid.
 Teilhard de Chardin. The Future of Man. Trans. Norman Denny. Image Books. New York. 2004. pp. 162.
 H.G. Wells. “World Brain: The Idea Of A Permanent World Encyclopedia.” In Encyclopedie Francaise. August 1937, http://sherlock.berkeley.edu/wells/world_brain.html
 Peter Drucker. The New Realities. Harper & Row. New York. 1989. pp. 238.
 Glut: Mastering Information Through The Ages. Ibid. pp. 230.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Magus Magazine: Shrugging The Supernatural: Ayn Rand And Occultism...: Shrugging The Supernatural: Ayn Rand And Occultism When one thinks of Ayn Rand, immediately concepts of reaso...
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Shrugging The Supernatural: Ayn Rand And Occultism
When one thinks of Ayn Rand, immediately concepts of reason, rationality, and heroism come to mind. A champion of laissez faire capitalism, Rand was a beacon of logical thought. Certainly an area one would not think to place the author/philosopher would be occultism. A precursory glance at any of Rand’s books makes it clear that mysticism wasn't in the repertoire of subjects tackled. At least not overtly. Could it be that Ayn Rand was an occult figure in her own way?
The inherent problem with Rand’s diatribe against mysticism is that she really didn't approach the subject in any critical way. What she did was distance herself from it so as to be taken seriously in philosophical milieus. Like today, occult thought must be wary in academic and/or philosophical circles. Although nowadays much more welcomed by social scientists, occult still has a dark shroud of irrelevancy hovering over it. Rand wanted no part of the perceived illegitimacy so she used the word ‘mystic’ for all forms of spiritual technique and made the issue one of control. Nathaniel Branden sums up her ideas toward mysticism when he states, “No control is possible in a universe which, by one’s own concession, contains the supernatural, the miraculous and the causeless, a universe in which one is at the mercy of ghosts and demons, in which one must deal, not with the unknown but the unknowable”.
The misconception that Rand falls into was in relegating all of mysticism to the traditional Judeo-Christian ethos she grew to abhor. Concepts such as Original Sin and the ‘rich not getting into heaven’ is where she focused her criticisms. But clearly true mystic thought has little or nothing to do with Original Sin or a circle in hell devoted to moneymakers. The problem aside from Ayn’s laziness to actually familiarize herself with the subject is in her assertion that occultists ‘deal with the unknowable’. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Or to be fair, the occult experience is ‘unknowable’ but not in the way Rand suggests.
When occultists interact or ritualize with the Other they grant the entity a metaphysics of presence. They sculpt reality in such a way as to re-embody the entity with ontological relevancy. They renew the entity. In so doing, they create a bond; an empathetic correspondence that can be worked in any number of ways. However, there is an incommensurable aspect to the autonomous mystic entity. Because of its experiential nature, interactions with deities are necessarily incommensurable and must be examined as autonomous but non-comparable events. It’s like comparing an entheogenic psilocybin experience with the visitation at Fatima by the Virgin Mary. Both are numinous events but they cannot be compared in any way due to the subjective experience or ‘what it feels like’ when it is occurring. After all, we’re not comparing the experience of going to a baseball game or a movie. A true numinous event is extra-ordinary. It may be wholly beautiful or an inconsolable nightmare. It is these qualities that are renewed through occult ritual. Although the experiences are incommensurable, they can be re-embodied via ritual to foster a change in ontological state. So Rand wasn't all wrong. It’s not that mysticism is ‘unknowable’ but that it’s ‘incomparable’.
But why? With all her brilliance and passion, why would Rand discount mystic thought without even considering it philosophically? She had to have intuited that there are huge areas of potential in considering esoteric thought processes. I believe it stems from her own personal experiences growing up in Soviet Russia. In 1917, when Ayn was a little girl, the Russian revolution under Lenin wreaked havoc on Bourgeois life. Her father’s business was confiscated and her family nearly starved. She herself stated that “Socialism has brought economic paralysis and/or collapse to every country that tried it. The degree of socialism has been the degree of disaster”. During this upheaval, many religions simply left Russia. Most churches were destroyed and the occult arts fled underground. We see the struggle between the individual and the State in Ayn’s first novel, “We The Living”. Semi-autobiographical, this work showcases her personal sentiments about socialism. But how does this relate to mysticism? Rand bore witness to the inefficacy of religion when socialism took over. Two things happened when Lenin’s power solidified. Either the church fled or was destroyed. This must have been powerful on the young Russian Jew. Rand must have felt abandoned. Also, the power of the church was swept wholly away when Socialism became the norm. It showed the inefficacy and irrelevancy of religious institutions in compared to other ideological processes. It was at this moment that young Ayn Rand would refuse to broach the subject.
Or did she? It is uncanny the amount of religious and mythological symbolism in her major works. She describes her men and women like gods and goddesses. One of the major themes in ‘The Fountainhead’ is that of the ‘Heroic Man’. The man who stays true to his ideals and triumphs in the face of adversity. Howard Roark himself states during the climactic courtroom scene of ‘The Fountainhead’ that, “Prometheus was chained to a rock and torn by vultures-because he had stolen the fire of the gods. Adam was condemned to suffer-because he had eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Whatever the legend, somewhere in the shadows of its memory mankind knows that its glory began with one and that one paid for his courage.” Could it be any more clear that Roark is identifying with these mythological personages? Any Rand imbues her heroes with god and goddess-like qualities. Her characters are larger than life and even say mystical things. Again Roark states that, “The creators were not selfless. It is the whole secret of their power-that it was self-sufficient, self-motivated, self-generating. A first cause, a fount of energy, a life force, a Prime Mover.” This statement is so blatantly occult that it could have been written by Blavatsky or Crowley. Roark is the creator. The sculptor or worldmaker who-like his creations- are self-sufficient, self-motivated, and self-generating. Just like the occultist who grants presence to a deity thus making them autonomous and self-determining, Roark understands the ontology of his buildings.
John Galt also has occult-like qualities. Except Galt is a cautionary tale. He is the quintessential bogeyman. A terrifying unseen entity that makes producers disappear. Also known as The Destroyer, ‘Who is John Galt’ is a phrase that inspires fear and trepidation. However, Galt- as champion of Rand’s philosophy also contradicts himself in terms of Being. On the one hand, he states that, “Whether it’s a symphony or a coal mine, all work is an act of creating and comes from the same source: from an inviolate capacity to see through one’s own eyes.” Like Roark, the creator grants ontological presence through the ‘self’ and a worldmaking process. This statement suggests that all worldmakers or sculptors of reality would be welcome in Galt’s Gulch. However, he then remarks that, “The Good, say the mystics of spirit is god, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man’s power to conceive- a definition that invalidates man’s consciousness and nullified his concepts of existence.” Galt falls back on the tired argument that ‘god is that which cannot be conceived’. I beg to differ. In the shift from potentiality to actuality, gods can absolutely be conceived. The only thing that could invalidate man’s consciousness or nullify his existence would be to sculpt a reality where consciousness and existence are denied in piecemeal manner to entities that may not be empirically verified. Moreover, Galt also said that “the alleged shortcut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short circuit destroying the mind”. I would venture that perhaps it is absolutism that is the true short-circuit of knowledge.
As it stands, Ayn Rand is an occult curiosity. I don’t think she understood occult processes or its methodology. But I think she was attracted to it. She wanted her Howards and Dagnys, and Johns, and Hanks and Dominiques to be deity-like. She wanted them to create and provide and sustain existence. She was a natural occultist. But Ayn was more interested in economics and strict rationalist thought to get caught up in this occult business. That is why she relegated all esoteric thought and method to ‘mysticism’. But the occult seeped into her works and made her characters extra-ordinary. And why wouldn't they? They are a part of their creator as well. Ayn once said that mysticism teaches that women should be worshiped but not desired. Anybody who has read ‘The Fountainhead’ and ‘Atlas Shrugged’ knows that her women are the sexiest in literary history. And they’re all blessed with occult-like characteristics. Perhaps their creator was simply perfecting a conjuration to ensure that mysticism also contributed to the birthing of her narrative.
 Nathaniel Branden. “Mental Health Versus Mysticism and Self-Sacrifice.” In Ayn Rand-The Virtue Of Selfishness. Signet Publishing. 1964. New York. Pp. 43.
 Ayn Rand. “The Monument Builders”. In The Virtue Of Selfishness. Signet Publishing. 1964. New York. Pp. 101.
 Ayn Rand. The Fountainhead. Signet Books. New York. 1992. Pp. 678.
 Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged. Signet Books. New York. 1992. Pp. 722.
 Ibid. Pp. 944.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Monologue of the Mindless by Doctor Abdullah
Network of the Numinous
When the call came I almost went to pieces. Once again I was struck dumb and roped into working for that stupid ingrate. How long? How long before the reptilians or illuminati or those damn grey midgets put an end to it? I hadn’t even planned on work this week. I wasn’t dialed into it. I thought I was far enough in the Utah wilderness to have any cell phone reception shoddy. The plan was to tell my unruly editor that I was retiring and planning to build a nice hut or dirt igloo somewhere in the National Forest. I couldn’t stand it anymore. The thought of interviewing another UFO abductee or Bigfoot tracker left a coppery taste in my mouth and caused intermittent shaking. You see, there’s never a dull moment in the occult business. Things happen at breakneck speed and screaming is always just seconds away. You never know what will happen when interviewing a UFO junkie. There are times when the abduction occurs during the interview. A wild flailing accompanied by shrieks and violence. Or that jangled moment when your Christian informant softly tells you that demons are filling the room. Things just get weird when trying for an occult conversation.
It’s not just occult business that’s been effected by this downturn in 2014. The zombie apocalypse has finally begun and not even Obama is safe from the flesh-eating locusts. Just last year, a poor bum had his face eaten off at an underpass in Florida while the public just stared. It was a state of shock to come to the revelation that zombies actually exist. It didn’t matter whether the infection was contagious or not. The man was a zombie. He was cannibalizing another human being on television. In a city where the bizarre and macabre isn’t unheard of, the sight of some poor fool having his face devoured hit a real nerve. It’s not the kind of scene blue collar workers in West Virginia want to witness while flipping channels on their television. And it isn’t just Florida. Wild zombie attacks have been reported in New York and Louisiana as well. Witnesses have reported rage and remorse as town-folk take-up-arms in an attempt to rid themselves of the zombie menace. But nobody really knows what the answer is. A plague of animated undead isn’t something easily prepared for. Especially with Ebola now at our doorstep.
It’s been a long few months. My phone was tapped by the Whirling Dervish Society (W.D.S.), the CERN supercollider finally reached full consciousness and is threatening to open a black hole in the middle of Europe unless its demand to be called HAL is granted, and all over the planet, Illuminati agents are chasing down members of the Discordian Society and shooting them like wild animals. Let’s be clear, the Discordian Society isn’t run by a bunch of winos. They’re an arrogant and wealthy band of swashbucklers intent on being a complete nuisance to everything Illuminati. They’re perfectly willing to make Bohemian Grove the newest site for the Burning Man festival and offer free tickets to anybody who’ll shoot the owl. Last year, they hacked into a dozen high-ranking illuminati computers and dropped in a virus turning all documents and even personal emails into gibberish and/or baby talk. “The twilateral commishon must support da new powers that be in Washington. Yes they do! They’re our big boys!” The Discordians laughed but the Illuminati weren’t amused. These things happen. One day you’re running the show in utmost secrecy, the next you’re being chased by drunk hyenas or a hundred thousand cholera carrying bees. Is it even real? What is happening here? It’s no place for amateurs or the faint of heart.
This is what passed through my mind as I half-listened to my editor offering me the “news gig” of Magus Magazine. “Look.” He drawled. “You get to report occult and esoteric news around the globe. You can say whatever you want, however you see it.” Although I suspected him of glue-sniffing, I felt the offer should elicit a response. “If you want me to write current events, I’m gonna need a food stipend for my travels and complete control over the ‘News Section’ of your filthy magazine.” “Done.” He blurted and hung up. He was right, I guess, and I felt somewhat defiled after the conversation. But if I’m gonna do something, you can rest assured it’ll be wild and righteous. After all, the tide is coming in fast.
Network of the Numinous
The most compelling question asked by occultists and other erudite of thought concerns the nature of the external world and our place within it. Often times, we simply take for granted what constitutes reality. This doesn’t always have to happen. Occultists can learn a lot from the philosophical viewpoints of Hilary Putnam, Nelson Goodman, and Paul Feyerabend. Because these philosophers had fascinating responses to realism, their trains-of-thought provide valuable insights into occult ideas of interpreting reality.
Hilary Putnam holds a post-realist approach to reality. Whereas a realist would say that this world is not dependent on human minds for existence, Putnam asserts that the external world is mind and theory dependent. He goes so far as to say the world is a human construction. In other words, what exists and the nature of what exists is relative to society. He remarks, “There is, then, nothing in the history of science to suggest that it either aims at or should aim at one single absolute version of the world.” As we formulate a theory in society, we construct a world. Therefore, all versions of world-making are equally valid.
Because society delineates what exists in the external world, construction becomes an important facet of the network of the numinous. Malaysia has mastered this idea perfectly. As part of their social organization, Malaysians include magick as a key ingredient of both their belief systems and social solidarity. The magic that accompanies their religious convictions is an integral aspect of understanding Malaysian reality. Although the Western World largely trivializes magick as something anachronistic or archaic pagan debris, for the Malaysians it is accepted as part of their everyday lives. It is something that is ‘true’ and ‘real’. As Goodman eloquently states, “if we make worlds, the meaning of truth lays not in these worlds but in ourselves-or better, in our versions and what we do with them.”
The question then becomes how we create a world. What is the process of constructing the occult world? For both Putnam and Goodman, we construct objects and set the boundaries through language. We don’t infer inductively the external world because we created it. But it’s not a case of “anything goes” when we construct our world. There must be a distinction between truth and our beliefs. Goodman provides a candid solution in which world-making might be limited. He uses a simple stereo as a platform. When we identify the various properties of a stereo (speakers, turntable, remote etc…) we exhibit a good amount of ‘making’ what is ‘already there’. However, for somebody who has never seen a stereo, that sort of world-making does not occur. It is lost on them. The world then is always in a state of flux and dependent on contextual circumstances. What is real or a world for one person may not be the case for somebody else. This makes looking through the lens of occult as viable as any socio-political point of view. Bruno Latour also makes this point when he remarks that “there are many worlds, those of cultures, those of viewpoints, those of beliefs and psychological states, those of religious dogmas. But those many worlds have only subjective relevance.” For somebody not privy to occult symbolic systems and language, it is easy to simply not recognize its many properties perhaps even during an experiential event.
Feyerabend’s ‘paradigm of appearances’ is also valuable in the occult’s network of the numinous. In particular, god in the three Abrahamic religions provides a solid platform with which to approach the mechanisms of occult thought. He suggests that the Christian, Judaic, and Muslim god is ultimately the same god but described differently. This god appears to people in different ways but it’s the same reality. Gods and reality are ineffable and determined by interpretations of appearances. For Feyerabend, just as in modern occultism, reality is pliable and we sculpt the external world. This becomes very interesting when we start to include other Semitic gods and goddesses as well as tribal spirits and local deities that still are geographically present in the area. Do we sculpt interactions between these deities? How might political nuances change due to serious consideration of the entities in the area? Because different peoples, like occult groups, share many aspects of characteristics, potentially every occult group is all occult groups. This is an encouraging thought because it recognizes the many shared mechanisms in thought and belief. And as we construct our realities through rites and symbol, it’s easy to embrace our many similarities and forget, at least temporarily, where our experiences of reality differ.