Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Worldmaking reality: What is the Network of the Numinous?

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.   

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