Monday, April 5, 2021

Prometheus Rising exercise and discussion group, Week 26


John Donne painted by Isaac Oliver

In my last post for the Prometheus Rising discussion group, I explained that after reading a couple of authors using "selective attention," I would try to read passages as "magickal texts" piggybacking on a reading exercise that actually was formulated by Eric Wagner.

I am rather handicapped in this exercise by not really knowing very much about Magick. (I am working on this, by the way. I am currently reading S.S.O.T.B.E Revised An Essay on Magic, edited and revised by Ramsey Dukes, and I plan to follow that up by reading The Magic of Psychosynthesis by Will Parfitt.) 

In any case, I asked for suggestions on how to read passages and "magickal texts" and received some ideas.

I decided to try the approaches to a short passage from Robert Anton Wilson, the "Notes" at the beginning of Email to the Universe, and my apologies in advance to the people I took ideas from for my likely instances of getting things wrong, and misunderstanding what I was supposed to do.

1. Oz Fritz suggested (you can read the suggestion at longer length by going back to my post) by looking for "the ultimate expression of one's True Will i.e. what you really wish to do in life."

I see two places where this might apply. In his opening sentences, RAW writes, "This book intends to change your way of perceiving/conceiving the world, without drums or drugs or Voodoo, simply by using words in certain special ways."

While I certainly get "input" to my brain in various ways -- I listen as obsessively and carefully to music as I ever did -- for much of my life I have tried to make sense of the world by reading. I read several dozens books a year and I am also often busy reading newspapers, favorite blogs, Twitter postings, etc. So in one sense, my "True Will" is to use reading to make sense of life and figure out how to improve it.

RAW in the next section of the notes acknowledges his debt to figures such as Remy de Gourmont, Alfred Korzybski, Richard Bandler, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon, Norbert Wiener and Ezra Pound. 

In his Introduction to the book, Michael Johnson remarks, "it is my own personal experience, and that of many others with whom I've come into personal contact, that each of these ideas or any one of them can be studied or implemented by the Reader/Writer/Artist for a lifetime, without exhausting them. These meta-models for thinking and acting creatively can be thought of as disciplines in the sense that yoga or learning a musical instrument is a discipline."

It seems to me also that part of my "True Will" is to study the writings of Robert Anton Wilson and to see what I can learn from them. I have done that for much of my lifetime. I have not been able to "exhaust" my study of him. (I'm pretty sure Michael Johnson told me once that he reads RAW every day; I would not make the same claim, although I certainly read RAW often.)

2. Gregory Arnott also offered a suggestion, and the key sentence was "Just imagine that the radical ideas and expositions of the mind you experience while reading them are becoming reality: THC helps."

The opening sentence in the "Notes" talks about trying to "change your way of perceiving/conceiving the world" and certainly the radical ideas I first encountered in reading Illuminatus! in college and subsequent readings of related RAW/Robert Shea works have certainly "become" my "reality" in certain ways. The most radical ideas in the notes seemed to be the bits about intelligent design with "feedback from all parts to all parts" and the ideas about where good writing comes from, so I tried to concentrate on those bits. 

3. BFHN pointed me to the John Higgs interview of Alan Moore, which in turn pointed me to a concrete suggestion, that of using the cut-up technique popularized by William Burroughs. 

OK, let's try to use screen captures of the first sentence of the notes with passages I've attempted to select at random from a couple of my favorite pieces in Email to the Universe, "Left and Right: A Non-Euclidean Perspective" and "Sexual Alchemy," 




Reading these three passages together has a a personal association for me, although I'm not sure I should try to impose that on everyone else. 

***

A note on our progress: This post concludes the attempts by Eric Wagner, Gregory Arnott and myself to come to grips with Chapter One of Prometheus Rising. Discussion of Chapter Two begins with a posting next week. If you have found the pace a little slow, with several months spent on Chapter One, you may want to know that we now pick things up, with each chapter covered in about a month. 

7 comments:

Eric Wagner said...

Terrific post. Great conclusion to chapter one.

BFHN said...

Tom, if I understood correctly, not only you love reading, but you managed to put yourself in a place where you can do this a lot, and even get paid to do it, right? In a way it seems that you are indeed living according to your True Will, and hopefully you are mostly happy as such.

That being said, and if we are to follow John Lilly into the center of the cyclone, “in allowing no limits, there are no limits” and “there are no limits to thinking, no limits to feeling, no limits to movement.”
“To transcend one's limiting set, one establishes an open-ended set of beliefs about the unknown.”

I think one translation of this idea can be that no matter how good things might look for you, there is always room for improvement. Finding which new directions (‘trajectories’) your life could take might be what this is about. Whatever resonates within you, for instance in those three text excerpts, may be a clue as to where you should start looking in order to find out.
“Using words in certain special ways”, could mean letting yourself fall into the rabbit hole of the specific words that seem to be telling you ‘follow me’.

I wouldn’t think that there can be any false leads, only rabbit holes deeper than others. And if suddenly you find yourself in an ocean of free-flowing ideas, then maybe this is at least one place where your True Will is to be found at this specific moment of your life.
Sayings such as “listen to your inner voice” or “follow your bliss” seem to be hinting at this.

When she comes back from Wonderland, it looks like Alice simply fell asleep reading her BOOK. Or did she? And “Wonderland” is of course situated “through the looking glass”, that is, within her own reflection (as in “to reflect on something”).
Here, let us also remember that, if Leary called his software Mind Mirror, the mind already mirrors the reality that surrounds us, or part of it at least.

I have been these days reading The New Inquisition, wherein RAW introduces De Bono’s concept of Po. Po can partly be summarized as putting together two seemingly unrelated ideas, and seeing if previously unforeseen connections and extrapolations can happen (remember, Prometheus is the Forethinker).
He says for instance: “Houses Po Relativity”, “Astrology Po Genetics”, “UFOs Po Rabbits”.
In a way, I sense a strong influence from Burrough’s cut-up technique here.

Of course this is all highly speculative, but I am starting to suspect that ‘doing magick’ has something to do with “using the power of imagination”, which would explain why some art can be so powerful. Oz Fritz quoted RAW from Starseed Signals in his recent blog post:
“Magick keeps opening me and opening me and opening me…”
Perhaps Magick can be seen as the practice of learning how to tap into your ‘imagination’ and turn the findings into a creative act. As in going from a writer’s block all the way to a full page.
Fire out of ice.

Oz Fritz: you mentioned last week Pynchon’s Against the Day. In case you wouldn’t be familiar with it already, there is an excellent album by Land of Kush that bears the same title. I think every song is named after a chapter.

Big thanks to everyone for a very thought-provoking first six months!

Oz Fritz said...

Great post indeed, Tom! An excellent lab report. Consistently running this blog for over 10 years makes it appear evident that part of your True Will has something to do with RAW's writings.

"THC helps" aligns with one of the three quotes RAW chose to open Th Starseed Signals:

"Make the most of Indian Hemp, and plant it everywhere."
- George Washington, Vol 33, p 270 of Collected Works

A little research indicates that no such Collected Works exists much less 33 volumes of them.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@BFHN I do manage to read a lot, but I don't know that I get paid very often to do it. It's more a matter of constantly coming up with new ways to spend money on books! Although it is true that in my day job as a journalist, I sometimes write about books, and I have occasionally been able to request a review copy of book, which I then read and write about.

BFHN said...

Tom Jackson: Ah, I somehow got the idea that you were professionaly reviewing books on a regular basis. Still I envy your bookish lifestyle. Since the beginning of this year I have consciously been putting efforts in trying to make more room in my life for reading.

Oz Fritz said...

Thank-you BFHN for the music recommendation, I found that album on bandcamp. Land of Kush reminds of the recent THC comments. The Pynchon music connection also reminds me of a recent lecture I saw by avant garde artist/musician Laurie Anderson. She told a story about wanting to write an opera based on Gravity's Rainbow. She wrote to Pynchon asking his permission. He wrote back that of course he'd be delighted if she composed a Gravity's Rainbow opera with only one stipulation, that all the parts, the whole thing be written entirely for the banjo. She remarked something like what an interesting way he said no.

BFHN, you made an insightful comment the other day about the difference between intellectually knowing something and fully realizing it, you also included something in there about self- remembering. This was in regard to the Buddhist notion of self though it seems this could apply to many things, like the notion of True Will, for instance. It seems to me, based on my experience and others, that one can fully realize something then forget that realization later. The statement most associated with Crowley: "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" seems equivocal to Gurdjieff's most known instruction to "Remember yourself."

BFHN said...

I think I see what you mean by “one can fully realize something then forget that realization later”. Even if said realization has been somehow worded in a way that made sense, later on the words can seem flat, maybe not empty but without much depth. No more resonance to it.

If we accept the idea that inhabit a world mostly made of language, maybe practicing the ability to envision a given word from several angles at once, to grasp multiples meaning simultaneously, to visualize the word and associate it with mental pictures, as well as making in/voluntary connections (ie. Freudian slips and/or Joycean puns), maybe this can help to apprehend the-world-as-subjectively-perceived with greater clarity. Or at least spot some of the mechanisms of our own internal ways.

__________________________
Regarding connections, I was glad to discover that I am not alone in sensing some overlap between the figures of Prometheus and Lucifer:

“In his 1952 book, Lucifer and Prometheus, Zvi Werblowsky presented the speculatively derived Jungian construction of the character of Satan in Milton's celebrated poem Paradise Lost. Werblowsky applied his own Jungian style of interpretation to appropriate parts of the Prometheus myth for the purpose of interpreting Milton. A reprint of his book in the 1990s by Routledge Press included an introduction to the book by Carl Jung. Some Gnostics have been associated with identifying the theft of fire from heaven as embodied by the fall of Lucifer "the Light Bearer".”
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus)

Lucifer, according to some:
"Rudolf Steiner's […] Lucifer represents an intellectual, imaginative, delusional, otherworldly force which might be associated with visions, subjectivity, psychosis and fantasy. He associated Lucifer with the religious/philosophical cultures of Egypt, Rome and Greece.”

“Luciferianism is a belief structure that venerates the fundamental traits that are attributed to Lucifer. The custom, inspired by the teachings of Gnosticism, usually reveres Lucifer not as the devil, but as a savior, a guardian or instructing spirit or even the true god as opposed to Jehovah.”

“Author Michael W. Ford has written on Lucifer as a "mask" of the adversary, a motivator and illuminating force of the mind and subconscious.”
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucifer )

Also, a couple of weeks ago Oz Fritz told us that:
“On another level, quarters = four parts. We find 4 terrestrial and 4 post-terrestrial circuits. Also, 4 = Daleth = Venus”
The planet Venus is the Morning Star, associated with Lucifer the Light Bearer.

Although Lucifer is the fallen angel, while our Prometheus must rise.

A sidenote for people like me who were ignorant of what daleth is:
"Dalet (dāleth, also spelled Daleth or Daled) is the fourth letter of the Semitic abjads.
[...]The letter is based on a glyph of the Middle Bronze Age alphabets, probably called dalt "door" (door in Modern Hebrew is delet), ultimately based on a hieroglyph depicting a door".
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalet)