So… here I am typing away and it just so happens to be Mary’s Birthday today. I don’t think the clients will get much out of us today, as we like to do these occasions in a grand way. (whenever possible). We are heading out soon for her new ID, and to do a bit of shopping for colors for the house. (we paint around here fairly frequently)
I am finding it a bit challenging lately to get the Turf out on time. Is Gwyllm drying up? Does he have a limited capacity for finding worthy poetry to continue the Turfing Quest? We will see. I keep threatening to make the whole ball of wax a bit smaller, but to no avail… I have noticed over the last year that patterns emerge on the entries. This might indeed be a form of poetmancy – articlemancy – linkmancy emerging from the depths of the Turf. What does it mean? What does it portend? Can I get fries with that? Do you want that poetry supersized?
Robert Anton Wilson has been on my mind as of late, and therefore we will be featuring him in various forms in the next week or so. From what I understand, he has started the process of checking out from this Bardo, and we need to honour his work, energy and love as best as we can at this point. RAW came into my life at the right moment. He has had that effect on many from what I can gather…
Radio Free EarthRites is down at the present, while British Telecom fumbles along with a new line for the server. Some things don’t change. British Telecom has never functioned very well, and there is no improvement with age.
If you have any ideas, suggestions, random thoughts, love calls…. let us know.
On the Menu:
CREATIVE AGNOSTICISM Part 1
Poems by Zen Master Hsu Yun
LSD helps alcoholics put down the botttle
CREATIVE AGNOSTICISM Part 1 – Robert Anton Wilson
One of the greatest achievements of the human mind,
modern science, refuses to recognize the depths of its own
creativity, and has now reached the point in its development
where that very refusal blocks its further growth.
Modern physics screams at us that there
is no ultimate material reality and that
whatever it is we are describing,
the human mind cannot be parted from it.
Roger Jones, Physics as Metaphor
If, as Colin Wilson says, most of history has been the history of crime, this is because humans have the ability to retreat from existential reality into that peculiar construct which they call The Real Universe and I have been calling hypnosis. Any Platonic Real Universe is a model, an abstraction, which is comforting when we do not know what to do about the muddle of existential reality or ordinary experience. In this hypnosis, which is learned from others but then becomes self-induced, The Real Universe overwhelms us and large parts of existential, sensory-sensual experience are easily ignored, forgotten or repressed. The more totally we are hypnotized by The Real Universe, the more of existential experience we then edit out or blot out or blur into conformity with The Real Universe.
Concretely, the Violent Malethe extreme form of the Right Man1edits out the suffering and pain he causes to others. That is only appearance and can be ignored. In The Real Universe, the victim is only one of Themone of all the rotten bastards who have frustrated and mistreated the Right Man all his life. In existential reality, a large brutal male is beating a child; in The Real Universe of self-hypnosis, the Right Man is getting his just revenge on the oppressors who have abused him.
We have repeatedly employed Nietzsches metaphor in which existential reality is abysmal. In one dimension of meaning, this merely asserts that it is endless: the deeper you look into it, the more you see. It has the sense of infinity about it, whether or not it is topologically infinite in space-time.
The Real Universethe model which has become experienced as the real universeis, on the other hand, quite finite. It is compact and tidy, since it has been manufactured by discarding all the inconvenient parts of existential experience. This is why those self-hypnotized by a Real Universe of this sort can be so oblivious to the existential continuum around them. How could a human being do something so cruel? we sometimes ask in horror when an extreme Right Man is finally apprehended. The cruelty was only in the world of existential appearances; it does not exist in the edited and improved Real Universe of the Right Man. In The Real Universe, the Right Man is always Right.
The ghastly acceleration of violent, inexplicable and seemingly pointless crimes by Right Men in this centuryand their hideous magnification into mass murders and war crimes by Right Men in governmentsindicate the prevalence of this type of self-hypnosis and what Van Vogt calls the inner horror that accompanies it. This inner horror is a sense of total helplessness combined with the certainty of always being Right. It seems paradoxical, but the more totally Right a man becomes, the more helpless he also becomes. This is because being Right means knowing (gnosis) and knowing is understanding The Real Universe. Since The Real Universe is, by definition, objective and outside us and not our creation, we are made puny by it. We cannot act but only re-actas The Real Universe pushes us, we push back. But it is bigger, so we will lose eventually. Our only defense is in being Right and fighting as dirty as possible.
This, I think, is in succinct form the philosophy of Adolph Hitler. It is the philosophy of the Marquis de Sade, and of any rapist or thug you can find in any prison in the world. Where Single Vision reignswhere The Real Universe is outside us and impersonalthis shadow-world of violence and horror follows in its wake.
This, probably, is why Nietzsche, who understood this pathology from within, raged against both the modeltheistic2 epistemologydenying The Real Universe entirelyand against what he called the Revenge motive. Even if The Real Universe were real, he said again and again, we could not know it, since all we know is the existential world of experience. Besides that, linguistic analysis indicates rather clearly that The Real Universe is our creation, made up of our metaphors and models. But his deepest attack goes at the psychology of The Real Universe and its connection to Revenge, and the disguises of Revenge. If a man feels overwhelmed by The Real Universe, he will seek to destroy what oppresses him. Since we cannot get at The Real Universe, revenge must be directed at symbolic targets in the existential continuum. The Will to Powerwhich Nietzsche held was essentially a will to self-overcoming: to neurological self-criticism in my terminology: to become more than one wasthen becomes deflected into a Will to Destroy.
In the language of modern existentialist and humanist psychology, Nietzsche is describing the process by which we shirk responsibility. We seek revenge, but since we are only re-acting. The Real Universe made us do it. Any criminal will give you his own version of what Nietzsche is describing: It was my mothers fault. It was my fathers fault. Society was to blame. I wanted to get even with all those bastards. I couldnt control myself; I just went haywire. They pushed too hard and I exploded. Man as a re-active mechanismthe Materialist metaphoris Man with a grudge. The most well-known, and probably the most typical, lines of verse of the twentieth century almost certainly are:
I, a stranger and afraid,
In a world I never made
This is the self-image of modern humanity: of the Right Man in particular, but also of masses of ordinary men and women who have internalized the Fundamentalist Materialist3 metaphor and made it the New Idol. Pessimism and rage are never far below the surface of most of the art of the Materialist age: the sad clowns of early Picassothe frenzied monsters of his middle periodthe defeated heroes and heroines of Hemingway and Sartre and Faulknerthe cosmic butcher shop of Baconthe homicidal nightmare of such arch-typical films as Dead End and Bonnie and Clyde and Chinatownthe bums and thugs and the endless succession of self-pitying and easily-defeated rebels in virtually all the novels and plays and films that claim to be Naturalisticthe music that has increasingly become less a melody and more a shriek of pain and ragethe apotheosis finally achieved by Beckett: man and woman in garbage cans along with the rest of the rubbish.
Adolph Hitler read Nietzsche, mistook the diagnosis for prescription, and proceeded to act out the worst of the scenarios Nietzsche could imagine, ironically incorporating precisely that nationalism and anti-semitism that Nietzsche most despised. The world looked on in horror, learned nothing, and decided Hitler was a monster. It remained hypnotized by the same materialistic biological determinism which, to Adolph, had justified both his self-pity and his revenge.
And so we stumble on toward a bigger Holocaust than the Nazis could imagine, complaining bitterly that it is inevitable. The Real Universe will not give us a chance.
When I speak of The Real Universe being created by self-hypnosis, I do not intend anything else but psychological literalness. In the hypnotized state, the existential reality around us is edited out and we go away to a kind of Real Universe created by the hypnotist. The reason that it is usually easy to induce hypnosis in humans is that we have a kind of consciousness that easily drifts away into such Real Universes rather than deal with existential muddle and doubt. Everybody tends to drift away in that fashion several times in an ordinary conversation, editing sound out at the ear like Bruners cat. As Colin Wilson points out, when we look at our watch, forget the time, and have to look again, it is because we have drifted off into a Real Universe again. We visit them all the time, but especially when existential concerns are painful or stressful.
Every Real Universe is easy to understand, because it is much simpler than the existential continuum. Theists, Nazis, Flat Earthers, etc. can explain their Real Universes as quickly as any Fundamentalist Materialist explains his, because of this simplicity of the edited object as contrasted with the complexity of the sensory-sensual continuum in which we live when awake (unhypnotized).
Being hypnotized by a Real Universe, we become more and more detached from the existential continuum, and are annoyed when it interferes with us.
Real Universes make us puny, however, because they are governed by Hard Laws and we are small compared to them. This is especially true of the Fundamentalist Materialist Real Universe, and explains the helplessness and apathy of materialist society. Vaguely, we know that we are hypnotized, and we do not even try to act anymore, but only re-act mechanically.
Since the criminal mentality derives from such hypnosis by a Real Universe and the helplessness and rage induced by such metaphors, the criminal becomes, more and more, the typical person of our age. When the Real Universe becomes politicizedwhen the hypnotic model is based on Us-versus-Them Aristotelian logicthe criminal graduates into the Terrorist, another increasingly typical product of the materialist era.
Against all this mechanized barbarism, existentialist psychology and humanist psychologyaided, perhaps not coincidentally, by the metaphors of quantum physicssuggests that other models of human existence are possible and thinkable and desirable.
In existentialist and humanist modelsmodels influenced by the thought and experiments of researchers such as Maslow, Sullivan, Ames, Peris, Leary, Krippner, and many othersthe human being is seen as both in-DIVIDE-ual and in-UNITE-ual, separated in some ways but connected with all things in other ways. How a human being experiences his or her world is not regarded as an immutable fact but as that humans interpretation, perhaps learned from others, perhaps self-generated. The Real Universe is regarded as a modela linguistic constructand we are stuck with existential experience, which may or may not mesh with our favorite Real Universe.
According to existential-humanist psychology, where the materialist says I perceive, it would be more correct to say I am making a bet. Concretely, in Amess cock-eyed room, we make a bet that we are seeing something familiar to us. If allowed into the room and asked to touch a corner of the ceiling with a pointer, we quickly discover the gamble in every act of perception. Typically, we hit almost everything but the corner in our first attemptsthe walls, other parts of the ceiling, etc. A strange thing happens as we go on trying. Our perceptions changewe are making a new series of bets, one after anotherand gradually we are able to find the corner we are aiming for.
The same sort of thing happens in any psychedelic drug experience, which is why existentialist-humanist models became more popular with psychologists after the 1960s. The same sort of thing, again, happens in meditationclearing the mind of its habitsand that is why so many psychologists of this tradition have been involved in researching what happens, physiologically, to those who meditate.
When we return to the ordinary world of social interactions after such shocks as the cock-eyed room, LSD or meditation, we observe that the same processes are going onpeople are making bets about which model fits best at a given timebut they are not aware of making bets. They areit must be repeatedhypnotized by their models. If the models do not fit very well, they do not revise them but grow angry at the worldat experiencefor being recalcitrant. Most typically, they find somebody to blame, as Nietzsche noted again and again.
Edmund Husserl, who was as important as Nietzsche in pioneering this kind of existential analysis, points out that, where in the materialist metaphor consciousness appears passive, once we recognize the gamble involved in every perception, consciousness appears very active indeed. Nobody is born a great pianist, or a quantum physicist, or a theologian, or a murderer: people have made themselves into those things by actively selecting what types of perception-gambles they will make habitual and what types of other experience they will edit out as irrelevant. It is no surprise, from this perspective, that the world contains Catholic reality-tunnels, Marxist reality-tunnels, musical reality-tunnels, materialist reality-tunnels, literary reality-tunnels, ad infin. It is a mild surprise, almost, that any two individuals can superimpose their reality-tunnels sufficiently to communicate at all.
This surprise vanishes when we remember that none of us was born and grew up in a vacuum. We are socialized as well as personalizedin-UNITE-uals as well as in-DIVIDE-uals. Even the most creative of us will be found, most of the time, living in a social reality-tunnel manufactured of elements which are, in some cases, thousands of years old: the very language we speak controls our perceptions (bets)our sense of possibility.
Nonetheless, the process of socialization or acculturalizationthe Game Rules by which Society imposes its group reality-tunnel on its membersis only statistically effective. Every individual seems to have a few eccentricities in her or his private reality-tunnel, even in totalitarian states or authoritarian churches. The alleged conformistthe typical bank-clerk, saywill reveal some astonishing creative acts in his or her private model, if you talk to such a person long enough.
In short, consciousness, in this model, is not a passive receptor but an active creator, busy every nanosecond in projecting the art work that is an individualized reality-tunnel and is usually hypnotically dreamed of as The Real Universe. This trance, in most cases, appears as deep as that of anybody professionally hypnotized to repress pain during surgery. The criminalwe return to this point to stress that these observations are not academic but urgently existentialrepressed sympathy and charity just as miraculously as the patient repressed pain in the above example. We are not the victims of The Real Universe; we have created the particular Real Universe that we happen to dwell in.
This existentialist-humanist psychology thus comes around to the same conclusion as the majority of quantum physicists: whatever we are talking about, our mind has been its principle architect. Nothing is real and everything is real as Gribbin says. That is, in this model, nothing is absolutely real in the philosophical sense, and everything is experienced reality to those who believe in it and select it in their perception-gambles.
If we recognize some validity in these observations and try to wake ourselves from the hypnotic trance of modeltheismif we try to recall, moment by moment, in an ordinary day that The Real Universe is only a model we have created and that existential living cannot be compressed into any modelwe enter a new kind of consciousness. What Blake called Single Vision begins to expand into multiple visioninto conscious bet-making. The person then sees abysses everywhere, in Nietzsches deliberately startling metaphor. (Blake says it more soothingly when he speaks of perceiving infinity in a grain of sand.) 4 The world of living experience is not as finite, or static, or tidy, as the trance called The Real Universe. Like Godels Proof, it contains an infinite regress. In talking to another human being for two minutes, I experience and create dozens of gambles (reality-tunnels) but never fully know that person anymore than the quantum physicist knows if the electron is a wave, or a particle, or a wavicle (as has been suggested), or something created by our acts of seeking. The other persons mood or self-at-the-moment, similarly, now seems friendly, now bored or unfriendly, now shifting too fast to be named, now something I have helped create by the act of seeking to tune in that person.
As the Buddhists say, the other person and indeed the whole continuum of experience now seems to be X and not-X and both X and not-X and neither X nor not-X. All that seems like relative certainty is that whatever I think I know about a person, or a whole world, is just my latest gamble.
One begins to perceive that there are at least two kinds of consciousness. (There seem to be many more.) In ordinary consciousness or hypnosis, models are considered The Real Universe and projected outside. In this state, we are modeltheists, Fundamentalists, and mechanical; all perceptions (gambles) are passive mechanical acts. We unconsciously (neurologically) edit and select bits of existential experience and admit them to The Real Universe only after they have been processed to accord with the laws of The Real Universe. Being mechanical and passive, we are also, or experience ourselves as, dominated by The Real Universe and pushed here and there by its brutal impersonality.
In this existentialist-humanist mode of consciousness, on the other hand, we are agnostic, and consciously recognize our models as our creations. In this state, we are model-relativists, sophisticates and actively creative; all perceptions (gambles) are actively known as gambles. We consciously seek to edit less and tune in more, and we look especially for events that do not neatly fit our model, since they will teach us to make a better model tomorrow, and an even better one the day after. We are not dominated by The Real Universe since we remember that the linguistic construct is just our latest gamble and we can make a better one quickly.
In the first, materialist mode of consciousnessas Timothy Leary sayswe are like persons sitting passively before a TV set, complaining about the rubbish on the screen but unable to do anything but endure it. In the second, existentialist mode of consciousness, to continue Learys metaphors, we take responsibility for turning the dial and discover that there is not just one show available, that choice is possible. The tuned-in is not all of existence; it is onlythe tuned-in.
To ask which mode of consciousness is true, after experiencing both, seems as pointless as asking whether light is really waves of particles, after seeing the two-hole experiment.
In fact, the emphasis on choice and creativity in existentialist-humanist psychology has an exact parallel in the two-hole experiment. Many physicists think the best metaphor to describe that experiment is to say that we create the wave or particle depending on which experimental set-up we choose.
The wave/particle complimentary seems to mirror the existential experience of consciousness even more closely when we examine it. The ordinary consciousness of the selfin the vernacular sense, with no technical philosophic doctrine impliedis much like a particle: solid, isolated, real, encapsulated by the skin and more or less static. When one becomes detached enough for neurological self-criticismfor revising models as one goes alongthe self appears more like a process and even a wavy process: it is a succession of states, rather than a state itself (as Hume noticed) and these states come and go in a wave-like manner, flowing between inner and outer. As one observes them come and go, one learns to choose desirable states, at least to the same extent that the two-hole experiment chooses waves or particles.
One of the best ways to learn to experience the wave-aspect of consciousness, of course, is listening to music, especially Baroque music, with ones eyes closed. Much quicker than Oriental meditation, this makes one aware of consciousnesss wave-like flowing aspect, and of its synergetic nature. At its richest, as in meditation, consciousness appears to become the object of its attention; there is no separation between me and the music, we say. This simple experience, available to all, makes clear that in-UNITE-ual and flowing modes of consciousness are existentially as real as the in-DIVIDE-ual particles that we normally experience as our selves.
In Dr. Learys Flashbacks (1983), he writes the latest account of his celebrated and controversial drug research with Massachusetts convicts in the early 1960s, in which, statistically, many criminals became ex-criminals, and the recidivism rate dropped dramatically. Leary emphasizes, as he always did, that there is no miracle in any drug per se, but in what he calls the set and settingthe preparation for the drug experience. This included an explanation, in simple terms, of the main points of existentialist-humanist psychology. During the drug experience, not unexpectedly, music was played. Some criminals wept, some laughed uncontrollably, some sat in silent awe: all were receiving more signals per minute than usual, and understanding how signals are usually edited. In a phrase, they were given the opportunity to look at materialist consciousness from the perspective of existentialist consciousness. It is not surprising that many of them thereafter took responsibility and ceased robotically repeating the imperatives of their old criminal reality-tunnels.
To Be Continued…
Poems by Zen Master Hsu Yun
A Time of Regulation
What luck! The chance to practice the Supreme Dharma of Emptiness
Without fear of being invaded by the foolish affairs of outside life!
Set the time of sitting! Make it just as long as it takes one fragrant incense stick to burn down.
In that time we can thread the basic principles of Buddhism into a lovely string of pearls.
One by one those marvelous concepts came from the West
To encircle our hearts here in this Eastern Land.
Here in this Temple we touch these sacred pearls
And sing their praises like the sound of ocean waves.
Looking out at the Evening View on Mount Gu after the Rain
The mountain begins to awaken, sluggish after such a drunken rain.
A little cold light filters down to this place I’m sitting in.
The unruly fog pulls itself together to clothe the trees in white;
While the setting sun splashes red onto the distant hills.
I hear the wood cutter whistle as he collects his twigs
And the fisherman sing as he pulls in his hooks
And the temple bell ring from way beyond the clouds.
The cranes, startled, flap into flight.
Ten Thousand Buddha Mountain – Red Flower Grotto
This place used to be called Red Flower Grotto.
Now it’s called Ten Thousand Buddha Mountain.
Visitors come here to play chess
And listen to the pouring rain safe inside their plaited huts.
The beauty of a thousand peaks still fills this grotto.
Streams flow into it and pools turn nine times as they form.
In the countryside nearby, tigers prowl.
Above, the pines jut into the sky just as they did in the days of Han.
The Spirit Dragon flies around through the dark rain.
But only white ghostly visions dance through the Chan gate of Awakening.
The Sangha gather beyond the boundary of the blue sky.
The Sangha spend their leisure with the white clouds.
Entrance to the Way
So many people enter the hall to practice.
How many of them carry that long sword
The sword of Heavenly Reliance?
Everything has to be hacked to pieces.
Saints, demons, everything!
Blood has to be splattered all over the mansions of heaven.
That’s the Direct Teaching!
Pull down those golden locked gates to the Profound
That guard the Entrance to the Way.
Be fierce when you sit! Make your sitting a blade that hacks through the
wilderness of incomprehension.
Let your eye pierce the Emptiness!
Expose that True Face
The One that was yours before your mother gave birth.