In answer to a friend’s inquiry:
I’ll put it this way, you speak of a mystic turn in your personal life. I’ll admit that my own quest – so to speak, has been one that has tried to push beyond either traditional religious indoctrination, and – as well, the whole gamut of Secular indoctrination… the notion of the Real that so many use as a sort of limit concept is this blank wall against which thought comes to a point past which it cannot use those mind-tools that have for millennia been built up through either religious orthodoxies or through secular philosophical modes. We are living in a moment when the utter breakdown of both religious and philosophical truths that have guided human kind for millennia – whether of Western or Eastern forms, is forcing some of us to abandon them altogether rather than to try to “pour new wine into old bottles”. We do not need reform, rather we need a revolution in thought and praxis: a new mode of being-in-the-world.
So that what we term this beast we call New Age thought is like the era of Greek syncretism delving into counter-cultural praxis, seeking experiential truth rather than universal knowledge or discourse. Some like Bataille with his “inner experience” would tentatively operate in this quasi in-between transitional zone, seeking a form of the sacred outside both secular and religious imaginal or philosophical speculation. For myself going back to my early involvement with LSD, Peyote, Mushrooms, Ayaheusca and other natural plant substances and sub-cultural environs I felt that there are certain experiences that mainstream cultures of our present era have missed, misconstrued, and anathematized as too dangerous for the public at large; so they outlawed these avenues of exploration.
With the crackdown on psychedelic drugs in the early 70’s these same authorities were flooding the streets with the dangerous drugs of cocaine, heroin and other barbiturates from redelin to meth (uppers), yellows and reds (downers) etc. – all drugs that put one either in a stupor or into hyperactive psychosis. It was at this time that I began doing research and study in the deep history of these other visionary drugs and cultures of ecstasy and Dionysian reality, seeking in the indigenous worlds of ancient shamanic, Voudoun, and other ecstatic systems a remembrance of such mind systems that could deprogram my involvement with this death-world. I would seek in the poets such as Rimbaud and the literature of the gothic, dark romantic, decadent, Dadists, Surrealists, etc. a way to unleash these darker areas of mentation and feeling that had been forgotten, outlawed, and left in abeyance awaiting the moment of their return.
So that I’ve learned to segment off my private path from this public persona that delves into speculative philosophy, etc. One thing I’ve discovered about such an inner path: one cannot convey it with traditional symbols of discourse or narrative, so I haven’t tried too much to do this except here and there on my site as I think you know. People either fear such experience, or criminalize it (i.e, if their of naturalist and scientific orientation they dismiss it as subjective gibberish, and if they are either secular or religious they dismiss it because their world-view and orientation disallows them to accept anything beyond their own local and colloquial mind-set or echo chamber beliefs.). And it is this sense of a need to deprogram our minds of the cultural and enculturation of Western or Eastern symbolic and reasonable indoctrination that is at the core of this path. Most people turn back because it entails a movement of – and, this is the closest I can say, what Deleuze/Guattari meant by the schizophrenizing process: this deprogramming the mind of its Western cultural ideological, political, religious, philosophical, sociological, etc. etc. orientation, symbols, and myths – whether scientific or religious.
There are a few guideposts into such realms of being, and so like many of my generation we sought out the counter-cultural underground of drugs, sex, rock-n-roll, magic, Kabbalah, Hermeticism, and all other sub-traditional systems that have constructed diagrammatic and sigil based thought-forms to re-orient the brain and break down the mainstream cultural enculturation, deprogram the psyche and lead us through this schizophrenizing process of breakthrough rather than breakdown. Such a life path is obviously not for the feint of heart. Simply put one can enter the abyss and not return, go mad and star craving psychotic unless one lends ear to one who has gone before. For some of us there were no such guides, only persistence. I’ll tell you my whole life has been pushing the extremes of transgressive schizophrenizing process for 45 years…
Obviously to let that cat out of the bag is to expose oneself to the usual ridicule or worse… but, you know, at this point in life I don’t give a shit. I might as well begin letting people know of such worlds. What do we have to lose? Obviously most philosophy and religion so called offers nothing but bullshit. Most politics is dead and mute, and most people in our culture are so passive that they’ve allowed the rich and wealthy, powerful and crazed to rule our Western world without much of a real battle. Our present world is a nightmare novel come alive. Many are seeking a way out of this dark lair of history, but have no one to speak truth to them. Sadly, many fall into the trap of seeking messianic cults, and there are plenty of money grubbing and religious fanatics around to lure in the gullible. Look a Scientology, Mormonism, and any other of the 1001 cults here in the good ole U.S.A. that promise people salvation, transcendence, are escape and end up asking them to sign away their estates, bank accounts, and livelihoods for enslavement. For the many who have never had a chance to break out of their local environments or mind-sets, those who have never cracked a book, who live in a sort of mindlessness such lures that offer exit from the madness of our current cultural break down seem like paradisial escape hatches. Their not.
I’ve often thought of opening up, but then I remember the times I foolishly tried to convey my life’s history and struggles through this long process and realize it’s a fool’s errand to speak about that which cannot be put down in words. And, yet, people in our time seem to be awakening out of the fog of our enculturation, realizing the world we live in is a sham. A world that has become so fake that the control mechanisms that the rich and powerful use to keep things tamped down, the mediatainment complex, the indoctrination mechanisms of orthodox religion and secularism are fraying around the edges. These ideological and socio-cultural tools of the powerful are decaying and falling apart in our time and people no longer trust leaders, politics, or the Reality Studio that governs our minds and hearts. People are disgusted with the world the .01% has perpetrated upon us. The criminalization of existence and its contamination by a false system of fictions is coming undone around us, the lies our leaders have instilled in us, indoctrinated us with for so long are ending.
Yet, this is opening a Pandora’s box of ills as well. People are feeling alone, realizing that both their traditional and secular orientations no longer offer them solace. That we are in the midst of a great confrontation with the Real, one that is disinterring a nightmare of war, famine, and disease across the earth. People are afraid, not for themselves as much as for their children’s future. Will they have one? We hear of climate change, sixth extinctions, possible natural or socio-cultural catastrophes just around the corner. People take up survival ideologies, apocalypse escape methods, etc. as if this, too, were a new faith, one that will orient them and prepare them for some long expected doom. Sometimes I think this, too, is just another symptom of our time’s demise, the slow unravelling of our culture and its myths. Even the sciences has been now shown to be a force in politics, and politicians on both sides of the isle garner their experts to present the latest “truth” about such catastrophic futures. Some have called ours the post-truth era, many that truth as a universal thought-form is a lie, that truth is a political and social tool in the hands of our elite intellectuals.
Even these so called intellectuals live in a controlled world, funded by the very rich and powerful. The vast network of Think Tanks, Academic Institutions, Media systems, Churches, Psychologists-Psychiatrists, etc., all the public institutions that have experts whose technics and technologies control the reality systems we have all shared in this cultural world of modernity has become a sort of Temple or Cathedral of Knowledge. We depend of these experts to tell us about everything from physics and the cosmos, to the safety of our food, etc. We live in a technocracy – a world ruled by experts who are paid by one or another faction of the Oligarchic and Plutocratic Corporate machine.
It’s easy to satirize such a world, but much more difficult to exit it. I know I’m no guru, no self-styled expert of inner-experience to tell you or anyone what to do, how to escape this malaise, what path to choose that is right or true. I’m just another singular being like you and you and that person over there who is fed up with the bullshit. All I can offer is my own singular history which seems to be all I really have. For all my learning over the years, for all my deep and lasting experiences I still hesitate to convey such things in words for the simple reason that if one could actually awaken people, help people then – and, I ask, wouldn’t it have already happened? Look at Christ, Buddha, Mohamed, Confucius, are any number of a thousand and one other men or women (and, yes, long before the saviors there were Goddess oriented societies we know very little of…). No. I want presume to be anything more than I am: an average man who woke up one day and questioned the world, the Reality Studio and fictions, narratives, symbolic net of ideas, ideologies, and religious and secular systems that control our lives and found them wanting. Then I, like so many before me, and hopefully after me began that long and slow exit from the prison world. I’m still exiting…
One could say I’m a Gnostic of sorts, except that in my own view the ancient Gnostics literalized or ontologized their perceptions and thought of the Real. Following Plato they sought to escape this ‘world’ – the literal universe of evil as they termed it, whereas for me there is no transcension of this realm: this is it, and yet, what we discover is not a literal dichotomy or separation as in Plato’s two-worlds theory of a supernal eternal realm of Ideas and a mundane and evil realm of delusion, but rather it is our Mind’s, our Brains that have locked us into a perception of the world controlled by political, social, cultural, religious, and philosophical malfeasance. The world in-itself is not evil, what is evil is the dominion of our minds and hearts under regimes of power in high places that have constructed an Iron Prison of thought and feeling to trap us and suck our desires dry for their own sustenance and pleasure.
It is against the rulers of this dark prison world of mind, the Oligarchs, Plutocrats, philosophical and religious overlords of our ideological realms of acceptable thought and truth we fight and resist in this new gnosis. Such as it is we seek to exit this system of lies and deceit even as we unravel and destroy its symbolic hold over our lives. For years I struggle against the separation of religious and secular forms that entrap us to false infinities: to a metaphysics of defeat and despair, pessimism and doom. Most of the world is oriented to trap us in a sense of despair and doom to make us dependent and needy, so that we will allow the State to supervene in our lives and offer assistance and numbing drugs, pharmaceuticals, therapies, etc. to realign us to its prison system and put us back asleep and oblivion becoming in the process robotically compliant to the work and labour of creating surplus value for the wealthy and powerful.
In many ways Marx was absolutely correct in his estimation of this world we live in, and yet because he reduced everything to economics and a false understanding of materialism and history (bound as he was within the humanist traditions of Nineteenth Century thought-forms) he was unable to break free of the human-centric worldview of his own time. One can see this even in such current thinkers as Badiou and Zizek who are still bound to the Idealisms of the Nineteenth Century based of the notion of Subject/Substance no matter how remarkable otherwise their knowledge of mathematics or philosophy of action. Their inverted Idealisms are still based on the Kantian world for-us as if everything in the universe was wrapped around the human as an exception, generic or collective or singular. It matters not, for until we dissolve this illusory and metaphysical world of Subjects we will not free ourselves of the traps our overlords have laid for us.
It would be easy to slip into some comfortable framework, to use the discursive archive as Foucault suggested to enforce my thought-forms, to speak truth within the discursive practices that are accepted in academic and scholarly circles of established rules, regulatory thought, etc., except that that would be to reject the very orientation of my being and breakthrough. Why return to a mold that is outworn and useless? What does philosophy or even anti-philosophy offer us today? Nothing. And, I mean just that, a philosophy of nothing. It’s as if philosophy at the end of its tether had realized the ancient Gnostic insight of the kenoma – the vastation, the great emptiness of things, the void of the void, the nihil unbound. And, yet, it comes to this by way of a complex discourse that speaks neither to the common man nor even to the general public, but rather to specialists of philosophical speculation: Continental or Analytical. Experts. Let us be done with experts, with specialists, with the practitioners of arcane thought and speculations that offer us no way out of this dark realm of political and social control and malfeasance.
If life has taught me anything it is that we have to challenge ourselves, break our habitual habits and safety nets of thought and feeling, we have to learn how to learn, break away from the habits that lock us into comfortable paths of acceptance and keep us safely in a cocoon of belief. That’s the difficult thing, breaking free of habits of mind and feeling leaves us vulnerable, open. To risk freedom is to be alone with the alone, to step out of our cocoon and suddenly realize we have nothing to fall back on, not belief system or thought-form to rely on, we are in a universe that is incomplete and open and we are alone in it without support or guide other than others of like kind who share our need to exit this prison world of modernity.
I’d be the first to admit that most people who even open the first door to such freedom become terrified and retreat into the safety of their habits, beliefs, and comfort zones of friends, work, and mediatainment. They soon forget such exit’s are possible, and think that anyone who seeks such freedom and exit is mad and insane. Our brain’s are truly conservative, conserving and circumventing every avenue of escape with mental thoughts and forms that present stop signs at every juncture dissuading us on our way, seeking to turn us back from such exit into freedom. If I use such old existential terms and truisms is because they speak to this feeling we’ve all felt that when we step out of our comfort zone we suddenly do feel nausea, a sickness of heart and mind. And, most, turn away from such ruptures in their worldview, retreat to the blind comfort of the homeworlds of thought and feeling never to open that door of risk again. Sleepers love their sleeping worlds of imprisonment to habit and feeling. Trying to speak to one who is asleep is to disturb them and confront them with this ugly realm. They will hate you for it. People do not want to wake up, their lives are comfortable and bland, yet safe. And it’s this sense of being safe and secure that allows them to accept the pain and suffering, the enslavement and work, the misery of existence in this society without qualm or effort.
Have you asked yourself why with all the harsh austerity imposed by banks, governments, and corporations across the EU and U.S.A. people have not rebelled or revolted? Because they’d rather be safe in their misery than to expose themselves to the risk of freedom. Instead of organizing themselves to challenge this world of degradation they either fall into the protest mill or religious tautologies of ancient belief systems that tell them this world is evil and the only escape is in the next life… so they except their miserable fate in this world and shrug their shoulders believing the problems we face as humanity are too big for any one individual so why try? So they close their eyes and go back to sleep.
When my friend spoke of his interest in mystical experience I suddenly realized that this, too, is a form of escape not exit. Exit entails resistance and change whereas mystical withdrawal whether in its negative ascetic form or ecstatic transgressive form is neither change nor resistance but rather a path of pure annihilation. Seeking not to exit the social and political through the shared construction of a new world vision and life and mode of existence, but rather what these mystically inclined seek is to transcend time and existence altogether. This is the path of false infinity…
I’ve chewed your ear off enough this morning… time to let you chew the cud above. I’ll return with other fare down the pipe as I always do. Good Day!