Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Heaven and Hell: Living By The Days

“The junk merchant doesn't sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to his product. He does not improve and simplify his merchandise. He degrades and simplifies the client.”
― William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch 

" It is clear from Gurdjieff's writings that hypnotism, mesmerism and various arcane methods of expanding consciousness must have played a large part in the studies of the Seekers of Truth. None of these processes, however, is to be thought of as having any bearing on what is called Black Magic, which, according to Gurdjieff, "has always one definite characteristic. It is the tendency to use people for some, even the best of aims, without their knowledge and understanding, either by producing in them faith and infatuation or by acting upon them through fear.
-P. L. Travers, in "Gurdjieff" in Man, Myth and Magic : Encyclopedia of the Supernatural

It could be that there is no Heaven or Hell outside of the manner in which we have interpreted what our imagination is capable of imaging from the precepts of language found in repetition and variation of these demarcations without any more subtle distinctions whatsoever, throughout the centuries. Or so it seems.

Of course, these two polar and binary terms are also cultural software as control points for would be intercessions that are valuated as arbiters of reward and punishment by strange desires and strange fears founded in "war is peace" and freedom is slavery" as Orwell dissected the normalcy of our cultural architecture.

The human tribe seems to be an unfinished work, a dress rehearsal for some future state as they are material in biological, psychological, and sensory adaptations to a planetary natural ecology.

 “The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”
― R.D. Laing

The aggregate sum of physicality,sensation,emotion, cognition and individuated mindsets all reinforce a pragmatism that rationality is understandably based upon, yet these are steered  into a consensus of the lowest rung of consensual terms to make them coherent. 
Coherency comes at a price of cross purposed "normalcy" that is perhaps  lunatic in degrees, lacking very little self awareness in terms of these only being a means of the human geometry of orientation by adaptation.  

"To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself -- that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink." -George Orwell

 What survival meant 2,00 years ago and what it constitutes now has changed yet correspondingly, very little in my book in terms of instinct still being a major player in alleged rationality, perhaps as Freud would say the Id of a delusional "I" as appearances only infer and suggest the reinforcement of rationality to ourselves as a animal species, when in reality, our behavior as an aggregate sum is irrational.

 “Nobody should be whipped. Remember that, once and for all. Neither man nor animal can be influenced by anything but suggestion.”
― Mikhail Bulgakov, Heart of a Dog

While other living creatures as we term them, adhere closely to the slings and arrows of the environment, we have multi-level, paralleled  choices that are apparent to us, that are unique both in terms of the species and individuated variations of what we seem to be.

Of course, all this may be exclusionary as a qualifier if this matter of apparent choices are simply inherited delusions of grandeur as a strong psychological barrier that nature has tricked us with to pick our pockets. Perhaps this is the isthmus of another sort of Heaven and Hell, a subtle yet inherently pervasive and persuasive dream state.

There is an Eastern tale which speaks about a very rich magician who had a great many sheep. But at the same time this magician was very mean. He did not want to hire shepherds, nor did he want to erect a fence about the pasture where his sheep were grazing. The sheep consequently often wandered into the forest, fell into ravines, and so on, and above all they ran away, for they knew that the magician wanted their flesh and skins and this they did not like.
At last the magician found a remedy. He hypnotized his sheep and suggested to them first of all that they were immortal and that no harm was being done to them when they were skinned, that, on the contrary, it would be very good for them and even pleasant; secondly he suggested that the magician was a good master who loved his flock so much that he was ready to do anything in the world for them; and in the third place he suggested to them that if anything at all were going to happen to them it was not going to happen just then, at any rate not that day, and therefore they had no need to think about it. Further the magician suggested to his sheep that they were not sheep at all; to some of them he suggested that they were lions, to others that they were eagles, to others that they were men, and to others that they were magicians.
And after this all his cares and worries about the sheep came to an end. They never ran away again but quietly awaited the time when the magician would require their flesh and skins.
This tale is a very good illustration of man’s position."

-G.I Gurdjieff

Suggestion, inference and the biology of hypnotism appear to underline other steering genetic mechanisms that suggest that the Gnostic concept of nature being a gilded cage that is akin to domestic farming practices, or the sacrificing of animals and human ones as well to do an end run around this situation in terms of influencing the exterior ecology, while the ecology of mind remains in lockstep with delusions of freedom that are held by the digestive organ of experience, the identifying, associating semiotics of reactive semiotics, the individual human being as having been defined and nurtured as a "personality", what metaphysical texts call "the false personality" or the delusion of "I".

One thinks of Billy Crystal's character Fernando when looking at cultural totems "that it is better to look good than feel good."

Whether it is Melville or Jonah, we have the would be evangelical seeking of recompense in justice leading to a comeuppance. A tale of "personality" attempting to do away with a presumed foe, whether it is Jonah's inherent dislike of his fellow "seafarers" by his constant criticism of them , leading him to be thrown overboard, or Ahab's attempted removal of injurious nature. Swallowed by or stabbing the Leviathan of Nature. Take your pick. Then, from another perspective, we have the more esoteric variant of a question of whether the Leviathan is Legion as nature's way of suiting it's purposes in a transactional exchange. 

Of course then there is Lucifer, also in rebellion against nature either seen as having the pride of ignorance toward his own nature, hence nature itself, as well as that of being a "light bearer". Somewhere in the middle
he is burning away the crust of what contains him down to ash, through equal amounts of centuries, chained daily to the mountaintop, having his internal organs eaten away by nature's birds of prey.A Sufi Comic Book will suffice.

The death of personality is an interesting topic as it seems rather inevitable and is a source of great cultural fear in the West, as if a human could be simply a reactive well of set points by distinctions in a sort of animated, semiotic automatism. Death is defined as the death of personality. Today, I look at television for a few minutes and what do I observe in terms of emphasis on personality everywhere. Interesting as a litmus test of delusional pawns in a game of nature, having their pockets picked as the sacrificial blood courses through their jugular veins which is also a cause for empathy. It seems you either adapt or adaptation is done for you without your participation.

It seems we can either chose to suffer the pain of exposure of the personalities as in "man's name is legion" now or suffer the consequences arising from it later but there is no end run except in imagination turned toxic. So much dynamism from so many dimensions, that appears sentient but is the cellular nature of misaligned language babbling on , talking to itself.

We ( as a species) think we can talk ourselves out of being under a dangling sword. It is amazing in a depressing manner how many decades have passed in self referential babble unsuitable to actual resolution as a tact to avoid and subtly deny certain issues like the heaven and hell we are lodged between subject to purging.


  1. How much of this is a predicament of man's position in Nature, and how much is a symptom of the era we live in? I'm probably reading too much into what you've written, but the concerns raised echo much of what the "post-marxists" and "new left" have critiqued over the past 50+ years. Even the mention of R.D. Laing brought up connections to the "Sozialistisches Patientenkollektiv" and the belief that much (all?) of the mental-illness we see is a symptom/reaction to capitalist society.

    Getting back to my point though, I'm curious how much you see the problems you described as inherent to our existence vs problems raised by/since the Enlightenment (and/or reactions to the latter as fascism & post-modernism).

  2. My view is that while era's come and go with their institutionalized cultures and economic underpinnings, nature as observed in the human animal has not, and there is little resistance to inference and suggestion in society then or now. Civilizations come and go and yet tellingly, at the root of this behavior, it is business as usual, regardless of the type of "business" this happens to be, at the time. Of course, changes around the core have occurred as the centuries recycle themselves, the actors change, the plot lines variate but the dynamics of ourselves as a self harvesting organism remains. It exponentially grows in scope as if the need from an unknown ecology grows that requires this "conscious" stultification. The question is not one that takes us off the hook but in my view but requires a resistance that capitalism is very effective in diminishing but so was Rome, the USSR etc in doing so. My concern is the scope if you will of the next harvest.