Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Left at Dawn for the Eternal City; It Seems that I Have Misplaced Several Days/ Part 7

By Brian George

"The Reichstag will again burn bright with dancing human UFOs”—B.G.

Hi CJ (Moore),

When I read your work, I sometimes feel that I have been picked up and transported through a mirror into the world of 1967; at the same time, I am very much aware that I am in a dream that a magician has conjured for my enjoyment, and that I might, at any time, wake up.

As I breathe in and out, and scan my psyche and my body to take note of my responses, I find that this experience brings with it a great sense of nostalgia—a kind of bittersweet nostalgia—which is very different from any kind of sentimental longing for the past. I use the word “nostalgia” in the way that it was used by de Chirico; it refers to a complex and multi-dimensional emotion, rooted in one’s perception of the infinite, which has to do with being seized by the vertigo of Time.

The vertigo of Time! As I say this, I think of those crude special-effect hypnotic spirals that you might find in a Hitchcock movie or in the opening of “The Twilight Zone.”

On the simplest level, there is the dizziness in the head and the sense of falling in the solar plexus that many of us feel when we think about lost youth. On the next level up and out, there is ache in the heart produced by loss of the “American Dream”—as embodied by the Golden Age of the 1950s—or by the sinking of the neo-Atlantis of the 1964-1972 version of the Counterculture. As we spiral out, there are even more expansive and almost incomprehensible levels, in which we feel that entire worlds and all records connected to them have been carried off.

You wrote, “We are learning to speak gibberish—this is no joke; the more we read everything under the sun, moon, stars, and galaxies, the more insane things appear…Speaking gibberish is not unlike speaking about history, or philosophy, or looking into the heart of ancient texts. Gnosis is total gibber-gabber, and the Gnostic is like a patient who has been let out of a mental institution, who then stands beside the highway, waving at cars…

“But there is a deeper dimension to this and I believe that this what Brian George is getting at; it's the lines between the lines of all this language that has been getting the better of us since the first word was projected into light, and then all the rest has been chaos masquerading as order…At the point where the gibberish begins to make some kind of sense, we will be speaking an alien tongue...Poetry is the opening of the way, or third eye, or 4th dimension…”

As you move from Lautreamont  to Rimbaud to Breton to Bukowski to Lamantia, and then from the Beatles to the present to the Apocalypse and then back, I am escorted around each turn of the hypnotic spiral by your language—which must be regarded as the instrument of a perpetual revolution.

Your language is a foreign agent, only sometimes comprehensible; it is a stone against which no philosopher can argue. It is the telepathic charge of the Lingam at the Yoni, and of the happy couple against the critics that man the Out of Doors Museum, on whose barricades the couple has now volunteered to die. Your language is a map that is the same size as the city. It is the “negentropic” songbird that Dada hijacked from the cage of Babel.

Your language is not bigger than the Zero; it has cut the head from Goliath, the champion of the International Monetary Fund. It is a slight-of-hand more powerful than any weapon in the universe.

Your language testifies to the value of the “transvaluation of all values”; it is a mustache drawn by the Mona Lisa on Duchamp. It is the key to the centrifugal catastrophe of Surrealism, to the spiral that drives each transported genius mad, thus turning One against All. Your language is a kind of “free associative” wound, by means of which the dead are encouraged to be healthy. It is a flower sprung from the fallout of Chernobyl, the chant that will levitate the Pentagon, a Molotov cocktail thrown against the “glass house” of the technocrat, whose plumbing it will illuminate, and whose data banks it will flush.

In the same way that the failed revolutions of 1848 gave birth the European Avant-Garde, your writing transposes the visionary promise of the Counterculture into the realm of symbolic action.

(Illustration: Andre Masson, Meditation on an Oak Leaf)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Left at Dawn for the Eternal City; It Seems that I Have Misplaced Several Days/ Part 6

By Brian George

“Eternity is in love with the productions of Time.”—Blake

Hi CJ (Moore),

You wrote, “Obviously, there are a lot of layers to how revision works. How you hone your skills—it's a secret process, but it's also just a lot of tweaking the nuance. It took me many years to find that point where I would just be able to write off the top of my head.”

My own method is an altogether more cautious mix of adventure and reflection. A corollary to my openness to edge-of-consciousness intuition is that I must guard against any tendency toward “inflation,” against the sense that my every off-hand utterance is a breakthrough. To be on the cutting edge I must keep my cutting edge, and be willing, with the coldness of an alien doctor, to employ it on myself. There are plenty more images where the last one came from. An a-causal web connects one image to another. The correspondences may be tenuous, yes, but I must probe to insure that they are not frail.
Out of the 7 ½ billion people on the planet, I had thought that it was I alone who had been chosen to speak fluently! Has a spontaneously arising insight come from beyond the context of one’s culture—as an answer, perhaps, to a question that one had not thought to ask—or is it only a bit of random data, spit out by one’s automated response system?

 “Doing” must be counterbalanced by “not doing.” Worlds of information can be transmitted in a flash, but that split-second can take an hour or a day or a month or many years to fully translate into human terms. The process unfolds in what I call “Caribbean time.” Time moves as fast or as slowly as is demanded by the action; one’s mood in response to its passage is irrelevant, and, in any case, alters as one surrenders to its flow. For 26,000 years I have turned an image in my hands; only lately has it been turned into a three-dimensional object. A creative climax can be indefinitely postponed—without any damage to the organs of perception.

Life is what happens when one is doing something else. Having exited, with great cacophony, from the womb, one then plays ball and graduates from school, gets pointless job, and, on weekends, continues to do art, falls in love, becomes a parent, all the while lifting up one’s life’s blood to the daimon. If one follows an almost indecipherable code, he will, in turn, reciprocate with breath.

I write in order to give instructions to myself, or rather to receive them, after whacking myself, as well as others, in the head. If my images seem obscure, so be it. Let the reader wrestle with my “free associations.” To myself, quietly, I laugh at the ordeal that they often represent. However much my craft might seem non-linear, I am actually trying very hard to be clear. One small paragraph in "Birds of a Feather and the Playthings of the 12” took somewhere around 10 hours to write. Nonetheless, it is probably true that my work is not so much intended to be "read" as it is intended to be "re-read,” and lived with. In their sockets, the blind eyes of my duplicate roll—to space turning back. His tongue cleaves to the roof of his mouth. Most often sealed, his lips are the doors to a library that may, at certain intervals, open. The strength of one’s intention is the key.

Always, I prefer to be working at the cutting-edge of my understanding, but I have also reached an age at which the tone of my work is somewhat retrospective; I am attempting to synthesize and master the past 25 or so years-worth of what Eliot described as "raids on the inarticulate." At the moment, my favorite composer is Franz Joseph Haydn, who I regard as a kind of undiscovered continent. No self-respecting avant-guardist would see Haydn as a role model, but I do. A few years ago I would have scoffed at the idea. Thus the "classical" and the "experimental" aspects of my work are held in a precarious, and each day to be renegotiated, balance.

Acts of metaphysical violence have removed the seer’s eyes. So be it! In the end, the true explorer must be willing to start over. It is he who must become visible to the powers that would find him, who may, if they are not busy, help. He is glad that it is dark, for the sun does not actually illuminate very much, nor does its light travel far out into space, however much we think that we cannot live without it. He opens stars with his feet. The opacity of the sign is in no way accidental: See he must—by alternate means. As was done to him, let him also do for others. Into the eggshell of the head we must reinsert the Macrocosm. The swelling will be temporary—a year or two, at most!—but some pain may be involved. “If we do not expect the unexpected then we will not discover it,” said Heraclitus, “since it is not to be searched out and is difficult to apprehend.”

(Illustration: Brian George, Head with lightning bolt, 2004)

Monday, April 23, 2012

I Left at Dawn for the Eternal City; It Seems that I Have Misplaced Several Days/ Part 5

By Brian George

“The Poles are within us, insurmountable while waking…”—Paul Celan

Hi Dark Nerve,

You wrote, “It is fair to say that we could all benefit from developing a certain double-mindedness so that we can grow more comfortable with paradox—because paradox is the rule and not the exception. Our consciousness will remain limited to what we see, hear, touch, taste and smell until we begin to utilize our inherent gifts of telepathy and clairvoyance…

“We should not be too eager for strict interpretations of our place or purpose in the larger scheme of things. The strict logician refuses to open his senses to the divinatory aspect of human consciousness and is therefore unable to see and hear his way into other worlds. Because he finds the prophetic problematic, he seeks evidence to support his incomprehension…. The ultimate nature of the riddle of the universe will not be fully discerned by either the credulous or the skeptical. We must move beyond skepticism and superstition to even grasp an iota of the complexity of our role as humans in this vast universe. There are always unknown quantities lurking beneath the surface of what we call reality.”

I sometimes feel that we are standing side by side on a ledge, overlooking a vast landscape—exploding with life and pulsing with arcane geometries—which we are attempting, in our own small and yet inventive ways, to describe.

"Those would seem to be conifers,” says one, “but what are they doing so far south?” “Yes,” says the other, “and why does that road appear to lead to a constellation? Perhaps, a few feet down, there is a megalithic complex where it intersects with that other road, whose outlines are just visible when we view it from this distance.” If we listen, we can hear the stones hum, as if they were giant batteries, supercharged with Vril.” In a shift of focus, the first one then remarks, “Have you noticed how the sun keeps changing color? It started out as yellow, then went to black, and it is now a kind of Islamic green.” “I am quite familiar with this particular shade of green,” says the other. “It is the green of a hieroglyphic leaf on the World Tree, the green of the Tablets of Hermes Trismagistes.”

The sun rises and sets simultaneously. Many years pass in a fraction of a second. Says the first, “I feel certain that we are standing at 30 degrees longitude, and 33 degrees latitude—just west of the center of the landmass of Pangaea. Already, we can observe a few tectonic cracks, from between which leaks the light of a split atom.”

“We cannot stay here long, in this state of free-associative transparency, “says the other. “But, then again, perhaps ‘space is the place,’ as Sun Ra said; it is always possible that there is nowhere else to go. Even now you can hear the chant of the intoxicated multitudes, as they praise the current that has taught them how to die. Their Kamikaze battle cries are not different from their laughter. ‘Space is the place’—first rising on a froth of drums and flutes, the mantra circulates around the four corners of Pangaea, before crashing against the ‘glass ceiling’ of a 64 cube tetrahedron.”

Meanwhile, small groups of critics are always eager to remind us of the laws and prohibitions that we have somehow overlooked. For example, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me…”

“Do you not know that it is impermissible to comment on a tree?” says one critic, “Since no one tree can embody the full breadth or complexity of Nature.” “Similarly,” chimes in another, “it is best to avoid any self-indulgent talk about the existence of a ‘landscape,’ since a ‘landscape’ is just an abstraction made from individual trees.” And so on, and so forth—ad infinitum. Who needs reptilian overlords when we are all so willing to subvert our own perceptions? Such criticisms are quite often labyrinthine in their stealth, and can be just as easily phrased in the language of scientific reductionism, or of social justice, or of a popularized version of Zen Buddhism; behind it all, there is a Western distrust of direct contact with the Absolute that goes back many thousands of years.

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” or so the saying goes, but there is no law that compels our teachers to be patient. Fed up, they may just have decided to grab us by the hair. Now, as the sun is plunging towards the Earth, with its color changing from one moment to the next, with its eight arms, like superweapons, rotating, sending waves of fear through the majority of Earth’s 7 ½ billion: it is possible that, at last, we will have sufficient light by which to read. If so, the age of the light bulb will be over.

(Illustration: Deniz Ozan-George, Untitled, 2010)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Left at Dawn for the Eternal City; It Seems that I Have Misplaced Several Days/ Part 4

By Brian George

“There was Earth inside them, and they dug”—Paul Celan

Hi Jeff,

You wrote, “The main point I made was that I could not reconcile the call for transparency with an article I could not comprehend. It was not the context—I am familiar with many of the other thinkers you cite—but the meaning.”

There has perhaps been some misunderstanding about this concept of “transparency.” As you say, in the form that I present it, the meaning of this concept would seem to be anything but self-evident. In this, it is similar to the space inside an atom, which physicists now tell us is 99 percent empty. How strange, then, that the one percent that we do see is so good at blocking our view. The world is an act of archaic conjuration—a bird up the sleeve, a box to be sawed in half—and yet, to us, it is the emptiness that seems unreal.

The transparency that I am talking about is not the transparency of a government bureaucracy, but rather the transparency that will allow us to see from one dimension to another—from center to circumference, and then back again to center. It is the transparency of the self as a kind of grounded electrical outlet, which is located only as a matter of convenience on the Earth. It is the transparency to be found on the back side of the mirror, through which we have learned to slip. There, at last, we will have learned to ask better questions, and, though information would still operate on a “need to know” basis, there would, in fact, be very little that we do not need to know. It is the transparency that will empower us reenter our “junk DNA,” whose stairways we will climb, and whose hieroglyphs we will once more learn to read. We must make up for many years of inattention.

Have I fully achieved this type of transformation in myself? No, not at all, but I have had any number of experiences that suggest what the implications of this mode of transparency would be. The goal is to make the human Body/Mind the equivalent of space—not physical space, but rather the space of the “Akasha”—the non-existent fullness from which opaque worlds erupt, and in relation to which all forms are not other than hallucinations.

In my poetry, I often choose to personify this “concept” of “Akasha” as a goddess—as an infinite library with the capacity to act. Within her body, time moves in a series of interlocking formats, both forwards and backwards, nor is one location separate from another. To illustrate: a reference to the destruction of the World Trade Towers appears in a poem called “Descent,” which I wrote in 1992. The relevant section reads, “The World Trade Towers for a fourth time fall. Their shadows stand. The holder of “hegal” has launched the 53rd Kirugu. The master of the Abzu, Enki, sails towards Gaia in his magur boat. There were wheels inside of wheels. Today it came. Each saw the event that long ago they spoke of. Industrial strength sacrifices flash and then repeat before the large eyes of the watchers at the circumference of the Zodiac.”

(Illustration: The inside of an egg, 2002)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Left at Dawn for the Eternal City; It Seems That I Have Misplaced Several Days/ Part 3

By Brian George

The brow of the universe bears no eclipse

Hi Bogomil,

You wrote, “Did I detect an inclination towards a Richard Bach's attitude (Jonathan Livingston Seagull): Existence is either a school or for entertainment...? This is a simplistic assumption, against which I would propose a hardcore Gnostic option: If the universe/cosmos is 'error', there's nothing to learn or enjoy except finding an end to ignorance (of reality), i.e. finding 'gnosis'…Which leads me to the next step; how do we find 'gnosis'/ realization/ knowledge? You make it seem easy by assuming Samsara equals Nirvana (and later returning to this by stating that there's a hair-thin line between 'error' and truth)…”

And a bit later on in your post, “'Everything is OK' is a highly debatable point, not centering on the inconvenience of terminating the 'ego' or even fear of death, but on the existence of suffering…When my cat takes a mouse, the mouse suffers in a direct and very un-academic way.”

I do not believe that I said specifically that “Samsara equals Nirvana,” but, if I did, I was not the first to make this correlation, which is anything but a recent New Age nostrum. Perhaps the most succinct statement of this idea can be found in the “Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra,” more commonly referred to as the “Heart Sutra,” which announces, “Emptiness is form and form is emptiness.” This is not an elitist statement, since it virtually eliminates the difference between “self” and “other.” It is also one of the key concepts upon which the elaborate superstructure of Mahayana Buddhism is balanced. As you probably know, monks in Mahayana Buddhism take a vow that they will not cross over fully into Enlightenment until they can take all past and future beings along with them.

“All life is suffering” is the first of the four “noble truths” propounded by the Buddha. This is followed by “The origin of suffering is attachment”—i.e. “attachment’ to any “dualistic” point of view. If there is no difference between the “self” and the “other,” then empathy for the sufferings of others is not a question of personal virtue or of adherence to any external system of morality; it is instead a matter of the clear perception of reality—one cannot help but feel, and to then “help” in whatever way is most in keeping with one’s nature. For a parent, this might involve the working of two jobs to make ends meet, the changing of diapers, the telepathic knowledge that one’s child has been hurt, and the dropping of all else to be on the scene. For an activist, this might mean the reclamation of a public space, which, at some point during the Kali Yuga, had been taken over by the agents of unconsciousness. For a monk, this might involve the whacking of a meditating student with a stick, or, for a writer, the whacking of a drowsy reader with a metaphor.

So: space is more real than whatever else might happen to exist within it. There are no free-standing objects, and the line between self and other is mercurial.

I wrote, “A hair’s breadth of a difference separates discovery from destruction.” This is, as you have noted, a “poetic” statement, and thus is open to any number of interpretations.

One way to read it is in the context of the second “noble truth”; as we move “outward” into the world of society and nature, which I will refer to here as the “horizontal axis,” or upwards and downwards on the “vertical axis” that connects the various “worlds”, we have only a limited control over the phenomena that occur. Things happen—both good and terrible. What we can control is our own interpretation of the event.

Each experience can be viewed as either an “obstacle” or a “door.” It is up to us to figure out how these apparently contradictory viewpoints fit together. The challenge is an alchemical one, which involves a radical transmutation of all elements. We must exit one world, in order to step into another, and yet, paradoxically, they are one and the same world. The person who exits is not the same one who enters, nor is either of these the creature that returns, his eyes as wide as zeros, and unblinking. I do believe that the relationship of the “little mind” and the “big mind” can best be understood as a “koan.” The “koan” presents us with an almost opaque ultimatum—with a question that is meant to torture us, and which can only be answered by a sudden jump between levels. The challenge is not to “create one’s own reality,” but rather to return to the primordial depth of consciousness from which all later versions of “reality” arise.

It is in our simultaneous awareness of all apparent oppositions—up and down, good and bad, obstacle and door, life and death—that the “hair’s breadth of a difference” can be found.

It is here, too, that the writer is able to act out the role of “catalyst,” whatever his personal flaws or limitations. It is generally assumed that the job of the writer is to inform, and this is certainly true, but, once having lulled the reader into a false sense of security, it is also the job of the writer to subvert. As with a stone thrown in a pool, a writer will throw out an almost but not quite incomprehensible statement, which, perhaps, then immediately sinks; rings ripple from the point of impact, from the local to the non-local mind. Years later, the reader may suddenly feel the impact of the stone, as, gasping, he then stops to rub his head. There was no way, at first, to determine that the stone had struck, or that it would, eventually, begin to function as a lamp.

(Illustration: Hakuin Ekaku, Monk)

Monday, April 16, 2012

I Left at Dawn for the Eternal City; It Seems That I Have Misplaced Several Days/ Part 2

By Brian George

No weapon can cut emptiness in half

Hi Lance (Gilbert),

You wrote, “I could not agree more with the concept of transparency shielding one from disaster. It reminds me of advice given to me by an acupuncture teacher when I inquired if being too ‘open’ was the reason I was picking up ‘stuff’ from my clients. He responded that I was ‘not open enough.’”

Those clients are just bad, and you should probably stay far away from them. Of course, you will have to become independently wealthy first! A small detour—to be followed by a new Golden Age of hermetically sealed harmony and contentment, in which all citizens will belong to the Democratic Party, vampiric oligarchs will be cured by Bach flower remedies, and no one will ever say a harsh word about another. Of course, the acupuncture teacher was probably correct in saying that until then we would do better to keep all things in our field of vision, and to confront, as best as we are able, all undesirable energies head on.

The sentence “Transparency is the only shield against disaster” is one that just popped into my head, but I immediately understood what its implications were. There is a refrain from an old spiritual that goes, “I went to the rock to hide my face; the rock cried out “No hiding place! There is no hiding place down there.’” At times, when I have managed to access an expanded state of energy, and have attempted to move up what I call the “vertical axis” between worlds, it has seemed as though every carefully encoded secret has come bubbling to the surface, forced out of the body, the intellect, and the psyche by the power of an energy that desires to return home.

This is a mini-version of the “Apocalypse” that can erupt out of the “collective unconscious” at the end of a historical period or an astrological cycle. Some degree of physical destruction may or may not be involved; the new world might look almost exactly like the old. Space, I believe, is the ultimate destination of this energy. This is not space as it is generally understood, but rather the space of the fifth element, “Akasha,” a form of emptiness that is also a kind of 10-d encyclopedia.

Something gains in power to the degree that it is hidden. The massed genius of the past 12,000 years can still not prevent us from ignoring what is right beneath our noses. If a human holds up a hand in front of his face, he may be powerless, for whatever reason, to perceive it, and will be convinced that it must belong to someone else. We do not see what is in front of us but we do see many elongated shadows that are projected from behind us.

Our blindness is a reflex, yes, but a reflex that Earth’s Rulers lock in place. Fueled by trauma, a necromantic act has rewired the neocortex, muting the volume of the Music of the Spheres, and clouding the Van Allen Radiation Belts. Some common problem areas are as follows: our fear of the supernatural, i.e., our sense that nature does not follow its own laws; our contempt for the evidence of an ancient world maritime civilization; our investment in the belief that we used to live in caves; our fear that each man may actually be a woman, and vice versa; our fear that we are not completely good, or, rather, that we are actually pretty bad; our suspicion that the Earth is not fixed in its orbit, and that it might, at any moment, tilt; and our awareness of the fact that, almost certainly, we too are going to die. If we can acknowledge and then integrate an energy or a piece of information, then, to that extent, we become free of its capacity to wound us.

This was one of the ways that Zen Buddhist monks were able to gain such authority in Medieval Japan. They had no real self-image to defend. They had no hair to pull. They spoke in haikus, into whose 17 syllables they were able to squeeze the Macrocosm. They were happy to piss on statues of the Buddha, or to break up shrines for firewood. Even the greatest of horrors was perceived to be a joke. They had few beliefs, and were somewhat farcically unconcerned about death. Bowing down, they would stretch out their necks for decapitation, saying, “Let’s hurry it up. I’ve got things to do!” The warriors that they were trying to teach thought, “These guys are even crazier than we are!” And then stopped trying to kill them.

(Illustration: Brian George, Hawk with interdimensional crown, 1991)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Left at Dawn for the Eternal City; It Seems That I Have Misplaced Several Days/ Part 1/ End

By Brian George

Here, let me change the pose that I have adopted for this essay, that of Rebel Agent, who would toss a monkey wrench into the clockwork of the spheres. No, let me put my shoulder to the great wheel of the Zodiac, that I may help the powers that turn it. For, appearances to the contrary, they and I are not in any way at odds.

Like their human counterparts, the activating powers of creation cannot go forever without praise, which serves as a kind of food. Starved for feedback, these “friends” that we have forgotten may for no good reason turn against our cause. If they are mad, so be it; they are only “imaginary,” so who cares what they do? Taking masks out of their skeleton-filled closets, and brandishing in each of 10,000 hands their hallucinatory weapons—their Tuning Forks and their Mirrors and their Geomagnetic Bows and their Species Changers and their Nets and their Bags of Wind and their Scalar Tornadoes and their Gongs and their A-Ankara Bolts—they then appropriate the blood that we have been too myopic to give. Strands of DNA unzip—both “ours” and “theirs”; a “hair’s breadth of a difference” can thus lead to a World War. Out of vast technology a bumper crop of death.

Fear spreads its hypnotic field across the architecture of the vacuum, a dark cloud mass, prompting “interspecies” hatred, and disrupting any sense of how the two halves of a symbol interlock. We must stare into the sun. We must set fire to the “conscious dreaming apparatus,” which has made the one sphere pregnant. We must share our wealth—as tiny as it may seem to us—with the birds that terrorize the back-side of the mirror. Out of one race the masters of Kundalini have spun many. We must dare to celebrate their feats of reptilian camouflage. Focused praise is best—from a knowledgeable equal.

It was no easy matter to sell shovels to the dead, by which means they could excavate the snake that ate the world. They dug slowly, and, without maps, they just tended to throw dirt on each other’s excavation sites. The fact that the birds had turned against us did not help.

As I have said, the art of memory was already in decline in what we now view as the “ancient world”—which was little more than a comma in the long sentence of devolution. Since then, the general tendency has been to “point” at the Beyond. We can ask for guidance, yes, but such guidance may be quite slow in arriving. This is no doubt just as well! In 391 AD, for example, the New World had at last descended from the stars, but in the form of a belated hate-crime. It was then that Christians set fire to the Great Library of Alexandria—or to the remnant that was left by Caesar and Aurelius—along with all of its well-meaning but just barely adequate texts. Simultaneously, the Mithreum was cleaned out, as if it were a whorehouse. Its relics were smashed, and, before jeering crowds, the phalli of Priapus were paraded through the Forum. Now, even the debris of the First Age has disappeared. No ashes are left, only see-through bones, and the chunks of a broken sky, as we wander through a land of giant radioactive tear ducts.

We believe that we are evolving towards the light. What we take to be progress is, in fact, a slow step by step process of decline. Though hairless, more or less, we have somehow become convinced that we are monkeys, and not gods. Monkey see; monkey do, as the saying goes. Unlike Rumi or Blake, we tend to see ourselves as the direct products of our environment, which we use our tongues to describe. We accept that the role of language is no longer “ex nihilo” to create.

It is only over the past 150 years or so that some significant few writers have made a Promethean effort to push beyond these limitations, which are mostly self-imposed, and to free themselves from the force-fields that were locked in place by Earth’s Rulers. You will notice that I said “writers” and not “mystics”: for I believe that writers and artists have inherited—or perhaps “appropriated”—the role that was earlier filled by shamans, prophets, saints, and yogis. There is much work to be done, and someone has to do it! A partial list of my models would include Arthur Rimbaud, Rainer Maria Rilke, Paul Eluard, Osip Mandelstam, George Seferis. Pablo Neruda, Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz, Henri Michaud, Paul Celan, Czeslaw Milosz, and Zbigniew Herbert. These writers would probably not be on anybody’s list of saints, but I believe that they point the way to the reclamation of our birthright, i.e, of the breadth of our primordial vision, and, with it, of our capacity to create by word of mouth.

But why should it be necessary to coagulate the ocean? What—are there not already enough objects in the world, that, from the luminous mist, we must conjure a few more? Are there not already enough humans in the world—about 7 ½ billion—that are waiting to return from whence they came? Why add to the countless books already in existence when we cannot read even one page of the Ur-Text? If we are all just the refractions of a single primal body, to what end should we multiply the images that divide us? In the Fourth Age, with all of its technology of corruption, why do we still pretend to be as young as in the First, and that our hearts weigh no more and no less than a feather? Of what use is art in the face of an invasion by the Absolute? As the Great Year turns to three minutes before 12, what sense does it make to tamper with the two hands of the clock?

I would argue: it is not as if we and the Absolute were strangers! Also: that we must put our bodies were our consciousness would go. Mini-death precedes Mega-death. “To be enlightened is to be present at one’s own funeral.”

Beyond death, a shockwave flattens the atomic cities of the gods, leaving nothing except a seed from which will sprout the non-existent. Again: of what use is art in the face of an invasion by the Absolute? A powerful breakthrough can bring with it the sense that any language will be inadequate. How can language give form to a reality that is beyond imagination? I would argue: that the limits of imagination are in no way fixed, and that the very difficulty of the task is what will catalyze the ecstatic transport of our speech. Then too, this question implies that the role of art is to describe, whereas, in fact, a more fundamental relationship to reality might be involved. Its goal may be to liberate, to bear witness, to invoke. By rolling back the projection of the sky, behind which is revealed the technology that projects it, it may, in the end, just be possible to observe what we have made.

This dilemma, of course, cannot help but bring to mind the dilemma faced by writers in post-war Eastern Europe, when the trauma of the Holocaust was at first thought to make all literature irrelevant, as though any metaphor were an insult to the dead. Ironically, this turned out to be one of the most fertile of all poetic periods, in which writers dared to play with the Unspeakable; from out of the depths they radically redefined the relationship between silence and expression, between memory and the external world. Wrote Paul Celan, “Burnt fumes of Beyond leak thick from our pores.” In him, we see the wounds that have traumatized the Macrocosm, which no uplifting sentiment can heal. Celan does not “point”; he instead “embodies”—as an alien voice bears witness to his fate.

Out of silence—an echo; out of nonexistence—a glyph. Statistical “renormalization” had cut the zeros from large numbers.

There was space to move. The cost of antigravity was enormous, and of memory, even greater. Already, the Apocalypse had happened. It was possible to begin beyond the end.

(Illustration: Anselm Keifer, Nero)

Monday, April 9, 2012

I Left at Dawn for the Eternal City; It Seems That I Have Misplaced Several Days/ Part 1/ Beginning

By Brian George

Revised excerpts from the Reality Sandwich Forum for “Transparency is the Only Shield Against Disaster”

“Ensouled by a Cherub’s spirit, philosophizing along the rungs of the ladder of nature, and penetrating through everything from center to center, we shall at one time be descending, tearing apart, like Osiris, the one into many by a titanic force; and we shall at other times be ascending and gathering into one the many, like the members of Osiris, by an Apollonian force; until we finally come to rest.”—Pico Della Mirandola, from “Oration on the Dignity of Man”—Translation by Charles Glenn Wallis

Cultures sit down on chairs around the table of my solar plexus; an argument is about to start

Hi Bogomil and Revolutionrabbit,

Bogomil, you wrote, “But I do know that language (and other symbols) should be a subordinate tool of whatever amount of reality our peculiar universe contains. Not the other way round. That's why mystics fundamentally agree (no matter what their experiences are later called)…”

Please allow this “mystic” to disagree! Sorry, I could not resist that. But seriously folks, perhaps most mystics “agree” because they simply cannot write; they speak in vague and uplifting generalities, and are incapable of or uninterested in translating the full complexity of their experience into language. Rumi and Blake are two notable exceptions to this rule—you could no doubt point to others—but, when these exceptions to the rule occur, they also tend to strike us as almost unimaginably strange; we look at their historical period and think, “Where the hell did he come from?” Even if, in their style, we might still detect some trace of the fingerprints of their teachers, we suspect that, unlike us, they are not the products of their environment. Their work is not the effect of any linear cause. Their vision, when we stop to fully appreciate its strangeness, can seem to originate from a point beyond the clockwork of the time-cycle.

In order to bypass the intellect and the lower aspects of the Psyche, to return to the more archetypal levels of creation, and then move further outward or upward beyond form altogether,  too many saints and yogis have let go of the very powers that we are here to develop as human beings. They like to go up, but they do not like to come down; as a consequence, their powers of levitation may be stronger than their metaphors. As I understand it, these powers that we must struggle to develop have to do with our unique capacity for language, and for the role that we can play as “messengers” between otherwise out-of-touch worlds. If not now, when? If not us, who will bring the full power of their lineage to bear, with all of its archaic scope? You might argue that this is actually the work of angels, since the word itself, “angelos,” means messenger, but angels, at least according to Neoplatonism and Kabbalah, exist only to transmit, word for word, a predetermined set of instructions from “on high.”

They are incandescent beasts, the castrati of the spheres. They are the clones of the speed of light, who, unblinking, do not deviate as they go from Point A to Point B. The omnipotent have hooked rings through their noses, by which they are led. They are useful, yes, but also vengeful in their innocence, knowing that our beauty, because flawed, is more perfect. They are clockwork instruments that only play one song—a song with complex harmonies but no rhythmic variation, which may or may not interest even them. They are the animatronic hands of a fascist bureau of geometry; they flame, but do not own the flame that they emit. They are the sub-contractors of the active powers of creation, who are themselves, in spite of their great intelligence and strength, more fixed than we are in their roles.

For lo, I will clue you in on a mystery: True consciousness is dark—at least intermittently, and as an exercise in stealth—and true power involves the freedom to disobey.

Said Pico Della Mirandola, “Therefore the Elohim took up man, a work of indeterminate form, and placed him at the mid-point of the worlds…They stored within him every sort of seed and the sprouts of every sort of life.” Or so the Elohim would prefer us to believe: that they made us, and not the other way around! The idea of the seed storehouse is nonetheless a pregnant one. Our age unspeakable, we indifferently took note when the sky was lifted from the waters.

Too much “mystical” poetry is what I would characterize as “devotional”: It flatters those beings that we wrongly see as our parents, and expresses yearning for states that we believe to be beyond us. It makes reference to states and experiences that are nowhere embodied in the actual language of the poetry. The results may be quite effective if seen as a “finger pointing to the moon,” but the mystic has not yet discovered the “skillful means” for bringing the reader along with him. Neither, fearing loss of status, does he bother to tell him where his superweapons have been stored, or that, once the reader has grown up, the mystic will then appear no bigger than an ant.

After crossing to the “other shore,” the poet finds that the moon is but one stage-prop out of many, all of which are syllables that have never left his mouth. But again, he must return out of the depths, with pen in hand. He must re-cross the ocean with no vehicle but his body; to do otherwise would be to violate an oath, or to not respond with orgiastic laughter to a dare. Convinced of the superiority of his one-directional transcendence, the mystic comments on the poet’s youth—he whose near death experiences were once the life’s blood of the lineage! For the poet refuses to exterminate his “ego.”

Having once “inhaled” it is now unacceptable to “exhale”; a different actor must be chosen to do each.

I have often felt that this split between the planes of consciousness was perhaps a fairly recent development—if the actual length and breadth of human history were to be kept in mind. It does not seem to have been there for the poets of the “Rig Veda” or the “Mahabharata.”  In Homer’s time—during which, according to Plato, the art of memory was already in decline—the poet still seemed fully capable of performing his shamanic function. The poet was a “messenger,” yes, but his job was not to carry any one set of instructions; his body was an echo chamber, in which thousands of voices all competed to be heard. The World Economy was an engine that an earlier race had designed; in need of tune-ups, it was kept in good repair by his displays of arcane temperament. Bad luck would attach to the killer of a poet; thus he was free to direct his criticisms or insults to the gods—for who among them might not have grown complacent in his/her habits, or been careless in the welcoming of a Guest?

There was no accident that could not be interpreted as a sign. Place names were eight-directional crossroads. Stories were living serpents that uncoiled into the depths of the nonexistent. Nouns were weapons. Verbs were calls that waited for a response. Each object was an “invitation to the voyage,” and there was no event or action “here” that did not lead “there” to its counterpart. Trained to navigate each turn of the Memory Theatre in a blindfold, before his eyes were taken out at birth, if the poet did not know where to go he would not have been able to access the information that he needed, or to share it with his audience.

Trailing light from an alternate sun that had existed before the Deluge, the authors of the “Rig Veda” did not separate “speech” from “action.” In “The Origins of Sacred Speech” we read:

"Brhaspati! When they set in motion the first beginning of speech, giving names, their most pure and perfectly guarded secret was revealed through love.

“When the wise ones fashioned speech with their thought, sifting it as grain is sifted through a sieve, then friends recognized their friendships. A good sign was placed on their speech.

“Through sacrifice they traced the path of speech and found it inside the sages. They held it and portioned it out to many; together the 7 sages praised it.

“One who looked did not see speech, and another who listens does not hear it. It reveals itself to someone as a loving wife, beautifully dressed, reveals her body to her husband. 

“One person, they said, has grown awkward and heavy in this friendship; they no longer urge him forward in the contests. He lives with falsehood like a milkless cow, for the speech that he has heard has no fruit no flower.

“A man that abandons a friend who has learned with him no longer has a share in speech. What he does hear he hears in vain, for he does not know the path of good action.

“Friends have eyes and ears, but their flashes of insight are not equal. Some are ponds that reach only to the mouth or shoulder; others are like ponds that one could bathe in.

“When the intuitions of the mind are shaped in the heart, when Brahmins perform sacrifices together as friends, some are left behind for lack of knowledge, while others surpass them with the power to praise.

“Those who move neither near nor far, who are not real Brahmins nor pressers of Soma; using speech in a bad way, they weave on a weft of rags, without understanding…”—Translation by Wendy Doniger-O’Flaherty

(Illustration: Brian George, Living ship, 2004)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

To Akasha/ Part 2; The Gate that Opens Out of Nowhere onto Nowhere/ Section 9

By Brian George

You are the I that is that. Blue luster. Void one. Whose conch sounds fearfully. Of a preexistent race the incognito explosion. Resolute. Muse to the egg Hiranyagarbha—last survivor of the flood. Body conjured from the numbers 1 through 10. Brahma’s logarithmic spiral. Pitcher of the curve ball in the game of world destruction. Atomic skeleton. Shiva’s juggernaut.  

Beyond movement the circumference. You who execute the art of dance. Great solar chariot—Shakti. Purusha’s pyre. Ark of dawn. Eurika!—without amnesia. The Siddhas’ V8 wishing well. Nurse to tribes the Burning Ground aborts.

Horizon hung from zero. Spontaneous grain. Cracked code. Space created language. Self-entrainment. Resonant wave. Joy void made of void joy. Decimation’s octave maw. Geometer to the x y chromosome. Austere 1. Form of letters. Ananda. Sat. Chit. Sleep erected. The 1 standing. Rigor of unconscious law. Millions. Knowledge. Defect. Waking state. The 4th state. Of the egg born. Shape of serpent. You who cast the net. Maya. Coiled sun. Unknowable. Clandestine.

Up rooter. Power of action. Without thought. Diamond hacked in battle. Primordial 1. Bondage. Abode.  Who have chained the ocean Ten Ten. Varuna’s snare. To the antipode—arch enemy. Deconstruction’s builder without bounds. Ahangkara in the form of Chit. Youthful. Who hold the Pinaka Bow. The bent low victim of Orion’s tusk. Of Doomsday—the word. Curtains to the Cow Cave. Vishnu’s tantric intercourse partner.

Star hub. World half maker. Vajra backward. The only 1—love of violence. You who have shattered Vala. Seed of the Assembly Beyond Space. Of Aryaman and Bhaga the reunion. Who have brought from Earth a crop of fragrant wood. You whose ark is measured 3 x 4. To UFOs—the fuel.

Surya—of great age. Muse to asteroidal iron. D-day at the gates to the beyond. Transducer of sequential music to the spheres. Erupting bank. Gong struck by a revolution. Auspicious sign. Bridal gown—constellated. You who hold the atomic trident. Of the lotus foot. Made for Krishna. Breaker of the law that separates the vertical from the horizontal. O sandal made of wood. Biology transported.

When the sun is in Agha they kill the cattle. When in Arjuni your remnants are shipped glowing back towards home.

Awakened Kundalini. Milk maid power. The Bharata’s final solution. Refractive wave of salt. Body thrice wound—soma. It burns. It bites and migrates. More dangerous than poison.

It has been made to eat. Asvins only may contain that measure—by the mouth of Mitra known. Magnet to Matruka- the future’s tractor beam. You who move beyond the speed of light.

Inverted radiance. Of no land. Without fear. Self-knowledge gone to ground. Triadic zigzag. Agent of anathema—constructor of the A-ankara bolt. Harvester of corpses. Retracted seed of Gaia. Soul maker. Holder of 10 thousand weapons. Root of law. Sunyata’s shadow. Giver of strength. To Agneya the acceleration. Sound. Unstruck. Nada. Void. That can not be moved.

O Durgashatanamastotra—you have danced forth thumping on a man hide drum out of the helix of 1 globe of light.

(Illustration: Victor Brauner)