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)


  1. Hello Brian George, I just want to say thank you for your writing. I have read many of your essays. Your writing is a multidimensional incantation that first vivifies, then breaks the spell of maya.

    Your writing has tremendously shaped the way I grok the universe, and is now beginning to appear in my dreams, as a nonverbal GPS.

    You show me how to dance with joy to the cusp of the nonexistent. You are a native speaker of Ifa, you swallowed Eshu. He has made your voice his home.

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  3. Hi Ogotiele,

    What a wonderful comment! Much thanks. You have read and made use of my essays in exactly the way that I hoped people would. Too often, because the work cannot be quickly skimmed for information, like a Twitter post, the tendency is to assume that I am indifferent to the care and feeding of the reader. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the work does offer a type of surface resistance, it is of a type that is designed to challenge and engage, rather than to push the reader away. It’s probably best that people don’t realize how many times I revise even the simplest passages. Why couldn’t I just get things right the first time around?

    My approach to writing was formed in the early stages of my creative and spiritual development—from about the ages of 16-30, when I was engaged in far reaching explorations, at first fueled by psychedelics, but did not have any spiritual guides in my immediate environment, nor would I have been open enough to trust them if I did. After moving from my hometown of Worcester to Boston, I did have a good number of creative friends—“guides” may be going too far—who helped to show me what I could do, and allowed me to feel more at home in the world. All through this period, however, my deeper spiritual guidance came either from other-dimensional sources or from writers, quite often dead, who served as catalysts to the knowledge that was waiting to be activated.

    This form of dialogue became the foundation of my style—I am attempting to speak not only to the mind and emotions of the reader, but also to the deeper aspects of the self. There are writers that I respect and learn from and appreciate, then there are writers who actually take me on a journey, and who change my whole way of seeing the world. It is this quality of deep engagement that I hope to offer to a reader, and I am always delighted to hear that my work has been of use.

    As to Eshu: I always wear his red and black necklace when I leave home for the day. His stone head sits my study door, and I make sure to provide him with small cups of coffee.

    1. Thanks for your reply. I savoured every bit of it.

      Yes, your writing, I have found, is usually a literal and metaphorical journey into the akashic realm. I think its aim is less to inform (though it informs aplenty!) and more to widen the reader’s gaze in a fundamental way, almost akin to giving the reader the gift of a new tongue.

      I used to be among those who felt language and intellection cannot help much in grasping reality. But your writing showed the way language can partake of primal action. And as to surface tension, I think your language is superbly lucid and very nimble, so nimble it makes the navigation of akasha seem an easy task, whereas the alternative toll is madness, either brief or elongated.

      There’s an adage commonly told by overeager school-heads to reluctant parents in Nigeria, where I come from: if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

      As to “attempting to speak not only to the mind and emotions of the reader, but also to the deeper aspects of the self”: I think you do this too well, in fact.

      I once had a visionary experience in which many, many otherworldly warriors were competing to see whom among them would create the most heartrendingly horrific conflagration to blow out all of universe, indeed, all of existence.

      This seemed to be their own equivalent of the Olympics. And to my utter amazement, this contest felt absolutely right, just and timely. Indeed I got the impression that the earth was a secret school to which many of the warriors sent their avatars, in a five-billion year plan, just to perfect one or two minor moves in preparation for the absolute Apocalypse.

      While a part of me was calmly observing, another was in the arena with these warriors, but this latter part of myself was lost, confused,a toddler in thrall to their destructive appetite and in awe of their supernatural weapons.

      Until you sort of jumped in and started chanting. Your chanting felt like a much more magnified and extended progression of the multiple leaps of gnosis I usually felt reading your work; like this was its real self. And the other warriors (most weren’t human) took notice and acknowledged you as an equal, before they continued on their rampage. You gave me a wink that said "that’s all there’s to it. Not really hard. But you have to have faith!"

      This is one example. In another, I dreamt I was riding the sea on the back of a huge, huge snake, yet my head seemed to be protruding from the mouth of the snake, as though I was wearing the snake’s opened mouth like a helmet. Hours after I woke up I saw the term magur boat in one of your articles, never heard of it. Googled it and found it was among other things a serpent that was a stargate.

      Have you ever heard of Aziza before? It’s a god/race of spirits/grumpy Prometheus that taught some of the West African peoples about fire, healing plants and gave them their vodun gods. An interesting thing about Aziza is this: he/they are said to come in form of a tornado and carry the some people away, for durations of a few days to fourteen years. But one thing that distinguishes their abductees is this: they come back wiser and with superb knowledge of healing and herbs, and they usually have (or are born with) long, twisted hair.

      Aziza sometimes appears as a one-legged, one-armed spirit, similar to Osanyin but not Osanyin. Some say Eshu is his votary.

      Sorry for the long post. I just thought that now that I finally mustered the courage to write you, I should let it out!

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  5. Hi Ogotiele,

    Wow. Again, Much thanks. I’m afraid that I’m in the middle of a difficult revision, and can’t give your comment the sustained attention it deserves. Let me respond at random to a few of the things that you bring up.

    1) The piece that I’m working on is a revision of “Descent to the Merkavah,” an earlier version of which I had posted on the blog. Curiously, the piece involves a tornado and a group of godlike beings—of somewhat ambiguous intent—that were involved periodically in the seeding of new stages of human development. Since I am playing off of the Kabbalistic tradition in this piece, I refer to them, for the sake of convenience, as “The Elohim,” although they could be named in many other ways. Such beings too often serve as a projection screen for our current hopes and fears, for wild paranoia or apocalyptic wish-fulfillment fantasies. My own approach is somewhat different. My sense is that we have occupied many locations and played many roles in the theater of the cosmos. The above changes places with the below, and vice versa, a great many times over and in many unexpected ways. Time is also very peculiar and paradoxical. Without necessarily trying to prove anything to anyone else’s satisfaction, I do my best to remember the places that I have been.

    2) In reading you comment, I was thinking, “It’s really a great feeling to be understood.” I had almost given up hope that this would ever happen. Over the past three or four years however, it seems to be happening more and more, and not only in terms of small details or ideas but also in terms of the large-scale framework that I am playing with. About six to eight times a year, I present my work at Evolver Boston events or artistic salons, and there are times that two thirds of the group seems to be swept up in what I am doing. For someone who has no talent for self-promotion, this really is a gift. My old friend and teacher, Don Burgy, once said something like, “For many years, I tended to see my work as radical and surreal and disorienting, but that, more recently, the strangeness of events in the external world has finally caught up to the strangeness your writing. Now, it seems almost journalistic.”

    (Continued in next post.)

  6. 3) I couldn’t tell in reading your description of the experiences with the other-dimensional Olympics and the sea voyage inside of the snake whether you had read my piece “Birds of a Feather and the Playthings of the 12.” This piece ends two sections, one of which describes a version of these Olympics—which could also be imagined as a supernatural battle--and one of which involves a voyage inside of a snake. This idea of an interdimesional Olympics has haunted me since the 1980s, and I have had a number of very vivid experiences in which I was transported to this place. To describe them is to make them sound like dreams or hallucinations, but I’m not sure that these categories are really accurate. In each case, there was a highly convulsive electrical quality to the state of vision—things were not necessarily fixed in appearance—but there was no sense that my own mind was simply projecting the event. And yet—my role as an observer/ participant was a strange one. On the one hand, it did seem that I had been transported to an actual place or event, which had happened and/ or was going on all the time; on the other hand, it seemed as though the who gigantic display was being staged for my benefit, and that the participants were looking at me, at unexpected intervals, to see how I would respond. Here is an excerpt from the piece (which was posted both on the blog and on Reality Sandwich):

    Cities flew, as planets fell. The scene was bathed in the rays of an alternate sun. As if illuminated from the inside out, all colors were painfully bright. Stupid me—it was my race that had weaponized the rainbow! Banners crackled like bursts of lightning through the air.

    Quite oddly, as I found myself projected headlong into the action, my body seemed to move without me; each world-destroying movement flashing into the next. Like the violence itself, my eyes seemed to spin in all directions simultaneously. Feinting West, I performed the martial pranayama of the Vrishnis. Lunging East, I enacted the occult taunts of the Andhakas. I could hear each strophe from the Ur-Text clicking into place. It was hard to believe that I was not already dead. A large portion of the warriors had the heads of “animals.” Snake-men and bird-men and boar-men and lion-men attacked me from all sides.

    Spears were inserted into my abdomen, and then withdrawn. I was relieved to see that my intestines were still on the inside of my body; recombinant feet by the millions had not yet trampled them. I was struck by swords and halberds and even more exotic weapons—blows that should have taken off my arms and legs, to leave me no more than a screaming torso.

    At last, unable to withstand the convulsive flood of energy, I simply fell to the ground, staring, and did my best to prepare for death.

    4) I am not familiar with the Aziza, but I would definitely like to find out more. I am familiar with stories about and traditions surrounding the Orisha. My wife is a priestess of Lukumi—which is, as you probably know, a Cuban version of the Yoruba tradition of Nigeria—and my daughter received Ocha (initiation into the world of the Orisha) when she was seven. Not being a joiner, my own relationship to the tradition—as well as to every other tradition—is tangential, although I do have enormous respect for it, and have no trouble moving between Yoruba and Lukumi cosmology and the various other frames of reference that I explore. Although I am a “Son of Yemaya,” the goddess of the ocean, it often seems that my actions are defined more in terms of a relationship with “Eshu,” the Orisha of primordial energy, and Olokun, the mysterious and almost unfathomable powers at the bottom of the ocean. (Continued.)

  7. 5) I will be posting the revision of “Descent to the Merkavah” as soon as it is done. See if anything in it relates to your explorations. There is a large black and white drawing from a series that I did from 1989-1993 called “Bird arising out of snake arising out of pot” that I will be posing on the blog. Also, in addition to anything that you might want to post, please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments at