Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Long Curve of Descent: Excerpts from Forum

Brian George

In the forum for “The Long Curve of  Descent,” my new piece on Metapsychosis, John Dockus commented on the final paragraph, which reads as follows: “All periods cohere in the one moment of my Memory. With a shock, one notes that the old becomes new. By the power of my austerities I have vacuumed up all of the water from the ocean. Cities shine there. I am Death—the Shatterer of Worlds. My weapon liberates multitudes.”

Among other things, John wrote, “That ending is extraordinary, with not just the appearance of Death, but the audacious embodying of it by the poet, who perhaps intoxicated by its power dares to proclaim, “I am Death--the Shatterer of Worlds.” Looking beyond Death and its ominous shadow, and suddenly seeing cities shining is startling, which seems to signal that Death is all-leveling and all-consuming but still finite and limited, and possesses a double movement, not only toppling and killing, bringing to an end, but also clearing and preparing the way for new beginnings.

I responded:

That leap into an archetypal voice at the end of the piece took me by surprise as well. Since it is a bit grandiose, perhaps, I wondered for a moment if I should keep it. I felt right, though, and I do my best to give full attention and respect to statements that come by themselves. Such statements can, of course, just as easily be gibberish or self-delusion as revelation. A big part of my education as a writer has had to do with learning to decipher who or what is speaking and where an image or intuition comes from. This can take a while, although I am much quicker at such things than I used to be. In the early 1990s, under the influence of a dramatic influx of spiritual energy, I wrote a book called “The Preexistent Race Descends”—about 60 pages or so—that seemed to be dictated by a kind of omniscient voice. This voice turned out to be anything but omniscient, at least in terms of its ability to sense whether or not its statements had any literary value at all.

Once the spell that I was under broke, I looked at what I had done in horror. Out of the whole book, there was barely a line worth saving. I kept the title and very little else. In retrospect, I have come to believe, somewhat paradoxically, that the voice that I heard during the writing of this book was, in fact, the voice of an authentic guide. The problem was that I had no way of knowing that its strategy was that of a trickster, and its goal was to thoroughly embarrass me. To gain the knowledge for which I had asked, it was indeed necessary that I open myself, injudiciously, even recklessly; at the same time, I was being pushed to perfect a kind of interdimensional bullshit detector. When I was studying to be an art teacher at the Massachusetts College of Art, I had a course in which we had to stand in front of the class and make an idiot of ourselves for ten minutes, with the idea of pushing through anxiety and self-consciousness to some sort of an open space beyond. This harsh and quite time-consuming lesson by whatever guide it was also helped to transpose my vantage point, so that, even as I was writing from direct personal experience, I was able to turn this experience to examine it from a multitude of angles.

Continute reading at
Image: Brian George, Hawk Mummy Floating on Ocean,

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Long Curve of Descent (Excerpt)

Brian George

I have a new piece up in Metapsychosis called "The Long Curve of Descent." In it, I ask whether humans have been evolving or devolving over the past 12,000 years. I also compare and contrast the roles of the "healer" and the "catalyst." Take a look if you have a chance. Excerpt:

One morning, when I was four years old, I was sitting on the third-floor back porch of my family’s three-decker. It was 1958, and Worcester, Massachusetts, was still regarded as the industrial heart of New England. Looking out, I could see smoke puffing from tall smokestacks, a freight-yard and a railroad bridge, hills with houses perched on them that rolled into the distance, and, a few miles off, on one of the highest hills, the gothic architecture of Holy Cross College. How wonderful the day was! I could not have asked for a more perfect moment. My grandmother had given me a large chunk of clay. And then, I was no longer looking out over Worcester; no, I was hovering above the Amazon, making snakes, canoes, and villagers out of the substance in my hands.

As I worked, however, I became frustrated. It occurred to me that I had succumbed to a creative block. I grew angry. I could not believe what I was seeing. My hands were small. My mind just barely worked. My imagination seemed like a blunt instrument. As absurd as it sounds, I remembered what it was like to create real snakes and villagers.
Continue reading at

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Black Arts of the Elite

Brian George

In the forum for my essay "The Snare of Distance and the Sunglasses of the Seer," Jasun Horsley wrote, “I'd like to address the idea of the stupidity of the 1% also. I think it may be true of 99% of the 1% but not of the 1% of the 1%; not at all. These do not appear to be driven by a goal of wealth or worldly power but something deeper & darker.” I responded: The whole of the economic, political, media, and corporate landscape does strike me as an exercise in black magic, a part of which is instinctive and a part of which is quite conscious. This exercise may be sophisticated in its means, but it is also, I believe, still fairly basic in its ends, to the extent that anything is. Even wealth and power can be seen as ritual acquisitions; how much of either can anyone really use? Just beyond this, as you say, there may be a space where something more opaque and perhaps more pointlessly malevolent is going on. If I were going to look for examples of opaque malevolence, though, I don’t know that I have to peek behind any curtains. There seem to be more than enough immediate examples of it to go around! And if I were going to piece together some sort of super-intelligent dark globalist cabal, I would probably select a different cast of characters, one that did not include Margaret Mead and Arthur C Clarke and Aldous Huxley. But I think your point is that they are dangerous exactly because they widely admired and appear to be so innocuous. Richard Dawkins, on the other hand, I would be happy to put on any sort of a hit list.

Exceptions aside, I think that I get what you are saying. We are far more at risk from those who have somehow managed to successfully appropriate and rearrange the almost invisible substructures of our minds than we are from any external form of coercion. This has probably been true from the time of the first empires and bureaucracies. I think that it is the rule rather than the exception that the most successful form of colonization is internal. Get people to enthusiastically embrace the forces that oppress them, and there is only a minimal need to resort to force. The brilliance of this method can be everywhere seen in the sad spectacle or US politics. The threat of career death or prison or physical violence is, of course, always there, just out of sight, in the background. I still don’t think that any of this necessarily demands any depth of intelligence or breath of ritual power on the part of the colonizers. To some extent, the process would seem to be an almost automatic one; wealth generates wealth and power tends to accumulate in smaller and smaller circles. Those with power want to hold on to it and those without it want to be a part of something larger than themselves. These are natural enough instincts, which are just as naturally perverted. Whatever the opaque malevolence that we might attribute to some person or group, my attitude and strategy remain the same. As the Roman playwright Terrence said, “Nothing human is alien to me.”

Contrary to what John Lamb Lash and some other contemporary theorists assert, when the Gnostics spoke of the hypnotic power of the Archons, I do not believe that they were referring to the actions of gray aliens from Zeta Reticuli or of blood drinking interdimensional reptilians or whatever; rather, they were pointing to the all too familiar political, economic, artistic, religious, and occult powers that have somehow managed to monopolize the foreground of our attention, who have caused us to believe that we are smaller than we are. (There is a good smallness, of course, of the sort that allows us to slip though the eye of a needle, as well as a bad smallness, which causes us to kiss the boots of those who do not have our best interests at heart.) In The Snare of Distance, I have tried to point to the space that exists between and beneath and within and around things.

All that we see will pass. The familiar will again become strange, and will then cease to exist altogether. The current global empire—which is perhaps maintained by a web of conjurations—will inevitably fall, as has every previous one. “But ours is so much bigger!” some might argue. Unfortunately for the current empire and its henchmen and apologists and true devotees, great size is no protection, as has been proven by the Mastodon and the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The common adage “Time heals all wounds” is, of course, not especially reassuring, and, viewed from one angle, even silly. This is sort of like saying to a person suffering from an agonizing attack of appendicitis, “Don’t worry, you will soon be dead.” Viewed from a different angle, such a statement may indeed point to a meeting place in which all of our current problems will be redefined. It all depends, I guess, on what we think death is, and on how we imagine the space that will open up beyond it.

Continue reading at Metapsychosis:

Illustration: Ernst Fuchs

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Gods that Descend from the Black Sun Must Be Fed

By Brian George

I wrote this piece on sociopathy in high places about five years back. It seemed appropriate to repost it on this national day of mourning.


Jonathan Zap, in his essay “”Foxes and Reptiles; Psychopathy and the Financial Meltdown,” wrote, “Many have commented that the SEC tends to employ those trained in finance but who are not as clever, ruthless or determined as those they are trying to monitor. I would suggest that they be open to hiring psychopaths with MBAs and offer them multi-million dollar bonuses and recognition, celebrity recognition if possible, for catching high level scams. Since psychopaths are a force of nature we are unlikely to eliminate, we should instead harness their unique talents to serve the socially useful purpose of catching other psychopaths. Who could possibly be better qualified, better able to pierce strategies of deception, than other highly motivated psychopaths? To use Wall Street metaphorically, we need a highly motivated team of clever reptiles and foxes to catch other reptiles and foxes.”

A key principle in medicine is that few things are toxic in and of themselves, or rather, that the amount of the toxin is what determines its effect: a large amount might result in death, but the right amount might heal us of a dangerous disease. The way that the toxin is introduced would play a role. “First, do no harm,” wrote Hippocrates. If only things were so simple! For “what harms can heal.” In their different ways, Allopathy and Homeopathy make use of this principle, which perhaps can be more generally applied. The current global laissez-faire economy is like a body without an immune system.

Death is imminent; doing nothing is not safe. No laws protect us, and a vast shadow eats the animatronic organs of Democracy, which should leave, in the near future, just a shell. It has been 66 years since happy US soldiers jitterbugged with nurses in the street, or grabbed random strangers to kiss. We had beaten the Axis powers. The Free World loved us. We were a beacon to the dispossessed. Now Corporate Fascism rules. Lawyers are the new Luftwaffe. Judges are the SS. Hedge funds are the new Reich Bureau of Occult Affairs. MSNBC, FOX, and CNN compete for the mantle of Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. They report all the news that’s fit to be projected, that is to say: Before its Time, and provide us with all viewpoints from A to B.

In love, from childhood, with the American Dream, we are hesitant to acknowledge that the year is not 1948. A few dollars are left; they will be sent to an off-shore bank in the Caiman Islands. We are not what we were, but at least let it be said that we have kept up our appearances. No one knows when the Barbarians walked casually in through the gates. Now, they are more inside than we are. They are closer to the Mad Fetus in the control room than we ever were, except, perhaps, at ceremonies for dead heroes in their transfer tubes. At such ceremonies, the presence of the Mad Fetus hovers over us. The dead are a priceless resource. Our grief is a kind of food, which he consumes.

There are rings inside of rings, with fail-safe mechanisms at key bioenergetic points. The gods that descend from the Black Sun must be fed. Select Stockholm Syndrome victims may be called upon to remove the remnants of the burnt offering from the table, at which point the law specifies that it be ritually re-sanitized. The Barbarians wasted no time in dismantling the gates, in order to put up their own gates, which keep us from getting out. The life of the Republic is hanging by a thread. The Supreme Court will soon meet to decide a case about scissors. Perfectly dressed, a force that is not quite human has been scheduled to attack. There are those who say that our response is several decades behind the curve.

And so, to develop our analogy: If we think in terms of “the sociopath-as-toxin,” then we had best be prepared for each possible side-effect in advance, and, in each test case, pay close attention to determine just what it is that we see. We could also compare the two systems in terms of “the sociopath-as-virus.” In Allopathic medicine, whose key principle is supposedly that “opposites treat opposites,” it is—oddly enough—accepted that a neutralized form of a disease might also serve to catalyze the cure. Homeopathic theory is supposed to be the opposite, 180 degrees off, on the other side of the circle, but the key principle is “let like be cured by like.” This is not that different in the abstract from mainstream immunology.

What does this tell us? Perhaps it tells us that opposites interact in ways that we don’t expect. Perhaps it tells us to put aside pet theories in order to focus on whatever works. An almost occult correspondence exists between the toxin and the symptom, such that a small amount of something can help to protect us against a larger and more threatening quantity of the same. A virus attacks, and, once our system has gained access to its encrypted DNA, we are able to manufacture the corresponding antigen. Unseen to the world, a transfer of life-altering data has occurred, which brings the earlier right/ left opposition to a halt, as it redefines the nature of the contest. In Chapter eight of the “Tao Te Ching” we read, “The supreme goodness is like water…It gathers in unpopular places. Thus it is like the Tao.”

The best defense is to co-opt one’s enemy, and to get him to do exactly what one wants. In a similar fashion, Jonathan Zap has suggested that we could use a sociopath with an MBA to root out other sociopaths on Wall Street. If bureaucrats are impotent, and less sharp than those they monitor, then sociopaths may be the necessary agents—whether calibrated toxins or pre-processed viruses—to prompt healing in the Body Politic.

Brian P. Akers, one of the participants in the Reality Sandwich forum for this essay, was somewhat horrified by the suggestion. He wrote, “Any notion that evil or manipulative psycho-malignancy can be hitched up to our wagons plays right into its hands. Evil loves such good but misguided ideas…To afford it an opening, of any least kind, is only to woo, court and flirt with disaster…Psychopathy rests on inherently violent interests or abusive purposes. Period…(We must) recognize that stuff for exactly what it is, and deal with it accordingly…Otherwise, we become its host or prey, no ifs ands or buts." I would categorize this as the classic “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists” approach. Well, that isn’t always foolproof, as we have seen. Evil does exist, but it can be a mistake to attribute to it vast mythological powers. Much evil is, indeed, banal, and only appears strong because of our ignorance and the mystique that we lend to it.

As a society, we make a great many “bargains with the Devil,” and, whether rightly or wrongly, we believe that our very survival depends upon some use of “controlled lethality.” On Wall Street, for example, we trust sociopathic hustlers to make vast amounts of money for themselves, in the hope that some portion of the wealth will “trickle down.” And it’s not as if we are unaware of what Wall Street firms are capable of; financial speculation and corruption have fueled countless boom and bust cycles, which have caused incomparably more suffering than all the serial killers who ever lived. Why is it such a problem to employ a sociopath to attempt to take back a little of what another sociopath stole?

The military is another illustration of a bargain with the Devil. In the current climate, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are not aberrations, and then there are all of the dead Iraqi civilians that nobody seems to notice or to talk about. 120,000 is one official estimate—but who knows? It is so unimportant that we have not really bothered to count. We could no doubt do things in far better ways. My point is that, in practice, most societies do tend to do exactly what Jonathan Zap suggests—to strategically make use of the particular talents of the sociopath, or, at a minimum, to activate and harness their members’ sociopathic shadows. Sometimes this works. At other times, such as now, it tends to blow up in our faces.

In spite of wholesale surveillance programs, such as the NSA’s NIMD—or “Novel Intelligence from Massive Data”—and the FBI’s now (supposedly) defunct “Carnivore”(!), there can be no prophylaxis against Evil. But we can ask questions that might help to keep us conscious, such as: "Have we incorporated the enemy on purpose or by accident?" The key thing is perhaps transparency. It would probably be best, too, to remove the fox from his role as supervisor of the chicken coop. Somehow “regulation” has become a dirty word.

As Baudilaire said in "The Generous Gambler," “The lovliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he doesn’t exist.” In the same way, sociopaths in high places have convinced us that “markets are self-regulating,” that the jet-setting heirs to family fortunes are heroic Ayn Randian “job creators”—veritable Atlases!—and that the best thing that the victim of the Stockholm Syndrome can do is to kiss the hand of his/ her captor. So too: that the 3497 of our 9/11 dead must be avenged by the murder of 120,000—and still climbing—innocent civilians in Iraq, that US citizens can be arrested and detained for a lifetime without being charged, and that midnight military tribunals are a substitute for Justice. A bit of intelligent oversight might be nice.

In the end: Sociopathic evil, as sly and charismatic as it is, is generally not quite as strong as goodness that is active—as opposed to merely polite—and that does not allow itself to be treated like a mark.

(Illustration:  Victor Brauner) )

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Note on "Autumnal Fallout," a childhood memory of the Cuban Missile Crisis

Brian George

My memory of childhood events is generally hit or miss, and I am always curious to discover why certain events are so much more vivid than others. Why can I return to some as though they were still happening while others are now totally obscure?

I was just looking at the dates for the Cuban Missile Crisis, which began on October 14th and ended on October 28th of 1962. (Others date it from the 15th or 16th to the 27th.) What I had not really thought about before was the length of the crisis, which was roughly two weeks, in relation to my somewhat peculiar psychology as an eight-year-old. Like many kids with the beginnings of an artistic orientation, I was what you would describe as “over-imaginative,” although I don’t know that this really describes my degree of suggestibility and my sense that physical reality was not a closed system.

For example, that same year, I had an odd experience with my friend Francis S. (Francis was three years older than I was, and he would later go on to become a career criminal.) One day, at around 3:00 PM, Francis and I were climbing a long cement stairway with several landings that wound up a hillside behind a neighbor’s house. Halfway up, Francis grabbed my arm, stared into my eyes, and announced that I would never be allowed to leave the landing where we stood. “If you ever take even one step off this landing,” he said, “you will be immediately cut to pieces by ghosts.” I have no idea why I would have believed him, but I stayed on the landing for about two and one half hours. Hunger finally got the better of me, and I summoned up the courage to head home for supper.

Given my sometimes dangerous naiveté, I can only imagine the effect that the threat of imminent planetary destruction might have had on me. Even at the beginning of the crisis, my experience of this threat was visceral, and my sense of its full reality then had two weeks to sink in. I suspect, as I say at the beginning of the piece, that this experience changed my whole way of looking at the world. The two-week time period also gave me an adequate chance to visualize and process the possibility of my own death. The peaceful fall of the autumn leaves at the end of piece, which signals a kind of bittersweet embrace of the possibility of my own and the planet’s annihilation, now strikes me as even more of a literal memory than I had thought.

Read "Autumnal Fallout" at

Illustration: Brian George, Autumnal Leaf-Head, 2004

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Autumnal Fallout (Excerpt and link to full post and reading)

Brian George

"Autumnal Fallout," my surreal memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis, was posted a few days ago on Metapsychosis. I also did a reading to accompany the piece. (Pat Madigan, who was the sound tech for the reading, has offered to help me record a number of other pieces, which I plan to do.) Here is an excerpt from the piece:

We knew too much, by far, without knowing that we knew anything. Just recently, we had decided to take our powers out of storage, and our ignorance was a danger to the cosmos as a whole. In our toy ships, with shovels in hand, we would set sail from our sandbox! With our miniaturized brains, we would boldly go where no man had gone before! The path was not a straight one, however, and the arc of our discovery bent towards the Abyss. We had stepped into the last act of a drama that had been set in motion years before our births, in the springtime of the world. Then, war was a game that the omnipotent seers played; death was an adventure, and the ocean was a vast but comprehensible text. Not only could we read the glyphs inside each atom, we could also read the emptiness on which they had been written. The gods were our contraptions. We had little respect for the authorities that would bar our access to “junk” DNA. We were living mirrors, from whose backs the mercury had not yet been removed. An oath prompted us to throw away almost everything we had, recklessly, and to cover our tracks by destroying the horizon. How infinitely strange it was to be a leaf that somehow did not know that it was hanging from a tree. At last, we had tied the year into a perfect figure eight. October, as predicted, had arrived.

 Continue reading at:
 Illustration: Brian George, Bird with Vortex and Primordial Bow, 2004 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Ubiquity of the Eight-Armed Sphere

Brian George

A few weeks back, I responded to a question posed by Antero Alli, which read, “Are men really mutant women?” I wrote, “I'll stick with Plato's analysis: men and women are the mutant halves of what was once an eight-limbed sphere.” Antero replied, “An eight-limbed early model for Leary's 8-Circuit Brain?” (Antero has written two excellent books on this model of the eight-circuit brain—The Eight-Circuit Brian: Navigational Strategies for the Energetic Body and The Shamanic Path to Quantum Consciousness: The Eight Circuits of Creative Power.) I wrote that I was also preoccupied with the number eight, and posted an excerpt from a recently revised essay about the West African tricksters Eshu and Ananse that explores the central significance of this number. Here is one paragraph of the excerpt:

“The number eight (8) struck me as significant. In the Yoruba tradition, eight gives birth to all other numbers. Even one is born from eight. There are eight elements of primordial consciousness in the Hindu cosmos. There are 108 prayer beads on the mala of a sanyasin, or monk. The god of destruction, Shiva, is sometimes portrayed with eight arms, and his roadside shrines, where he takes the form of a small cement head with three shells for the eyes and mouth, look exactly like those for Eshu, the Yoruba trickster god who is the guardian of the crossroads. Shiva is said to have either eight or 108 dance forms. In the Hebrew tradition, boys are circumcised eight days after birth. Ananse is notoriously phallic. It seemed possible that there was some type of connection. Perhaps the trickster invented circumcision a way to show his phallus off. In the Symposium, Plato has Aristophanes argue that human beings were originally spherical creatures with eight limbs, whose halves were arranged back to back. They wheeled around like clowns doing cartwheels. They were enormously powerful, and Zeus feared that they would assault Olympus, so he decided to cripple them by chopping them in two. In Taoism, it is said that the four gives birth to the eight; the eight then gives birth to 10,000 things. There is a Gnostic text about the boundary of the created world called Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth. Ananse mediates between Nyame, the obscure god of the sky, and Asase Yaa, the mother of the Earth. At the boundary of the nonexistent, he weaves an open house. He drops on a self-created thread from the circumference.”

Antero responded, “Going by your post here it seems you may be a little more than ‘preoccupied’ with the number 8. Though I have written two books on the 8-Circuit model (and teach a course on it once a year), I rarely refer to it in my daily thinking processes. It's the experience that symbol systems refer to that has my attention.”

I wrote, “My concern is not so much with the number eight as with the nature of the primordial body. In the late 1980s, I had several experiences during meditation in which my various bodies fell away like the stages of a rocket. At the end, I experienced myself as a kind of crackling electrical sphere. These experiences did not last long, but, ever since, the memory of what it felt like to exist in this type of body has stayed with me as an almost constant presence. My normal four-limbed version and this spherical version somehow coexist. A bit later, in 1990, after a yogic initiation, a small luminous sphere appeared in my field of vision. It was sometimes very bright and at other times almost invisible. Unlike the experiences in the 1980s, which were spontaneous, my interaction with this sphere had more of the aspect of a dialogue. These experiences were subtle rather than violent, and mercurial rather than dualistic, with a sense of the vantage point being everywhere and nowhere. In my poetry and prose, I have attempted to explore these experiences from a number of different angles.”

Image: Victor Brauner, Mythotony, 1942