Archives for category: philosophy

(a review of Cosmic Trigger 1 I posted on Goodreads)

Would give this five but for the outdated predictions. Life extension, increased space travel, a lot of the things haven’t happened yet. But, when I look at what has happened over the past thirty years, it isn’t that surprising. There has been a TREMENDOUS increase in the use and availability of personal technology. People like Elon Musk and Richard Branson are doing good things with regards to space flight. However, a whole lot of the money and research has gone into personal computers -> laptops-> smartphones -> tablets -> smartwatches, Glass, etc. Yes, the internet is a wonderful place and can allow people to connect (to a degree) but to my mind the connections aren’t genuine. Rather than move toward things which could unify us as a world people and possibly realize our common interests, we have managed to come up with more ways to make us more self-involved and things to addict ourselves to. I have had the idea for a while for a scifi story. Basic premise is that the machines are, in fact, taking us over. But they are doing it covertly and by preying on our human weaknesses. They managed to insinuate themselves even more strongly into our lives with the advent of the personal computer (think about the famous Apple 1984 ad – maybe prescient in a different way than intended). In the process of this intrusion into our lives, they manage to interface with us and get into our brains to make us THINK they are more vital to us than they actually are. And make us “need” them more, to do more things. And subsequently convince us that we need to constantly get the latest, greatest, smallest new gizmo out there. This initial entree was so successful that they upped their game and put themselves in our pockets, and upped the ante in terms of how “valuable” and “necessary” they are to us. Their latest strategy is to put themselves directly in front of our eyes at all times, and on our wrists. Of course, this is all leading to the next goal which is to get into our actual bodies. Which they have managed to accomplish to a small degree. The more interaction we have with them, for more hours of our day, the more of our consciousness they take over as they manage to convince us they are so important to us that we should allow them even more free reign. They manage to manipulate and persuade us to allow them even more control over our lives, and that the avenues for connection are more important than genuine connection. We don’t need things like consciousness expanding substances or techniques which might encourage us to have genuine connection with other humans, the beings on this earth and the earh and universe itself. No, we just need them to attain the simulacrum of happiness they offer. It’s all virtual anyway, right?

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A few months ago, I had the idea that in sleep, in dreams, we connect with other dimensions. My belief, as far as other dimensions, is that there are infinite dimensions, infinite universes, in which infinite permutations of events can happen. We are actually connected the whole time we are asleep, but dreams only occur during specific periods of the cycle. We remember them only when our minds are at a point or state of being sensitive enough to apprehend and remember the occurrence. In short, when we sleep we are connected with infinite mind.
So today, reading Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger, another insight came to me. I was going to say, “I had another insight”, but that isn’t my understanding of how these things transpire. It isn’t a thought that BELONGS to me somehow, just one that is “out there” and my own state of being at the time is such that I am ready to receive it. At times in the past I have had similar insights, but was dismissive of them. Either because it seemed too crazy, or usually having more to do with the old bugaboo “But what will OTHER people think if I tell them this?” The two are connected, of course. Now, I believe that I just wasn’t, at the time, at a point in the journey of discovery, partially described in my previous post, where I was really “ready” for it.
So on to the insight (I ramble, I digress, similar to the way my spiritual journey has transpired, but I am just not judgmental of myself for it any more, usually). In sleep, we are in contact with the multiverse, and a process of growth occurs. A growth important for us as individuals, and also for our little piece of the multiverse, if we pay attention. It isn’t a matter where rational thought, such as dream analysis, holds very much sway. It’s more intuitive knowledge, for lack of a better word, which seeps into our psyches like water does into the ground to nourish plants. It is the universe’s, or more accurately multiverse’s, way of imparting to us the information which allows and encourages us to psychically advance as a species and become more responsible citizens of the wonder we inhabit.
I am on my third (or maybe fourth) read-through of Cosmic Trigger. In my previous post, in listing the various schools of thought I have studied at varying levels, I neglected to say much about the Sufis. I did spend some time investigating Sufi wisdom, the dervishes, the Mullah Nasruddin stories, the hashishin connection. As with many other things, I moved on, mostly because of the monotheistic nature of Islam, a way of thinking that just doesn’t resonate with my experience. The Sufis, however, are different; more like an entirely separate religion than orthodox Islam. That is, if mysticism in general has any connection with established religion, which I don’t believe it does. A variety of mysticism seems to be common to just about all the schools of thought I have spent any time considering or studying. It “comes out differently” from all of them simply due to the perceptive, conditioned apparatus of the individual receiving the insights and the cultural milieu he or she has been steeped in. Far more similarities than differences, in other words. In Cosmic Trigger, on page 89 of the Falcon Books edition I am reading, “Many people have had the experience of not knowing who they are or where they are; it usually occurs in the first moments after awakening in the morning. The Sufis say that you are closer to Illumination in that instant of micro-amnesia than at any other time.”
For what it’s worth, the insight which came to me about the nature of sleep came to me a few minutes before I re-encountered this passage in Cosmic Trigger. As a (possibly) tangential bit of information, I was reading, as I always do, as I relaxed before I took a nap for a little while this morning. On this read-through of Cosmic Trigger, I have become more aware of the mind-bombs implanted in me at my first encounter with this book. Just a series of words arranged in a certain way, but seemingly a lot more than that, at least in my experience.

Just finished reading Illuminatus! for the second time. I realized that this is one of the few books which have genuinely changed my life. I had no idea how MUCH of an influence it had had until this reread after probably eighteen years, coming across phrases and ways of thinking which had operated as “mind bombs” (I have no idea from whom I stole that phrase). One of RAW’s favorite phrases is Korzybski’s (sp?) “the map is not the territory”, and I became aware that I had been focusing far too much on the “map” of my peregrinations, not really seeing the “territory” I had covered. My personal path has been winding, from Southern Baptist (which I left behind long ago), through a very brief not even quarter-hearted flirtation with Catholicism inspired by Thomas Merton, to varieties of Buddhism (Zen and Tibetan primarily), and back again to Taoism a couple of, or a few, times. There were also diversions into paganism and Celtic spirituality along the way, as well as the Sufis. The Sufis creeped me out a bit, but I’m not sure why. What happened is that I sent off for some information to one of the organizations affiliated with Idries Shah in the late 90s. At the time, I was living in Nevada. I subsequently moved from there to Florida, a couple of different addresses, and the Sufimail followed me for a number of years (it has since stopped). My conspiratorial mystical mind went to work and got a little freaked that they KNEW where I was somehow. The more plausible explanation is that they received change of address notifications from the PO and updated their information. Still, though, I’m not completely sure.
(the journey is its own point).Taoism is the one which resonates most strongly with me, but after reading Illuminatus! again I realized that if I am anything, and I’m not really, I’m a Discordian. I have acquired my own, personal web of knowledge about different ways to look at the world (thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird, as Wallace Stevens might say). I am more comfortable today with the fact that my journey will likely continue as it has, that I will continue learning and hopefully growing. One of my favorite quotes is from one of those Zen guys, Shunryu Suzuki. “The beginner’s mind is open to endless possibilities; the expert’s mind is open to few.” Probably slightly misquoted, but you get the idea. My goal is really simple – to always have beginner’s mind, a flexibility that allows me to encounter new points of view, assimilate what resonates to me, and move on after a time.                                                                                                                                

(book being quoted here is Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler. This is from historiadiscordia.com)

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On page 309, RAW drops some vital Discordian knowledge, which stands as probably the most succinct and to the point summary of Eris worship ever writ (maybe):

“Much of the Pagan Movement started out as jokes, and gradually, as people found out they were getting something out of it, they became serious. Discordianism has a built-in check against getting too serious. The sacred scriptures are so absurd—as soon as you consult the scriptures again, you start laughing. Discordian theology is similar to Crowleyanity. You take any of these ideas far enough and they reveal the absurdity of all ideas. They show that ideas are only tools and that no idea should be sacrosanct. Thus, Discordianism is a necessary balance. It’s a fail-safe system. It remains a joke and provides perspective. It’s a satire on human intelligence and is based on the idea that whatever your map of reality, it’s ninety percent your own creation. People should accept this and be proud of their own artistry. Discordianism can’t get dogmatic. The whole language would have to change for people to lose track that it was all a joke to begin with. It would take a thousand years.”

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Encountering RAW and Terence McKenna 15 or so years ago broke my head open, no substances other than knowledge involved. After all, knowledge, followed by open minded investigation, which might eventually become a sort of wisdom, is more powerful than ANY hallucinogen. Not that hallucinogens don’t have their place.
Challenged my insular worldview, opened my mind to paths of which I hadn’t previously even been aware, paths I still follow to this day. Not so much a purveyor of what even he sees as truth, more of a trickster figure. He in effect says to the reader, “OK, sucker, like 99% of humanity you have taken certain things as gospel your entire life. Like most (shumans? Humeeps?), you may have encountered certain things which have enhanced or even changed your essential worldview. To your mind, possibly even, some of these have been so radical, but the parameters of your worldview remain essentially pretty narrow. NOW, humeep, what if these OTHER things, which might at first glance seem totally cuckoobananas, might be true? Maybe even possibly, just a little? NOW what are YOU going to do with THIS information?”

Existentialism in Calvin and Hobbes

Existentialism in Calvin and Hobbes (Photo credit: Lst1984)

An Existential Life

Though I have to admit I like the title as revealed in the URL more. I don’t have much tolerance for the sometimes nihilistic strain in existentialism, but I do think it’s an understandable response to life, especially life as it was experienced in the twentieth century. There’s a lot of wisdom embodied in the quotes collected on this page, but, as always, caveat emptor. Just use it as fuel to encourage yourself to think for yourself at ALL times, and to leave the herd behind with a critical, yet always loving, eye.

Recommended reading: Irrational Man by William Barrett. I will forever be indebted to Professor Bob Hall for introducing me to this book, and Nietzsche, and Dostoevsky, and so many other books and ideas which changed my life utterly. RIP, Bob.

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vonnegut is my guru

So wise, kind and yet cynical all at the same time. I love his theory in this interview about how writers are specialized cells, or organisms. My personal theory of the universe, the way of thinking by which I am guided, is holistic. Partly, or mostly, derived from what I know of Taoism and how it approaches the world in which we live.

I have been on a Vonnegut kick lately, going through God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, Bluebeard, Deadeye Dick and now on Mother Night, with Sirens of Titan and Fates Worse Than Death on deck. Amazon, it seems, has been tempting me by offering on a weekly basis one Vonnegut book for $1.99. Can’t beat it with a stick, that much wisdom for that little money. What he offers in his body of work, amid all the wackiness, is an alternate or secret history of the twentieth and the early twenty first centuries. He may not have made it into that essentially worthless entity called “the canon” due to his absurdity, but why not? I have some ideas on this, most of which involves academics with sticks up their asses. We don’t need people who can show us the seriousness in life through the prism of literature, for isn’t life serious enough as it is? Isn’t that why we spend so much time through so many ways, evolving every day, to escape it? I submit that we are much better served by folks, like my beloved Kurt, who can make us laugh and see the absurdity of the existence in which we live, and just maybe help us to learn something about ourselves in the process.

Vonnegut Wooden Nickel

Vonnegut Wooden Nickel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Excellent Guardian interview with Rebecca Solnit

She is so interested in, and engaged with, the world in which she lives. In the interview, the interviewer applies the term “psychogeographer” to her, and I can’t disagree with her. Psychogeography is such an antiseptic, academic sounding term. What it is, to me, is a way of being in the world in which you are aware and receptive to what is going on around you, and ideally to the effects of these impressions on you. Plus ca change, ya know – everything old is new again. I have aspirations to be a Taoist sage – have sometimes said that if someone held a gun to my head and demanded I name a religion, I would name Taoism. The ancient Taoist sages were just nodes in the network, to use present day terminology. They realized that one of the curious things about being human, perhaps the MOST curious thing, is that we are simultaneously, constantly, both connected to all that is around us, and utterly separate. Both islands in the stream, and the stream itself. What most separates us from our animal companions, from all the other beings that inhabit this world, is that, for better or worse, we are completely AWARE of this separation. One of my gurus, Kurt Vonnegut, talks a bit, a lot even, of we humans with our big brains and the trouble we can cause with them. It’s a constant, running theme in all of his work, in fact. Wittingly or unwittingly, the powers of our big brains often provoke us to run harum scarum through the world, often creating havoc wherever we go. Our responsibility, to revert to a cliche, is to use these powers for good, to realize that for whatever reason this happened – God, a random evolutionary accident, whatever – we have an obligation, a duty, to use this gift to become more aware of the wondrous universe in which we live and, when given the opportunity, to make it a better place for ALL concerned.

The (not so new) F word

May be a little overwrought, but in general I agree with the thoughts expressed here. I reserve the use of the word “fascism” until I believe a certain line has been crossed. I don’t believe we have crossed that line yet, I don’t even know where it IS, but I do believe we are dancing perilously close to it. Civilizations and cultures in decline resort to extreme measures to preserve themselves, and their power, only to finally find that the lengths to which they went result, in time, not in their continuance, but their destruction. Examples through history are numerous, and I believe that the so-called American Century ended in 1989, with the collapse of Communism. It didn’t last long, not even a full 100 years, but what I see now is pretty convincing evidence of a culture in decline and spasmically lashing out, most especially at the weak and relatively defenseless, in a vain effort to preserve itself.

The Magician King

The Magician King (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Magician King and some other thoughts

As I say in the review, there’s more meat here than appears, and I want to address it later. Nevertheless, here are some preliminary observations.