So I’ve been listening to Gordon on m1k3y’s Cosmic Anthropology podcast today, and several things have struck me. More accurately, I suppose, they’ve made me reflect on the things I’ve been writing during this shadow-period of depression I’ve been going through the past 3 or so months.
To a certain extent, I’ve long learnt that this is psychic weather, and while entheogens do indeed help me as they do my antipodean friend, there’s a certain set of everyday realities which drag you down, disability-wise if you’re me. But the funny thing is that being Down Here seems to be something more, when we factor in the polyvalence that I talk about in Albion Dreaming. The nested Russian-Doll nature of these complex ontological tectonics we rather naively call ‘reality’ means that metaphors are all we have
“All words, in every language, are metaphors”
“All media are extensions of some human faculty- psychic or physical.”
– Both from Marshall McLuhan
And here, dear reader is when we begin to realise that the words we use to describe our world, every single one of them, is a metaphor. Whether that be ‘I’ or ‘You‘; ‘And’ ‘Either’ ‘Or’ ‘But’, they are still metaphors, still sidelong-glances created by mimicry, repetition and replicative distortion.
The only corect way to to view them is out of the corner of our eye – so in a very real sense, we should be ‘side-eyeing’ reality, as it were. It’s been put together by dodgy geezers in the camel-hair coats, the conmen in sharp suits and the million year old shark-smiles. But let’s delete the ‘should’ from this equation, the sense of psychic obligation shall we? Let’s admit that we have no idea what’s going on, that in fact there’s no whip-cracker telling us to do things. not here.
Depression is a word, a metaphor for an experience that seems so very ridiculous when you’re not in it. That sense that you are low, that there’s a weight pressing on your sense of Being. That sense of hopelessness, of numbness wrapped around a throbbing ache you can’t quite describe. Somewhere along the line, you might feel like you got disconnected from the world, cast adrift.
On the podcast, it’s mentioned that liberation technology never lasts long before it’s either co-opted by the archons or brutally suppressed. Crowdfunding is soon to get new SEC rules laid upon it, certain strengths of cryptography are illegal in the US, the TOR router network has been compromised…I could go on but you get the picture, because it’s nothing new. Even the Roman Empire would co-opt barbarian tribes to fight for it in the end.
It just doesn’t last long, Down Here. The liberation technology encoded in the mythology of Christ, and its antecedents, was soon co-opted by the state. The heresies – competing ‘fanfiction’ if you like, were brutally supressed or twisted beyond recognition by detractors. And before anyone gets offended by use of ‘fiction’ in this concept, understand that we are creating fiction all the time – that’s what metaphors are.
That’s why, ladies and gentlemen, I lied. I said there was no whip cracker here.
There is. It’s me.
You’re reading these words and they are shaping your thoughts. You couldn’t read them otherwise. That’s what communication is, extensions of our psyches. But you knew that already, right?
(Promise not to beat you too hard, just enough – or as much as you like. See me after class, etc. etc.)
The thing with fanfiction is that it’s often truer to the lived experience of the work than the authorised version – if it wasn’t, then it wouldn’t exist.
So people might want an Alternate Universe where Jesus and John were totally doing it, or where Judas switched places with Jesus and got crucified, leaving J-Man to settle down and sprog happily with Mary Magdalene, founding the line that culminates in Charlemagne. Or, that young Yeshua travelled with Uncle Joe all the way to Cornwall in earch of tin, which is why the Grail ends up in the Westcountry.
Maybe Germanic Jesus, with his feast in the meadhall, his warband of 12 trusty warriors, and his sacrifice on the Cross-that-isn’t-in-any-way-Yggdrasil/Irminsul is there too. Or Arian Jesus – some dude who became a god after being possessed by a divine spirit. Or maybe disturbingly-white Aryan Jesus because you’re a white supremacist idiot who has a fit of existensial wangst anytime anyone of a slightly different epidermal shade comes near you. Maybe drunk and bitter Jesus, or sleepless and omnipresent Jesus who’s quite obviously insane because he never sleeps.
The choice, as they say, is yours. The authorized version is the one that either squishes others, or eats them, metabolises them, and spits out some bastard hybrid. And of course, it’s not only Christianity. Any story, any narrative can be blurred, spliced and fanfic-ed.
Look at the Tea Party in the US, or the Birthers, or the ruling classes of the UK. Each of them are spinning their own fanfic version of reality. And here’s the thing? Shakespeare wrote fanfic. He took stories, and turned them into pop-culture, with drama, pathos and quite a lot of dick jokes in a Westcountry accent.
Fifty Shades of Grey? Twilight fanfic. Lord of the Rings? Norse and Anglo-Saxon mythfic, in an AU Christianity.
Maybe some part of you is rebelling against the designation of fanfic, as if it’s somehow a perjorative designation. It isn’t. The printing press, which gave birth to the Penny Dreadful, to Dickens, is part of the same reflex that gave us pulp horror and sci-fi, that gave us Trek and X-files, and all the weirdness Chris Knowles details on his blog.
“You fellas think of comics in terms of comic books, but you’re wrong. I think you fellas should think of comics in terms of drugs, in terms of war, in terms of journalism, in terms of selling, in terms of business. And if you have a viewpoint on drugs, or if you have a viewpoint on war, or if you have a viewpoint on the economy, I think you can tell it more effectively in comics than you can in words. I think nobody is doing it. Comics is journalism.” – Jack Kirby
The late great Jack Kirby is the centre of much weirdness, just as several of the pulp-sci-fi writers were. Just as Alan Moore is. Just as Grant Morrison is. The key here is that these things were never built to last. They were never meant to be serious. Comics were words and pictures, the combining of the two greatest forms of communication we had, until we had the moving image. Even now, these funnybooks do things with space and time that wouldn’t be possible without a million dollar special effects package in movies.
Pop-culture, with its rapid consumption and its obsessive tendency to induce fanaticism, is ephemeral; like poetry, its performance, its action is fleeting. The echoes of the voice die away into the silence, but the impressions it makes can last a lifetime, can shape whole generations. Propagandists and advertisers understand this as well, but the sheer rapid diffusion of data means that it can’t be completely controlled, not totally – the archons are always lagging behind. They’ll catch up eventually of course, lock things down, but by then, as it’s mentioned in the podcast, we’ll be further down the beach, onto the next thing.
Alan Moore once suggested that things were moving so fast, culture was speeding up so that it ‘was becoming steam’. It’s no longer solid, diffuse. It gets everywhere.
What I’d like to suggest is that it’s not just culture, that it’s yet another manifestation of McLuhan’s prophecy – we are once again, thanks to technology, returning to a global ‘village’ state. Stories are being spun around the campfire – we can hear what’s going on in the next country as easily as we can hear our neighbours having sex two huts over.
Think about that. I’m writing this in Lancaster, and you can hear my thoughts in your head miles away, hundreds, maybe thousands of them away from the brain in which they originated.
But here’s the thing – you probably know this already. You probably understand it’s all metaphorical, that language shapes the way we think, that it makes us do things we wouldn’t think we would do, like some mind-invading virus from outer-space. Hell, you probably understand what I mean when I said that in Chaos Magic “The best magician is the one who has internalised their status as a magician, and then completely forgotten about it.”
But how you know it, that’s the question. Because the Gnostic technology of liberation doesn’t come from here, according to traditional narrative. It comes from the Pleroma, to give us the keys to unlock the door. The comic prison break, if you will; the message that will self destruct in 5 seconds should you choose to accept it.
It comes from the Above into the Below. It comes down here to suffer and die and get screwed over simply for the chance to show us the way home. Now, that might seem contradictory to what I’ve been writing lately; that we’re going to be OK, that it’s all right here, around you. That you are a primordial Being who doesn’t actually have to anything except Be, and in doing so you will find yourself running down that starry beach faster than the Flash. It doesn’t seem to accord with the living vitalistic Gnosis which I embrace; the notion that all phenomena are portals to the dreaming all at once, the wondrous numinous Night where an ancient sun burns in bright darkness.
But it does. It really truly does. Because it is a metaphor; a door into knowing a thing that may have multiple meanings, multiple shapes and forms. This fluidity, this polyvalence, is precisely why the elves went into the West, why the Grey Havens exist in Tolkien. Why the fairies ‘left’ and the ‘little people’ went ‘underground.’
Because ‘down here’ is fixed, because it’s been divided between authorised and fanfic.
And what’s fanfic but the human heart telling stories that are relevant to human existence, using characters and frameworks? Sounds awfully like another kind of thing which has been treated perjoratively by the archontic world:
In a polyvalent, poetic understanding of reality. the archons are metaphors for something else, and because of that they are beings in and of themselves, as real as ‘you’ or ‘I’. There’s no value judgement here, because metaphors can affect us physically, psychically and literally. If they couldn’t we’d never have started using them in the first place. That’s why DARPA have been running tests on you via selectively contouring your facebook feed and internet, and why media choose to publicise only certain stories, by the way. Because the boffins are starting to clock on to something that wizards have known forever.
Your world is created by responses to stimuli, flickers of electrochemical lightning, gone in a fraction of a second that, nonetheless has seemed persistent throughout your entire lifetime. So, let’s look at some fanfic etymology for a second:
- fanatic (n.) 1520s, “insane person,” from Latin fanaticus “mad, enthusiastic, inspired by a god,” also “furious, mad,” originally, “pertaining to a temple,” from fanum “temple,” related to festus “festive” (see feast). Meaning “zealous person” is mid-17c. As an adjective, in English, 1530s, “furious;” meaning “characterized by excessive enthusiasm,” especially in religion (of Nonconformists), is from 1640s.
feast (n.) c.1200, “religious anniversary characterized by rejoicing” (rather than fasting), from Old French feste (12c., Modern French fête) “religious festival; noise, racket,” from Vulgar Latin *festa (fem. singular; also source of Italian festa, Spanish fiesta), from Latin festa “holidays, feasts,” noun use of neuter plural of festus “festive, joyful, merry,” related to feriae “holiday” and fanum “temple,” from PIE *dhes- “root of words in religious concepts” [Watkins]. The spelling -ea- was used in Middle English to represent the sound we mis-call “long e.” Meaning “abundant meal” (whether public or private) is from late 14c
fiction (n.) late 14c., “something invented,” from Old French ficcion (13c.) “dissimulation, ruse; invention,” and directly from Latin fictionem (nominative fictio) “a fashioning or feigning,” noun of action from past participle stem of fingere “to shape, form, devise, feign,” originally “to knead, form out of clay,” from PIE *dheigh- “to build, form, knead” (source also of Old English dag “dough;” see dough). As a branch of literature, 1590s
- dough (n.) Old English dag “dough,” from Proto-Germanic *daigaz “something kneaded” (cognates: Old Norse deig, Swedish deg, Middle Dutch deech, Dutch deeg, Old High German teic, German Teig, Gothic daigs “dough”), from PIE *dheigh- “to build, to form, to knead” (cognates: Sanskrit dehah “body,” literally “that which is formed,” dih- “to besmear;” Greek teikhos “wall;” Latin fingere “to form, fashion,” figura “a shape, form, figure;” Gothic deigan “to smear;” Old Irish digen “firm, solid,” originally “kneaded into a compact mass”). Meaning “money” is from 1851.
I mean, seriously? Look at those bloody cognates. Look at them.
Then think back to Lascaux. Think back to the San rock art. Think back to the fire and the shadow and the crackle and the song; think about the idols and the arts; think about the spirit running fast through flesh and the dance and the sweat. Rituals that last a moment, an hour, a day, a month, a year.
Quite an experience, to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is, to be a slave…I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe… -Roy Batty, Bladerunner
Do yourself a favour and watch the whole scene, even if you’ve seen it before – not just the lines. Then consider who is the daimon, and who is the man, if that’s your thing. Argue all you like about Batty gripping Deckard’s broken hand, with a nail through his own.
Because the secret is, that these moments are indeed lost in time. These fleeting, temporary contacts with the Weird can’t exist Down Here for long, not without a significant change in the structure of your awareness. Conversely, they can happen anywhere and at any time – though to be sure, there are some places which seem to serve as cosmic elevators.
So we have to ask – is it because they appear so temporary that they can actually interface with our perception, contoured and manipulated as it is? Here one moment, and then seemingly gone the next, only to reappear when we’re further down the beach? Is their very lack of repeatability dependent on our only seeing them through cracks in the walls.
In the end though, metaphor is king – because it’s only us who are moving down the beach. The beach doesn’t move – it simply is.
Which is pretty trippy, when you go into, say, Norse myth and realise that humans were supposedly created by gods finding driftwood washed up on a beach, isn’t it?
Fanfiction again. Stuff made under the influence of gods and spirits, things that are supposedly extradimensional interacting with the human heart and making them spew metaphor and poetry until they’re shuddering and exhausted. As the old saying goes:
Folks from round ‘ere ain’t from round ‘ere!
And this is further borne out by my harbour-wall thesis – because Down Here, as is seen by most, is irretrievably separated from Up There. Except of course, it isn’t, but the world we have built with one-sided metaphors has trained us thusly. In fact, the momement we start embracing the poetic polyvalence, although it might be a little hairy for our sanity, things start getting Weird. Just like wizards are bloody everywhere, so the Weird reveals itself with a mischievous trickster-grin.
We are in fact High Weird ourselves.
We’ve been trained out of it of course – and our trainers don’t even know they are doing it, initiating us into the bound flow of the world as their parents did to them. But really, there was a time before we grasped language – a kind of Pre-Adamaic existence that is powered or run by something which exists outside of language and thought. Because that’s what’s creates our thoughts and feelings. Our existence works from the Inner into the Outer, not the Outer into the Inner. Our thoughts and feelings are metaphorical too.
So when I talk about depression what am I talkling about? For me, I’m talking about the fact that, not only am I Down Here, but I’m at the bottom of a very, very deep well. I’m talking about when the one for one metaphor structure no longer serves as a decent map, when the separation widens still further, and the disconnect feels like an uncrossable gulf.
But if I treat depression as a polyvalent metaphor, then what are we presented with, in the mythic fanfiction sense? If I allow a daimonic intensity to develop around and in and through it? If it is at once brain chemistry and environment, yet also a path, a message and a being come to meet me, just as it has come to meet so very many of my kin?
All of these and none – when the ache becomes a beacon into the underworld, when the obscenities and cruelties the voice in my head visits upon me become so cartoonish that they make flee inside my heart, in and down; until at last I meet the secret sun waiting there, at the centre of the crossroads.
Because, the simple fact of the matter is, that sun remains no matter what we do. That hidden heart of the star burns with a subtle and secret lamp in our blood. And by that fire, we might smile at the Black Dog of Fear and Loathing that chased us here, knowing that its daimonic presence is needful.
Now of course, the damonic does not appear identically to everyone. Depression is not to be welcomed, or feared – like everything else in the kosmos, it is what it is – which to say it may appear in manifold forms and shapes. And as magicians, as wizards, it’s our job to say Come not in that form, when we need to. It’s our job to shift our own shapes and learn more things so that we can craft the beautiful ephemera that we were born to do.
We can only liberate ourselves, and share what we know in as open-to-interpretation way as possible, if we wish to loosen fetters and help others. Each of us has an innate clarity which arises – like the way the water clears if we just allow it to settle. The immortal comes to us in moments, but we can go and meet it, once we realise that all moments are this moment. No past, no future, only Now.
And we can let our thoughts scamper ahead into possible futures and recreated pasts all we like, but the Now never goes anywhere. Ten thousand years-ago-was-Now-too. Those dead harvest festivals can live again if you bring them into the Now as living festivities rooted in the Here and Now.
The wildness can be found, the ferocity in the most domestic of situations – the Dark Mountain may be discerned by the shadow it casts on the floodlit fields. There is no separation.
There’s no such thing as contradicting yourself. You just need to learn to listen. You know how. It’s written into the skeleton key of your bones.