Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Books, Books, Books - and Book XIII

Books Books Books.  I am in the process of upgrading the library temple suite - Indonesian lanterns; Walnut bookcases; antique desk, barrel and chest.  Going to pick me up a Thoth statue too.  Its going to look gorgeous fam.  Having removed the IKEA bookcases I had, the entire floor is just covered in heaps of books - many of them ex library books.  I pick up the Texts of Taoism and randomly open up a bit of Chuang Tzu to take to the bathroom and what am I offered?

What the world thinks the most valuable exhibition of the Tâo is to be found in books. But books are only a collection of words. Words have what is valuable in them;-- what is valuable in words is the ideas they convey. But those ideas are a sequence of something else;-- and what that something else is cannot be conveyed by words. When the world, because of the value which it attaches to words, commits them to books, that for which it so values them may not deserve to be valued;-- because that which it values is not what is really valuable. Thus it is that what we look at and can see is (only) the outward form and colour, and what we listen to and can hear is (only) names and sounds. Alas! that men of the world should think that form and colour, name and sound, should be sufficient to give them the real nature of the Tâo. The form and colour, the name and sound, are certainly not sufficient to convey its real nature; and so it is that 'the wise do not speak and those who do speak are not wise.' How should the world know that real nature?

Chuang Tzu, Book XIII, Part 10

He's right you know.  I question the value of the books lying scattered around me.  It seems to me the theory here is Tao then Ideas then Words then Books (highly similar to the KBL and cell biology/genetics) but the Tao is beyond our comprehension so we cannot name the ultimate source of ideas. Is Tao consciousness?  I don't know, that seems to be going a bit far although ideas are noetic and the implication is they originate in Tao.  We can't define consciousness either.  Dennett thinks its an illusion but I think Chuang thinks Dennett is an illusion.  Tao is the ultimate indescribable nature of reality.  Thinking of only indirectly contacting this reality through my senses I realise its some kind of science day as well and all my liberal progressive friends are in a science veneration trance on social media.  I am reminded of Parmenides ''On Nature'' where he suggests science is at best informed opinion.  Hmmm.  He continues:

Duke Hwan, seated above in his hall, was (once) reading a book, and the wheelwright Phien was making a wheel below it. Laying aside his hammer and chisel, Phien went up the steps, and said, 'I venture to ask your Grace what words you are reading?' The duke said, 'The words of the sages.' 'Are those sages alive?' Phien continued. 'They are dead,' was the reply. 'Then,' said the other, 'what you, my Ruler, are reading are only the dregs and sediments of those old men.' The duke said, 'How should you, a wheelwright, have anything to say about the book which I am reading? If you can explain yourself, very well; if you cannot, you shall, die!' The wheelwright said, 'Your servant will look at the thing from the point of view of his own art. In making a wheel, if I proceed gently, that is pleasant enough, but the workmanship is not strong; if I proceed violently, that is toilsome and the joinings do not fit. If the movements of my hand are neither (too) gentle nor (too) violent, the idea in my mind is realised. But I cannot tell (how to do this) by word of mouth; there is a knack in it. I cannot teach the knack to my son, nor can my son learn it from me. Thus it is that I am in my seventieth year, and am (still) making wheels in my old age. But these ancients, and what it was not possible for them to convey, are dead and gone:-- so then what you, my Ruler, are reading is but their dregs and sediments!'

Chuang Tzu, Book XIII, Part 11

I like this Wheelwright - books are just bits of corpses and bibliophilia is, in essence, no different to necrophilia.  I look around my blasted temple and see nothing but a catacomb, the leaves of various texts like bits of rotting flesh.  I am decorating my new library temple with their mummified remains. It certainly puts the grim back in grimoires. Thanks Chuang for peeing on my parade.


So it all comes down to ''the knack'' and the relative speed of the hand motions?  What is this knack, our wheelwright is talking about?  Well as I understand it Taoism is all about letting things take their natural course.  Knowledge at its heart is a natural understanding and must be applied.  Talent, a gift for understanding, which is at the heart of all knowledge is inherent, genetic, natural.  In venerating books and authors we're in danger of missing the wood for the trees, of losing our own knack - unless, paradoxically, that happens to be for writing.  An anti-intellectual corrective, Tao style. Although the book pile right now looks like it could easily be set ablaze, Chuang, I think I'll keep them intact, they look nice - and sediment eventually becomes stone.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Time Travel - A.P.E.X. and the War of the Twins

So we were wondering what to watch the other night, trying to decide between It and Day of the Dead when suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, I had a flashback to a film I had watched when I was younger and which had confused the hell out of me.  I could only remember the name A.P.E.X. and that it was vaguely about time travel paradoxes and killer robots.  I found it online and I suggested we watch just half an hour because I remember the plot being both confusing and bad - we eventually ended up watching the whole thing.  The reason I am posting this though is that after we had finished watching it my partner noticed that the events of the film take place on April 3rd and it was April 3rd. I was surprised at just how much is stored in the memory, how subtle the triggers can be, and how often our magickal work is about exercising this vast potential, and through memory to time itself.


Does the movie A.P.E.X. itself matter?  Was my angel attempting to draw my attention to something? Well the themes of the film do fall within the realm of what Raziel has been exploring with me.  A.P.E.X. stands for Advanced Prototype Exploration units, robots that were designed to go through portals for the purpose of exploring a new physics of time travel.  If things went wrong then a sterilization unit would be sent to contain any paradoxical timelines by annhilating the people involved in causing them.  An experiment goes wrong and an alternate timeline is birthed on April 3rd 1973 which robots are then sent to sterilize.  This degenerates into these robots being continuously sent from the original timeline which now exists only as that moment and the Earth descending into a Terminator like war for survival with humanity against these machines.  Our protagonist falling through the portal from the original timeline then has to go to the timelab in the paradoxical timeline and try and connect the two 2073s together.  Suffice to say this film does not produce a brilliant treatment of the paradoxes of time travel.

However, Raziel's apocalyptic vision of the end of the world via time traveller swarm does have resonance with the movie as does the appearance of the time travellers themselves and the time of their arrival. I have discussed several times how the insectoid nature of the appearance of certain beings may in fact be time travelling suits of some form.  In my experience, and from dialogue with Raziel, although they have carapaces like the A.P.E.X. units they also have wings, complex eyes and are entirely iridescent.  In the movie, the robots, appearing one after another, systematically lay waste to the Earth with explosive weaponry, but in Raziel's description, the end of humanity comes about due to the wholesale madness induced by suddenly being engulfed in the host of trillions of time travellers - this event coinciding with the death of language.  As my good friend Paul has pointed out this also resonates with the first few chapters of the Book of Enoch.


I have also been rereading the War of the Twins, the 2nd triology from Weis and Hickman, another work which features time travel as the dominant theme.  In this the magic spell that is used to send the twins back in time can only be used for research purposes and no changes can be made in the timeline unless a dwarf, gnome or ''kender'' is sent.  Since these creatures are considered ''mistakes'' of the Gods, they can cause paradoxes.  Raziel would agree with the first point and has detailed as much but would disagree with the second - as the account of the Angel of Secrets is paradox free.

This wasn't in the histories.  Perhaps this means that time has already been altered?  No.  The pitiful sacrifice of these poor creatures was left out not because it did not happen.  It was left out simply because... no one cared.

Raistlin Majere, The War of the Twins, Weis and Hickman

Reflecting on the role of memory one could see how these seed ideas could be used, by Raziel or myself, to bear fruit in this later part of my life.  I found A.P.E.X. confusing when I watched it many many years ago because I had no vocabulary at that point for exploring these issues, just like The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera had such a dramatic impact on me because I had never asked the questions asked in that book - at least not in this life.

One of the reasons why the Tree of Life, explored and rectified, is such an effective tool for the magus is that it allows one not only to tap into one's own reserves of memory in this life and before, but that it provides lightning reflexes when it comes to referencing that memory.  A deeply religious Kabbalistic friend of mine once objected to this notion of the Tree of Life as ''tech'' for psychic boosting and I took his point to heart - the Tree cannot be untangled from religious aspects and in attempting that you are robbing yourself of an incredibly rich part of the experience.  However, this aside, work with Kabbalah and the Tree of Life does improve the working of the mind and leads directly to the development of psychic or prophetic powers.  Although our minds seemingly remember everything that ever happened, these memories are mercifully filtered so we aren't incapacitated by grief, by regret and by nostalgia.  When we work with the memory and increase our sensitivity to stimuli we are also working with the selectivity of it, the judgement to know if you really need that memory right now, that it has utility, that it won't bog you down.  We work with the filter as much as the fluid and its filtrate.*  

I like to think, like many of us do, of the strong influences on my mind and its workings - the corpus of the WMT, Hermetica, Kabbalah, literature, the Great Works, etc - as I favour a strong hypothesis of myself but I often forget or rather do not select ''lesser'' memories like A.P.E.X. or the War of the Twins.  Just because something is eminently forgettable doesn't mean we should forget it. I maintained and still maintain a very militant, unsentimental attitude towards my memory and in 2001, I  destroyed memories through the use of a conjuration of Chronos. This seems like a savage, brutal act but at that point I believed that certain memories I had were encumbering me. I chose an appropriate astrological time and took symbols of the memories (photos, etc) and then ritually destroyed them under the stars - the direct effects of the removal of these blockages were rediscovering a lost soul and the channelling of the text the Metabolism of Time.  But in this act, what difference was there between myself and an APEX robot destroying an aberrant timeline?

*Luna - fluid, Mercury and Venus - filters of remembering and forgetting, Sol - filtrate.