Thursday, March 15, 2018

Reverse Thinking

We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that our eyes once watered.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Tom Stoppard

My drama students and I are currently working on a play which is set inside a person's mind and the characters are the thoughts and thought structures of that person i.e. creativity, logic, addictions, instincts, realisations, questions, conscience, etc, etc.  The story involves the central character who is the persons' idea of herself (a nascent ego) exploring their mind, wrestling with the various other characters for the control of that mind until finally coming to terms with the idea that one thought must dominate - either her love for the idea of herself, or her love for another person.  The 7 part scenic structure is as follows:

  • Thoughtstream
  • Museum
  • The Abyss
  • Episodic Memory
  • Vision
  • Dreams
  • Cortex

We are working on the Episodic Memory scene where the protagonist (the idea of herself) is attempting to navigate their way through a memory while some characters point out the gaps and others are attempting to destroy it to free up space for marketing and advertising.  Towards the end of the scene a forgotten part of the memory (as a character) enters the scene and rewinds it back to the beginning and then plays it forward again so we can see what it is like when that missing piece has been restored.  Another character has sneakily inserted themselves into the memory so they can take the protagonist towards even higher realisations.  This is actually a very challenging scene as not only is it difficult to play something truly in reverse but the play is also creatively staged with in-the-round, reverse-round and traverse elements used in an immersive environment for the audience (so that they feel like they are her thoughts too).  Various characters have to be un-murdered or un-kissed, etc, and the students remark on how difficult and weird it is to block.  By the third rehearsal it started to look fluid and students were having their own set of realisations and enjoying the process immensely.

As readers of the Hermetic Lessons know I have been pursuing this reverse thinking for a few months now, trying to get myself (by running and returning) into a position where I can sustain de ja vu and these kinds of trans-temporal states of mind for a longer and longer duration with a view to psychically exploring a tempography.  For example I just visited the toilet and as I was returning to my studio about half way back I started picturing myself walking backwards to the toilet I had just left - trying to focus on both my forward motion and my anti-time clone's hypothetical reverse motion although I admit I stopped the experiment before reverse defecation. These aren't the first such thought experiments though, in fact decades ago I worked quite heavily upon one of Crowley's texts called Liber Thisarb.  Thisarb exhorts its readers to practice similar kinds of reverse thinking, even to try and read backwards but, and Crowley is pretty insistent on this as well, to not read esroh and think horse (which would be your brain cheekily escaping the confines of the trial) but to fully grok it as esroh.  With the proper application of reward and punishment it is entirely possible to begin to get results by ''the third rehearsal''.  While such thinking seems alien to begin with it rapidly becomes more fluid and natural.  In a previous post I talked about two different kind of people who remember - the ones who painfully try and extract memories, audibly groaning and agonising over the search and the other ones who just say ''it'll come to me'' and then it does, at some point.  What I am trying to say is that you only need to use will (and conditioning) to drive these experiments initially and then the mind will start performing those tasks itself and whole new vistas of reality will suddenly hove into view.

Consistency is all I ask.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Tom Stoppard

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