Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happy Third Day of the Writing, 2013

I'm sure he squirted juice in his eyes to
make them flash for flightening me. Still and all he was awful
fond to me. Who'll search for Find Me Colours now on the hilly-
droops of Vikloefells? But I read in Tobecontinued's tale that while
blubles blows there'll still be sealskers. There'll be others but non
so for me. Yed he never knew we seen us before. Night after
night. So that I longed to go to. And still with all. One time you'd
stand fornenst me, fairly laughing, in your bark and tan billows of
branches for to fan me coolly. And I'd lie as quiet as a moss. And
one time you'd rush upon me, darkly roaring, like a great black
shadow with a sheeny stare to perce me rawly. And I'd frozen
up and pray for thawe. Three times in all. I was the pet of everyone
then. A princeable girl. And you were the pantymammy's Vulking
Corsergoth. The invision of Indelond. And, by Thorror, you
looked it! My lips went livid for from the joy of fear. Like almost
now. How? How you said how you'd give me the keys of me
heart. And we'd be married till delth to uspart. And though dev
do espart. O mine! Only, no, now it's me who's got to give. As
duv herself div. Inn this linn. And can it be it's nnow fforvell?

--Finnegans Wake

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Happy Second Day of the Writing, 2013

And aither he cursed and recursed and was everseen doing what
your fourfootlers saw or he was never done seeing what you cool-
pigeons know, weep the clouds aboon for smiledown witnesses,
and that'll do now about the fairyhees and the frailyshees.
Though Eset fibble it to the zephiroth and Artsa zoom it round
her heavens for ever. Creator he has created for his creatured
ones a creation. White monothoid? Red theatrocrat? And all the
pinkprophets cohalething? Very much so! But however 'twas
'tis sure for one thing, what sherif Toragh voucherfors and
Mapqiq makes put out, that the man, Humme the Cheapner,
Esc, overseen as we thought him, yet a worthy of the naym,
came at this timecoloured place where we live in our paroqial
fermament one tide on another, with a bumrush in a hull of a
wherry, the twin turbane dhow, The Bey for Dybbling, this
archipelago's first visiting schooner, with a wicklowpattern
waxenwench at her prow for a figurehead, the deadsea dugong
updipdripping from his depths, and has been repreaching him-
self like a fishmummer these siktyten years ever since, his shebi
by his shide, adi and aid, growing hoarish under his turban and
changing cane sugar into sethulose starch (Tuttut's cess to him!)
as also that, batin the bulkihood he bloats about when innebbi-
ated, our old offender was humile, commune and ensectuous
from his nature, which you may gauge after the bynames was
put under him, in lashons of languages, (honnein suit and
praisers be!) and, totalisating him, even hamissim of himashim
that he, sober serious, he is ee and no counter he who will be
ultimendly respunchable for the hubbub caused in Eden-

--Finnegans Wake

Monday, April 8, 2013

Happy First Day of the Writing, 2013

because ye left from me, because ye
laughed on me, because, O me lonly son, ye are forgetting me!,
that our turfbrown mummy is acoming, alpilla, beltilla, ciltilla,
deltilla, running with her tidings, old the news of the great big
world, sonnies had a scrap, woewoewoe! bab's baby walks at
seven months, waywayway ! bride leaves her raid at Punchestime,
stud stoned before a racecourseful, two belles that make the
one appeal, dry yanks will visit old sod, and fourtiered skirts
are up, mesdames, while Parimiknie wears popular short legs,
and twelve hows to mix a tipsy wake, did ye hear, colt Cooney?
did ye ever, filly Fortescue? with a beck, with a spring, all her
rillringlets shaking, rocks drops in her tachie, tramtokens in
her hair, all waived to a point and then all inuendation, little
oldfashioned mummy, little wonderful mummy, ducking under
bridges, bellhopping the weirs, dodging by a bit of bog, rapid-
shooting round the bends, by Tallaght's green hills and the
pools of the phooka and a place they call it Blessington and
slipping sly by Sallynoggin, as happy as the day is wet, bab-
bling, bubbling, chattering to herself, deloothering the fields on
their elbows leaning with the sloothering slide of her, giddy-
gaddy, grannyma, gossipaceous Anna Livia.
--Finnegans Wake

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Three Cheers for...Chastity?

“on my siege of my mighty I was parciful of my subject but in street wauks that are darkest I debelledem superb”
--Finnegans Wake

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to see the new production of Parsifal performed on its opening night at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. The opera is hauntingly beautiful – and this production was interestingly arranged (more on this in a minute) – and it is also notoriously misogynistic.
I won’t bother with a plot summary here, which anyone can google and read up on in the span of a few minutes. Instead, I’ll be spending this post considering the symbolic uses to which Crowley puts the opera in his writing, as an illustration of the principles of Chastity (understood in the Thelemic sense, of course).

I’ll be looking at a way to interpret the opera that makes its message more palatable, but I’ll also be considering Crowley’s own misogyny, and his personal limitations that modern day Thelemites often strive to transcend.

Read on for more.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Touring the Fruitcake Factory

As some of my readers know, I have – for the past month and a half – been making posts on the Temple of Thelema Forums (also known as “The Thelemic Fruitcake Factory”).

My time at the Fruitcake Factory has proceeded pretty much exactly as expected. Though earlier this year, I declared that it would not be my intention to post over there, I revised that point of view after seeing one “Frater Potater” unceremoniously expelled for asking the wrong kinds of questions in the wrong kind of tone and also seeing Jim Eshelman state that dissenting viewpoints would be tolerated there if they were presented graciously.
I decided to take him up on that offer and present a dissenting viewpoint on the forums. You can read my first post on the forum here: “Experience Has No Explanatory Power” [link]

It’s a somewhat interesting thread, notable in part for Eshelman’s refusal to participate in it, other than to offer an obligatory response or two to my initial post. He claimed in his second post not to have the time to participate in it further, and then he later briefly popped in to say he had no interest in the subject of the thread – while it might seem odd for a supposed Thelemic teacher to have no interest in a subject fundamental to Thelema, this claim to have “no interest” also seems to be true, since Eshelman is on record in that very thread as stating that he doesn’t think it’s necessary for a student of the Great Work to understand “what is actually happening”:
I challenge the idea, in most situations within the Great Work, that there is any need at all to "figure out what is actually happening."

In one sense, it’s not unexpected that Eshelman would say this. After all, a main idea expressed in many of his posts is simply to trust whatever it subjectively feels like is going on.  But in another sense, it’s somewhat interesting that I got him to say it so explicitly.
As I immediately go on to point on in that thread, “figure[ing] out what is actually happening” is vital to doing any kind of task, including the Great Work:

Well, people who perform the Great Work make all kinds of factual claims, including claims like, “This practice helps a person discover the True Will.” Practices might include endlessly repeating rituals dreamed up by Victorian freemasons, imagining having chats with goblins, balancing plates of water on their head, eating cakes made out of cum, and imagining all sorts of things really hard with the power of the mind.

But without taking the crucial step of investigating to see if any of these things really *do* enable a person to discover the True Will – i.e. investigating to figure out what’s “actually happening” when they do this stuff – all of this stuff is just a bunch of religious devotion to practices that, frankly, are outdated, weird, and largely ineffective for granting people insight into themselves.

Now, to be fair, Eshelman’s quote above continued with this sentence: “Explanation gets in the way of person mating with moment; and it's that variety of coition that transforms.”
The argument he was making was that “figuring out what’s going on” can distract someone from paying attention to the moment, and it is thus unnecessary to figure out what’s going on. And let’s be fair: the actual work does require the individual to turn off the mind and pay attention to the Self in the moment. But, in terms of what we were talking about – evaluating practices -- Eshelman's argument is retarded: on the most basic level, a person would have to figure out at least enough to know that the goal involves “person mating with moment” (note the lame, imprecise phrase), how to go about “mating with moment,” and how one knows that one has succeeded in “mating with moment.”

Without figuring out what is actually happening at least enough to know what the goal is, what one is supposed to do to achieve that goal, why doing these things will make it possible to achieve the goal, and how one can tell that one has achieved it…the student is just blindly trusting stuff. It’s not even proper to call the student a “student” at that point. “Wacked-out religious devotee” might be a better term.
In other words, Eshelman’s advice, as so often, disparages the idea of bothering to understand what’s actually happening in favor of how stuff subjectively feels, which is both antithetical to Thelema and deeply revealing about his version of Thelema – and it helps explain the prevalence of the insane nonsense posted by a majority of participants on his website.

Anyway, feel free to read my posting history over there. A few of the responses I got are literally incomprehensible gibberish, and many more were a bunch of religious resentment at my pointing out how nobody has any valid grounds for accepting any of the kooky things they discuss there as if they were self-evident fact, but there actually were one or two decent responses that developed into actual conversations. My introductory thread gets sort of interesting in the middle, when one of the regulars over there agrees to a test of his supposed powers by attempting to “remote view” two words I have written on a piece of paper on my desk. You can obviously guess how it goes without reading the thread – spoiler alert: there’s still no reason to think that anybody has super powers – but it might be entertaining.
The only other thread really worth reading – if you’re bored and need something to do – is this one, where I school a clod who calls himself “Mephisto.” The argument he presents is the standard “Let me use reason to demonstrate that reason is unreliable” stuff, but it’s made a little funnier by the fact that it takes this kid an embarrassingly long time to twig to how stupid his argument is.

I’ve been posting at the Thelemic Fruitcake Factory for under two months now, with only around 350 (mostly very) short posts (if I have an hour to kill, I can easily rack up a dozen quick posts pointing out the latest batch of logical errors) yet I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that my short posting history contains more information about practical Thelema – and has stimulated more insightful conversation relevant to practical Thelema – than years and years and years of all the other posts on the forums put together. Even when I was hovering around 100 short posts, I was saying the same thing – and it was still true then.
So yeah, that’s how I’ve been entertaining myself lately. But never fear – new content is coming for “Thelema and Skepticism” very soon, so look forward to that.

Enjoy the spring.