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.