Introduction – “Behold the Lamb of God…”
Many days ago I seemed to promise that in my “next post” I would “begin using my own small gifts to relate ‘neoreaction’ to the Hidden Variables that most men never suspect, much less know.” Because “The Occult.”
Ahem. I did post something else in the meantime. If you, Gentle Reader, will forgive me for that, let us now delve into the res, as my friend Jeeves would say.
Background: I was baptized in the Church (yeah, that one) just two-and-a-half years ago at the age of 51. And yeah, I believe that the bread and wine when properly consecrated (by a real, honest-to-God man of a priest) do transform into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Let’s not beat around the bush, that’s one non-negotiable thing that one takes aboard when one becomes, or accepts, being a Roman Catholic. There are a few more, but let them be, for now.
I suspect that quite a few of the good people in the pews around me don’t really, truly believe in anything “supernatural.” In most of the Christian churches in the whole of the West, the same. I didn’t either for many, many years.
Some Personal History
I’m a 140-IQ white male ‘mericun who is strange enough to have vivid memories of watching the Republican and Democratic National Conventions as an eight-year-old, 1968. Especially, the Democrats; In other words, Mayor Daley, speeches, funny hats and riots on live TV. No one else in my family, including my parents, was interested; it’s still fresh in my mind, watching the conventions on the little black-and-white in the parental bedroom by myself. I decided I was a Republican.By age 11, I had begun reading Robert Heinlein (this was the first, wonderful dangerous stuff that I’m sure my unconventionally Protestant parents would have blanched about, had they understood what kind of dynamite can be contained in an “juvenile” science fiction book). I rapidly became a “scientific materialist,” read Rand’s Atlas Shrugged at 15 and became an “Objectivist” (or as Heinlein called them in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, a “Randite”).
As I’ve written previously, the mid-1970s was a seemingly scary time for a young person looking ahead; the US economy was crap for about seven years (just as much as 2007-now, in my opinion), the USSR seemed ascendant, freedoms in the US seemed to be shrinking. After being a rational/objectivist/nerdy/square-peg unhappy high-schooler for a couple of years, I wrangled my way out of HS early, went to city college and began smoking weed and hanging out with Libertarian Party types. The weed was a successful anti-anxiety medication, the LPers not only had the weed but offered a vision of Outsideness, disconnection from “the herd” and a lot of great book recommendations. Also, psilocybin mushrooms and LSD.
So add to a combination of late-night bull sessions with the High-IQ Counterculture, daily pot smoking and the periodic ‘shroom and acid investigations many more Dangerous Books. Just one of them, Illuminatus!, referenced and led to:
A History Of Secret Societies, The Morning of the Magicians, Info-Psychology, Pawns in the Game,The Structure of Magic, Vol. 1: A Book About Language and Therapy and surely worst of all, Aleister Crowley.
The Wickedest Man in the World
Now, I have some disagreements about Crowley with people I respect. In a comment here, the most excellent E. Antony Gray replies to my somewhat favorable evaluation of Crowley’s work with:
The Crowley-mythologizing is just inflammatory. He knows how much the man is, like Carlos Casteneda, considered a harmful hack and a charlatan.
Then there’s Jules Evans, former MDMA-fueled Raver who regained his very capable mind through the study of Seneca and Aristotle, amongst others (see Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations: Ancient Philosophy for Modern Problems). He happened to post a long exposition on “Crowley and his Children” (especially his children in the music biz) as I was thinking about all this. His conclusion:
The arts, sex, drugs, magic and religion are all ways of ‘turning off the mind’, going beyond rational consciousness, opening the trapdoor and following the Imagination down into the dark, to try and find the treasure. But I think, in that perilous descent, it’s absolutely crucial what motive you have, and your moral ability to handle what you encounter without losing your shit.
Many artists and magicians make that descent for selfish motives – for money, sex and power. That’s very risky – it’s like the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark trying to use the Ark for selfish reasons. You end up with a melted face.
I’d say Tolkien had the best idea about how to mine the Imagination without awakening too many Balrogs. You need to go in with a small ego, like a hobbit, with a fellowship of people around you to guide you when you feel lost. And you need to be prepared to give away whatever treasure you find, rather than trying to hang on to it for your own power. That’s the way to create great art, and it’s the way to live a meaningful life. Crowley’s ‘Do What Thou Wilt’ doesn’t end in happiness or power. It ends in emptiness, addiction, madness and self-destruction. It’s a lie – perhaps the oldest lie of all.
Now I don’t disagree with this at all; but perhaps there’s another layer that we might explore to our profit.
We Now Return to Dr. Land in the Swinging ’90s…
From my previous post on the previous episodes of Nick Land we follow this link and read:
In taking this approach, Land not only renounced the respect of his academic peers, but many times even lost the confidence of his supporters, as he sought by any means possible to drill through the sedimented layers of normative human comportment. Strange scenes ensued: A seminar on A Thousand Plateaus where a group of nonplussed graduates were encouraged to ‘read’ the chapter titles of the book by turning them into acronyms that were then plotted as vectors on a diagram of a QWERTY keyboard (‘qwertopology’); A three-week long experiment in refusing to speak in the first person, instead referring to the collective entity ‘Cur’ (comprising the hardcore participants in ‘Current French Philosophy,’ who extended the lectures into a continual movable seminar); and, most memorably, a presentation at the conference Virtual Futures in 1996: Rather than reading a paper, in this collaboration with artist collective Orphan Drift, under the name of ‘DogHead SurGeri,’2 and complete with jungle soundtrack, Land lay behind the stage, flat on the floor (a ‘snake-becoming’ forming the first stage of bodily destratification), croaking enigmatic invocations intercut with sections from Artaud’s asylum poems. In this delirious vocal telegraphy, meaning seemed to disintegrate into sheer phonetic matter, melting into the cut-up beats and acting directly on the subconscious. As Land began to speak in his strange, choked-off voice (perhaps that ‘absurdly high pitched … tone … ancient demonists described as ‘silvery,’ which he later reports being taunted by),3the disconcerted audience begin to giggle; the demon voice wavered slightly until Land’s sense of mission overcame his momentary self-consciousness; and as the ‘performance’ continued the audience fell silent, eyeing each other uncertainly as if they had walked into a funeral by mistake. Embarrassment was regarded by Land as just one of the rudimentary inhibitions that had to be broken down in order to explore the unknown – in contrast to the forces of academic domestication, which normalised by fostering a sense of inadequacy and shame before the Masters, before the edifice of what is yet to be learnt.
(You shall have to go to the original to get the footnotes).
Let us compare this incident to something that Crowley wrote, and that I have not a shadow of doubt that Land read at some point (Book Four, Part I, free here!):
In any case, the mass of mankind is always ready to be swayed by anything thus authoritative and distinct. History is full of stories of officers who have walked unarmed up to a mutinous regiment, and disarmed them by the mere force of confidence. The power of the orator over the mob is well known. It is, probably, for this reason that the prophet has been able to constrain mankind to obey his law. I never occurs to him that any one can do otherwise. In practical life one can walk past any guardian, such as a sentry or ticket-collector, if one can really act so that the man is somehow persuaded that you have a right to pass unchallenged.
This power, by the way, is what has been described by magicians as the power of invisibility. Somebody or other has an excellent story of four quite reliable men who were on the look-out for a murderer, and had instructions to let no one pass, and who all swore subsequently in presence of the dead body that no one had passed. None of them had seen the postman.
The thieves who stole the “Gioconda” from the Louvre were probably disguised as workmen, and stole the picture under the very eye of the guardian; very likely got him to help them.
It is only necessary to believe that a thing must be to bring it about. This belief must not be an emotional or an intellectual one. It resides in a deeper portion of the mind, yet a portion not so deep but that most men, probably all successful men, will understand these words, having experience of their own with which they can compare it.
The most important factor in Dhyana is, however, the annihilation of the Ego. Our conception of the universe must be completely overturned if we are to admit this as valid; and it is time that we considered what is really happening.
It will be conceded that we have given a very rational explanation of the greatness of great men. They had an experience so overwhelming, so out of proportion to the rest of things, that they were freed from all the petty hindrances which prevent the normal man from carrying out his projects.
Worrying about clothes, food, money, what people may think, how and why, and above all the fear of consequences, clog nearly every one. Nothing is easier, theoretically, than for an anarchist to kill a king. He has only to buy a rifle, make himself a first-class shot, and shoot the king from a quarter of a mile away. And yet, although there are plenty of anarchists, outrages are very few. At the same time, the police would probably be the first to admit that if any man were really tired of life, in his deepest being, a state very different from that in which a man goes about saying he is tired of life, he could manage somehow or other to kill someone first.
Now the man who has experienced any of the more intense forms of Dhyana is thus liberated. The Universe is thus destroyed for him, and he for it. His will can therefore go on its way unhampered. One may imagine that in the case of Mohammed he had cherished for years a tremendous ambition, and never done anything because those qualities which were subsequently manifested as statesmanship warned him that he was impotent. His vision in the cave gave him that confidence which was required, the faith that moves mountains. There are a lot of solid-seeming things in this world which a child could push over; but not one has the courage to push.
Dangerous, dangerous stuff. Fortunately one must venture boldly into dangerous and unknown territory to even begin to understand it, much less incorporate it. Otherwise we might have too many wolves and sheep dogs for the sheep available. Perhaps we still will, at some future time.
The Occult Nature of the NRx
I propose that this is the factor (let us call it, in tribute to Colin Wilson, “Factor X”) that separates the Neoreactionary, and certain other enlightened individuals who call themselves Reactionary, Neu Righty, Occidentalistas, Spartan Racers, Anarcho-Papists, Atlanteans, X-Men’n’Women, Futurists, Gumball Racers, &tc., from the equally high-IQ Servants at the Prog Cathedral.
Factor X is a refusal to go against what one sees and knows in order to fit into what Leary called “mammalian politics.” Progressives of the West today are so deeply embedded in mammalian politics that they must blind their eyes and cover their ears, suspend their critical facilities when the Unconfrontable Truths begin to edge into consciousness.
Every human finds a different way, route, road to the deeps. I passed through Crowley’s Magick and Will and found that Final Cause that lies at the end of time. Other fellow travelers call it something else. It matters not. “Neoreaction” and “Dark Enlightenment” are useful terms for the hidden truths and the explorers who search for them, despite the imprecations of the ignorant and the non-ignorant striving for power over other men.
It’s the search, a search that has no ‘X’ on a map. Or to give the last word to my early hero Heinlein, in the very last lines of Methusalah’s Children:
Yes, maybe it’s just one colossal big joke, with no point to it…whatever the answers are, here’s one monkey that’s going to keep on climbing, and looking around to see what he can see, as long as the tree holds out.